Places to See and Visit

The Gloucester and Sharpness Canal is a canal in the west of England, between Gloucester and Sharpness; for much of its length it runs close to the tidal River Severn, but cuts off a significant loop in the river, at a once-dangerous bend near Arlingham. It was once the broadest and deepest canal in the world. The canal is 26.5km (16.5 miles) long.

Gloucester Sharpness Canal

Click to enlarge

Opened in 1827, the canal was built to enable boats to reach Gloucester Docks and avoid the narrow winding stretch of the River Severn. Today, the Canal is owned and managed by the Canal & River Trust. It is mainly used by pleasure craft and is very popular with walkers and anglers.

Gloucester Docks

The historic Victorian docks are a unique and inspiring destination, described by Charles Dickens himself as ‘extraordinary’, and granted port status by Queen Elizabeth I in 1580. Gloucester is the most inland port in Britain, and the docks are dominated by towering warehouses which stand proud along the water’s edge. Visitors can see skilled shipwrights and riggers repairing, restoring and building traditional ships and rigging all year round in Tommi Nielsen’s dry dock on the West Quay.

With its stunning location, beautiful boats and rich and varied displays Gloucester Waterways Museum is perfectly placed to tell the story of Britain’s waterways and provide insights into the history of Gloucester’s impressive docks. Gloucester & Sharpness Canal news can be found here. Why not visit the Cafe on the Cut before you depart? Running on solar energy and serving local free-range foods, this unique narrowboat cafe is located next to our mooring and can prepare cream teas or packed lunches for your trip.

Sellars Bridge, Hardwicke

The first canalside pub reached from Gloucester Docks is the Pilot Inn which welcomes clientele from the canal and keeps alive a long tradition of pubs along the nation’s waterways.  The Pilot Inn got its name from its waterways heritage. It was built by N Hawkins, who was at the helm of many of the ‘pilot boats’ which were used to tug larger ships along the canal into Gloucester Docks. It has been a pub ever since.

The Pilot Inn – Hardwicke

Saul Junction

Saul Junction sits at the crossroads of the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal and the Stroudwater Navigation. Narrowboats glide up and down and this beautiful area is a haven for wildlife.

The Cotswold Canals Trust Visitor Centre can be found here, along with parking, refreshments, boat trips and great opportunities for walking.

Saul Junction Visitor Centre – Opening times and directions

River & Canal around Saul Junction – Walking route

Explore Saul Junction – Canal & River Trust

Stables Cafe – More information


Slimbridge is the headquarters of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust where vast flocks of thousands of migrant birds visit each winter. From birdwatchers to families there is plenty to discover all year round and is a great way to spend a couple of hours with it being so close to the canal. At Slimbridge there is a great pub called the Tudor Arms which offers real ales & good food. This is about 3 hours cruising from Gloucester and would in our opinion make for a good destination for a perfect day out before returning to Gloucester Docks.

Tudor Arms – canalside pub

Wildfowl & Wetlands Centre – a mile from the canal

Slimbridge to Sharpness

This is probably the most picturesque and peaceful part of the canal where you can moor in splendid isolation with panoramic views across the Severn Estuary towards Wales and the Forest of Dean.

An array of wetlands birds can be seen here and a short walk takes you to the Purton Hulks –  one of the largest ships’ graveyards in maritime Britain.

Purton Hulks – intriguing ships graveyard


Tall Ship near Saul

Tall Ship near Saul

Sharpness Docks (GL13 9UF for Sat Nav) is one of the most inland ports in Britain and has been the gateway from the River Severn to the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal for almost 200 years. Visitors can see a variety of ships here. The best time to see the most is at high tide, observed from the picnic area overlooking the river.

There is a small Marina at the end of the canal. Visitor moorings are at the entrance. There is then a short walk to the Severn Area Rescue Association (SARA) and their lifeboat station, and then up the bank to the Dockers Club where you can get excellent food and drink.

Sharpness Port – Canal & River Trust

Severn Tales – Shipping information

SARA – Severn Area Rescue Association ( inshore lifeboat and land search)


Gloucester Sharpness Canal