We still have one or two places on the following cruises:

Cruise 12 – Stoke to Market Drayton – Wednesday 25th July to Thursday 2nd August – 8 nights – £920 per person

Cruise 13 – Market Drayton to Chester – Friday 3rd August to Saturday 11th August – 8 nights – £920 per person

Cruise 16 – Nantwich to Warwick – Saturday 1st September to Monday 10th September – 9 nights £1010 per person

Cruise 19 – Stratford to Banbury – 9 nights – Tuesday 2nd October to Thursday 11th October – 9 nights – £1010 per person

Please call Rosie if you would like to book a cabin on one of our wonderful cruises.

 

Cruise 1: Banbury to Oxford - 5 nights starting on Wednesday 18th April 2018

27 miles, 16 narrow locks, 14 lift bridges

South Oxford Canal, Somerton Deep Lock, Cherwell River and Valley, Thrupp, Spires of Oxford

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 rivers 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 our destination at Hythe Bridge, the current terminus of the canal

A good introduction to the canals, with the delights of Oxford at the end.

BanburyThruppOxford2

Cruise 2: Oxford to Warwick - 8 nights starting on Tuesday 24th April 2018

64 miles, 38 narrow locks, 25 broad locks, 1 aqueduct

The Spires of Oxford, the Oxford Canal, Thrupp, Cherwell Valley, Somerton Deep Lock, Cropredy, the Oxford Summit, the Napton flight, the Grand Union Canal, the Stockton flight, Warwick.

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.

The South Oxford Canal is our home territory and we think it’s one of the nicest windy windy bits of canal there is, and, trust us, you don’t get much more windy windy than the Summit of the South Oxford. A pre-cruise explore of the wonderful city of Oxford is highly recommended.

OxfordNaptonSaltisford

Cruise 3: Warwick to Tring - 9 nights starting on Thursday 3rd May 2018)

77 miles, 70 wide locks, 2 tunnels, 5 aqueducts

Warwick, Bascote staircase, Stockton flight, Napton Junction, Braunston Turn, Blisworth tunnel, National Waterways Museum, Ouzel Valley, the Chilterns, Marsworth junction, summit at Tring.

We leave Warwick and make our way towards Leamington Spa. This canal is wide and a good depth and we make good speed as we rise up through the Foss locks crossing under the Roman road. The flights at Bascote, Stockton and Calcutt bring us to Napton Junction, where we can see the windmill on Napton Hill. We take a left turn at the junction on to a lock free section of the Oxford Canal towards the busy hub at Braunston. At the turn, we pass under a beautiful iron sided bridge and leave the Oxford Canal to make its way northward, whilst we head towards Braunston village. We tackle the locks and make our way to the 2042 yard Braunston tunnel. At Norton junction we ignore the temptation of the Leicester Canal and head towards the Long Buckby flight, sharing the route with both the M1 motorway and the old Roman road, 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. We skirt Milton Keynes and Bletchley before heading into the countryside once more. 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. Having reached the Tring Summit, we head for our final mooring!

Plenty of opportunities for walking and lock wheeling in the, hopefully, beautiful spring sunshine!

BraunstonIronTrunkTring

Cruise 4: Tring to Little Venice - 8 nights starting on Monday 14th May 2018

62 miles, 62 wide locks, 2 tunnels

Tring Cutting, Grand Union, Limehouse Basin, Islington & Maida Hill Tunnels, Regents Park, Little Venice, London.

We say goodbye to Tring, and pass along a wooded cutting, before leaving the summit down the Cowroast lock. We start our descent into London, passing 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. Passing through Uxbridge lock, with its fine turnover bridge, we leave the countryside behind and 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 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.

Explore England’s capital city from the water and appreciate its architecture and heritage from a whole new, peaceful, angle. The Grand Union gives great insight into the importance of the canals as a means of transport between London and the Midlands.

Uxbridge LockRegents CanalLimehouse Basin

Cruise 5: Little Venice to Tring - 8 nights starting on Thursday 24th May 2018

62 miles, 62 wide locks, 2 tunnels

London, Little Venice, Regents Canal, Regents Park, Islington & Maida Hill Tunnels, Limehouse Basin, Grand Union, Tring Cutting.

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.

Explore England’s capital city from the water and appreciate its architecture and heritage and from a whole new, peaceful angle. The Grand Union gives great insight into the importance of the canals as a means of transport between London and The Midlands.

Little VeniceBow LocksCassioburyPark

Cruise 6: Tring to Market Harborough - 7 nights starting on Saturday 2nd June 2108

79 miles, 17 narrow locks, 39 broad locks and 3 tunnels

Marsworth, the Chilterns, Ouzel Valley, Soulbury locks, Milton Keynes, National Waterways museum at Stoke Bruerne, Britain’s 3rd longest canal tunnel, Gayton junction, Weedon Bec armoury, Norton junction, Crick tunnel, Husband's Bosworth tunnel, Foxton staircase.

We leave our mooring on the Tring summit and make our way towards the Marsworth flight. We pass the Wendover and Aylesbury arms and the Tring reservoirs, built to provide water for the Grand Union Canal, before heading north towards Leighton Buzzard. The Seabrook and Ivinghoe locks take us down from the Chiltern Hills. We follow the railway into Leighton Buzzard and out again to the short Soulbury flight. 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 a short cruise through the open countryside we enter the suburbs of Bletchley and Milton Keynes, skirting both towns before returning to the fields and farms. We pass through Old Wolverton, with its many derelict brick warehouses, before crossing the Ouzel on a Georgian Iron Trunk aqueduct. We pass through the attractive village of Cosgrove, with its horse tunnels and the remains of the Old Stratford arm, before starting a long cruise through the flat Northamptonshire countryside. The next set of locks brings us to Stoke Bruerne, a village split in two by the canal, with its waterside pubs and canal museum. We leave Stoke Bruerne and enter the half mile long Blisworth tunnel, the third longest on the canal system!

We enter another long, lock free, section, passing Gaydon Junction and the town of Weedon with its Napoleonic armoury. Heading north we share our route with the M1 motorway and the old Roman road, Watling Street. The Long Buckby locks take us to Norton Junction, where we leave the Grand Union main line and turn on to the narrow Leicester Canal. We head north to the Watford Gap, still sharing the way with Watling Street and the M1. The Watford locks, with their double staircase, takes us up to the twenty mile long Leicester Summit. We turn away from the motorway now and head through the damp and dripping Crick Tunnel. The Leicester line is a contour canal, so we wend our way around some wondrous bends toward Husband’s Bosworth tunnel. We finally leave the summit and head down the stunning Foxton staircases. At the bottom of the locks, we turn right down the short Market Harborough arm, before reaching our final mooring at Union Wharf.

Weedon BecCrick TunnelFoxton Staircase

Cruise 7: Market Harborough to Coventry - 7 nights starting on Monday 11th June 2018

61 miles, 21 narrow locks, 6 broad locks and 5 tunnels

Foxton Staircase, Husband’s Bosworth Tunnel, Crick Tunnel, Watford Staircase, Norton Junction, Braunston Tunnel, Rugby town, Newbold Tunnel, Hawkesbury Junction and Heath Crescent Tunnel.

We leave our mooring at Union Wharf and travel down the short Market Harborough arm to make our way up the stunning Foxton staircases to the Leicester Canal summit. The twenty mile long summit follows the lands contours, so we wend our way around some wondrous bends through Husband’s Bosworth Tunnel and past the Welford arm. More miles of lock free cruising takes us through the damp and dripping Crick tunnel. We’re now heading toward Watford Gap, where the railway, motorway, Watling Street, and the canal all share the path between hills. The double staircase of the Watford locks takes us down fifty feet to the level of the Grand Union main line, which we will shortly reach at Norton Junction. We cruise a short section of broad canal, through Braunston Tunnel and the locks of Braunston itself, before turning right onto the North Oxford.

We’re following the contours again although, thanks to modernisation work in the 1820s, it’s not as windy windy as the South Oxford! Just before we reach Rugby, we see another of 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! Once through the well lit Newbold Tunnel, with its unusual double tow path, we head into the countryside once more. Many of the abandoned arms on this stretch are graced with beautifully preserved Horseley Iron Works bridges. We also travel over a few small aqueducts designed by canal pioneer James Brindley.

More lock free cruising through the open countryside, although bridges under the M69 and M6 provide reminders of the busy world off the cut, brings us to Hawkesbury Junction with its pubs and old engine house. The stop lock here, which marks the end of the Oxford canal, drops us a whole seven inches! We make our way towards Coventry, passing many works of art on the tow path, until we reach our final mooring at Coventry Basin, now home to shops, businesses and art galleries!

MarketHarboroughHillmortonLocksCoventry

Cruise 8; Coventry to Stoke on Trent - 9 nights starting on Tuesday 19th June 2018

70 miles, 31 Locks, 1 tunnel

Coventry Basin, Coventry Canal, Hawkesbury Junction, Atherstone Locks, Fradley Junction, Trent & Mersey Canal, Great Haywood Junction, Stone, Etruria.

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 pass the junction at Fazeley, where the canal follows the course of the River Tame for several miles, with views over the Tame Valley to the east. This is a pretty secluded section with overgrowth on the tow path and limited places to moor before we encounter the busy hub of Fradley Junction where we meet The Trent & Mersey Canal.

We are once again in rural seclusion and greenery until we pass the Armitage Shanks factory, and the large town of Rugeley beyond. Beyond Rugeley we can see Cannock Chase up on the hill ahead, an ancient hunting ground and home to herds of deer. We see the River Trent, which winds its course close to ours, accompanying us past Shugborough Hall and The Haywoods. It is just here that the locks begin again, interrupting our cruising, as they are spread every mile or so, making for some lovely gentle walking for those wishing to stretch their legs. The countryside continues to the pleasant town of Stone, which has become something of a spiritual home to many boaters. Another flight of locks at Meaford marks our journey towards Stoke, where a spread flight welcomes us into Etruria and our mooring for the end of this cruise.

This cruise is peppered with lively canal junctions, which thrive on the hustle and bustle of boats arriving from all directions. For anyone wanting to sample some good old English pubs, this is the perfect cruise!

FradleyStoneEtruria

Cruise 9; Stoke on Trent to Stoke on Trent - 7 nights starting on Thursday 28th June 2018

32 miles, 32 locks, 2 tunnels (twice!), 1 aqueduct

Etruria, Caldon Canal, Churnet Valley & The Steam Railway, Froghall Tunnel & Basin, Leek Branch.

From our mooring outside The Etruria Industrial Museum we set off up the staircase locks of Etruria and out of Stoke, past old Bottle Kilns and new development. Beyond Milton we emerge into rolling countryside and climb the 5 locks of Stockton Brook, which brings us into lovely, pleasant farmland. At Hazelhurst Junction the canal splits and we descend the 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, and eventually on, The River Churnet. The scenery of this section is stunning and unspoilt with thickly wooded valley sides encroaching the canal. The Churnet Valley Steam Railway runs alongside the canal and river and at Consall Forge we fill our water tanks to capacity in preparation for the fun of Froghall Tunnel! After ‘legging’ the boats through the tunnel, one by one, we are free to explore Froghall Wharf with its lime kilns and the single restored lock of the Uttoxeter Canal.

Through Froghall tunnel once more, we rise back up the locks and at Hazelhurst Junction turn onto the Leek Branch, which offers another stunning and secluded canal, as we see the Churnet Valley from higher up. As we emerge from Leek Tunnel, we are surrounded by rolling countryside and some of the best scenery of the network. From here we must turn and make our way back along the canal into Stoke and our mooring outside the Etruria Museum.

Secluded countryside and industrial heritage. The fun at Froghall! This canal has grown in favour and every time we visit we find more things to explore and enjoy

EtruriaCheddletonFroghall Wharf

Cruise 10: Stoke to Northwich - 8 nights starting on Friday 6th July 2018

75 miles, 47 locks, 1 tunnel, 1 aqueduct, 1 lift

Etruria, Trent & Mersey Canal, Harecastle Tunnel, Cheshire Paired Locks, The Flashes, The Anderton Lift, The River Weaver.

We begin this cruise in front of the statue of James Brindley in Etruria and begin making our way north along the Trent & Mersey, as it makes its way through this industrial city and past the greenery of Festival Park. In a short space of time we arrive at the pleasant south portal of Harecastle Tunnel. At 3000 yards, this is one of the longest tunnels on the network and in places has the lowest headroom too! After a 45 minute cruise through the darkness, we emerge at the north end. The water here is bright orange from the high iron ore content of the earth. No time to rest up, as we very quickly begin our descent into the Cheshire Locks. Twenty-six locks scattered over 6.5 miles take us over a day to complete. Originally all were paired. Many fell into disuse over the years, but those that were viable have now been restored and offer a lot of enjoyment, as both boats can navigate through the paired locks in a tandem dance. Below the locks, the canal meanders for a while before reaching Middlewich. There are four narrow locks here and one wide lock to work, before we begin our lock free section through the scenic flashes, which host a wide range of flora and fauna and even sunken boats. We see the relics of the salt mining that dominated this area for centuries and is the reason for the canals existence.

Finally we arrive at the top of The Anderton Lift, where you can wander and admire this most impressive piece of Victorian engineering, before descending the lift on board the boats to the River Weaver, 50ft below. Once on The Weaver Navigation, we have the remaining time of this cruise to explore this waterway between Frodsham and Winsford. The steep, wooded valley sides provide for some beautiful scenery, particularly along the Vale Royal Cut and through The Belt, a wonderfully peaceful section where no roads or houses intrude on the secluded rural setting. We then have the final leg of this cruise which takes us to the salt mining town of Northwich, where we moor in the shadow of the town bridge.

For fans of both engineering and nature! Paired locks, long tunnels, the unique lift and then the beauty of the Weaver Valley to complete your trip.

Bottle KilnHarecastle TunnelAnderton

Cruise 11: Now Northwich to Stoke on Trent - 8 nights starting on Monday 16th July 2018

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AndertonBottle Kiln

Cruise 12: Now Stoke to Market Drayton- 8 nights starting on Wednesday 25th July 2018

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Bottle Kiln

Cruise 13: Now Market Drayton to Chester - 8 nights starting on Friday 3rd August 2018

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Cruise 14: Chester to Llangollen - 8 nights starting on Monday 13th August 2018

35 Locks 63 Miles, 3 tunnels and 2 aqueducts

Chester, The Shropshire Union Canal, Chester and Bunbury Staircase Locks, The Llangollen Canal, Chirk Tunnel & Aqueduct, Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Llangollen

From our mooring below the city we immediately rise up the imposing staircase locks and under the Roman city walls, cruising short distances to the five locks beyond, which bring us up out of the heart of this historic city. We emerge into Cheshire countryside with views of Beeston Castle ahead, unmissable on its rocky outcrop. There is such pretty scenery as we rise through a further five locks before Bunbury staircase and our last stretch of wide canal past Barbridge Junction. This brings us to Hurleston and the junction of 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 pass through 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.

The Llangollen certainly has the wow factor and is ideal for anyone’s first canal, or even to do again and again. It is an ideal choice for those wanting to walk or wander the tow path, as much as it is for those who like to stay on board.

BunburyChirkLlangollen

Cruise 15: Llangollen to Nantwich - 8 nights starting on Wednesday 22nd August 2018

61 miles, 31 locks, 3 tunnels, 4 aqueducts

Llangollen town, Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Chirk Tunnel and Aqueduct, the peace of the Montgomery, the Shropshire Union Canal, Elizabethan Nantwich.

Our first morning is spent making our way along the sides of the Dee Valley, down the narrow and shallow upper stretch of this canal. We eventually arrive at Trevor Basin and turn to cross the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, 120ft above the valley floor, on what is possibly Telford’s finest piece of engineering. We continuing along the other side of the valley, before crossing the watershed into the Cerriog valley through Whitehouse tunnel, and then into the long, dark Chirk tunnel. Chirk aqueduct runs parallel to the arches of the viaduct and is our crossing place at the Welsh Border into England.

New Martin signals the first locks of this cruise, and through the softer contours of England we progress down to Frankton where we join the Montgomery Canal, to enjoy the peaceful surroundings of this completely rural canal. There are strict limits on the number of boats allowed into this area to ensure the local array of flora and fauna are not disturbed. We can explore the newly opened section of this canal on foot, beyond Maesbury which brings us back to within just a few hundred yards of the Welsh border and the unrestored miles to Welshpool. We work our way back up to the Llangollen main line and cruise to the small town of Ellesmere and past the meres, formed in the ice ages, which fringe the canals’ route. From here we pass through the upland bog of Whixall Moss, before passing through several lift bridges whose design is more commonly seen in Holland. Gentle, rolling countryside brings us to the triple staircase lock at Grindley Brook with its canal side shop. From here we descend for the last part of the Llangollen Canal, through flat Cheshire farmland to Hurleston junction. Here we turn right onto the wider course of the Shropshire Union and travel the short distance to Nantwich.

The Llangollen has it all and this cruise includes one of our favourites, the beautifully secluded Montgomery Canal. This is a great choice for anyone, walkers and watchers alike.

Llangollen2PontcysyllteGrindleyBrook

Cruise 16: Nantwich to Warwick - 9 nights starting on Saturday 1st September 2018

80 miles, 103 locks, 5 tunnels, 3 aqueducts

Nantwich, Shropshire Union Canal, Audlem, Tyrley Locks, Wolverhampton Flight, Old Main Line, Gas Street Basin, the Black Country Museum, Farmers Bridge, Grand Union Canal, Hatton Flight.

Our mooring on the canal is on the outskirts of the Elizabethan market town of Nantwich and so we are already in the countryside for the start of this cruise. We head south towards Audlem and the pretty flight of locks there. The Adderley locks bring us to a long pound, the we travel past Market Drayton and to the lovely short flight of locks at Tyrley. Here we emerge from woodland and encounter our first deep cutting. An example of Telford’s engineering skill and determination, this straight canal uses embankments and cuttings to maintain its direct course, providing open views over farmland, or of striking wooded sections with steep sides and dappled sunlight; these are a unique feature of this canal.

At Autherly Junction the stop lock marks the end of “The Shroppie” and we quickly turn and begin our ascent up the twenty-one Wolverhampton locks, which bring us into the city. We continue swiftly through the city via the New Main line. It is on this stretch that we are reminded most of how important the canals were to the industrial development of England in the 19th century, as we pass through grassy cuttings and the remains of gauging stations. In stark contrast, we eventually arrive at Gas Street Basin where the old trans-shipment warehouses have given way to newly built apartments, fashionable shops, cafes and bars. The Birmingham & Fazeley Canal brings us to the thirteen locks at Farmers Bridge, where we descend and then continue along The Digbeth Branch. Here we can see fine old wharf buildings before five more locks at Camphill bring us onto the level, and we can begin our journey out of Birmingham.

The locks at Knowle bring us down further, and the 430 yard tunnel at Shrewley is an interesting construction with its separate small tunnel built for horses. We pass the junction with the Stratford Canal at Kingswood and finally, at Hatton, we can see Warwick ahead of us, beyond the twenty-one locks which snake their way down the hill to our final destination at The Saltisford Arm.

Packed with archaeological and engineering interest. From the industrial landscape of Birmingham, whose success was based on its extensive canal network to the “Shroppie’s” ‘motorway’ design, there are stark changes in the scenery throughout this cruise, which make it ideal for those with an interest in the history and heritage of the canals.

Audlem LocksBlack Country MuseumShrewley

Cruise 17: Warwick to Warwick - 10 nights starting on Friday 14th September 2018

99.5 miles, 51 wide locks, 32 narrow locks, 3 tunnels, 7 aqueducts

Grand Union Canal, Stockton Flight, Braunston, North Oxford Canal, Hill Morton paired locks, Sutton Stop, Anker Valley, Atherstone Flight, Birmingham and Fazeley Canal, Hatton Flight.

We leave Warwick and make our way towards Leamington Spa. This canal is wide and a good depth and we make good speed as we rise up through the Foss locks, crossing under the Roman road. Stockton and Calcutt locks bring us up to the level which takes us all the way through Braunston, travelling through peaceful countryside to Hill Morton on the North Oxford Canal. We descend swiftly down Hill Morton’s paired locks, before travelling along a straightened section of canal, which takes us through Rugby. Winding our way towards Newbold Tunnel on the outskirts of Rugby, we can see the occasional old iron bridge marking the original route of the canal. We then reach Hawkesbury Junction, otherwise known as Sutton Stop, where there is a chance for a quick pint in the Greyhound pub, before we turn under the fine black and white iron bridge and travel up The Coventry Canal towards Atherstone. The canal travels past old quarries here, some used as far back as Roman times, which have now been transformed into nature reserves. At Harts Hill we have magnificent views across the Anker valley.

The flight of locks at Atherstone ease our passage with their original hooks, which allow us to use a block to get the butty moving out of the locks, and at least one working side pound. At Fazeley Junction we turn and head through quiet and attractive open farmland. 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 Birmingham on The Grand Union Canal, which takes us down towards Knowle. Our final obstacle before we reach 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, and a swift descent through its wide locks.

Please be aware this cruise may be done in the reverse direction.

This cruise has the convenience of being a single centre route with secure car parking facilities. It also has lots of interest and variation, with wide, narrow and paired locks; industrial Birmingham contrasted with beautiful Warwickshire countryside.

Hatton FlightNewboldFazelyJunction

Cruise 18: Warwick to Stratford upon Avon - 6 nights starting on Tuesday 254th September 2018

21 miles, 56 locks, 3 aqueducts, 1 tunnel

Hatton Flight, Grand Union Canal, Stratford Canal, Forest of Arden, Wilmcote, Stratford upon Avon and Shakespeare Country

Leaving our secluded mooring in the Saltisford Arm, we depart Warwick after breakfast and immediately begin our ascent of the twenty-one locks of Hatton. We travel swiftly up these wide locks, through lush greenery and, from the top, we have super views back over Warwick and the county below. Beyond the flight, we pass through Shrewley tunnel, one of the damper tunnels on the canal network, and a few miles beyond that, we turn onto the Stratford Canal, at Kingswood Junction. 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.

This cruise is a great choice for those wanting a shorter break with easy travel. There is ample opportunity for walking and a lot of locks for the length of cruise, on a canal full of charm and character. There is also the opportunity for a bit of culture if you would like an evening at The Royal Shakespeare Theatre to end your cruise.

Kingswood JunctionSHrewleyStratford Basin

Cruise 19: Stratford upon Avon to Banbury - 9 nights starting on Tuesday 2nd October 2018

58 miles, 101 locks, 3 aqueducts and 1 tunnel)

Stratford upon Avon, Stratford Canal, Forest of Arden, Wilmcote, Kingswood Junction, Grand Union Canal, Hatton Flight, Napton Locks, South Oxford Canal, The Summit Level, Claydon, Cropredy.

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 to help as the crew take the boats through the narrow locks. At Kingswood Junction, just before the full flight of Lapworth, we turn onto the Grand Union Canal and head towards Warwick. After a short time in open farmland, we make our way through the short Shrewley Tunnel and continue to the twenty-one wide locks of Hatton. As we descend, we have views over the town and countryside below.

The Grand Union Canal is wide and a good depth, having been the “motorway” to London in its heyday, and we swiftly cruise through Leamington Spa and rise up the Foss locks, crossing under the well known Roman road, the Fosse Way. The flights at Stockton and Calcutt bring us to Napton junction where we can see the windmill of Napton Hill for the first time. We ascend the flight of nine locks at Napton and once on the summit, we see the canal slowly meander its way across the rolling patchwork countryside, and can enjoy one of the best views to be had from the tow path. Eventually the canal submits to the landscape and drops down the five locks at Claydon to the pretty village of Cropredy. Passing under a rather unsafe looking ladder bridge at Wormleighton, we reach the historic market town of Banbury.

The wonderful intimate character of the Stratford, the wide expanse of the Grand Union and the gloriously laid back route of the South Oxford Canal offer three different personalities in one cruise. One hundred and three locks and seven days cruising to travel what takes 25 mins by car! What more could you want?

The RSCBarrel CottageCropredy