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Gailey


Route Highlights:

Gailey Wharf offers access to some of the most breathtaking canals on the UK Canal network. Located on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal, you can explore the Potteries on the Trent & Mersey Canal, or pretty countryside with antique market towns on the Shropshire Union Canal. You can also explore the Shropshire countryside as you make your way towards the Cheshire Plains and its dramatic scenery. Ideal for novices or experienced boaters looking for a varied route. 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.
Gailey Map

Short Break Route Suggestions (3 & 4 nights):

Relaxed route: Brewood and Return - 25 miles, 2 locks, 11 hours total
Depart the wharf and cruise south-west down the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal. There are no locks along this stretch of the canal, which is approximately 8 1/2 miles away from Autherley Junction. Follow the canal under a series of bridges and past the now closed Hatherton Branch, which used to connect with the Birmingham Navigations. Passing over a small aqueduct, the canal then widens at bridge 74 where there is a medieval moat on the canal. There is a waterfront pub at Cross Green as you make your way south in the direction of Wolvehampton. Leaving the surrounding farmland behind, pass over the motorway, then the landscape becomes more suburban with some housing along the canal as you approach Autherley Junction. Cruise north, onto the Shropshire Union Canal through the stop lock, which is the only lock on this route. Joining the 'Shroppie' the canal is bordered by countryside again as you meander your way to Brewood, which is just over 2 hours away. Brewood is a surprisingly interesting village with an abundance of historic architecture, it has been designated a conservation area and is a popular tourist attraction. You can turn around at Brewood Wharf and make your return journey to Gailey.

Intermediate route: The Bratch and Return - 30 miles, 20 locks, 16 hours total
Head south-west along the Staffordshire & Worcester Canal towards Hatherton (pub) and Cross Green (pub) stopping at one or the other for dinner on your first evening. Continue along a lock-free section of the canal past Coven Heath, Autherley Junction and Aldersley Junction, all the way down to Compton, where you’ll find just one lock, a pub and some takeaway restaurants. Further south you’ll go through two locks before arriving at Wightwick, where you can moor up to visit Wightwick Manor & Gardens or sample the beer at the local pub, a short walk away. Just 3 more locks remain before you reach The Bratch – a scenic set of three staircase locks that raise the canal by over 30 feet. There is just one more lock to do before you pass Houndel Bridge (pub nearby) stopping just before Giggetty Bridge (No. 44) where you can turn around and return to Gailey.

Intermediate route: Great Haywood and Return - 25 miles, 24 locks, 15 hours total
Leave the wharf cruising north-east, navigating through a few locks and a small aqueduct leading to Penkridge, where you are joined by the little River Penk. There is a waterfront pub near the Cross Keys Bridge as you approach the market town. Stop off just above Penkridge Lock to explore the town, which holds a market every Wednesday and Saturday. Returning to your boat, cruise through the tree lined valley past Teddesley Park and over a small aqueduct. Mooring at Radford Bridge, you are approximately 1 1/2 miles from Stafford, there is a bus service by the bridge if you'd like to pick up some provisions. Continuing on, the canal bends to the south east as you follow the valley of the River Sow. At Milford you pass over the river on an aqueduct, an early structure by James Brindley. You can see Cannock Chase woodland and the outline of Tixall Gatehouse as you approach Tixall Wide, where the canal opens up to almost resemble a lake as you approach Great Haywood where there is a canalside pub. Turn around at Great Haywood Junction to start marking your return journey home.

Active route: Norbury Wharf and Return - 46 miles, 4 locks, 19.5 hours total
Cruise south-west from the boatyard, along a lock free stretch of the canal. Cruise through farmland and past the closed Hatherton Branch with its waterfront pub, towards Autherley Junction. Approaching the junction the landscape becomes more suburban for a couple of miles, but once you are through the stop lock at Autherley, you are surrounded by beautiful Shropshire countryside and woodland. Brewood is a historic village with interesting streets and a selection of eateries. Departing Brewood, continue cruising north on the Shropshire Union Canal, Belvide Reservoir flanks the canal to the left as you pass over Stretton Aqueduct. Moorings are available next to Wheaton Aston Bridge near the pub, if you need to stop off for some refreshment. Pass through a wooded cutting to Cowley Tunnel (81 yds) where there are two further waterfront pubs, making your approach to Norbury Junction which has a café and pub . You can turn around at Norbury Wharf to return to Gailey.


Weekly Route Suggestions:

Relaxed route: Market Drayton and Return - 68 miles, 14 locks, 30 hours total
Depart the wharf and cruise south-west down the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal. There are no locks along this stretch of the canal, which is approximately 8 1/2 miles away from Autherley Junction. Follow the canal under a series of bridges and past the now closed Hatherton Branch, which used to connect with the Birmingham Navigations. Passing over a small aqueduct, the canal then widens at bridge 74 where there is a medieval moat on the canal. There is a waterfront pub at Cross Green as you make your way south in the direction of Wolverhampton. Leaving farmland views behind you, pass over the motorway, after which the landscape becomes more suburban with housing along the canal as you approach Autherley Junction. Turning right at Autherley and joining the Shropshire Union Canal, you re-encounter countryside and woodland as you meander your way to Brewood, which is just over 2 hours away. Brewood is a surprisingly interesting village with an abundance of historical architecture, it has been designated a conservation area and is a popular tourist attraction. Departing Brewood, continue cruising north on the 'Shroppie'. Belvide Reservoir flanks the canal to the left as you pass over Stretton Aqueduct. Moorings are available next to Wheaton Aston Bridge and its nearby pub if you need to stop off for refreshment. Pass through a wooded cutting to Cowley Tunnel (81 yds) where there are two further waterfront pubs, then make your approach to Norbury Junction. Passing through farmland, surprisingly there are three waterfront pubs situated in the midst of this very rural stretch of the canal. After navigating the five Tyrley Locks you approach Market Drayton. This is an attractive town, said to be the home of gingerbread, due its link to with Robert Clive, who brought spices back to the UK after his travels to the East. There are a couple of wharfs located near the bridge, where you can turn around to make your journey back to base.

Intermediate route: Stourport and Return - 69 miles, 66 locks, 40 hours total
Cruising south-west from the boatyard, there are no locks for the first few miles. Journey through farmland, past the closed Hatherton Branch and the waterfront pub at Cross Green Bridge. At Autherley Junction, continue cruising on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal passing Wolverhampton on the left as you cruise in a southerly direction. At Aldersley Junction branch off right to continue along the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal, through one lock at Compton - there are also a couple of pubs within walking distance from Compton Bridge. Wightwick Manor & Gardens, once home to the Mander family but now owned by the National Trust, is just a short walk from Wightwick Bank. This impressive Manor House is worth exploration, with ornate glass stained windows, William Morris wallpaper and Pre-Raphaelite art. Returning to your boat, the canal now meanders through open farmland to The Bratch Locks, where there is a lock keeper who will show you how to operate the lock correctly. Passing through wooded countryside, there are a handful of pubs as you follow the winding course of the canal, alongside the River Stour. Pass Stourton Junction, continuing south through Dunsley Tunnel. The village of Kinver is within easy reach of the canal. Kinver is home to pretty cottages and rose gardens, old styled shops and a supermarket. Continue your southerly cruise through some locks and under Cookley Tunnel, then over a couple of small aqueducts. The turquoise clock face of St Mary's Church overlooks Kidderminster Lock, breaking through the wooded scenery. Kidderminster has a rich history in the textiles industry, to explore the town moor between bridge 15 and 16. The approach to Stourport and the River Severn takes you past smart developments with access to cafes and supermarkets nearby. The bustling Stourport Basins are overlooked by red bricked buildings and a clock tower, there are two sets of locks which take you onto the River Severn. Turn in one of the basins to start making your return journey to the Wharf.

Active route: The Black Country Ring - 75 miles, 79 locks, 43 hours total
Start your journey by heading east along the Staffordshire & Worcester Canal towards the town of Penkridge; maybe stopping there for your first evening (approx. 2hrs’ cruising). There are very few locks on the next stretch towards Stafford (within walking distance from Radford Bridge 98) and a little further on you arrive at Tixall Wide, which looks like a lake. Soon after Tixall Wide you come to 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 again 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 from here to 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 bottom of the flight you’ll meet the pretty Staffordshire & Worcester Canal once again, turning right and making your way back to Gailey Wharf.

Active route: Caldon Canal, Froghall and Return - 97 miles, 94 locks, 58 hours total
Leave the wharf cruising north-east, navigating through a few locks and over a small aqueduct to Penkridge - stop off just above Penkridge Lock to explore the town, which holds a market every Wednesday and Saturday. Returning to your boat, cruise through the tree lined valley past Teddesley Park and over a small aqueduct. Mooring at Radford Bridge, you are just 1.5 miles from Stafford and there is a bus service by the bridge if you'd like to pick up some provisions. Continuing on, the canal bends to the south east as you follow the valley of the River Sow. At Milford you pass over the river on an aqueduct, an early structure by James Brindley. You can see Cannock Chase woodland and the outline of Tixall Gatehouse as you approach Tixall Wide, where the canal opens up to almost resemble a lake as you approach Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal. The Shugborough Estate, owned by the National Trust, is approximately 1 mile away from Great Haywood. From Great Haywood, journey north following the weaving River Trent through the countryside. Pass the village of Weston on Trent which has a couple of pubs for refreshment, then through the water meadows of the Trent Valley to the pleasant town of Stone. After passing through the Stone locks you'll soon reach a further flight of four, climbing up through the valley to Stoke-on-Trent. Turning right (east) onto the Caldon Canal at the junction, you reach Etruria Staircase Locks, leaving the city behind. When the canal splits after Endon, follow the canal to the left through Hazelhurst Locks and then under the aqueduct to Cheddleton, where there is a waterfront pub for refreshment. The canal meets the River Churnet for about a mile before Consall Forge through densely wooded hillside, which remain s uninterrupted until you approach Froghall. The industrial works here break up the spectacular scenery. Moor before the tunnel - the tunnel is so low that most boats will not pass under, but you can turn your boat just before it, then make your journey back the boatyard.

Very Active route: The Four Counties Ring - 110 miles, 94 locks, 60 hours total
Start your journey by heading west along the Staffordshire & Worcester Canal towards Autherley Junction where you meet the scenic Shropshire Union Canal. Cruise through farmland and woodland, punctuated with villages, towns and pubs; passing the attractive towns of Brewood and Market Drayton (the home of Gingerbread) then the historic town of Nantwich, wth its timbered buildings. Parts of the ‘Shroppie' are quite narrow, with deep cuttings and high arched bridges. There are several locks leading past Adderley and Audley before you turn off onto the quiet Middlewich Branch. At the end of the branch you come to Middlewich, where you head down the Trent & Mersey Canal; making your way through the ‘Cheshire Locks' towards the long Harecastle Tunnel and the industrial history of 'The Potteries' at Stoke-on-Trent. There are just a few more locks as you travel down the Trent Valley past the canal town of Stone, before arriving at Great Haywood Junction where you turn onto the attractive Staffordshire & Worcs Canal one again. Drift past Tixall Wide, stopping to walk into Stafford, then Penkridge, before returning to Gailey Wharf. Best suited to a 10 or 11 night holiday if possible in case of unforseen delays.

Fortnight Route Suggestions:

Relaxed route: The Stourport Ring - 100 miles, 118 locks, 59 hours total
To reach the start of the Stourport Ring, cruise south down the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal past Aldersley Junction and through the Bratch Flight to Stourport. Once through the historic basins at Stourport, navigate down the locks onto the River Severn, where there are limited mooring opportunities until you reach Worcester. Turn left onto the Worcester & Birmingham Canal and through a very large flight of 30 locks at Tardebigge - a very active day! Leaving the locks behind, you can take a breather; there are a three long tunnels but no further locks along this canal as you make your way to Birmingham City Centre, mooring at Gas Street Basin. The cruise north from here up the New Main Line, passing a hub of different canals in the city centre (the BCN) - keep a close eye on your guidebook! Birmingham Main Line Canal leads to the Wolverhampton Line, where you need to tackle the 21 locks of the Wolverhampton Flight. Rejoin the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal at Aldersley Junction and cruise north to return to Gailey Wharf.

Intermediate route: The Four Counties Ring & The Cheshire Ring (excluding Cheshire Locks) - 182 miles, 126 locks, 92 hours total
Depart the boatyard cruising south-west to Autherley Junction and through the stop lock there, onto the Shropshire Union Canal. Make your way through pretty farmland, enjoying the slow pace and pretty scenery of the canal. There are very few locks on this stretch of the 'Shroppie' until you reach the town of Market Drayton, said to be the home of Gingerbread. Nantwich, located further north just before Barbridge Junction, is a bustling town with black & white timbered boutiques and cafes. Cruise east at Barbridge Junction to join the Middlewich Branch Canal leading to Middlewich. At the next junction, instead of cruising south-east towards the Cheshire Locks (to complete the Four Counties Ring) head north-west towards the Anderton Boat Lift, along the Trent & Mersey Canal. After Preston Brook, cruise towards Lymm onto the Bridgewater Canal. You are now navigating the Cheshire Ring, which will take you through Central Manchester, before joining the 'industrial' Ashton Canal. Head south along the Peak Forest Canal and onto the Macclesfield Canal, passing over Marple Aqueduct and through pretty woodland as you make your way towards the Trent & Mersey Canal once again, just south of the Cheshire Locks. You may need to wait for the coast to be clear before passing through the spooky Harecastle Tunnel, which is 2926 yards in length. As you approach Stoke-on-Trent the scenery becomes much more urban with signs of the pottery industry until you leave the city centre behind and into the countryside approaching Great Haywood Junction where you can take a walk to explore Tixall Gatehouse. Now you turn right, back onto the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal and through the last batch of locks before returning to the wharf.

Active route: The Four Counties Ring and the Llangollen Canal - 201 miles, 136 locks, 101 hours total
Depart the boatyard cruising south-west to Autherley Junction and through the stop lock leading onto the Shropshire Union Canal. Make your way through pretty farmland, enjoying the slow pace and surrounding scenery of the canal. There are very few locks on this stretch of the 'Shroppie' until you reach the town of Market Drayton, said to be the home of Gingerbread. Nantwich, located further north just before Hurleston Junction, is a bustling town with blakc & white timbered buildings, boutiques, reastaurants and cafes. From Hurleston Junction cruise west onto the Llangollen Canal and through four locks to start making your way down to the World Heritage Site of the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, then to the historic town of Llangollen. You can turn around at Llangollen Basin, making your way back into Shropshire countryside then to Barbridge Junction. Turn right, onto the scenic Middlewich Brance and at Middlewich Junction head south-east to complete the Cheshire Locks (Heartbreak Hill). You may need to wait for the coast to be clear before passing through the spooky Harecastle Tunnel, which is 2926 yards in length. Then as you approach Stoke-on-Trent the scenery becomes much more urban with signs of the pottery industry there, until you leave the city centre behind and break into countryside, approaching Great Haywood Junction where you can take a walk to explore Tixall Gatehouse. At Great Haywood you turn right, back onto the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal and through the last batch of locks before returning to the wharf.

Suggested Guidebooks