Intermediate route: Stafford and Return – 31 miles, 22 locks, 18 hours total
Best suited to a 4 night mid-week break, otherwise a very active weekend. Take the relaxed route (east) to Penkridge, as above, then carry on along the scenic Staffordshire & Worcester Canal to the county town of Stafford. Stop at Radford Bridge No. 98 to walk into the centre (approx. 1 mile) and visit some of the landmarks there, such as the Ancient High House, the Shire Hall and Gallery and St. Chad's Church (12 th C). Otherwise, you could relax at some of the cafés, bars, restaurants and shops available to you in the town. Continue cruising to the east, turning before Milford Bridge (No. 105) and returning to Autherley.
Active route: Kinver and Return - 32 miles, 42 locks, 20 hours total
Best suited to a 4 night mid-week break. Head south to the Staffordshire & Worcester Canal and turn right. Cruise past Aldersley Junction, with Dunstall Park Racecourse on your left. There are two locks, then Wightwick Bridge 56 has moorings for your first night (pub nearby). Next you’ll reach the scenic 3-lock ‘Bratch’ Flight. The Bratch has an old Lock-Keeper’s Toll House, an historic bridge and old pumping station. South of the Bratch is the village of Wombourne, followed by the staircase locks at Botterham and 6 further locks before Stourton Junction. Nearby Stewponey Wharf has an historic octagonal toll office. After 2 more locks and a short tunnel you arrive at the village of Kinver, with its attractive centre. There are a couple of pubs, a café, supermarket and fish & chip shop. The village is very historic and has some interesting features including ‘rock houses’ dating back to 1777, a 12th Century church, the 14th Century White Hart pub and a plaque recording a charter granted by Ethelbad in the year 736! Just after the village is another lock followed by a turning place; turn here and return.
Active route: Market Drayton and Return - 53 miles, 14 locks, 24 hours total
Best suited to a 4 night mid-week break. Follow the ‘relaxed’ route to Norbury (above) then continue north. Just past Norbury you pass under one of the iconic symbols of this canal; one of the very high, arched bridges that stretch across the ‘deep cuttings’. Cruising though farmland you cross a small aqueduct at Shebdon, followed by a long stretch leading to an ex-chocolate factory that once took goods for ‘Bournville’. Just north of Goldstone Bridge is the very narrow, green corridor of Woodseaves Cutting where you’ll encounter another of the high arched bridges. There is a 5-lock flight at Tyrley - take care at these locks to read the signs on the lock gates. Then it’s plain sailing to Market Drayton visitors’ moorings, from which you can walk into the town itself. The centre of the town is a good 20 minute walk from the canal but offers some very striking timbered buildings (e.g. Tudor House Hotel) and other places of historic interest, such as Joule’s Brewery and the ‘Butter Market’ (dated 1824). Turn after the bridge at Turley Wharf and return.
Relaxed route: Fradley Junction and Return – 65 miles, 34 locks, 33 hours in total
Join the Staffordshire & Worcester Canal, passing through one stop-lock then heading east (left) towards the village of Gailey. Stop at Cross Green on your first night, with pub nearby. Shortly after Gailey Wharf you’ll reach the market town of Penkridge, which has good facilities, shops, etc. There are very few locks on the next stretch towards Stafford (within walking distance from Radford Bridge 98) and just a little further ahead you’ll arrive at Tixall Wide, which looks more like a lake than a section of canal. Continue to Great Haywood Junction, which is very close to historic Shugborough Hall (stately home and gardens). Turn left at the junction here, heading south over an aqueduct towards Rugeley, where there are shops and pubs within walking distance of the canal. Passing the village of Armitage and ‘Spode House’ you’ll find a couple of pubs at Handsacre before reaching Fradley Junction and the iconic Swan Inn pub (or Mucky Duck as it’s fondly known). Turn around here and return to Autherley.
Relaxed route: Stourport and Return - 51 miles, 58 locks, 31 hours total
Follow our ‘intermediate’ short break route to Kinver (above) then continue south. After Kinver there are two locks before you arrive at Cookley Tunnel (65 yards) with Cookley Village above (up a steep pathway) followed by a third lock. This is a pretty stretch with plenty of greenery. The next lock is Wolverley, where there’s a pub that often hosts local music nights and a café opposite. Nearby are houses and caves crafted from the local sandstone rock which were once used as dwellings. Arriving at the outskirts of Kidderminster, famous for its carpet weaving, you’ll find a church with a turquoise clock face overlooking a lock, taking you under a very busy roundabout right in the centre of town. The canal moves through the suburbs, passing under two high bridges at Falling Sands. On the outskirts of Stourport the canal gets narrower, with more bends and bridges. Pubs, houses, tea rooms and shops overlook the canal, then there’s one last lock before you enter the Stourport ‘Clock’ Basin (c. 1770). Known as Stourport-on-Severn, as it sits next to the River Severn, the town has five Georgian canal basins which remain largely intact. This is an excellent place to stop and walk into the town; there are plenty of places to eat out or to visit nearby. Turn around and return.
Intermediate route: Barbridge and Return - 84 miles, 58 locks, 42 hours total
Follow the ‘active’ short break route to Market Drayton, then continue north. Three miles further ahead there are 5 locks at Adderley, followed by 15 locks leading to the village of Audlem and the iconic ‘Shroppie Fly’ pub. You can walk into Audlem village via bridge 78 if you’d like; it has some interesting shops. The canal is then lock-free until you get to Hack Green where you can visit the ‘secret nuclear bunker’ if you wish. Next comes the lovely town of Nantwich where there is an aqueduct and a boat basin along the canal. The main road under the aqueduct leads to the town centre – the medieval market town of Nantwich has some lovely historic ‘timbered’ buildings and an excellent array of shops, pubs and restaurants. In December 1583 the town had its own ‘Great Fire’ which burned for 20 days! On the opposite side of the canal, you might like to walk to the Jacobean mansion ‘Dorfold Hall’ (c. 1616 – 1621). Leaving Nantwich, cruise over the cast-iron aqueduct and after a couple of miles you’ll reach Hurleston Junction (with the Llangollen Canal). Bypass the junction and continue north for two more miles, to Barbridge Junction (with the Middlewich Branch Canal). Turn around at the junction, maybe stopping at the nearby pub for a meal, before returning to Autherley.
Intermediate route: The Black Country Ring - 75 miles, 79 locks, 43 hours total
Cruise along the Staffordshire & Worcester Canal heading east to the village of Gailey; maybe stopping there for your first evening (approx. 3hrs’ cruising). After Gailey you’ll reach the market town of Penkridge, which has good facilities, shops, etc. There are very few locks on the next stretch towards Stafford (within walking distance from Radford Bridge 98) and just a little further on you’ll arrive at Tixall Wide, which looks like a lake. Soon after Tixall Wide you’ll arrive at Great Haywood Junction, which is very close to historic Shugborough Hall. Turn left at the junction, heading south over an aqueduct towards Rugeley, where there are shops and pubs within walking distance of the canal. Passing Armitage and the interesting ‘Spode House’ you soon reach Fradley Junction and the nearby Swan Inn pub. Here you turn onto the Coventry Canal, heading south towards Tamworth. Turn at Fazeley Junction, finding Drayton Manor Adventure Park right next to the canal soon after. Now the hard work begins, as there are quite a few locks leading into central Birmingham. Make your way to Gas Street Basin in the centre of the city, which is close to The National Sealife Centre, the Ikon Gallery, Symphony Hall and the ICC (amongst various other attractions). Heading north from Gas Street up the New Birmingham Mainline canal, you eventually arrive at Wolverhampton and a flight of 21 locks. At the end of the Wolverhampton Flight you’ll meet the pretty Staffordshire & Worcester Canal once again and return to Autherley.
Active route: The Stourport Ring - 85 miles, 118 locks, 52 hours total
Follow our ‘relaxed’ weekly route to Stourport (as above) taking the staircase locks from Stourport Clock Basin down onto the River Severn and turning left. En route you’ll see the lovely village of Upton-upon-Severn, which is well worth a stop. At Worcester, pass the riverside Cathedral (c. 1074) then turn left at Diglis, through a swing-bridge and 2 locks, on to the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. The ‘Commandery’ is an excellent place to moor up if you’d like to visit Worcester itself, which has some interesting attractions. There are 8 spread-out locks through Worcester, then a flight of 6 locks at Offerton followed by Dunhampstead Tunnel (230 yards). There are 5 more locks at Astwood before you arrive at Stoke Prior (nearby pub). Here, a long flight of 35 locks begins (including the Stoke Flight), running through lush farmland and ending at Tardebigge Wharf. The canal then continues lock-free, passing through 3 long tunnels and into central Birmingham via ‘Bournville’ where you’ll find Cadbury’s World. At Gas Street Basin you are within easy walking distance of lots of Birmingham’s main attractions including the Symphony Hall, National Sealife Centre, ICC and Brindley Place. Follow the Birmingham Main Line out of the city centre to Wolverhampton, where the 21-lock Wolverhampton Flight begins (you require an anti-vandal lock key here). Straight after the last of these locks you reach the green Staffordshire & Worcester Canal again, turning right. Turn at Autherley Junction, passing under the bridge, through the stop-lock and back to the boatyard. (Also suitable for a 10 / 11 night holiday if preferred).