Route Info | Boats | Map overview of route | Cruising Notes | Maps & Guides | Links | Pub Guide


You can do this route from :
Sawley Marina

This Trent & Mersey Canal cruise can be done over four days.

Burton on Trent is home to the National Brewery Centre, which has an excellent Visitor Centre.

Along the way there are numerous pretty villages and canalside Pubs.

The village of Alrewas is a charming backwater in Staffordshire, five miles north of Lichfield. This tongue-twisting name is derived from 'Alder Wash', which was a swamp of alder trees that grew in the flood plains of the nearby River Trent.

Alrewas is an idyllic place for walkers and nature lovers to visit, as it lies where the Trent and Mersey Canal meets the River Trent, providing peaceful walks, amidst relatively undisturbed birds and wildlife.

The canal was built as England's first commercial canal for transport purposes in 1770.

Route Info

Route Facts & Figures

Recommended Holiday
Duration : 4 nights.

Total Cruising Days : 5.00
(Partial or full days)

Total Cruising Time : 23.00 hours

Total Distance : 50.00 miles

Number of Locks : 26

Number of Tunnels : 0

Number of Aqueducts : 0

Read the Cruising Notes

Read our cruising notes to help you plan your canal boat holiday

Read our cruising notes.


Download the Cruising Notes

We also have the cruising notes available for download in PDF (acrobat Reader)

Download our cruising notes.





Cruising Notes

Day 1
Leaving the marina, you can cruise for a couple of hours towards Aston Lock No. 3, three miles away.

First of all, you will go under the M1 bridge on the way to Derwent Mouth, where you will encounter your first lock.

If you turn left here, you will be able to explore Cavendish Bridge, if you don't want to, stay on the main canal and soon you will reach Shardlow. This is a traditional canal village, and not to be missed. Trent Mill is a fine example of canal architecture, and is now known as the Clock Warehouse (pub), after being restored in 1979.

There are traditional canalside pubs here, for example, the Clock Warehouse (see above), The Old Marina Bar and Restaurant, The Navigation Inn, The Malt Shovel and The New Inn, all serving real ale and food at lunchtimes and evenings. Children are welcome at all of them, as are dogs.

It is about an hour to here

Day 2

Cruising on, you will go under Hicken's Bridge, then shortly arrive at Aston Lock No. 3.

The next point of interest is Weston-on-Trent, a small village scattered away from the the canal.

As you approach a wide curve to the right at Cliff Wood, the canal, for a short time, runs alongside the River Trent, to the left.

Continuing through the Trent Valley, you will soon reach Swarkestone, where at the lock there is a short arm used for mooring. Away to the left of the canal you may be able to see Swarkestone Bridge, an C18th five arch stone bridge spanning the River Trent. Swarkestone Lock is very deep – 10' 11” - so do take care when descending it.

Between the canal and the river is a little sleepy village called Barrow-upon-Trent. The countryside is peaceful and green, with perhaps only the odd one or two trains breaking the silence.

If you want to stop, there are pubs in Swarkestone and Barrow-upon-Trent – The Crew & Harpur Arms and The Brookfield. Both welcome children and serve food.
Near to Bridge No. 18 is Alreston House, then Stenson Lock, the last wide lock until Middlewich. The fall is 12' 4”, so again, do take great care. Next to the lock is a pub called The Bubble Inn, with a canalside garden where children are welcome.

Stenson is a popular place to moor and has a large marina. A left hand bend takes you towards Willington, with the railway running alongside the canal, then bisecting the village. There are two pubs in close proximity to each other – The Rising Sun and The Dragon, again both serving food and children welcome.

For the most part, the canal now meanders through open countryside as you cruise towards Burton-upon-Trent. Between Bridges 28 and 29 you can purchase ice creams, cold drinks and burgers from a burger van. Just north of Horninglow Basin you can also get fish and chips at the limited services by the butterfly garden.

The canal passes to the right of Burton-upon-Trent, without actually going into the town, but there is plenty of mooring if you want to, with the best option being visitor moorings near to Shobnall Basin.

As you approach the suburbs, you will smell the malt and hops of brewing, as this town is know for its brewing industry. There is a visitor centre in the town – Marston's Brewery Visitor Centre – where, at the end of the guided tour, you can enjoy a taste of the real ale! Booking is advisable for the tours, which you can do either by calling 01283 507391, or going to the website

The Brewhouse on Duke Street often has live entertainment in its 230 seat theatre, with a bistro in situ. There are also many pubs and restaurants, so take your pick! You will find something for everyone's taste among them, for instance, Apne Indian Restaurant, The Brewery Tap, Lord Burton, The Old Cottage Tavern and The Devonshire Arms, to name but a few.

Moving on, the town of Branston will be away to your left. This is supposedly the town in which Branston Pickle was invented. There are local amenities, fish and chips and a takeaway. You can reach Branston via a footpath under the A38 dual carriageway.

At Bridge No. 30 you will cruise into the new National Forest, and at Branston Lock is The Bass Millennium Woodland which is also part of the project. Just prior to Tatenhill Lock the canal cruises through Branston Water Park.

Soon the canal runs parallel to the A38, the old Roman road, as you pass Barton-under-Needwood by Barton Turn Lock, until the canal veers to the right at Wychnor Bridges and Lock. Just beyond Wychnor, before Alrewas Lock, the River Trent joins the canal. Great care must be taken as there is a weir here which should be given a wide berth. Once past it and through the lock, you will see the pretty village of Alrewas to your left. You can moor up at Gaskell's Bridge No. 46 for the night.

Well-tended gardens tumble down to meet the canal, and access to the village is easy. There is a harbour and pretty back lanes to explore. There are local amenities, takeaway's and a tea room, as well as The George and Dragon, William IV and Rafters Restaurant Claymar Hotel. Children are welcome at the pubs and food is served daily.

You will have cruised 21 miles and navigated 9 locks in just under 9½ hours.

Days 3 & 4

You will need to turn at Alrewas to make your return journey back to Sawley, which is 11½ hours away.


NB: This route has been provided as a guide only. Information may become inaccurate or out of date. You should always check with the marina that the route is possible within your time frame, current weather conditions and canal stoppages etc.


The following boats operate on this route (subject to availability)

Maps and Guides

Pub Guide

Sorry, we have no pub guide for this route currently.


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The information above is provided in good faith to assist you with planning your canal boat holiday. Information accuracy cannot be guaranteed, however, if you do see something that needs updating, please don't hesitate to contact us.