Explore the waterways in Leicestershire

Leicestershire's waterways meander through some of the prettiest countryside in the city and county and past some great landmarks.

The broad and gently winding River Soar is full of wildlife, including large numbers of birds and coarse fish. Its source is midway between Hinckley and Lutterworth, and flows north through Leicester, where it is joined by the Grand Union Canal.

NarrowboatIn the city, the National Space Centre, Belgrave Hall & Gardens, Abbey Park, Abbey Pumping Station, Castle Gardens, Aylestone Meadows Local Nature Reserve and the Richard III Visitor Centre are all close by the river within easy reach for cyclists, walkers and boaters.

The river continues through Leicestershire passing Loughborough and Kegworth, until it reaches the River Trent at the county boundary. The Leicester navigation connects to the River Soar south of Loughborough, both forming part of the Grand Union Canal.

The Leicester Line of the Grand Union Canal takes a quiet, meandering course through unspoilt countryside. The Market Harborough Arm is one of two branches of the Leicester Line, part of the Grand Union Canal. There are no locks on this stretch of canal just four miles from Foxton. But there’s lots to see as boats travel along the canal to the terminus at Market Harborough.

At Foxton the remains of an historic inclined plane can be seen which was once a spectacular lift for boats. Visitors can watch boats travel through the magnificent flight of ten locks, take a boat trip, or pop into the museum to see how the inclined plane used to work or just sit back and relax in one of the pubs or enjoy a picnic of Leicestershire produce.

The tranquil Ashby Canal meanders along a level, rural path, and so needs no locks at all. It winds peacefully through Leicestershire countryside for almost the whole of its 22-mile length. It is the perfect destination for first-time boaters, or walkers in search of a gentle and pretty route. The canal line touches the western edge of Bosworth Field, where King Richard III met his match at the hands of Henry Tudor in 1485.


Pick up a copy of the River Soar Trail at your local library, download a copy here or a request a copy to be posted out to you by calling 0116 305 4866 or email ETDCentraladmin@leics.gov.uk

Volunteering opportunities

There are opportunities to volunteer with a variety of organisations along the trail. Visit each organisation’s website for more information;

Leicester City Council: www.leicester.gov.uk/parks-volunteering
Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust: www.lrwt.org.uk/get-involved/volunteer/
Leicestershire and Rutland Ornithological Society (LROS) www.lros.org.uk/
Leicester Outdoor Pursuits Centre: www.lopc.co.uk/about/get-involved/river-clean-team/
Charnwood Borough Council: www.charnwood.gov.uk/pages/charnwoodconservationvolunteers
Leicestershire Country Parks: www.leicscountryparks.org.uk/volunteer/
Foxton Inclined Plane Trust: www.fipt.org.uk/vols
Canal & River Trust: canalrivertrust.org.uk/volunteer

Hire a boat for a day or holiday


Walking along the canal and riverbanks

Waterside events and festivals

Places to visit along the waterside

Waterside dining

Stay overnight

Go fishing


Download these brochures for more information on waterways in Leicester and Leicestershire
Last updated January 2018