Exeter Ship Canal

Exeter Ship Canal

LaunchesPublic RoutesKnown HazardsParking


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Canal Licensing Information

Licence Required?

No licence required

Further Information

Managed by Exeter City Council.

A canal ahead of its time, the Exeter Ship Canal was one of the first artificially built canals in the UK. It dates back to 1566 and links the River Exe at Turf Lock to the Exeter Quay.

It was built to bypass weirs that had been erected on the River Exe and so enable goods to reach the port of Exeter, This was originally in barges, or later in ocean-going ships.

Following successive enlargements and extensions it reached its present form in the 1830s. This was when the canal basin was also built.

As with canals elsewhere, its commercial viability was undermined when the railways arrived. The Friends of this historic canal are determined that it should continue as an active, functioning waterway. It is also a recreational focal point for Exeter’s citizens and visitors.

This pretty and quaint little canal is five miles long with 2 locks. It is a popular route for walkers, cyclists and paddlers alike.

Being so close to the sea and estuary, the canal is a brilliant way to observe a variety of wildlife, including wading and sea-fairing birds.

The Exeter Ship Canal features in quite a few of our Paddle Trails too, so if you’re stuck for inspiration on where to go on your trip, check out the Paddle Trails!