Exeter Ship Canal

No.4 Kings Wharf, The Quay, Exeter, Devon, EX2 4AN
Far away view of Double Locks (c) Mathilde Le Floch

About

The Exeter Ship Canal first opened to shipping in 1566 and was the first canal to be built in Britain since Roman times. It was also the first canal in England to use the pound lock.

Starting from the Canal Basin at Exeter's historic quayside, follow the Exe Estuary Trail alongside the canal on foot or by bike for approximately 1.5 miles to reach the Double Locks, a waterside pub with a large beer garden, serving good food and real aleas. You can download a guide for this trail here.

The next section of the trail south of Double Locks passes bird hides looking out across the extensive wetlands here, where you may spot kingfishers, herons and thousands of dragonflies. Continue for approximately 2 and a quarter miles to the Topsham Lock Keepers Cottage, where you can catch a foot ferry (1 April - 30 September, bikes also welcomed) across the estuary to the historic port of Topsham.

A further 1.5 miles brings you to Turf, one of the only pubs in the country only accessible on foot or by bike. From here there are superb views from the beer garden across the estuary to Topsham. A ferry runs between Turf Locks and Topsham from April - September.

The Exe Estuary is of international importance for wintering waders and wildfowl, supporting thousands of birds. View the wildlife of the estuary at the RSPB's Exminster Marshes nature reserve, an area of wet grassland drained by dykes and ditches and an important breeding ground for lapwings and redshanks. In winter, the marshes provide roosting and feeding areas for waders such as curlews and black-tailed godwits, and brent geese graze the drier areas. The ditches have a good dragonfly fauna, including the rare hairy dragonfly.

From the Turf pub, continue along the Exe Estuary Trail to Starcross where you can catch a ferry across to Exmouth (April - October), then take the trail back along the other side of the Estuary to Exeter.

Bikes, canoes and kayaks to explore the canal can be hired from Saddles and Paddles on Exeter's quayside.

Or why not join the Friends of Exeter Ship Canal and enjoy a FREE 30-MINUTE TASTER SESSION in a kayak, canoe or stand-up paddleboard from Adventure Activities Devon, based at Turf Lock.  Details on the link below

Book Tickets

TripAdvisor

Directions

Road Directions

From the High Street, turn left and head down South Street. At The bottom of the hill, turn right just before the White Hart pub and go through the subway, which runs under Western Way. On the other side of Western Way, walk down Quay Hill onto the historic quayside where the Ship Canal is located.

Opening Times

open (1 Jan 2022 - 31 Dec 2022)
DayTimes
Monday - Sunday09:30 - 17:30*
Dates and times marked with a '*' are provisional and may be subject to change

Follow us

What's Nearby

  1. Custom House Visitor Centre

    The Custom House Visitor Centre is in the centre of Exeter's historic quayside & occupies…

    0.01 miles away
  2. City to Coast Walk (Exe Valley)

    Distance: 8 miles
    Difficulty: Easy
    Start/End point: Exeter/Starcross

    This walk…

    0.04 miles away
  3. Saddles and Paddles

    Saddles & Paddles is a local business based on the historic Exeter quayside that offers…

    0.04 miles away
  1. Saddles and Paddles

    Bike and canoe hire from Exeter's historic quayside. Explore the old canal trail. Seven…

    0.04 miles away
  2. Explore the Exe Estuary by bicycle on the Exe Estuary Trail

    Pass through beautiful riverside towns and villages steeped in maritime history on this…

    0.06 miles away
  3. Exeter Quayside

    Exeter's Historic Quayside is the most attractive area in the city, popular with locals &…

    0.08 miles away
  4. Hire a kayak from AS Watersports to take a trip down Exeter Canal

    AS Watersports are pleased to offer Canoe, Sit on top kayak and paddleboard hire on the…

    0.09 miles away
  5. Quay Climbing Centre

    Enjoy climbing with your family or friends at the South West’s largest indoor climbing…

    0.09 miles away
  6. Clip ‘n Climb

    Clip N Climb is healthy & challenging climbing fun for everyone ages 4yrs & up!

    0.09 miles away
  7. Clip & Climb - Exeter Quay

    Enjoy climbing with your family or friends at the South West’s largest indoor climbing…

    0.09 miles away
  8. Haven Banks Outdoor Education Centre

    Outdoor activity centre. Sailing, windsurfing, caving, climbing and orienteering, raft…

    0.12 miles away
  9. Haven Banks Outdoor Education Centre

    Outdoor activity centre. Sailing, windsurfing, caving, climbing and orienteering, raft…

    0.12 miles away
  10. Scale the South West’s largest indoor climbing wall

    Visit the Quay Climbing Centre to scale the south west's largest indoor climbing wall in…

    0.14 miles away
  11. Exeter Green Circle Walk

    The Exeter Green Circle is a twelve-mile walk around the city with something for…

    0.18 miles away
  12. Learn to canoe or kayak along England’s oldest ship canal

    Exeter is home to England’s oldest ship canal (built in the 1560s) which is still…

    0.18 miles away
  13. Exeter's Riverside and Western Skyline - Walk

    This walk is on the Exe Valley Way in Exeter, linking it to the skyline overlooking the…

    0.19 miles away
Previous Next

Search for What's Nearby

Product Type
Proximity
Within miles