Making the Denver-Salter’s Lode Crossing

A while back we were asked to write a little bit about the tidal crossing between Salter’s Lode and Denver Sluice, for Fox Narrowboats, the marina and hireboat company based in March.

James Salters

Making the crossing on Lucky Duck back in 2008!

The Salters Lode to Denver passage, along the tidal Great Ouse, may sound daunting but with the right preparation and precautions, should be straightforward and safe.


Call ahead to check locking times as these change with the tides. The lock keeper at Salter’s Lode is Paul and he can be reached at 01366 382292. The phone numbers for Denver are 01366 382013 or 01366 382340.

Make sure you have plenty of fuel.

Arrive in plenty of time, at least an hour before you are due through the lock. There are two reasons for this, to make sure you don’t miss the tide and so that you have time to speak to the lock keeper.

It’s always a good idea to chat to the lock keeper – he or she can talk you through the crossing, as well as let you know about the conditions which may affect you on the day.

If you have time, a walk along the bank to familiarise yourself with the landmarks will make the crossing easier. If you have time have a look at the river at low water, so you can see where the sandbanks are. Additionally, check the Google Earth picture of the area, which at the time of writing showed the river at low water.

Get your anchor ready. Position it somewhere you can easily drop it overboard, and make sure it’s attached securely to the boat!

The Crossing

All crew members should wear a lifejacket. The water is deep and fast flowing.

Take care with pets and young children. It may be best to keep them inside.

Don’t be afraid to use plenty of power to make the tight turn into or out of Salter’s Lode, especially if you’re turning against the direction of the current. Be aware of the current direction and how it will affect your boat.

Look out for the sandbank marker (cross on a pole) outside Salter’s Lode. Don’t be tempted to cut the corner!

Once in the lock, follow the lock keeper’s instructions carefully.

Boats longer than 61ft are a special case and can only go through the Salter’s Lode lock on the level tide (gates open both ends), and have to wait for the lock at the other end to be ready, either on the tyre wall when coming into Salter’s or the pontoons coming into Denver.

This post first appeared on the Fox Narrowboats Blog.

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