Places to Paddle Around Nottingham

Places to Paddle Around Nottingham

Nottingham is one of the busiest cities in the midlands, famous for Robin Hood, lace making, and bicycle manufacturing. With a lot of history in the city, it draws in some of the highest numbers of tourists in the area. One notable feature of Nottingham is the River Trent, and the canal that runs alongside the city centre. These waters have many pubs and restaurants overlooking it. These stretches of water offer up lots of paddling opportunities and new vantage points of the city. So here are our top five places to paddle around Nottingham!

The Trent loop

kayakers on the river trent in autumn

The Trent loop is one of the longer paddles around Nottingham. Touring the sights of the historic Trent Bridge, Nottingham Forest football ground, the courts, and Nottingham Castle. 

Often starting at Beeston Marina, the Trent loop takes you down the River Trent for 7km. Following the embankment, under Trent Bridge (originally constructed in 920 A.D!), and to the canal lock opposite the football stadium. This is where the canal joins back onto the river.

You quickly walk around the lock and start your paddle up the canal. You’ll get a whole new view of the city, seeing the courthouses, castle, and famous bars from the water. You will also spot some of the old factory buildings on the water’s edge, with doors opening up to the canal to receive deliveries by water. You will portage one more lock on your 8km paddle back up to the marina, taking you into more rural areas of Nottingham. At certain times of the week, you may notice a sweet smell in the air as you pass the Boots factory on days they produce specific products. 

When you make it back up to the marina you will spot the tearooms, a lovely place to grab a slice of cake and hot drink at the end of your paddle. 

River Soar

houses on the bank of the river soar

Coming into Long Eaton, a suburb of Nottingham, is the River Soar. A calm, flat river that has little to no flow in normal conditions. The Soar is a tributary of the River Trent, that was made navigable back in the 18th century. 

If you paddle up the river, joining it where it meets the Trent, you are instantly greeted by a herd of friendly cows on the bank. They keep an eye on all who pass on the river. Before long you’ll be passing through Redhill Marina, where a number of picturesque riverside houses can be seen. You’ll pass through the old open lock, and begin to meander around the farmer’s fields. You’ll spot the cooling towers of the Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station, the only coal-fired power station left in the UK!

The river is navigable all the way past Loughborough and to Leicester, so you can make your paddle up the river as long or short as you want. There is even the occasional cafe and bar on the waterfront to call by.

Trent Lock

trent lock

Another paddle on the edge of the Nottingham, the Trent Lock loop is a shorter paddle that offers something for all. Starting off at the lock where the Erewash canal meets the River Trent, the loop takes you down the river and under a railway bridge that links Nottingham to the south. From there you will encounter a weir. It is important to jump off the river and have a look at the weir before paddling it. Check out our weir guidance to know how to stay safe. 

After the thrill of the weir it is a gentle paddle down between fields to the lock that takes you onto Cranfleet Canal backup to the top. Along this stretch of canal you’ll see a set of parking spaces for canal boats to moor up, a narrow footbridge, and a sunken boat! The canal links back onto the river just downstream of the starting lock. You can go for another lap or head back up to the take out. There are a couple of pubs here that offer great food all year round. So a cold drink in the summer or a hot drink and roast dinner in the colder months!

Newark Weir

newark castle on the river

Moving over to the other side of Nottingham and downstream on the Trent, we get to Newark. The town is thought to date back to Roman times, and is steeped in market history. The River Trent flows through the town, giving plenty of chances to paddle. 

Towards the north of the town there is a loop you can paddle around, incorporating a stepped weir and lock. Just off Mill Lane, you can jump on the river near the top of the weir, but it is worth checking out the weir first to see if it is safe to paddle down. 

From there you follow the river around a sweeping bend, flanked by trees on either side. It is only a short paddle down to where you join back onto the main stretch of the Trent. You can decide here if you want to continue down the Trent and past the ruins of Newark Castle, or head back upstream and around the lock to the top of the weir again. The River Trent gives this paddle a range of flexibility, offering the chance to lengthen the paddle to be whatever you want.

National Watersports Centre

kayaker looking down the course at the NWSC

It wouldn’t be a list of paddling in Nottingham without a mention of the National Watersports Centre (NWSC). The NWSC is on the south side of the city, easily accessible from motorways. 

Home to a 700+ metre grade 3 whitewater course,  which has a second channel offering calmer waters, and a lake open for paddling, the centre can cater for most paddlers needs. The artificial course provides a safe environment for those looking to start their whitewater journey or push their skills to the next level. Local kayak stores also offer a range of demo kayaks to try out on the water.