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Braunston


Route Highlights:

In a beautiful rural setting, the village of Braunston is situated on the border of Warwickshire and Northamptonshire between Daventry and Rugby. It is easily accessible from the motorway network. The pretty village, boasting four pubs, sits on the hill above the canal. It has thrived for over 150 years on the canal trade – carrying goods from the Midlands to London. Nowadays the canal offers holiday makers an unrivalled choice of routes and attracts both the novice and experienced boater. Click for suggested routes.

The sample routes below are merely suggestions. The age and nature of our unique waterways means that there may occasionally be a need for planned or emergency restrictions or closures and therefore it cannot be guaranteed that every route will always be available.
Braunston map

Short Break Route Suggestions (3 & 4 nights):

Relaxed route: Hawkesbury Junction and Return - 46 miles, 8 locks, 14 hours total
An ideal weekend for those wanting to take a break from the fast pace of life. This route takes you west onto the North Oxford canal. After joining the North Oxford canal at Braunston turn, cruise north towards the three locks at Hillmorton through rolling countryside. The canal then meanders around the outskirts of Rugby. Shops can be found south of bridge 59 and a pleasant picnic area below bridge 58. After crossing the River Avon just before the Rugby arm branches to the left, three more miles on and you enter a small tunnel at Newbold on Avon. Newbold village centre has kept it old character charm and the church of St Botolph, which dates from the 15th century, is worth a stroll to, with a choice of pubs close by. From the moorings at Stretton Stop you can walk 20 minutes into the village of Brinklow offering three pubs, post office and fish & chip shop. Turn at Stretton Stop or continue through open countryside and turn immediately after the shallow lock at Hawkesbury junction (saving about 1.5 hours cruising time) and return.

Intermediate route: Bugbrooke Wharf and Return - 25 miles, 26 locks, 12.5 hours total
Head east from the boatyard, through 6 locks followed by the Braunston Tunnel (1.16 miles long) which leads to Norton Junction with its nearby pub. Turn right, heading through a further 7 locks at Buckby. Continue south to the interesting village of Weedon Bec with its historic Royal Ordnance Depot, local shops and variety of pubs. Cruise over two low aqueducts at Weedon, past Nether Heyford and Heyford Wharf, then a little further south you'll find Bugbrooke Wharf Bridge (No. 36) and the pub next to it. Turn just after the bridge and return to Braunston.

Intermediate route: Fenny Compton and Return - 34 miles, 18 locks, 16 hours total
Another perfect short break for those wanting to engage in a few more locks. Again heading west onto the North Oxford canal, cruise south onto the beautiful and rural South Oxford Canal. Cruise for about an hour and find a mooring between Napton Bridge and Folly Bridge for your first overnight stop with a choice of two pubs. Next start your ascent of the nine locks at Napton which stretches for 2 miles between Folly Bridge and Marston Doles Bridge. This summit route then meanders through countryside and farmland with a few tight bends to negotiate at times. From here there are no more locks and it takes a further 3 hours to reach Bridge 136 at Fenny Compton where you’ll find the Wharf Inn pub and a water point. A winding hole can be found just after the bridge. Turn here and return to Braunston. If you are on a midweek break and wish to extend this route, cruise further south through 8 more locks and a lift bridge to the pretty village of Cropredy before returning to Braunston.

Active route: Stoke Bruerne and Return – 41 miles, 36 locks, 20 hours total
This is a very active route for a weekend, more leisurely if done over a midweek break. Leave Braunston heading west on the Grand Union Canal and you will immediately ascend the six locks at Braunston. The wooded cutting after the locks leads to the Braunston Tunnel (2042yds) which takes approximately 25 minutes to pass through. Continue to Norton Junction, take time to visit Anchor Cottage at the Junction, a canal craft shop specialising in ribbon plates and a variety of canalia. Whilst navigating the locks you will notice three totally different means of transport running parallel for about three miles – canal, motorway and railway line. A couple more hours cruising and the canal passes directly through the centre of Weedon where there is plenty to see and do; pretty cottages, aqueducts, an embankment, the old wharf, elegant Royal Ordnance Depot (circa 1805). Good moorings can be found at the medieval church and there’s a choice of several pubs all serving food. The five miles stretch from here to Gayton Junction begins to meander as the hills become more dominant skirting the villages of Nether Heyford and Bugbrooke. Continue south at Gayton Junction and, just past the village of Blisworth, enter a deep cutting leading to the Blisworth Tunnel (3057yds), the third longest waterway tunnel in Britain open to navigation. Emerging from the tunnel you will shortly arrive at, what is perhaps the best example of a canal village in this country, Stoke Bruerne. Pretty houses built of local Blisworth stone, inviting pubs, canal shops and the famous Canal Museum can be found here. Navigate the two locks through the village and moor between locks 15 and 16. Navigate the final five locks to the winding hole at the bottom, turn and return to Braunston.

Very Active route: Warwick and Return - 39.5 miles, 50 locks, 22.5 hours total
Suitable for a busy midweek break only. Head west away from Braunston village, under the cast iron ‘Braunston Turn’ bridge, continuing along the Grand Union Canal to Napton Junction. Turn right at Napton, under the bridge, then through 3 locks at Calcutt. Soon you'll reach the boatyard at Stockton and the pub next door to it – a good stop on your first evening. Next morning, work your way through the first 8 locks of the Stockton Flight with a pub just after. There are then 2 further locks before Long Itchington village, which has 6 pubs and visitors' moorings. Next cruise over a low aqueduct then through the 6 locks at Bascote. A further 5 locks lead to the outskirts of Warwick. After a small aqueduct near Bridge 35 the area starts to get more urban, with shops and pubs within walking distance of the canal. There are another 2 aqueducts before you reach Bridge 48, then at bridge 49 you'll find a boatyard where you can turn around and moor up. The boatyard is close to a main road which leads south towards Warwick Castle and the city centre. Next morning begin your return journey to Braunston.

Weekly Route Suggestions:

Relaxed route: Linford Wharf (Milton Keynes) and Return - 63 miles, 42 locks, 28 hours total
Head east through 6 locks followed by the Braunston Tunnel (1.16 miles long) leading to Norton Junction (pub). Turn right, heading south through a further 7 locks leading to the interesting village of Weedon Bec with its historic Royal Ordnance Depot. Further on you pass Bugbrooke village and Gayton Junction; soon arriving at the long Blisworth Tunnel (1.74 miles long). After the tunnel you'll find Stoke Bruerne where there is a quaint canal museum to visit. Descend the 7 locks at Stoke Bruerne and continue south past Thrupp Wharf to Cosgrove, crossing over the Great Ouse Aqueduct there. After Cosgrove the scenery becomes more suburban as you skirt around Milton Keynes. Passing over Grafton Street Aqueduct the canal meanders through open parkland until you reach Linford Wharf. Children's theme park Gullivers World is very closeby, if you'd like to visit. Turn here and return to Braunston.

Relaxed route: Shakerstone and Return – 95 miles, 8 locks, 37 hours total
The route was London’s main route to the coal fields, now rural, rolling and wooded, a perfect way to relax over 7 night holiday. Cruise east from Braunston joining the South Oxford Canal at the Braunston Turn. Turn right at the junction heading north towards Rugby. See the short break route to Hawkesbury Junction for more details. Enter the Coventry Canal at the junction and cruise another five miles before joining the Ashby Canal. Travel along the lock-free Ashby Canal where you can follow in the footsteps of medieval history. Head north to Market Bosworth and learn more about the War of the Roses by visiting the Bosworth Heritage Centre & Country Park located at Sutton Cheney. There are 48 hour moorings by Sutton Cheney Wharf where visitors can follow the footpath up to the visitor centre. Continue north to Shackerstone where you’ll find another nostalgic mode of transport at Battlefield Steam Railway. After a return train trip to Shenton, pop into the tea room or visit the glass studio. Before returning to Braunston, why not take a trip to see the restored Moira Furnace or wander through the grounds of their 150 year old deciduous woodland plantation - a taxi ride from Shakerstone to Moira will take around 10 minutes. There are pubs and food outlets to cater for varying tastes, some are waterside and others require up to 20 minutes' walk.

Intermediate route: Drayton Manor and Return – 91 miles, 34 locks, 42.5 hours total
Cruise up the North Oxford Canal past Hillmorton and then Rugby. After the Newbold Tunnel and the small canalside village of Ansty, you'll arrive at Hawkesbury Junction where you turn right, joining the Coventry Canal. Head north past Bedworth then through the town of Nuneaton to Hartshill, where there are a couple of pubs and shops a short walk from the canal. Continue on through hilly, wooded landscape to the flight of 11 locks at Atherstone. Once through the locks cruise alongside pleasant countryside passing the village of Polesworth and the remains of a 10th Century Abbey, plus a couple of canalside pubs. Further on, at Alvecote you'll be able to glimpse the ruins of the Benedictine Priory as you make your way to Tamworth. This thriving market town was originally a Saxon settlement and is home to Tamworth Castle, with its Norman motte. From Tamworth, continue through two locks to Fazeley Junction where you turn left, heading south along the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal. Cruise over a small aqueduct to Coleshill Road Bridge which is the best place to moor for Drayton Manor Theme Park. Turn after the bridge and return to Braunston. Note: To allow the kids more time to enjoy the Theme Park, you could extend your boat hire to 10 / 11 nights.

Intermediate route: Linslade and Return - 90 miles, 54 locks, 39 hours total
Head east through 6 locks followed by the Braunston Tunnel (1.16 miles long) leading to Norton Junction (pub). Turn right, heading south through a further 7 locks leading to the interesting village of Weedon Bec with its historic Royal Ordnance Depot. Further on you pass Bugbrooke village and Gayton Junction; soon arriving at the long Blisworth Tunnel (1.74 miles long). After the tunnel you'll find Stoke Bruerne where there is a quaint canal museum to visit. Descend the 7 locks at Stoke Bruerne and continue south past Thrupp Wharf to Cosgrove, crossing over the Great Ouse Aqueduct there. After Cosgrove the scenery becomes more suburban as you skirt around Milton Keynes. Passing over Grafton Street Aqueduct the canal meanders through open parkland until you reach Linford Wharf, where the suburbs resume again. The route past Milton Keynes is lock-free and the next lock can be found at Fenny Stratford, next to a pub. At Water Eaton Mill the scenery returns to woodland and countryside once again with just a few locks, including the 3 locks at Soulbury, with nearby pub. Just a little further south you pass through Leighton Lock, arriving at Linslade soon after. Linslade and neighbouring Leighton Buzzard have a variety of restaurants, pubs, cafes and shops to choose from. Turn around after Bridge 114 and return to Braunston.

Intermediate route: Market Harborough and Return - 86 miles, 52 locks, 44 hours total
Leave Braunston heading west on the Grand Union Canal and you will immediately ascend six locks at Braunston. The wooded cutting after the locks leads to the Braunston Tunnel (2042 yards / 1.16 miles) which takes approximately 25 minutes to pass through. Continuing through hills and wooded country to the Norton Junction, where the Leicester Line branches off to the north and the main line continues south to the Buckby seven lock flight; cruise north onto the Leicester Arm. The canal becomes quite winding as it makes it way to Foxton, past a light wooded stretch with the sounds of transportation ever present in the background. Navigate through the Watford Staircase Locks and reach the summit level of 412ft. Cruise through Crick Tunnel (1528 yards) to arrive at Crick Wharf. The canal loops past the hilly landscape and under several brick bridges with little signs of habitation until you reach North Kilworth. You can walk into the village for a pub meal. Returning to the boat, you continue cruising in a northerly direction through Husbands Bosworth Tunnel (1166 yards) before returning to unspoilt rural cruising to Foxton. The Foxton Locks are two staircases of five locks, there is a picnic area, a coffee shop and pub - making it a popular attraction with plenty of gongoozlers! After the locks cruise east onto the Market Harborough Arm which runs alongside the hills. Part of the journey sees you on the lower slopes of the Laughton Hills with the countryside extended below, an unreal feeling. There are visitor moorings at Market Harborough so you can moor and explore the market town before turning around and making your return journey.

Active route: Oxford and Return - 105 miles, 82 locks, 58 hours total
A very active 7 night route for the experienced boater. Cruise east from Braunston joining the South Oxford Canal at the Braunston Turn. Turn left towards Napton and moor up at one of two nearby pubs for your first evening. Next is the nine lock Napton flight, which stretches for 2 miles between Folly Bridge and Marston Doles Bridge, after which the route meanders through countryside and farmland with a few tight bends to negotiate at times. From here there are no more locks and it takes a further 3 hours to reach Bridge 136 at Fenny Compton where you’ll find the Wharf Inn pub and a water point. Continue south through 8 more locks and a lift bridge to the pretty village of Cropredy (home to Fairport Convention) where there is one further lock, two pubs and a small shop. There are three more locks before you reach the outskirts of Banbury. In the town centre you’ll find a lift bridge, over looked by shops and restaurants, then a lock close to an arts centre with a café. Walking into the town centre from here will take just 10 minutes. Banbury is home to Banbury Cross, Banbury Cakes and Ye Olde Reindeer Inn (circa 1570). Continue towards the ‘dreaming spires’ of Oxford. South of Banbury is where the lift bridges start to multiply; they are an iconic sight on this particular canal and many of them are already open for you to pass under, between the fields of cows, sheep and horses. There are just a smattering of locks between here and Lower Heyford, passing Aynho en route. Very close to Lower Heyford, it is possible to stop and visit Rousham House (1635). Continue cruising and after a sharp turn to your right you reach Thrupp with its two very pretty pubs, made famous by the popular TV series ‘Morse’, followed by Kidlington. Past Kidlington towards Oxford the scenery remains lovely and green with a few pretty brick bridges punctuating the canal. After a few more lift bridges and two locks you reach the outskirts of Oxford City Centre, with bridge 242 marking the start of more built-up surroundings. Moor up after Aristotle Bridge or Jericho Footbridge free of charge for up to 24 hours and discover Oxford on foot, bike or bus from there. Turn and return to Braunston.


Fortnight Route Suggestions:

Relaxed route: The Warwickshire Ring – 106 miles, 121 locks, 61 hours total
An exciting route with varied, changing scenery and plenty to keep all ages amused along the route. Cruise east from Braunston joining the South Oxford Canal at the Braunston Turn. Turn left at the junction heading towards Napton junction and continue onto the Grand Union Canal. Cruise west through the 8 lock Stockton flight, with 2 more locks before the village of Itchington, which has 6 pubs and mooring (a good place to stop first night). Cruise over a low aqueduct and through 6 locks at Bascote, then another 5 locks lead to the outskirts of Warwick. After a small aqueduct near Bridge 35 the area starts to get more built-up. There is a boatyard close to a main road which leads south towards Warwick Castle and the city centre. Next are 2 locks before the Saltisford Arm to your left; turn right here and up the 21-lock Hatton Flight (with pub near the top). Pass through Shrewley Tunnel (433 yards) and continue to Kingswood Junction, also known as Lapworth Link. Turn right, heading north through the 18 narrow locks of the Lapworth Flight to Hockley Heath village, accessible from the canal. The canal then meanders through countryside, changing to suburbs, as you get closer to Birmingham. Near the top of this canal is Brandwood Tunnel (352 yards) followed by an interesting ‘Guillotine Lock’ just before King’s Norton Junction, where you turn right on to the Worcestershire & Birmingham Canal. There is then a lock-free stretch all the way into central Birmingham, past Cadbury’s World at Bournville, to Gas Street Basin. At the next junction turn right towards Cambrian Wharf then downhill through 13 locks at Farmers Bridge and under Aston Road Bridge. Take the next left at Aston Junction and through a further 11 locks before Salford Junction where you turn right on to the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal. After Tyburn Bridge there are 3 locks at Minworth then a lock-free stretch until the 11 lock Curdworth flight, which is quite spread out. Between Salford Junction and Curdworth bottom lock there are pubs and shops within walking distance. From Curdworth to Fazeley Junction it is plain sailing (unless you make time to stop at Drayton Manor Theme Park en route). At Fazeley Junction turn right, down the Coventry Canal and through 2 locks past Tamworth and Polesworth, eventually arriving at the 11-lock Atherstone Flight. The canal then continues lock-free, passing Marston Junction (with the Ashby Canal). Turn left and left again at Hawkesbury Junction (with the North Oxford Canal) where you’ll find a stop lock. Cruise south down the North Oxford Canal through woodland and fields, passing under the Newbold Tunnel (250 yards) then it’s lock-free again all the way to Hillmorton (3 locks). A couple of hours’ cruising south of Hillmorton is Braunston bottom lock and your journey is complete.

Intermediate route: The Leicester Ring – 155 miles, 100 locks, 77 hours total
Leave Braunston heading west on the Grand Union Canal and you will immediately ascend six locks at Braunston. The wooded cutting after the locks leads to the Braunston Tunnel (2042yds).. Continuing through hills and wooded country to the Norton Junction, cruise north onto the Leicester Arm through 6 locks at Watford followed by Crick Tunnel (1528 yards). Head towards North Kilworth, followed by Husbands Bosworth Tunnel (1166 yards) and the 10 scenic staircase locks at Foxton. Turn left at Foxton and through Saddington Tunnel (880 yards) heading towards the city of Leicester. Between Saddington Tunnel and Crow Mills Bridge (No. 92) there are 13 locks running through countryside, then you approach the suburbs of Leicester. After a further 12 spread-out locks you reach the City Centre with its many pubs, shops, restaurants, parks, museums and historic sights – such as Leicester Cathedral where Richard III has been laid to rest. At Belgrave Lock the canal meets the River Soar which meanders through the outskirts of the city until Thurmaston Lock where it joins the canal once more. The Soar then begins again at Cossington, leading through pretty Mountsorrel Lock with its waterside pub, towards Barrow-Upon-Soar (deep lock) and then Loughborough. At Loughborough you reach a T-junction (under bridge 39B) and turn right, joining the Loughborough Navigation (stay to the right) leading past Kegworth onto the River Trent (pay attention to weirs). At the junction turn left and continue west past Sawley to Derwent Mouth where the Trent & Mersey Canal begins. The village of Shardlow appears soon after and is well worth visiting as it has such an interesting array of canal architecture: Heritage Centre, Trent Mill and numerous canal side pubs. Locks appear at regular intervals along the Trent & Mersey, well spread-out with no long flights, up to Fradley Junction. The route is also interspersed with low aqueducts, adding interest as the canal moves through the countryside until you reach a more urban landscape at Burton-upon-Trent, famous for its many Breweries. After passing the attractive village of Arlewas, you arrive at Fradley Junction. Turn right here, on to the Coventry Canal which leads to the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal (a stone marks the point where the two meet). Next comes Fazeley Junction where you continue left to Tamworth, through 2 locks and eventually passing the ruins of Alvecote Priory. A long lock-free section follows until you reach the 11 locks at Atherstone, then it’s lock-free again all the way to Hawkesbury Junction (turn left then left again) where there is a stop-lock leading to the North Oxford Canal. Cruise south down the North Oxford Canal through woodland and fields, passing under the Newbold Tunnel (250 yards) then it’s lock-free again all the way to Hillmorton (3 locks). A couple of hours cruising south of Hillmorton you’ll be back to the Braunston Bottom Lock and reached the end of your adventure. For those wanting a more active fortnight travel along the lock-free Ashby Canal where you can follow in the footsteps of medieval history. Head north to Market Bosworth and learn more about the War of the Roses by visiting the Bosworth Heritage Centre & Country Park located at Sutton Cheney.

Active Route: The Avon Ring - 164 miles, 223 locks, 94 hours total
Cruise east from Braunston joining the South Oxford Canal at the Braunston Turn. Turn left at the junction heading towards Napton junction and continue onto the Grand Union Canal. Cruise west through the 8 lock Stockton flight, with 2 more locks before the village of Itchington, which has 6 pubs and mooring (a good place to stop first night). Cruise over a low aqueduct and through 6 locks at Bascote, then another 5 locks lead to the outskirts of Warwick. After a small aqueduct near Bridge 35 the area starts to get more built-up. There are 2 aqueducts before bridge 48, then at bridge 49 you’ll find a boatyard with moorings (other moorings are available). The boatyard is close to a main road which leads south towards Warwick Castle and the city centre. Cruise west through 2 locks before the Saltisford Arm (to your left). Turn right, up the 21-lock Hatton Flight. Pass through Shrewley Tunnel (433 yards) to Kingswood Junction. Take a sharp left on to the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal then turn right, heading north through the 18 narrow locks of the Lapworth Flight to Hockley Heath. The canal meanders through countryside, changing to suburbs, as you get closer to Birmingham. Further ahead is Brandwood Tunnel (352 yards) followed by a ‘Guillotine Lock’ just before King’s Norton Junction where you turn left on to the Worcestershire & Birmingham Canal and through 3 tunnels – Wast Hills (2726 yards), Shortwood (613 yards) and Tardebigge Tunnel (580 yards), passing Alvechurch en route to Tardebigge. A long flight of 30 locks begins at Tardebigge, running through farmland and ending at Stoke Prior. At Astwood there are 5 locks followed by a short tunnel then a further 6 locks at Offerton. As you approach Worcester there are 8 more locks leading into the City Centre (good moorings). After 2 locks and a swing bridge you meet the wide River Severn*, flowing gently south. Turn left, through Diglis Lock, heading past the pretty town of Upton-upon-Severn and towards historic Tewkesbury. At Tewkesbury the lock-keeper will open the Avon Lock*, allowing you access onto the River Avon. Turn left, under the bridge and continue east. The Avon is very scenic with interesting towns and villages alongside it to visit including Pershore, Evesham and Bidford-on-Avon. The Avon has just 16 separate locks (each with a weir alongside) concluding at the Shakespearian town of Stratford-upon-Avon. At Stratford-upon-Avon turn left onto the Canal, up 17 locks and over 2 aqueducts (incl. Edstone Aqueduct) past Wilmcote to Wootton Wawen. Between here and Kingswood Junction (with the Grand Union) the journey includes another 17 locks running regularly through peaceful surroundings, taking around 5 hours to complete. At Kingswood Junction turn right then right again, returning through the Hatton Flight to Warwick and back to the boat yard at Braunston Bottom Lock. *Please note that you may need to purchase extra licenses for the River Severn & the River Avon en route.

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