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.

Boat Hire SlimbridgeOpened 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, cyclists, and anglers.


Our operating base at Slimbridge is also home to the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, The Black Shed, The Cafe on the Cut, and the Tudor Arms pub. You are free to explore up or down the canal at a leisurely pace with no other pressure than to return your boat at the allotted time. Afterwards you could spend the evening canal side and enjoy one of the spectactular sunsets while enjoying a drink at the Black Shed.


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. You also pass the old railway bridge that was destroyed in a tragic accident in 1960.

Slimbridge to Saul Junction

Tall Ship near Saul

Tall Ship near Saul

Cruising through some of Gloucestershire’s finest countryside with spectactular views over the Severn estuary and the Cotswold hills on the other side. Take time to enjoy this as you pass through Splatt bridge with the beautiful church in the meadow – indeed this is England at its very best. You may choose to moor at Splatt and take a short walk past the church to the Three Horseshoes pub at the end of the longest village green in the country. Pause to enjoy a pint of real ale at this CAMRA award-winning pub and enjoy one of its famous ‘3 Shu’ pies – highly recommended!

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

Stables Cafe

Saul Junction to Sellars Bridge

The canal continues its lazy path towards the city of Gloucester still passing through more of Gloucestershire countryside – the banks and hedges are taller and the views aren’t as good but the canal becomes a world within a world as you approach Sellars bridge, where you can moor and enjoy a drink at the Pilot Inn.

Sellars Bridge to Gloucester

Continuing to twist and turn towards the city, the canal surroundings become more urban and industrial the closer you get. You will pass under two massive bridges which carry the modern world over the canal, eventually approaching Llanthony lift bridge – the only bridge of its kind on the route which raises to allow you to pass into the heart of Gloucester historic docks.

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.


Gloucester Sharpness Canal

Sharpness Port – Canal & River Trust

Severn Tales – Shipping information

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