Cruise 2: Coventry to Stratford upon Avon - 9 nights starting on Wednesday 25th April 2019
68 miles , 77 locks, 3 tunnels and a spectacular aqueduct
Coventry Arm, Sutton Stop, Anker Valley, Atherstone Flight, Birmingham and Fazeley, CanalGrand Union Canal, Stratford Canal, Forest of Arden, Wilmcote, Stratford upon Avon and Shakespeare Country
Travel down the intimate Stratford Canal to the heart of Shakespeare country.
We leave the basin in Coventry and begin making our way along the canal towards the edge of the city. The canal here survived the bombing of Coventry during the blitz and, when at risk of closure, was saved by volunteers who fought to keep it open. Our course passes many works of art which have been installed along the tow path to make an art trail which adds much interest, as we cruise from urban town to rural countryside, all the way to Hawkesbury Junction. The Coventry Canal travels past old quarries, some used as far back as Roman times. After a flight of locks at Atherstone, we head through a long, lock free section past glorious farmland, which brings us through Polesworth and pretty wooded sections. We eventually descend two locks at Glascote and come to the junction at Fazeley, where we turn southwards and start our journey into the outskirts of Birmingham. Here we have a chance to spot the varied wildlife which is attracted to the flooded gravel pits, before we finally reach the outskirts of Birmingham. We travel through Salford and Bordesley junctions and then head back out of the city on The Grand Union Canal.
Having experienced the only broad locks on this cruise, the attractive Knowle flight, we negotiate the tricky turns of Kingswood Junction and join the Stratford canal. This canal stands out as being full of character with its cast iron aqueducts, barrel roofed cottages, split bridges and pretty scenery. Frequent locks, as well as the flights at Lapworth and Wilmcote, bring us down into the Avon valley, through the Forest of Arden. Although a helping hand is always welcome, you are free to sit back and enjoy the scenery, or the walk between locks provides good opportunities to stretch your legs. Our final destination is Bancroft Basin in the heart of historic Stratford and, overlooked by the Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre, we come to journeys end.
Cruise 3: Stratford upon Avon to Gas Street Basin - 7 nights starting on Tuesday 7th May 2019
48 miles, 70 locks, 4 tunnels and a magnificent aqueduct
Stratford upon Avon, Stratford Canal, Forest of Arden, Wilmcote, Kingswood Junction, Lapworth Flight, Brandwood Tunnel, King's Norton Junction, Worcester and Birmingham Canal, Old Main Line, Black Country Museum, New Main Line, Gas Street Basin
From Shakespeare’s birthplace to the centre of the industrial revolution.
Having soaked up the atmosphere of Stratford, we travel up the canal with its cast iron aqueducts, barrel roofed cottages, and split bridges. Pretty scenery accompanies us through a selection of exclusive Warwickshire villages, such as Wilmcote, the location of Mary Arden’s House, and the Forest of Arden. Many and frequent locks provide good opportunities for stretching your legs and, although a helping hand is always welcome, there is no obligation as the crew take the boats through the narrow locks.
At Kingswood Junction we stay on the Stratford Canal. We make our way through the perfect bow hauling locks at Lapworth, where the top of one lock is only yards from the bottom of the next. The final twelve miles of the Stratford canal are lock free, rural at first before entering the residential outskirts of Birmingham. Passing through the unique guillotine stop lock that marks the end of the Stratford canal we approach King’s Norton junction where we turn towards the centre of Birmingham.
Rail and canal share this route into the city, passing through the centre of the Bournville chocolate factory. We enjoy fine views from the Edgbaston embankment of Birmingham University and the residential splendor of this suburb. The railway now makes it way to New Street station, whilst we make a sharp left to pass through Worcester Bar and Gas Street Basin.
To cross the city to Dudley we have to choose between Brindley and Telford, the Old and New Main Line. Each has it’s attractions; crossroads, junctions, flyovers, sliproads, nature and industry. In Dudley we’ll spend the night at the Black Country Museum moorings ready for our visit the next day. Finally we cross the city once more, back to Gas Street, for our final night of the cruise.