Our maiden voyage to Sheffield – Thorne to Rotherham

Since 2009 we’ve cruised the majority of the 2,000 miles of Inland Waterways of England and Wales. We’re gradually getting to those we’ve yet to enjoy, though unlikely to tick off the whole list! But Barry’s doing his best …

Last time we were in the north east, during our inaugural boating year, we didn’t have time to turn left at Bramwith Junction on the South Yorkshire Navigation towards Sheffield – this year it was one of our priorities.

It took us longer than anticipated, as has been the case recently mainly due to unpredictable weather patterns and flooded (or frozen!) rivers. It’s not a problem though, as Pollington Lock on the Aire and Calder Canal, has been closed until today, so we wouldn’t be getting much further north even if all had gone smoothly!

We left Thorne on Wednesday 14th March, arriving at Victoria Quays in Sheffield on Tuesday 20th March – almost a week later. The navigation joins intermittently with the River Don, which is where the challenges arose.  It’s also necessary to book the Tinsley Lock Flight 24 hours in advance, and we had a bit of difficulty contacting the lock keeper. Oh yes! And we had a lovely little diversion by car – which involved a sleepover with our friends in their beautiful home on the road out of Sheffield towards Snake Pass, and almost got snowed in there!

It’s undoubtedly been an eventful winter, and though it’s now supposed to be spring, we’re yet to see real signs of the season of new growth. I’m sure it’s just around the corner (daylight saving is tonight), and one day soon the trees will suddenly burst forth into brilliant green fresh foliage …

Travelling from Thorne to Rotherham

Barry continues to love his new camera and provide photographs for the blog, which is wonderful. I’m going to marry images and words for the story of our journey towards the Peak District. There’s rather a lot to show and tell, so I’m sharing the journey and adventures over (at least!) two posts:

The navigation cuts through a a plethora  of industrialisation as it heads into the ‘Steel City’ of Sheffield – also infamous as the location for The Full Monty! Once there, the city boasts that green space envelops 61% of their entire area. It’s certainly a place of stark contrasts …

Doncaster, one of our mooring locations en route

Areandare moored in the distance when Barry walked to check the River levels …

No excuse for ‘snow on the line’ with these ploughs at the ready!

Doncaster Town Lock

The river level is on amber, so we took the chance to travel through the lock and onto the River Don while we could – obviously with caution

The River Don looking calm

Not much effort required for these locks

Locks and bridges aplenty

Passing under the drone of constant traffic on the A1(M)

A rather solid structure thankfully …

Sandra nervously checks the river levels at the next lock …

Spotborough Lock

All wrapped up warmly on another cold day’s locking

The River’s on the red now, but we were committed by this stage to continue


Passing underneath an imposing and magnificent, no longer used, viaduct – Wow!

Red light spells danger! Mexborough Low Lock wasn’t working when we arrived which was a little concerning …

Areandare tied up on the lock landing – it’s clear that the river’s been up way higher recently!

Mexborough Low Lock was the end of the River Don section for now, and it wasn’t working! We tied up on the lock landing and Barry wandered off to check out our options. As the jammy whatsit that he is, the CRT Lock Keeper arrived synchronistically and said he was just on his last lock check of the day – and saw us through!

We moored the night below Mexborough Top Lock on the lock landing (the lock keeper said it was ok!).

Old warehouses beside the canal at Mexborough

Nice bit of ropework!

The disused Dearne and Dove Canal at Swinton, near Waddington Lock, still in water with the gates barely keeping the water in

The George Dyson motor and Resilience at Waddington Lock. I can see now why the lock chambers are so vast

Looks like we’re in a Russian lock with a cossack!

‘Waddingtons of Swinton’ boatyard

An imposing Lock Keepers Tower – looking rather human!

The huge steel works at Aldewark before Rotherham

Aldewarke Lock landing. You then have to reverse off the landing, which is on the river, to go around the corner into the lock chamber


Aldewarke Lock

Looking over the weir towards the giant chimneys of the steel works

That’s the blog journey so far folks – more to come shortly, don’t go too far away!

8 thoughts on “Our maiden voyage to Sheffield – Thorne to Rotherham

  1. Pingback: Going nowhere once again due to the vagaries of the weather | Adventures Aboard AreandAre

  2. A real perspective of the size of Areandare in relation to the waterways which you don’t get on the canals – she looks like a toy in one or two of the photos!

  3. Pingback: Doncaster and Sprotborough Lock circa 1978 to 1981 | Adventures Aboard AreandAre

  4. How ironic that by the time British Waterways finally – after years of trying – got the government to agree to stump up the cash to modernise the Sheffield & South Yorkshire Navigation and revive commercial barge traffic Margaret Thatcher had come along and destroyed the mining and steel industries that would have provided the bulk of the freight!

    • Hi Jim, too little too late aye? Yes indeed a shame. There’s very little ‘traffic’ around these parts, though that could be due to the season and weather. However it’s also a ‘dead-end’ canal, not the easiest to navigate, so I suspect few boaters make the journey 🙁

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