Choosing your hotelboat cruise
There is so much to see and so many possible routes on the inland waterways, it can be difficult to decide which particular hotelboat cruise you think you would enjoy the most. Here we have tried to outline the character of each route, giving its highlights and points of interest. If you have any queries regarding any aspect of the hotelboat holidays, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

To help you in your choice of cruise, we have marked the descriptions with these symbols:

Good Walking Good Walking Museums Museum Visits Lock Wheeling Lock Wheelers Paradise
Industrial Heritage Industrial Heritage Historic Towns Historic Towns Glorious Countryside Glorious Countryside
Cityscapes Fantastic Cityscapes

Cruise 1: Rugby to Market Harborough - 6 nights starting on Tuesday, 18 April 2023

46 Miles, 28 Locks and 3 Tunnels

North Oxford Canal, Hillmorton Paired Locks, Braunston Tunnel, Watford Staircase, Crick Tunnel, Husband Bosworth Tunnel, Foxton Locks, Market Harborough Arm

A short spring cruise taking in some highlights of the Grand Union canal.

Good Walking   Country

Leaving our busy Rugby mooring we make our way out of the city and into the Warwickshire countryside. After a few hours relaxed cruising we see oneof the innovations designed to speed boats on their way; the three sets of paired locks at Hillmorton. If the traffic is in our favour you’ll see our pair glide through these locks, separating at just the right moment to allow both boats to enter their own lock! Between Hillmorton and Braunston a number of long, straight sections show where the miles were taken off this canal – a definite contrast to the unaltered South Oxford canal!

We turn onto the Grand Union canal haer and pass through Braunstone, one of the spiritual homes of canal boating. Making our way through Braunstone wide locks, we come to the 2042 yard long Braunstone tunnel. Due to subsidence during construction, the tunnel is not quite straight, making passage trickier than usual. Leaving the tunnel, a mile or so of lock free cruising brings us to Norton Junction where we turn north on to the Leicester brach of the Grand Union. Here we, along with the roads and rail, head for Watford Gap where a triple staircase lock takes us up to Crick tunnel and the 15 mile summit pound.

The summit winds its way through open fields and wooded hillsides, the only interruption Husbands Bosworth tunnel, on its way to the top of Foxton locks. Using a combination of two sets of five locks built as staircases, they climb 75ft in just a few hundred yards, with views over Leicestershire stretching out in front of us. Whilst here there is time to look around the museum and the site of the old inclined-plane boat lift that used to be an alternative to the time consuming bottleneck of the staircase locks. There are plans to restored this to working order, but there has been little progress thus far due to difficulties in funding.

Finally, five miles of lock free cruising brings us to our final destination, Market Harborough Wharf.

Canal Plan Route Details.

geograph-987658-by-Roger--KiddBraunstonMarket Harborough

Cruise 2: Market Harborough to Fenny Stratford - 6 nights starting on Wednesday, 26 April 2023

62 Miles, 32 Locks and 3 Tunnels

Market Harborough Arm, Foxton Locks, Husband Bosworth Tunnel, Crick Tunnel, Watford Staircase, Weedon Bec, Stoke Bruerne, Blisworth Tunnel

A second taster cruise taking in the impressive Foxton and Watford flights then whizzing up the Grand Union!

Good Walking  Lock Wheeling

Leaving the wharf at Market Harborough, five miles of lock free cruising brings us to the bottom of Foxton locks. Here the two sets of five chamber staircase locks climb seventy five feet in just a few hundred yards, with views over Leicestershire stretching out behind us. Whilst here there is time to look around the museum and the site of the old inclined-plane boat lift that used to be an alternative to the time consuming bottleneck of the staircase locks. There are plans to restored this to working order, but there has been little progress thus far due to difficulties in funding.

The fifteen mile summit winds its way through open fields and wooded hillsides, the only interruptions Husbands Bosworth and Crick tunnels, on its way to the top of Watford locks. Three staircase locks take us through Watford Gap, with the M1 and West Coast Mainline on one side and Watling Street on the other.

At Norton junction we head towards the Long Buckby flight, still sharing our route with both the M1 motorway and Watling Street, for a few miles, before turning south to the town of Weedon with its Napoleonic armoury.

We now enter a long lock free section of the canal, making its way through the beautiful Northamptonshire countryside, towards Gaydon junction and the half mile long Blisworth tunnel. Exiting the tunnel, it’s a short cruise to Stoke Bruerne, a village split in two by the canal, with its waterside pubs and canal museum. We cross the River Ouzel on the Iron Trunk aqueduct and pass through Old Wolverton with its derelict brick warehouses. Our final day is spent skirting Milton Keynes and Bletchley before making our final mooring at Fenny Stratford.

Canal Plan Route Details

Market HarboroughStoke Bruernegeograph-4751598-by-Mat-Fascione

Cruise 3: Fenny Stratford to Brentford - 8 nights starting on Friday, 12th May 2023

55 Miles and 79 Locks

Soulbury Locks, Marsworth Locks, Tring Summit, Berkhampstead, Rickmansworth, Bull's Bridge Junction, Brentford Thames Lock

A real lock wheelers cruise, lock after lock after lock!

Good Walking   Lock Wheeling Industrial Heritage

Leaving our mooring at Fenny Stratford, we head into the countryside. At Stoke Hammond lock we pass under an excellent example of a double arched bridge, a reminder of the time when this section of the Grand Union had paired locks to speed the flow of traffic. After the short Soulbury flight we follow the railway into Leighton Buzzard. Leaving the town, but not the railway line, we head towards Marsworth junction and the Chiltern Hills. The increasing number of locks here show that we are heading upwards once more. At the popular Marsworth flight we pass a number of reservoirs built to provide water for the Grand Union.

The last of the Marsworth locks takes us to the wooded cutting of Tring summit. Cowroast lock marks the beginning of our descent into the Thames valley. We pass through Berkhampstead and Hemel Hempstead to the beautiful wooded Cassiobury Park with its ornate bridges and elusive kingfishers. At Rickmansworth we reach a small, volunteer run, canal centre at Batchworth Lock, before we pass near to Denham Village, which is well worth the ¾ mile walk to visit. Uxbridge lock, with its fine turnover bridge, marks the end of the countryside as we enter the outskirts of the city.

We start our descent from the Chiltern Hills down the Colne Valley until we reach Cowley lock. This marks the start of the 27 mile lock free pound, which would take us through the suburbs into the centre of London if we turned off at Bull’s Bridge junction.

Instead we head directly for Brentford and the Thames. We cross one of Brunel’s constructions, built in 1856, where Windmill Lane crosses the canal, with the canal in turn crossing a railway line. The canal is encased in an 8 foot deep cast iron trough and other parts of the bridge have really nice brick arches.

Hanwell’s flight of locks drop the Grand Union Canal by around 53 feet – the whole area around the Hanwell lock flight is really pleasant to walk. As we pass the top lock we can see a beautifull bricked wall on the left of the towpath – bordering the extensive grounds of what was once the County Asylum (known as Hanwell Asylum) and what is now Ealing Hospital. There is a bricked up entrance into the grounds via which at one time canal boats would deliver coal for the Asylum’s boilers and take away vegetables, fruit and animal products produced in the asylum’s huge market gardens.

A final couple of locks brings us down to the level of the Thames and our final mooring near the Brentford Gauging locks.

Canal Plan Route Details

geograph-2756002-by-Stephen-McKayTringgeograph-4846661-by-David-Hawgood

Cruise 4: Brentford to Little Venice (via Limehouse Basin) - 5 nights starting on Monday, 15th May 2023

37 Miles, 34 Locks and 2 Tunnels (twice!)

Hanwell Locks, Regent's Canal, London Zoo, Camden, Battlebridge Canal Museum, Islington Tunnel, Olympic Park, Limehouse Basin, Little Venice

The complete London experience, West to East and back again!

Industrial Heritage Cityscapes Museums

We leave our mooring near the Brentford Gauging locks and start our climb up to the Regent’s Canal level. Hanwell’s flight of locks raises the Grand Union Canal by around 53 feet – the whole area around the Hanwell lock flight is really pleasant to walk. As we make our way to the top lock we can see a beautifull bricked wall on the right of the towpath – bordering the extensive grounds of what was once the County Asylum (known as Hanwell Asylum) and what is now Ealing Hospital. There is a bricked up entrance into the grounds via which at one time canal boats would deliver coal for the Asylum’s boilers and take away vegetables, fruit and animal products produced in the asylum’s huge market gardens.

We next cross one of Brunel’s constructions, built in 1856, where Windmill Lane crosses the canal, with the canal in turn crossing a railway line. The canal is encased in an 8 foot deep cast iron trough and other parts of the bridge have really nice brick arches. A final lock or two take us up to the 27 mile lock free pound, which will take us through the suburbs into the centre of London.

We cruise through varied surroundings of countryside, suburbia and industry, in a relatively relaxed manner, considering we are in the very heart of England’s largest and busiest city. We have views of Wembley Stadium and the many boats who call this waterway their home. As we cross the busy North Circular Road by aqueduct, we are given a vivid reminder of just how peaceful the canal is in comparison. We cruise along The Regents Canal, through a short tunnel at Maida Vale and through the middle of London Zoo beyond. From our route on the water we can see some of the animals as well as the famous aviary, designed by Queen Elizabeth II’s brother-in-law, Lord Snowdon. Grand mansions line Regents Park along here and the atmosphere is very regal.

Next comes Primrose Hill, the bustling market of Camden Town, and Kentish Town. The Islington Tunnel here is nearly 1000 yards long. The canal along here is backed by houses and factories which give the impression of being in a world all of our own. The landscape turns more industrial as we approach Limehouse where we will tie in the seclusion of the basin overnight. We then explore the Olympic Park on the Bow Loop before turning back and heading towards Little Venice and beyond along the Paddington Arm.

Canal Plan Route Details

geograph-2122068-by-MarathonLondonZooLittle Venice

Cruise 5: Paddington to Tring - 9 nights starting on Monday, 22nd May 2023

61 Miles, 69 Locks and 2 Tunnels (Twice!)

Little Venice, Regent's Canal, London Zoo, Camden, Battlebridge Canal Museum, Olympic Park, Limehouse Basin, Rickmansworth, Tring Summit

The East End of London and back again, before tackling the many broad locks of the Grand Union canal.

Industrial Heritage Cityscapes Museums Lock Wheeling Good Walking

We leave the calm of Little Venice and cruise along The Regents Canal, through a short tunnel at Maida Vale and through the middle of London Zoo beyond. From our route on the water we can see some of the animals as well as the famous aviary, designed by Queen Elizabeth II’s brother-in-law, Lord Snowdon. Grand mansions line Regents Park along here and the atmosphere is very regal.

Next comes Primrose Hill, the bustling market of Camden Town, and Kentish Town. The Islington Tunnel here, is nearly 1000 yards long. The canal along here is backed by houses and factories which give the impression of being in a world all of our own. The landscape turns more industrial as we approach Limehouse, where we will tie in the seclusion of the basin overnight, to explore the Olympic Park on the Bow Loop before heading back west. We have views of Wembley Stadium and the boats who call this waterway their home. As we cross the busy North Circular Road by aqueduct, we are given a vivid reminder of just how peaceful the canal is in comparison. At Bulls Bridge, we turn right and head north on the Grand Union Canal and begin our departure from the city, winding our way through suburbia.

We reach Cowley Lock which marks the end of a 27 mile lock free pound and begin the climb up The Colne Valley and into the Chiltern Hills. Two miles beyond this is Uxbridge Lock with its turnover bridge. This marks the boundary of the capital city and we soon depart the urban environment and enter more rural surroundings. We then travel near to Denham Village which is well worth the ¾ mile walk to reach.

At Rickmansworth we pass a small, volunteer run, Canal Centre at Batchworth Lock. We ascend three locks to Watford and the beautiful wooded Cassiobury Park, with its ornate bridges and possibly a kingfisher or two. We continue through Hemel Hempstead and Berkhampstead and climb towards the summit of the canal at Cowroast Lock, before passing along the wooded Tring cutting for the end of this cruise.

Canal Plan Route Details

Little VeniceLimehouse BasinTring

Cruise 6: Tring to Banbury - 9 nights starting on Friday, 2nd June 2023

83 Miles, 73 Locks and 2 Tunnels

Marsworth Locks, Blisworth Tunnel, Stoke Bruerne, Braunstone Tunnel, Braunstone, Napton Flight, The Oxford Summit, Claydon Locks, Banbury

A mix of the new(ish) and old! The quick and broad Grand Union contrasts with the narrow and winding Oxford Canal.

Glorious Countryside  Museums Lock Wheeling Good Walking

Leaving our mooring on the Tring summit, we begin our descent of the Chilterns with the popular Marsworth flight. By the side of the canal are resevoirs, built to feed the summit pound and accommodate the many boats emptying locks on both ends as they made their way to London. We ignore the temptation of the narrow canal into Aylesbury and follow the railway north instead.

The regular locks show that we’re still making our way down from the hills. The canal bisects Leighton Buzzard, so we travel right through the center of town, before heading into pleasant countryside once more. The Soulbury flight offers the chance of a welcome pint (or G&T) at the lockside pub. A few mile further on, Stoke Hammond Lock’s double arched bridge, built to accommodate the paired locks that were once her, reminds us of the changes that have been made to this canal over the years.

We skirt Bletchley and Milton Keynes and then enter Old Wolverton with it’s many abandoned warehouses, before heading into the countryside once more. We cross the River Ouzel on the Iron Trunk aqueduct as we make our lock free way to Stoke Bruerne. A six lock flight takes us up to the village, with two waterside pubs and a canal musuem. A short cruise takes us to the half mile Blisworth tunnel, the start of our long, lock free, cruise through the Northamptonshire countryside.

At Weedon there may be a chance to find the Georgian era armoury, which was once connected to Grand Union canal. A few miles further on we tackle the Long Buckby flight with the M1, Watling Street and West Coast Mainline all sharing the same route. Turning west, we make our through Braunston Tunnel and Braunston Locks to the village of…Braunston!

We’re on the South Oxford canal now. As this route to the Thames had already been superceded by the Grand Union in the early eighteen hundreds it was not straightened and still follows its original course. We make our way around Napton Hill, with its ever visible windmill, untill we reach the bottom of the Napton flight. Nine locks take us up to the seventeen mile long Oxford summit, one of the wrigglest on the system! It’s a lovely cruise with glorious views over the Oxfordshire countryside. At Claydon we descend again to pass through the pretty village of Cropredy, home to the Fairport Convention music festival. A few more locks takes us into Banbury and our final mooring.

Canal Plan Route Details

TringBraunstonTooley's Boatyard Banbury

Cruise 7: Banbury to Reading - 7 nights starting on Tuesday, 13th June 2023

27 Miles and 17 Locks of Canal. 39 Miles and 13 Locks on the Thames

Somerton Deep Lock, Thames Valley, The Isis, Thrupp, The Spires of Oxford, Abingdon, Wallingford, Reading

Taking the old route to London. A lovely mix of canal and river cruising.

Cityscapes   Glorious Countryside

Cruising from the historic market town of Banbury, we head through open farmland and quiet Cotswold countryside. One of the first to be built, this canal twists and turns, giving many opportunities for walking or helping us through the intermittent locks. We travel through a number of pretty Oxfordshire villages, never straying far from the river Cherwell or the railway line.

After passing the Rock of Gibraltar, we travel along the river for several miles, before joining the canal again to pass through the traditional boatman’s stop of Thrupp. We skirt Kidlington, Britain’s largest village, before reaching the woodlands and water meadows of the outskirts of Oxford. Passing through some of the wealthiest suburbs in the country, we see the spires of Oxford in the distance before reaching Hythe Bridge, the current terminus of the canal.

At Isis lock we leave the canal and join the Thames. Osney Island provides us with our first river lock with live-in lock keeper. We pass through the city and pass beneath Folly Bridge and enter Christchurch Meadows, with its university boathouses and rowers.

Abingdon, Wallingford, Shillingford Bridge and Pangbourne all pass by as we go with the flow. There are many wonderful lawns and gardens to admire which stretch down to the water’s edge, with boathouses and rowing boats making the views very different to anything you see on the canals. At every lock we are welcomed by lock keepers and there are quite a variety of different craft to be seen, from small punts to large passenger boats.

Our final mooring is on the outskirts of Reading, near the confluence of the Kennet with the Thames.

Canal Plan Route Details

BanburyWallingfordReadingJail

Cruise 8: Reading to Devizes - 8 nights starting on Thursday, 22nd June 2023

55 Miles, 78 Locks and 1 Tunnel

Reading, The River Kennet, Newbury, Hungerford, Crofton Flight, Devizes, Caen Hill Flight

ReadingJailNewburyCaen Hill

Cruise 9: Devizes to Devizes (via Bath) - 7 nights starting on Tuesday, 4th July 2023

43 Miles, 57 Locks and 2 magnificent aqueducts

Bradford-on-Avon, Avoncliffe and Dundas Aqueducts, Avon Valley, Bath and back again for the Caen Hill Flight

Dundas AqueductBathCaen Hill

Cruise 10: Devizes to Newbury - 5 nights starting on Thursday, 13th July 2023

33 Miles, 35 Locks and 1 Tunnel

Devizes, Crofton Flight, The Kennet and Avon Summit, Hungerford, Newbury

Caen HillBradfor upon AvonNewbury

Cruise 11: Newbury to Oxford - 7 nights starting on Thursday, 20th July 2023

19 Miles, 22 Locks of Canal, 39 Miles and 13 Locks of Rivers

Newbury, the River Kennet, Reading, The Thames, Wallingford, Abingdon, Oxford's Spires

The best of the lower Thames.

Glorious Countryside  Historic Towns

We leave our mooring in a quiet corner of busy Newbury and head downstream towards the Thames. The locks are infrequent and vary in dimensions and appearance making each one of unique interest, and the towpath on this stretch to Reading provides many opportunities for a stroll. There are frequent swing bridges, some rural and others electric, where roads cross the waterway. Reaching Reading, we motor through the middle of the impressive Oracle shopping centre before joining the Thames, where we turn into the current.

Pangbourne, Shillingford Bridge, Wallingford and Abingdon all pass by as we fight the current. There are many wonderful lawns and gardens to admire which stretch down to the water’s edge, with boathouses and row boats making the views very different to anything you see on the canals. At every lock we are welcomed by lock keepers and there are quite a variety of different craft to be seen, from small punts to large passenger boats.

Christchurch Meadows come next, with its university boathouses and rowers, before the spires of Oxford appear through the mists. We make our way through the city and head upstream to Port Meadow before reaching our first lock. The low bridge of Osney Island in Oxford ensures only low, small boats can navigate this part of the river and it is extremely quiet and peaceful. This is very much ‘Wind in the Willows’ country, as the river winds its way through farmland and reed lined banks, skimming under medieval limestone bridges as we journey along. If you are keen eyed you may even be lucky enough to spot the otters which have recently been re-introduced to this area. How well we’ve done earlier will determine how far upstream we reach, before we turn back downstream for our final mooring in Oxford centre.

Canal Plan Route Details

NewburyWallingfordOxford

Cruise 12: Oxford to Warwick - 8 nights starting on Monday, 31st July 2023

63 Miles and 63 Locks

Oxford city, Thrupp Turn, Cherwell valley, Somerton Deep Lock, Cropredy, The Oxford Summit, Napton Locks, Bascote Staircase, Warwick

From the back roads of the Oxford Canal to the turnpike of the Grand Union. A study of contrasts.

Glorious Countryside  Historic Towns Lock Wheeling Good Walking

We leave the terminus of the Oxford canal at Hythe Bridge Street. As we travel up the Cherwell Valley, we leave the spires of Oxford behind and move through some of the wealthiest suburbs in the country before we reach the woodlands and water meadows of the outskirts of Oxford. We skirt Kidlington, England’s largest village, before passing through the traditional boatman’s stop of Thrupp.

Moving into the open countryside, we travel along the river for several miles before rejoining the canal at the Rock of Gibraltar pub. Heading north through rolling farmland and small villages, we share the valley with the river and the railway. After passing through the historic town of Banbury, we’re back in the Oxfordshire countryside. We pass through the pretty village of Cropredy before using the five locks at Claydon to rise up to the Oxford summit.

The canal meanders now, following the contours of the land for many miles and providing us with long views across the landscape. After a tricky turn, we enter the first of the nine locks with Napton Hill and it’s windmill always visible on the horizon. We make our way around the hill and then take a left turn on to the deep and wide Grand Union canal.

Flights at Calcut and Stockton allow us to show how a boating pair makes good use of the double locks on this canal. Finally, we pass below the old Roman Fosse Way and make our way back into town. We pass through the spa town of Leamington, before reaching our final destination in historic Warwick.

Canal Plan Route Details

OxfordNaptonsaltisford

Cruise 13: Warwick to Stourbridge - 7 nights starting on Thursday, 10th August 2023

47 Miles, 65 Locks and 5 Tunnels

Hatton Locks, Kingswood Junction, Lapworth Flight, Stratford Canal, King's Norton Junction, Gas Street Basin, Birmingham Main Line, Netherton Tunnel, Delph Locks, Stourbridge Basin

A trip through the heart of the English canal network.

Good Walking Lock Wheeling Industrial Heritage

Our first obstacle on leaving Warwick is the flight of twenty-one locks at Hatton, but we are rewarded with views over the castle and city of Warwick from the top, after a swift ascent through its wide locks.

Arriving at Kingswood Junction, we join the Stratford Canal and immediately find 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 splendour 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.

Leaving the apartments, fashionable shops, cafes and bars of Birmingham centre behind, we head west on the New Main Line. Telford’s nineteenth century improvements, with their impressive cuttings, embankments and aquaducts, speeds us through the city to Dudley Port Juction. A sharp left here takes us under the Old Main Line towards Netherton Tunnel.

Netherton was the last tunnel to be built (in 1855) on the canal network, to alleviate the traffic conjestion at Dudley Tunnel to the east. It’s brick lined, perfectly straight, double tow pathed and was even lit! We have to make the journey in darkness unfortunatly, but forty minutes of cruising brings us to Bumble Hole nature reserve on Dudley Canal No. 2).

The two Dudley Canals follow the contours, with just two locks on their whole length. We make our winding way to Leys junction where we join the much straighter Stourbridge Canal. The fifteen Stourbridge locks take us through the towns famous Glass Quarter. Finally, we turn down the Stourbridge Town arm, to reach our final mooring within sight of the Bonded Warehouse.

Canal Plan Route Details

Saltisfordbirmingham 2018 1Bonded Warehouse, Stourbridge

Cruise 14: Stourbridge to Nantwich - 7 nights starting on Saturday, 19th August 2023

55 Miles, 51 Locks and 1 Tunnel

Bratch Locks, Aldersley Junction, The Shropshire Union, Woodeaves Cutting, Tyrley Locks, Adderly Locks, Nantwich Embankment

From the industrial heartlands to Elizabethan Nantwich through the beautiful Shropshire countryside.

Good Walking  Lock Wheeling  Glorious Countryside

We leave our mooring at Stourbridge Basin and cruise down the short town arm to join the Stourbridge Canal. Our first four locks bring us down to the level of the Staffordshire and Worcestshire canal and at the juction we head north. The Staff. and Worcs. is a canal of intermittent locks, an ideal spot for long towpath walks. Bratch Locks are the most interesting – an almost staircase with six foot pounds between the three locks gates and working water saving side pounds.

Making the turn at Autherly Juction we pass through the stop lock which marks the beginning of the ‘Shroppie’. The Shropshire Union Canal is another prime example of Telford’s engineering, straight and wide, employing cuttings and embankments to level the route whenever the landscape refuses to cooperate.

We pass through the lovely towns of Brewood, Wheaton Aston and Gnosall on this relatively lock free section, enjoying the long views over the open countryside from our elevated position. The short aqueduct over Watling Street and the boater’s hub of Norbury Junction adding extra interest to our journey. The easy life comes to an end  as we approach Market Drayton and make our way down the first of three pretty flights of locks.

Tyrley and Adderley flights, of five locks each, get us back into practice for the fifteen at Audlem. Perhaps the promise of two good canalside pubs at the bottom of the flight will keep our spirits up? We head back into the countryside for our approach to Nantwich, passing through our final two locks at Hack Green, before finding our last mooring on the outskirts of the town.

Canal Plan Route Details

Bonded Warehouse, StourbridgeShropshire Union woodseaves cutting 2NantwichAqueduct 2

Cruise 15: Nantwich to Llangollen - 7 nights starting on Tuesday, 29th August 2023

46 Miles, 21 Locks, 3 Tunnels and 2 Spectacular Aqueducts

Hurleston Locks, Wrenbury, Grindley Brook Staircase, Ellesmere, Chirk Tunnel and Aqueduct, Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Llangollen.

Dramatic engineering and peaceful countryside on this journey from England to Wales.

Good Walking    Glorious Countryside

Leaving our mooring on the embankment overlooking Nantwich, a short journey north on the Shropshire Union brings us to Hurleston and the junction with the Llangollen Canal, where we ascend the flight of four locks, often in heavy crosswinds. We cruise through farmland, and infrequent locks and lift bridges to the flight at Grindley Brook and its steep three lock staircase, where the lock keepers ensure the smooth flow of traffic.

We then pass through more gentle countryside, and wooden lift bridges of a design more typical in Holland. We cruise alongside Wixhall Moss, Britain’s third largest upland bog and have pretty views out across Shropshire’s Lake District, before mooring in the adorable, small town of Ellesmere.

Beyond Ellesmere, we cruise along sections of canal with views far out over rural farmland and pass the staircase lock at Frankton and the junction with the Montgomery Canal. North of here, we pass through the last locks at New Martin. The aqueduct at Chirk marks the beginning of some spectacular scenery and our entry into Wales.

Through the long Chirk Tunnel, we eventually reach the climax of this cruise, the famous landmark of the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which stands 120 ft high and crosses the expanse of the Dee Valley. This lead us up the pretty, narrow and shallow stretch along the side of the valley, to the tourist town of Llangollen itself. There is time to explore, maybe take a trip on the steam railway or sit and enjoy a drink looking out over the white waters of the Dee river.

Canal Plan Route Details

NantwichHorseGrindleyBrookLlangollen2

Cruise 16: Llangollen to Nantwich - 8 nights starting on Thursday, 7 September 2023

46 Miles, 21 Locks, 3 Tunnels and 2 Spectacular Aqueducts

Llangollen, Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Chirk Tunnel and Aqueduct, Ellesmere, Grindley Brook Staircase, Wrenbury, Hurleston Locks

Llangollen BasinChirkNantwichAqueduct

Cruise 17: Nantwich to Whaley Bridge - 8 nights starting on Monday, 18th September 2023

60 Miles and 48 Locks

The Shropshire Union Canal, Middlewich Branch, Cheshire Paired locks, Hardings Wood Junction, Macclesfield Canal, Bosley Locks, Marple Junction, Peak Forest canal, Bugsworth Basin

From the Cheshire plains to the Peak District on five unique canals.

Good Walking  Glorious Countryside

We leave Nantwich Basin for a short boat through flat Cheshire countryside as we travel north on The Shropshire Union Canal. At Barbridge we turn on to the Middlewich branch and make our way east towards Middlewich itself. Four infrequent locks bring us through quiet and remote countryside on this scenic link canal. We cross the River Weaver by aqueduct and have superb views of the river and of Winsford Top Flash.

At Middlewich we turn right on to The Trent and Mersey. At Wheelock we begin our ascent of the twenty-five paired locks, known as ‘Heartbreak Hill’. Originally all paired most have undergone restoration recently and the butty and motor rise in the locks adjacent to each other, with ropes linking them up again for towing to the next pair of locks.

This brings us to the junction with the Macclesfield Canal where we immediately cross the Trent and Mersey over Poole Aqueduct. On our right is Mow Cop, the first folly castle of its type in England. At Bosley we encounter twelve of the thirteen locks on the Macclesfield in a single flight overlooked by a large hill known as the ‘Cloud’. Each lock has a cast iron bridge over the tail which has grooves cut into it from years of boats being hauled out on ropes. Winding along the summit level at 500ft the navigation follows the contours of the upland country crossing several valleys on embankments and aqueducts.

There are stretches of canal that have a beautiful isolation to them along our route before Marple marks the end of The Macclesfield Canal. No need to descend the flight of sixteen here, as we continue along the upper section of the Peak Forest Canal towards Whaley Bridge, taking in the dramatic and mountainous scenery of the Peak District hills as we go. We cling to the steep wooded sides of the Goyt Valley for the last leg of our cruise, taking a short detour down the arm of Bugsworth Basin to see the last remaining example of a canal and tramway terminus before we arrive at Whaley Bridge.

Canal Plan Route Details

NantwichAqueduct 2Marple JunctionBugsworth Basin

Cruise 18: Whaley Bridge to Stoke on Trent (via Froghall) - 9 nights starting on Thursday, 28th September 2023

65 Miles, 37 Locks and 2 Tunnels

Bugsworth Basin, Peak Forest Canal, Marple Junction, Bosley Locks, Macclesfield Canal, Hardings Wood Junction, Caldon Canal, Churnet Valley, Froghall Basin, Leek Branch

Peaks, valleys and industrial heritage on this four canal cruise.

Glorious Countryside  Good Walking Industrial Heritage

Our first night on this cruise will be spent at the atmospheric Bugsworth Basin, the trans-shipment terminus which has been carefully restored with its many alcoves and wharves. We then make our way along the Goyt Valley with magnificent views of the Peak District around us, to Marple.

The turnover bridges on this waterway are a unique and attractive feature. At Bollington we cross the valley on a stone aqueduct and continue past the houses built in the local grey stone, towards Macclesfield, which we skirt. The scenery is secluded and peaceful, with wooded sections interchanging with open farmland just the other side of the hedgerows, which line the towpath. We reach the twelve locks at Bosley, the only flight of locks with split gates top and bottom. As we go down the locks we are overlooked by the hill known as ‘The Cloud’ and beyond, the timber framed Moreton Hall and the folly of Mow Cop.

Each lock here has a cast iron bridge at the tail of the lock with grooves worn into the underside from the hauling lines of horse boats and butties over the years. Some stunning views can be seen from the Porters Farm Aqueduct near Congleton. A shallow stop lock, once the separation between different canal company waters, brings us to the junction with the Trent and Mersey, where we join the queue for Harecastle Tunnel.

We emerge into Stoke and make our way the short distance to Etruria, where we climb the staircase locks onto the Caldon Canal and begin making our way out of Stoke past old bottle kilns and new development. Beyond Milton we emerge into rolling countryside and climb the five locks of Stockton Brook, which bring us into lovely pleasant farmland.

At Hazelhurst junction the canal splits and we descend three locks here and cruise to Cheddleton and past the old flint mill. Two locks here and a further three attractive and isolated locks, bring us to the valley floor and we cruise alongside the River Churnet. We eventually join the river, where the scenery is stunning and unspoilt with thickly wooded valley sides reaching down to the canal. The Churnet Valley Steam Railway could be running as we travel, so our journey along this beautiful valley may be accompanied by the wonderful sound of the steam whistle.

We boat just beyond Consall Forge to Flint Lock, parallel with the railway, cruising underneath the platform at one point. We must turn in the last 70ft winding hole, just one mile shy of the terminus at Froghall. We rise back up the locks along this branch and at Hazelhurst Junction turn onto the Leek Branch, which offers another picturesque and secluded canal, and we see the Churnet Valley from higher up.

Canal Plan Route Details

Bugsworth BasinHarecastle TunnelEtruria

Cruise 19: Stoke on Trent to Coventry - 9 nights starting on Monday, 9th October 2023

70 Miles and 36 Locks

Etruria, Meaford Flight, Stone, Great Haywood Junction, Trent and Mersey Canal, Fradley Junction, Atherstone Locks, Hawkesbury Junction, Coventry Canal, Coventry Arm

Lively canal junctions, rural seclusion and plenty of good old English pubs!

Glorious Countryside Good Walking

Leaving our Etruria mooring, we immediately turn south to make our way down the first lock of the Stoke flight. Leaving the city behind, we pass through another short flight of locks at Measford, before passing through the boaters’ town of Stone.

We’re into the countryside now where intermittent locks allow us to stretch our legs. We see the River Trent, which winds its course close to ours, accompanying us past Shugborough Hall, The Haywoods and Cannock Chase. Once we’ve passed the town of Rugely and the Armitage Shanks factory, it’s rural seclusion once more as we make our way to the busy canal hub at Fradley Junction.

We’re on the Coventry Canal now, following the course of the River Tame toward Fazeley Junction and Glascote Locks. A long, lock free section takes us past glorious farmland and through pretty wooded sections to the Atherstone flight. With the last locks out of the way it’s alternating countryside and suburbs as we make our way to Hawkesbury Junction.

We ignore the turn onto the popular Oxford Canal and instead make our way down the little used Coventry arm. 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 a rural to an urban environment, all the way to our final mooring in the centre of Coventry.

Canal Plan Route Details

EtruriaFradley JunctionCoventry