Exeter Canal, E. Quayside to the Exe Estuary, Exeter

Exeter Canal, E. Quayside to the Exe Estuary, Exeter

Exeter Ship Canal location

The Exeter Ship Canal runs from the Exeter Ship Canal Basin in Exeter down the western side of the River Exe and Estuary towards the sea. Where the canal meets the estuary are The Turf and Turf Lock.


One of the oldest canals in the UK

It's one of the oldest canals in the UK. Built to provide access by water to the heart of the city, the canal enabled ships to bypass the river which had silted up in the medieval period and was no longer navigable. Work on the canal began in 1564. At this time, the Trews Weir was built downstream of Exeter's Historic Quayside.

'Early trade consisted of woollen cloth, tobacco, wine, glassware, fish and fruit. More recently, the majority of trade was coal for the city's gas and electricity works, timber and petroleum products.' (Source: information board at the Exeter Ship Canal Basin)

'By the 1960s only a handful of commercial ships were using the canal. The last commercial vessel to leave Exeter Basin was the ESSO JERSEY [sic] in 1975, having imported a cargo of fuel oil.' (Source: information board at the Exeter Ship Canal Basin)


Exeter Ship Canal Basin

'The basin was the last extension on the Exeter Ship Canal. Constructed in 1830 it provided reliable deep berths in the heart of the city for large sea going vessels. This helped to encourage trade and increase Exeter's wealth.' (Source: information board on site at the Exeter Ship Canal Basin)

To visit, we'd recommend parking in the car park just by the basin to the west of the river. This way, you avoid much of the city centre traffic. If you're exploring on foot, head down to Exeter's Historic Quayside and wander across the bridge to see the basin. We've positioned all these points of interest on Google maps so zoom in on the 'Satellite' setting to see their exact locations.


River Exe

The River Exe flows through the centre of Exeter on its way from the Exe Valley towards the English Channel at Exmouth. Lining the river in the centre of Exeter are Exeter's Historic Quayside and the Exeter Ship Canal Basin. The latter connects with the Exeter Ship Canal which runs down the side of the river to the coast.



Today, the canal is used for recreational purposes.


Exe Valley Way

The Exe Valley Way runs along the side of the canal past Exminster Marshes Nature Reserve, Exe Reedbeds Nature Reserve, Old Sludge Bed Nature Reserve and the River Exe Country Park. We'd also recommend following the Exe Valley Way beyond The Turf and Turf Lock towards Powderham St Clements House and Powderham Castle and Estate.