Gloucester, but that is inland! True, but it is served by the Sharpness/Gloucester canal which was built in 1827 to take ships into the heart of the city.

It is possible to take a sailing boat right up the canal as the only lifting bridges are at the entrance to the docks themselves.

All other bridges swing and are operated by bridge operators who in most cases still wind them by hand. There are no locks.


It is necessary to book ahead by 24hours which can be done from Portishead, and to pay lock dues for Sharpness which costs £25 per lock.

(Details and contact information can be found here

For short term canal licence

and follow the links "Boating" and "Licensing"

or call 03030404040

For Sharpness Docks

or call

Sharpness Pier Head number : 01453 511968

Make sure that you book the lifting bridges in Gloucester 24 hrs in advance.

Gloucester docks is a delight. It has been very tastefully restored.

The development has avoided the construction of modern buildings with tasteful balconies and toytown roofs that grace many regeneration projects and has converted the warehouses into living accommodation, shops, museums and several eating and drinking places.

It is a short walk from the cathedral, museum and town centre. Well worth a couple of days.

You will need an Environment Agency Waterways key to use the toilet block and this can be purchased for a few quid from the lock keeper at the Severn lock.

If you intend to stay overnight on the canal (although you can make the whole journey in one day) then beware that the canal often shoals near the bank.

A gangplank would be useful as well as some stakes if you tie up where there are no mooring bollards or rings.

With a fair tide it is possible to make Sharpness directly from Cardiff.

For the June 2013 edition of Practical Boat Owner I wrote an article detailing this trip. You can access a pdf of it


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