Our Routes

Our Routes


Sailing north from Pilling’s Marina near Quorn/Barrow-Upon Soar
through Loughborough towards Zouch.
Exiting Pilling’s Lock Marina, we turn left heading north through a series of named and numbered brick-built bridges, most of which are over two hundred years old, we then enter open countryside.
Twenty minutes later arriving on the outskirts of Loughborough, we pass the Loughborough Sea Cadet's Headquarters, continuing under two more bridges, we can see the sheds and old rolling stock of The Great Central Railway, we then navigate under the old Great Central Railway Bridge, currently being restored to extend the GCR heritage line north to Ruddington, Nottinghamshire, creating 18 miles of the UK's only twin track preserved railway.
Further into Loughborough, we pass the old Towles Limited hosiery factory, now sympathetically restored into apartments.
Beyond the Nottingham Road Bridge, the top of Loughborough Parish Church can just be seen on the left.
Under Meadow Lane Bridge, we pass "The Boat Inn" and onwards admiring little gardens hugging the water's edge we approach Chain Bridge, so-called because a chain was at one time placed across the canal here at night to prevent boats sneaking through without paying the toll.
A sharp turn right under here takes us north to Loughborough Town Lock, the first on our voyage. A left turn here would have taken us into Loughborough Basin, a former loading wharf, a reminder of why canals were original constructed as commercial highways of their day, but now with facilities for pleasure boaters.
Heading out of Loughborough through an industrial area, we shortly arrive at Bishop Meadow Lock. Through this lock and under Bishop Meadow Bridge, we pass through more open countryside and further on to the right we see picturesque riverside bungalows.
Further downstream we reach Normanton-on-Soar and the unique hand operated chain ferry, which dates back to 1771.
Normanton’s majestic St. James's Church spire towers above us overlooking the river. Also here "The Plough Inn" is a favourite mooring for our clients to stop for a drink or full meal before their return cruise. (pre-booking required)
(Out and back cruise time to here is 4 hours, add additional cruise time to your booking for drinks or a meal)
Or we can continue on north past The Soar Boat Club and Zouch weir and perhaps stop for refreshments at "The Rose and Crown" riverside pub in the hamlet of Zouch, here a thirst quenching drink can be enjoyed or a pre-booked lunch.
(Recommended cruise time to include pre booked meal 6/7 hours.)

Cruise Route Map

North Cruise Route Map

Cruise Route Map

South Cruise Route Map


Turning right out of the marina, we soon come to Pilling's flood lock, both bottom and top lock gates should be open unless we have had some excessive rain overnight, in which case it is treated as a normal lock.

The reason for and operation of, all the locks can be explained by the crew.
You can of course assist at the locks if you so wish, otherwise just sit back, relax, and let our trained crew do it all for you.
Within 30 minutes we will reach "The Moorings" pub and restaurant at Barrow Upon Soar, formerly "The Boathouse" but refurbished and reopened in summer 2019, also here just past the road bridge is "The Soar Bridge Inn" also serving food and drinks.
We then pass through Barrow Deep Lock, which has a rise and fall of ten feet! (About 3 metres for you youngsters!).
Below here there is river and road access to what was 50 plus years ago, "Proctors Pleasure Park", now primarily providing boat moorings and caravan site pitches with its own clubhouse with occasional evening entertainment.

Onwards past "The Navigation" pub and "Barrow Boating" cafe, boat hire and moorings, then past the new weir bridge, the original 3 arch stone bridge was swept away in 1971 during flooding. Looking to our left we see some spectacular gardens sweeping down to the river, when you win the lottery you could live here!

We then pass the entrance to "Meadow Farm Marina" and caravan park, again with its own clubhouse. Cattle graze in the field opposite where the towpath switches sides via a footbridge, then onward under the vast span of the 1860 "Echo bridge", which originally carried a cargo train pulling wagons over the river from the Mountsorrel granite quarry, today it supports a conveyor belt.
We then arrive at Mountsorrel Lock, ascending this, we find ourselves outside "The Waterside Inn", another favourite with our clients. Originally called "The Duke of York" before Everard's took it over in 1965 when it's opening was heralded by a delivery of beer barrels by narrowboat, whilst the Everard's chairman (a pilot) flew one barrel in by helicopter! In addition to indoor seating, picnic tables adorn the garden lawn area, it is advisable to pre book meals here if required.
Continuing through open countryside, after 20 minutes we arrive at Sileby Mill Lock, a further 45 minutes takes us through Cossington Lock where we can turn for our return trip.
This would be a 6 hour cruise without stops, so a picnic aboard would be advisable or shorten the cruise for a welcome drink and meal at a Waterside Inn. (For pub lunch bookings please make your own advance booking directly with the pub)
Please consult our booking office about timings when reserving your relaxing day on the river.


Emerging from the marina onto the River Soar, we soon arrive at our first lock at Thurmaston, all passengers are allowed to assist with the lock operation if they so wish.

Descending downstream we pass Mill Lane boatyard, obviously named after the site of an ancient water mill, an early form of power for various processes, primarily grinding grain for bread production or wool processing. It's interesting to note that mill and landowners opposed the construction of the Leicester Line of the canal from the Trent up to Leicester, as they feared a loss of their land and their water supplies. It finally opened in 1794, unbelievably 160 years after the original navigation licence was granted by King Charles I.

A long straight of over 2 miles is ahead, where the more adventurous passenger can ask the skipper for a chance to steer. This section of the Grand Union canal was dug out by "Navvies", whilst the actual River has descended over a weir and meanders through Watermead Country Park, this having been created around the water filled gravel quarry workings which existed up until the late 1980's when commercial narrowboats still plied their trade carrying gravel up through Thurmaston lock for offloading upriver.

We soon pass the Hope & Anchor pub, where an option is to stop for a meal, perhaps after a slightly longer cruise that would take us past Old Junction boatyard, so called because the River Wreake joins the canal just north of here and we travel along it for a short while before the River Soar rejoins just above Cossington lock.

On a 4 hour cruise we would probably turn here for those wishing to moor up at the "Hope & Anchor" for a meal.

(Please add additional time to your cruise booking and make your lunch reservation directly with the pub in advance).

We can proceed through the lock and onward through open countryside until we reach Sileby Mill lock, passing through this and further downstream through rural Leicestershire towards Mountsorrel we reach "The Waterside Inn", a favourite restaurant and watering hole for all of our clients, our boats often moor here whilst our guests enjoy a meal.

(Recommended cruise time to include your own pre booked meal 6/7 hours.)

Cruise Route Map

South Cruise Route Map


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