The Sheffield & South Yorkshire Navigation is a chain of waterways that starts at Keadby on the Trent and ends in the city of Sheffield – but the section we’re interested in begins at Bramwith Junction, where the New Junction Canal heads off northwards towards the Aire & Calder Navigation and the through route to Leeds, leaving us on a 28-mile 24-lock dead end.
And it’s one of the few waterway cul-de-sacs where you might actually meet a large commercial freight-carrying barge – not very often, but they do still run on the first 20 miles. Improved in the late 1970s to 700-tonne standard with large new power-operated locks, it passes through Doncaster, joins the River Don where it follows a deep wooded valley past Sprotbrough and Conisbrough, and arrives in the industrial approaches to Rotherham.
Here the improvements end and we’re back on to the historic waterway – and the locks reduce to 60ft length for the final section, the Sheffield & Tinsley Canal. You’ll need to book in advance for the flight of 11 locks climbing to the three-mile summit, which extends to Victoria Quays, a terminus basin and regeneration site in the heart of Sheffield.