Trail Map
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The start of this trail is Sowerby Bridge Wharf.

This canoe trail has been written from a west to east aspect assuming that you will be looking to paddle with the flow, however it is normally possible to paddle in the alternative direction east to west starting at Fall Ins lock in Wakefield and finishing in Sowerby Bridge, which is the direction the original navigation, was constructed.

It is recommended that you drop your boats off within the marina, although this is a very busy area there is normally space near the Shire Cruiser office, but please don’t leave unattended vehicles here or anywhere else in the marina as you are likely to get a ticket. After dropping off your boat we would suggest driving the short distance to the pay and display car park in Stanley Street, you will then have a short walk along Old Cawsey back to the Wharf. You will find the cast iron signpost above at the junction of the Rochdale and Calder & Hebble Canals, head east away from Sowerby Bridge towards Halifax and your first portage at Salterhebble in just over 2 miles. Don’t forget to photograph this sign post if you are planning on recording a time for the trail, make sure the time date stamp is correct on your camera.

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The first portage is Salterhebble Lock – Portage on the right bank before the lock opening, walk past the lock on the right side past the Lock Keepers Cottage, passing the middle lock and continuing down the hill to the lower lock, again pass on the right side following the towpath under Stainland Road, (take care through narrow tunnel and low bridge) before getting back on the canal.

The next two locks are only a short distance further down the canal

Longlees Lock – Portage on the right-hand side

Woodside Lock – Portage on the right-hand side, and then cross the footbridge to rejoin the canal on the left bank.

Within half a mile you will pass under the new Elland Bridge which was only reopened in March 2017, the bridge was so badly damaged in the 2015 Boxing Day floods it had to be demolished. During the 250 year history of the Calder & Hebble Navigation, there has been a number of occasions when flooding has coursed major damaged up and down the Calder Valley resulting in the canal being flooded and bridges being washed away. At this point, it’s worth mentioning that if the flood locks on the river Calder are closed you should not continue beyond Brighouse unless you are an experienced canoeist and happy with significant moving water. The Calder is a typical Pennine river short on water for much of the year, hence the building of the navigation to get goods up and down its route from Wakefield, but following continues to rain on the Pennine hills and the river can rise very quickly. The Environment Agency monitors this contently and will close the flood locks below Brighouse, at Mirfield and above Wakefield if the river is too high.  Please check the links section for the details of how to access the live info from the Environment Agency.

On leaving Elland you will need to portage an additional four locks on this very picturesque part of the route before arriving in Brighouse.

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Elland Lock – Portage on the right-hand bank

Park Lock – Portage on the right-hand bank

Cromwell Lock – Portage on the right-hand bank

Brookfoot Lock – Portage on the right-hand bank, pass the derelict lock keepers cottage on the right and head for the canal staying on the right, no need to cross the footbridge.

Gany Lock – Portage on the right-hand bank and then cross via the footbridge and rejoin the canal on the left bank.

After completing around 6.5 miles from Sowerby Bridge you will arrive in the Brighouse town basin.

Brighouse Basin – Portage on the left of the lock gate, on the central strip of land in the middle of the basin. Walk down the left bank of the canal to the lower lock, passing on the left to access the left-hand bank of the river.

This is the first river section of the trail, please be aware that there are no tow paths on this 1.5 mile section of the river and the first option to get off the water will be once you have entered the canal cut after Anchor Pit Flood lock. As you approach the flood lock on the right-hand side of the river you will see the orange buoys blocking the river on the left, they are there to prevent river traffic going over the weir, you will see these at all the flood locks from now on, please take note. It is possible to shoot some of these weirs in the right boat, however, these routes are not covered on this canoe trail, but will be covered in future updates for those who wish to experience something a little more exhilarating.

Anchor Pit Flood Lock – On the right pass through the flood lock onto the Kirklees Cut.

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Kirklees Locks – Portage on the right and rejoin the river

As you rejoin the river you should be able to see the Old Corn Mill public house on the far bank, just upriver of your current position. Unfortunately, there is no easy way of reaching the pub from here, so you will need to continue on down the river.

In just under a mile you will reach the Cooper Bridge Flood lock on the left, taking you onto a short canal cut missing the Cooper Bridge Weir. There is a fish pass on this weir but unfortunately, there are currently metal spikes in the shoot which makes canoe dangerous at low levels. It is hoped that we can overcome this problem one day, but for now keep away from the fish pass.

Cooper Bridge Flood Lock – On the left, pass through the flood lock onto the canal.

At the end of the canal cut is a difficult portage as the tow path is a long way above the water, take care.

Cooper Bridge Lock – Portage on the left, rejoin the river on the left bank

On rejoining the river there is about ½ mile paddle before you reach the Battyeford Flood Lock on the right which takes you onto the Battyeford cut.

Battyeford Flood Lock – Pass through the flood lock on the right onto the canal

Another ½ mile will bring you to the South Pennine Boat Club, just before you reach the Battyeford Lock. This marina was originally a boat yard back on the 1850’s and would have manufactured a number of the barges that plied their trade up and down the navigation from Wakefield to Sowerby Bridge. The current members of the boat club rescued this derelict yard in the 1970 and have turned it into one of the most picturesque sites on the trail.

Battyeford Lock – Portage on the right, rejoin the river, (stay to the left of the wooden fence) if stopping off at either the Pear Tree pub or Pennine Canoe & Rowing Club, turn left and head up river 200 metres, or if continuing with the trail turn right and continue down river

Another mile down river you will reach the Ledgard Flood Lock on the left, on your right is the orange buoys keeping river traffic away from the Ledgard weir, this has recently been rebuilt and as yet I haven’t tried shooting it, again this will be explored later in the year and updates will be available.

Ledgard Flood Lock – Pass through the flood lock on the left onto the canal

Shepley Lock – Portage on the left, if you portage on the right you will have to cross the lock onto the left bank and walk under the Steanard Lane Bridge and rejoin the river

Rejoining the river at this point will take care as the jetty is high above the river; on the opposite side of the river is the Ship Inn, which has been flooded on a number of occasions in the last ten years as the river likes to take a shortcut via the carpark when it gets high enough.

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Greenwood Cut Flood Lock – Pass through the flood lock on the left onto the canal.

Greenwood Lock – Portage on the left and rejoin the river, this portage is not as high as the Shepley Bridge one, but still, needs thinking about. Continuing downriver for about a mile passing Raventhorpe on the left-hand bank you will reach the Long Cut Flood Lock on the far right-hand side of the river. The navigation originally went straight on to Dewsbury at this point, but following the building of the Thornhill (Long) Cut in 1798 the navigation continued onto Wakefield missing out Dewsbury.

Long Cut Flood Lock – Pass through the flood lock on the right onto the canal

A few hundred yards into the Thornhill cut you will see the remains of the old wharf on the right-hand bank where barges would have moored up at the Thornhill power station. Continuing on for about a mile brings us to the Thornhill

Double Lock – Portage on the left side, carry passed the two locks and walk up onto the road bridge on your left, this takes you over the Dewsbury Cut which heads left towards the Saville Town Basin. Turn right after the bridge to rejoin the canal on the left bank heading for Wakefield.

Mill Bank Lock – Portage on the left bank

Figure of Three Locks – Portage on the left bank

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Broad Cut Top Lock – Portage on the left bank

Broad Cut Low Lock – Portage on the right, before the lock, walk past the lock down the steps and get on the river on the right bank.

Thorne Flood Lock – Pass through the flood lock on the left onto the canal

Thorne Lock – Portage on the left just before the Motorway Bridge and carry to the lock which is approx 100m away. Pass the lock on the left and rejoin the river.

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Wakefield Flood Lock – On the right pass through the flood lock onto the canal.

Finish on the right at Fall Ing Lock

Maps reproduced with the kind permission of J.M.Pearson & Son Ltd

Disclaimer: This trail has been written and produced by the coaches and members of Pennine Canoe & Rowing Club. The club cannot be held responsible for any losses or damages as a result of following this trail and it is advised that you seek advice before setting out.

Locks to Portage Miles from last portage Total Miles from Start Lock No Grid Referance OS Map
Sowerby Bridge Wharf 0 0 SE065237 104
Salterhebble Lock 2.11 2.11 27 SE095224 104
Salterhebble Lower Lock 0.16 2.27 25 104
Longlees Lock 0.36 2.63 24 SE099218 104
Woodside Lock 0.34 2.97 23 SE101213 104
Elland Lock 0.78 3.75 22 SE111218 104
Park Lock 0.22 3.97 21 SE113221 104
Cromwell Lock 1.09 5.06 20 SE130225 104
Brookfoot Lock 0.34 5.4 19 SE134228 104
Ganny Lock 0.47 5.87 18 SE139228 104
Brighouse Basin 0.58 6.45 17 SE147227 104
1st Kirklees Lock 1.5 7.95 15 SE168218 104
2nd Kirlees Lock 0.28 8.23 14 SE171215 104
Cooper Bridge Lock 0.82 9.05 13 SE175207 104
Batteyford Lock 0.92 9.97 12 SE190203 104
Shepley Bridge  Lock 1.73 11.7 11 SE214197 110
Greenwood Lock 0.49 12.19 10 SE222197 110
Double Lock Thornehill Cut 2.02 14.21 9 SE249198 110
Mill Bank Lock 0.67 14.88 7 SE258193 110
Figure of Three Locks 0.6 15.48 5 SE267188 110
Board Cut Top Lock 2.59 18.07 4 SE302170 111
Broad Cut Low Lock 0.42 18.49 3 SE308173 111
Thornes Lock 1.63 20.12 2 SE327188 111
Fall Ings Lock 1.38 21.5 1 SE342198 111