Heart of England

The Heart of England…….

The ‘Heart of England,’ where the canals were born to transport coal and manufactured goods from the Midlands to London and beyond.

Birmingham has more miles of canal than Venice, but the area offers a huge range of cruising options including city breaks in Oxford, Worcester, Stratford upon Avon and Birmingham to a wide choice of scenic country routes. You can choose an energetic route with flights of locks to keep you active, such as the Hatton Flight near Warwick or the Tardebigge Flight near Birmingham. Or for the more laid back holiday, venture up the North Oxford Canal from Rugby to Coventry and up the Ashby Canal for a lock free canal stretch.

You can enjoy a short break ‘out and back’ route or a more active week or fortnight exploring one of the many ring routes including the warwickshire Ring, Stourport Ring, Birmingham mini ring and the Four Counties Ring which passes through the Heart of England in it’s Southern sections.

Worcester Cathedral from the Water
Worcester Cathedral from the Water

The Mid Worcestershire ring is a new mini-ring located south of Birmingham, where the Worcester & Birmingham Canal meets the River Severn. This ring has been re-opened for the first time since the mid 1920’s, with the re-opening of the Droitwich Canals. The ring stretches approximately 22 miles and consists of 30 locks, achievable in a short break and ideal for holidaymakers wanting to do a ring that isn’t too ambitious. Travel down the sleepy Droitwich canal’s and through the marvellous City of Worcester, stopping for a browse around the high street stores and local heritage. Then journey onto the River Severn, a more open waterway, where there is one large lock which is manned for you.

Our recommendations….. Try a short break starting from one of the bases on the North Oxford Canal (close to Rugby) and visit Warwick where you can moor up within a short 10 minute walk of the famous Warwick Castle. The castle provides a perfect day out for all the family, activities include touring the castle dungeons, walking the castle grounds and gardens and explore the grand interiors.

Alternatively, for a city break, why not start from Alvechurch or Tardebigge on the Worcester Birmingham Canal and visit Birmingham where you can moor up next to the superbly regenerated Gas Street Basin with its cosmopolitan atmosphere with many waterside pubs and restaurants plus great city centre shopping and entertainment on your doorstep. From the Symphony Hall, the National Indoor Arena, the Sealife Centre, the Jewellery Quarter, Chinatown … there’s endless amounts to experience.

For those in search of a cultural break, start from Wootton Wawen on the Stratford upon Avon Canal and visit the Royal Shakespeare theatre. You can moor overnight in the canal basin in the centre of Stratford upon Avon, the birth place of Shakespeare. From this base you have the option to cruise south onto the Upper Avon Navigation, or north up the Stratford upon Avon Canal. The canal offers more locks, suited for the energetic boater, and connects to the Grand Union Canal within 11 hours of cruising. If you are looking for a slightly less active route with less frequent locks, why not try cruising down the River Avon. Suited for a weekend getaway, you can reach the market town, Evesham within 7 hours of departure. This town is renowned for fruit and veg growing, with beautiful fruit blossoms in spring surrounded by medieval buildings. Near the River, is Abbey Park, with its Victorian bandstand playing music on Sunday afternoon’s right through from June to September, perfect for those lazy summer afternoons

Whatever type of cruise you are looking for, the Heart of England canals have something to offer all!