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Visiting the canal on your boat​

The canal has been reopened following a temporary closure between Cottingwith and Gardham locks.


Access via the tidal River Ouse and River Derwent


Here is a link to a useful waterways map which shows  the Pocklington Canal and other waterways in the region.  Maps of the canal are on this website.  Access to the canal is via the River Derwent.  The Derwent joins the tidal River Ouse approximately midway between Goole and Selby.  The photo above shows a small narrowboat in Ocean Lock near Goole, which links the Aire & Calder Canal to the River Ouse.  Use of the lock is free around high water and a VHF radio is essential.  Contact ABP well in advance to book your passage and obtain advice. Advice from ABP


You are strongly advised to discuss your plans with the lock keeper at Barmby Barrage in good time when planning to take a boat onto the Derwent, to ensure that the water level in the river is adequate for navigation. Ring 01757 638579.   When you pass though Barmby Lock you must purchase a River Derwent Boat Certificate (£12), which is valid for 12 months.

Navigating the Pocklington Canal


The canal lies in an area that is of both national and international importance for its wildlife. Please treat it with respect.


The Pocklington Canal is navigable from East Cottingwith, where it joins the River Derwent, to the Bielby Arm, a distance of approximately seven miles.


Hopefully the following information will be useful, but please get in touch if you need more advice using the contact form.  Cottingwith, Gardham, Thornton and Walbut locks are currently in use. Apart from Walbut Lock, they have no ground paddles, so open the gate paddles slowly when ascending in these locks. There is a swingbridge across the chamber of Gardham Lock.  The locks are broad locks and will accommodate two narrowboats of 57 ft 6 inches.


It is a rural canal with natural banking and you may need to use your boarding plank. You will need a standard twin socket windlass for the locks. A handcuff key (also known as an anti-vandal key or T-key) is needed to unlock the swing-bridges and some locks. Please ensure that these bridges are kept locked to prevent vandals swinging the bridge to damage the brickwork. A CRT key (Canal & River Trust Facilities Key or Watermate key) is needed to remove the spindle covers on the hydraulic paddlegear on two of the locks and to use the sanitary station at Melbourne Arm. There is a 48 hour mooring with a water point. There are landing stages for operation of most locks and swingbridges.


Navigational challenges The Pocklington Canal is a delightful rural waterway, but care needs to be taken to avoid problems.


During the summer the Pocklington Canal becomes weedy and you will need to take care to keep your filter clear if your engine is cooled by canal water. The notorious Pocklington Weed will wrap itself around the prop shaft and you may need to use your weed hatch.  With practice, a quick burst of reverse will often remove the weed. Stay in the channel, avoid ploughing through floating weed and keep your speed down to minimise problems with weed.  


During the winter months and sometimes into the spring, the Derwent and the canal, especially below Gardham Lock, can flood and it is unwise to plan a visit under these conditions. Information about the current and recent water level in the Derwent can be found online. The nearest gauging station is at Bubwith Bridge. Problems can be reported to the Canal & River Trust by telephone. The number for all non-emergency enquiries is: 0303 040 4040. For genuine emergencies, ring 0800 47 999 47.


Moorings and boaters' facilities


There is a 48 hour visitor mooring at Melbourne Arm.  The sanitary station has a toilet and a sluice for emptying chemical toilets. The other facilities available are water, rubbish disposal and car parking.  There is a water point on the 48 hour visitor mooring and another at the sanitary station. There is no electricity supply.


Head of Navigation plaques are available and can be purchased from our online shop.   Ask one of the resident boaters if you would like to purchase one during your visit.

Other facilities

There is a pub in Melbourne and the Village Hall offers Post Office services on Monday mornings.  The Village Stores has closed.  


Bus services to Pocklington and elsewhere can be found on the  East Yorkshire Buses website.  At the time of writing, the number 195 bus runs from Allerthorpe to Pocklington via Melbourne on Tuesdays.

IWA Silver Propeller Challenge

This challenge
is to encourage boaters to visit underused waterways and the Pocklington Canal is one of the current destinations.  Visit 20 destinations to complete the challenge.

A visiting narrowboat on the 48 hour moorings at Melbourne Arm

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