Intermediate route: Milton Keynes, Fenny Stratford and Return - 43 miles, 18 locks, 18 hours total
Best suited to a mid-week break. Follow the relaxed route (shown above) over Cosgrove Aqueduct then continue down the Grand Union Canal, skirting the parkland of Milton Keynes and turning at the small town of Fenny Stratford. To the far end of the Cosgrove Aqueduct you'll find Old Wolverton which has a canalside pub. Your surroundings become a little more suburban as you cruise towards Milton Keynes and over the Grafton Aqueduct (c. 1991). There is scenic parkland at Stantonbury and Great Linford, where the canal begins to meander south. After bridge 81 the outlook changes to lush woodland and you pass under some rather interesting, arched accommodation bridges. There are 3 canalside pubs between Peartree Bridge and Fenny Stratford, where there is one lock and another attractive hostelry. Turn after pipe bridge No. 96 and return.
Active route: Crick and Return - 35 miles, 28 locks, 17 hours total
Best suited to a mid-week break. Head north-west on the Grand Union Canal to Norton Junction. Continue north up the Leicester arm of the Grand Union Canal, leaving the junction behind and cruising into quiet scenery with wooded towpaths and open fields. Meandering along with the waterway, you are not too far from civilization, with the murmour of cars reminding you how close the canal comes to some of the UK's motorways. Make your way through Watford Staircase Locks then Crick Tunnel, walking into Crick Village. After this is a winding hole at Crack's Hill, just north of the village, where you can turn.
Relaxed route: Leighton Buzzard and Return. 59 Miles, 28 locks, 25 hours total
Cruising south from the boatyard, make your way to the Blisworth Tunnel (approximately an hours’ cruise from the marina). The Blisworth Tunnel is 3057 yards long - making it one of the longest tunnels open for navigation in Britain. After the tunnel, you’ll reach Stoke Bruerne which has a waterfront canal museum and a selection of pubs & restaurants. After doing 7 locks at Stoke Bruerne, cruise through varied scenery and under attractive stone bridges to Cosgrove and the Great Ouse Aqueduct. After the aqueduct continue southwards, skirting the suburbs and parkland of Milton Keynes and continuing through the Ouzel Valley towards Leighton Buzzard. Moor up before Bridge 114 to walk into the town and partake of its many shops, pubs, cafés and restaurants, before turning around just after Bridge 114 and returning to Gayton.
Intermediate route: Coventry and Return - 90 miles, 34 locks, 38 hours total
A relaxed route for a week, especially suitable for novices as there are only 17 locks each way. If you have additional time, you may also want to explore the pretty lock free Ashby Canal. Departing the marina, cruise north up the Grand Union Canal passing the villages of Bugbrooke and Weedon Bec, where you can stop off for refreshment or provisions. At Norton Junction continue on the Grand Union Canal (main line) through the Braunston Tunnel, which is 2042 yards long, followed by Braunston Locks. Once through the locks you'll reach Braunston village and from here follow the canal around to the right, on to the North Oxford Canal. Leaving Braunston village behind, the waterway runs through open countryside and bridges. Head towards Hillmorton and Rugby, passing over a small aqueduct and through Newbold Tunnel before reaching Hawkesbury Junction, which takes you onto the Coventry Canal. Cruising down the Coventry Canal, you leave the farmland behind, which is replaced by housing as you get closer to Coventry City where you can moor at the end of the navigation, in the basin.
Intermediate route: Market Harborough and Return – 82 miles, 48 locks, 39 hours total
Head north to Norton Junction. Continue up the Leicester arm of the Grand Union Canal, leaving the junction behind and cruising into quiet woodland with open fields alongside. Meandering along, you are not too far from civilization, with the murmur of cars reminding you how close the canal comes to some of the UK's motorways at times. Make your way through Watford Staircase Locks then Crick Tunnel, walking into Crick Village (pubs). After Crick you’ll bypass Yelvertoft (20 mins walk) and continue through quiet countryside to Welford Junction, where you turn left; soon arriving at North Kilworth Wharf (20 mins walk to village). Between Crick and North Kilworth there are no locks. Pass under the village of Husbands Bosworth through its namesake tunnel (1166 yards) then continue lock-free again, all the way up to Foxton Staircase Locks. Foxton has a pub, café and museum next to the canal and the locks are usually manned during the main boating season. Turn right, cruising along the Market Harborough Arm which loops its way towards the main town. Market Harborough is an interesting and elegant town, with numerous antiques shops, cafés, pubs, galleries, a museum and a theatre, as well as a variety of restaurants. Visit the ‘Old Grammar School’ which stands on carved wooden pillars before turning your boat around and returning to Gayton.
Intermediate route: Warwick and Return - 69 miles, 72 locks, 37 hours total
Head north along the winding canal, through 7 locks at Long Buckby, to Norton Junction (nearby pub). Follow the canal to the left at the junction, passing through the long Braunston Tunnel (2042 yards / 1.16 miles). There are then 6 locks leading to the pretty village of Braunston, where there's a canalside pub, an old windmill (less sails) a church and a traditional butchers / deli. Pass under the cast iron bridge and continue along the canal to Napton Junction where you turn right, heading through 3 locks at Calcutt. Soon you arrive at Stockton Top Lock and canalside Inn. There are 8 locks, and a second two locks before you arrive at Long Itchington, with two adjacent waterside pubs. Follow the canal through Bascote staircase locks, then Fosse Locks, before passing over a series of short aqueducts as you cruise between Royal Leamington Spa and the outskirts of Warwick. Moor near Bridge 49 to walk into the history-laden town centre of Warwick itself, where you will find numerous interesting sights such as medieval Warwick Castle: https://www.warwick-castle.com/explore/attractions.aspx . Turn around and return to Gayton.
Active route: Aylesbury and Return - 88 miles, 82 locks, 46 hours total
Cruising south, make your way to the Blisworth Tunnel. The Blisworth Tunnel is 3057 yards long - making it one of the longest tunnels open for navigation in Britain. After the tunnel, you reach Stoke Bruerne which has a waterfront museum and a selection of eateries. After the locks at Stoke Bruerne, cruise through varied scenery to Cosgrove, over the Great Ouse Aqueduct. After the aqueduct continue south, skirting the suburbs and parkland of Milton Keynes, towards Leighton Buzzard. At Marsworth Junction turn to the right, onto the Aylesbury Arm which takes you into the centre of the market town of Aylesbury, where you can stretch your legs and explore.
Active route: Aynho and Return - 102 miles, 78 locks, 51 hours total
A popular route to cruise, with plenty of picturesque Cotswolds countryside visible from the South Oxford Canal. Cruise north up the Grand Union Canal passing Bugbrook and Weedon Bec villages, to Norton Junction. Pass through Braunston Tunnel and locks, continuing to Napton on the Hill at the junction with the South Oxford Canal, turning left (south). This canal borders on lovely open farmland and wooded hills, taking you under brick bridges and through lift-bridges past Cropredy and Banbury. Stop near the village of Aynho, where it's about 20 minutes walk into the village, which is worth a visit before turning round and making your way back to the wharf.