Short Break Route Suggestions (3 & 4 nights):
Relaxed route: Stone and Return – 20 miles, 16 locks, 11.5 hours total
A very peaceful and rural canal route following the River Trent for much of the way. Cruise north up the Trent & Mersey Canal through Hoo Mill Lock and Weston Lock, stopping at Weston upon Trent (bridge 80) for your first evening. There is a pub within easy walking distance and another in the pretty village centre. Next morning continue north through the quiet meadows of the Trent Valley. At Aston Bridge you reach the outskirts of the ‘canal town’ of Stone and further ahead you will find its canalside town centre, where there are numerous shops, pubs and restaurants. Moor below the bottom lock or just past the second lock, where possible, to walk into town. There are two more locks leading north from Stone and shortly after Bridge 96a there is a turning point. Turn around and return to Great Haywood.
Relaxed route: Fradley Junction and Return – 25 miles, 10 locks, 12 hours total
A nice beginner’s route without too many locks to navigate. Cruise out of the boatyard and onto the Trent & Mersey Canal, heading south. Continue through Haywood Lock, mooring nearby if you would like to walk through the park to Shugborough Hall. Cruise past Little Haywood, where there are a couple of pubs and on through Cannock Chase, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - with large parts of it named as 'Sites of Special Scientific Interest'. Continue across Brindley Bank Aqueduct, which crosses over the River Trent below, and continue towards the town of Rugeley. There are moorings available by bridge 66, a short walk from the town centre and shops. Continue south from here, passing several canalside pubs and eateries, through the villages of Armitage and King’s Bromley. Next follows a stretch of isolated woodland and quiet countryside on the approach to Fradley Junction. Moor up at this busy junction to have a look around or grab a bite to eat at the pub before using the winding hole to turn your boat, ready for the journey home.
Intermediate route: Gailey Wharf and Return - 26 miles, 22 locks, 15 hours total
From Great Haywood Junction, join the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal heading west, crossing over a couple of small aqueducts. After a short cruise you will come to Tixall Wide - a beautiful stretch of water where the canal widens, almost resembling a lake. Complete the first lock of your journey and cruise through charming countryside, passing a canalside pub at bridge 98. Navigate through several more locks, spread out nicely throughout the valley, until you reach the market town of Penkridge. Moor up above Penkridge Lock to walk into the town, where there are several pubs, a butchers, stores and a takeaway. Continue from Penkridge, past a canalside pub at Cross Keys Bridge and across a small aqueduct on the approach to Gailey Wharf. At this picturesque canal settlement there is a useful canal shop, inside a round toll keeper’s watch-tower. Use the winding hole just after Gailey Top Lock to turn your boat around for the return journey, back to Great Haywood.
Intermediate route: Alrewas and Return - 31 miles, 22 locks, 17 hours total
Travel south-east to the attractive village of Alrewas (ol-re-wus) which houses the National Memorial Arboretum - a woodland park featuring over 350 memorials to our armed forces, emergency services and charitable organisations, each with its own special story (the park is accessible from bridges 46, 47 and 48). Cruise south, down the Trent & Mersey Canal past Shugborough Hall, Rugeley and Armitage; turning left at Fradley Junction where you'll find the 200 year old ‘Swan' public house. Moor in Alrewas village centre to have a look about – there are pubs and restaurants available, as well as several vernacular timber-framed cottages and houses to admire. Turn around at Wychnor Moorings and return to Great Haywood.
Active route: Stoke-on-Trent and Return – 38 miles, 36 locks, 21.5 hours total
Begin your journey North along the Trent & Mersey Canal, through a couple of locks and towards the pretty village of Weston Upon Trent, where there are a couple of pubs. Continue cruising through quiet meadows and past the small village of Burston, before arriving at Stone. The bustling market town has a great reputation for food and drink, with numerous restaurants and eateries to choose from. Stone is a well-established ‘canal town’ with an ideal position midway along the Trent & Mersey. Continue north from Stone towards the village of Barlaston; mooring up by Trentham Lock to visit the Wedgwood Pottery Factory. Continue to Festival Park Marina, Etruria, where there are many restaurants, quite a few shops and the chance to stop at Waterworld - an indoor tropical amusement park. Only a short bus journey away is the city of Stoke- on-Trent, where there are numerous bars, restaurants and pubs; as well as the Emma Bridgewater Factory. Turn at the marina for your journey back to Great Haywood.
Weekly Route Suggestions:
Very Relaxed route: Drayton Manor Theme Park and Return – 48 Miles, 10 locks, 22 hours total
An excellent choice for families with young children. This route gives you time to visit Drayton Manor Theme Park during your week’s holiday - which houses rides and attractions including roller coasters and train rides, a zoo and ‘Thomas Land’. There are also various villages and towns with pubs and shops en route for meals. Start by cruising south down the Trent & Mersey Canal, past Shugborough Hall (stately home and park), Rugeley and Armitage. At Fradley Junction you’ll find the 200 year old ‘Swan’ public house (affectionately called ‘The Mucky Duck’). Turn right at Fradley Junction onto the meandering Coventry Canal, passing the villages of Huddlesford, Whittington and Hopwas, before arriving at Fazeley Junction. Turn right here, then moor up between Tolson’s Footbridge and Coleshill Road Bridge, which will allow you to walk to Drayton Manor Theme Park. Spend a full day at the park, then turn around just after Coleshill Road Bridge and return to Great Haywood.
Relaxed route: Brewood and Return – 52 miles, 26 locks, 26 hours total
A lovely relaxed route travelling through picturesque countryside with a small amount of locks to navigate over a week. Start your journey from Great Haywood Junction, joining onto the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal, cruise through the Tixall Wide, a beautiful stretch of water that more resembles a lake than a canal. Continue cruising through the Penk Valley to the village of Penkridge, this charming old village is home to several pubs and eateries. The canal meanders its way to Gailey Wharf, where there is a useful canal shop for picking up supplies. Cruise on to Autherley Junction, head northwest, passing through the lock and join onto Shropshire Union. Enjoy a peaceful two hour lock-free cruise to the village of Brewood, where there are visitor moorings. Walk into the village to visit Speedwell Castle, the grade II listed 18th century red-bricked building is located directly in the market square. In the village you will also find several traditional pubs and an Indian restaurant. Turn at Brewood to start your journey back to base.
Intermediate route: Leek and Return- 62 miles, 54 locks, 36 hours total
Head north from Great Haywood Junction along the Trent & Mersey Canal and through the pretty villages of Weston upon Trent and Burston. Continue cruising through the quiet and wooded Trent Valley to the canal town of Stone. Moor by the bottom lock to visit this interesting market town which has a great selection of pubs, shops and restaurants. Cruise through a further 8 locks at Stone and continue to the village of Barlaston - home of the Wedgwood Factory. Join the Caldon Branch of the Trent & Mersey, turning east at Etruria Top Lock , making your way through Etruria Staircase Locks. Passing several canalside pubs, moor-up at bridge 8 for a short walk to The Potteries Shopping Centre or the Bridgewater Factory Shop. Cruise along this green, peaceful stretch of canal until you reach Hazelhurst Junction where you join the Leek Branch. Travel across Hazelhurst Aqueduct and moor by bridge 8 to walk into the pretty town of Leek. Travel through the 130yd Leek Tunnel to the winding hole at the canal terminus, turning your boat for the return journey back to Great Haywood.
Intermediate route: Market Drayton and Return- 95 miles, 38 locks, 42 hours total
Cruise west along the pretty Staffordshire & Worcester Canal, and across the expanse of water at Tixall Wide. Shortly afterwards you’ll arrive at Radford Bridge (No. 98) which is within walking distance of Stafford and is a good place to stop for your first evening. Further south you’ll arrive at the market town of Penkridge followed by Gailey Wharf with its round toll-keeper’s watch tower. The canal then meanders down past Hatherton and Cross Green to Autherley Junction. Turn right at Autherley, under the bridge and through the stop lock there, where you join the scenic Shropshire Union Canal. Moor up between Bridges 13 and 14 to walk into the historic village of Brewood, then continue north through the lock at Wheaton Aston. A completely lock-free stretch of canal then leads you under High Onn Bridge and Cowley Tunnel, past Gnosall and along the high Shelmore Embankment to Norbury. After Norbury you pass under the iconic ‘High Bridge’ and continue lock-free again along narrow Woodseaves Cutting, until you reach Tyrley where there is a flight of 5 ‘rocky’ locks (read the signs on the locks here). A short distance from Tyrley you’ll arrive at Market Drayton (Bridge 62) where there are pleasant moorings – walk into the interesting town centre from here (approx. 20 mins) to see the Tudor-framed buildings, historic market square and ‘Buttercross’. You can also sample the original recipe for Gingerbread, as Market Drayton is supposed to be where it was first produced. Turn just after Bridge 62 and return to Great Haywood.
Active route: The Black Country Ring - 75 miles, 79 locks, 42.5 hours total
A great ring route with an interesting mixture of rural and urban scenery for you to enjoy. From Great Haywood Junction, head under the bridge to join the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal. Cruise through the Tixall Wide and past the villages of Penkridge and Gailey towards Autherley Junction. Turn at Aldersley Junction to tackle the 21 locks in the Wolverhampton Flight, joining the New Birmingham Main Line until you reach Gas Street Basin. Located in the centre of Birmingham, the basin is a great place to moor, enabling you to explore the city. Indulge in a bit of retail therapy at the famous Bullring shopping centre or visit various attractions such as the ICC or Birmingham Sea Life Centre (Cadbury World is a short taxi ride away). Cruise northeast along the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal, through the short Curdworth Tunnel (57yds) and another lock flight of 11, until you reach Fazeley Junction. Soon afterwards you join the Coventry Canal, enjoying a nice lock-free stretch to Fradley Junction, where there is a pub and cafe. Cruise from Fradley Junction back onto the Trent & Mersey Canal, then back to Great Haywood.
Fortnight Route Suggestions:
Relaxed route: The Four Counties Ring - 110 miles, 94 locks, 60 hours total
A chance to experience one of the most popular ring routes at a relaxing pace, with time to stop off for long lazy lunches and to visit various attractions along the way. Start your journey from Great Haywood, joining onto the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal. Cruise through the Tixall wide and the pretty villages of Penkridge and Gailey to Autherley Junction. Head north at the junction, joining the picturesque Shropshire Union Canal and past several canalside pubs and villages, enjoying a nice lock-free stretch until you reach Market Drayton. This attractive market town is known for its black and white timber-framed buildings and claims to be the home of Gingerbread. Continue north through the 5 locks at Adderley then the 15-lock Audlem Flight before making your way past the lovely town of Nantwich, over an aqueduct and to Barbridge Junction. Turn right, onto the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union and cross over a small aqueduct spanning the River Weaver, then past the village of Church Minshull (15mins from the canal) before reaching Middlewich Junction. At the junction head south along the Trent & Mersey Canal, tackling the Cheshire Locks en route to Harding’s Wood Junction. Continue cruising south from the junction, heading through the famous Harecastle Tunnel (2926yds) into Stoke-on-Trent and the 'Potteries'. Moor up at Festival Park for a variety of restaurants, a cinema and Waterworld. Continue south from Stoke-on-Trent, passing the village of Barlaston (moor here to visit the Wedgwood Factory) and canalside market town of Stone. Continue through the Trent Valley and back to Great Haywood.
Intermediate route: The Cheshire Ring – 145 miles, 128 locks, 79 hours total
A fantastic ring route travelling through stunning scenery, with the chance to visit some of the most picturesque towns and canalside villages on the UK canal network. Start your journey heading north from Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal, passing the canalside market town of Stone then Stoke-on-Trent, en route to the long Harecastle Tunnel. Travel through this impressive tunnel - at 2926yds long it is one of the longest on the canal network. Cruise to Harding’s Wood Junction and continue north along the Trent & Mersey Canal, tackling the Cheshire Locks (Heartbreak Hill) then cruising past Middlewich to the Anderton Boat Lift - use the visitors moorings here if you wish to have a closer look at this Victorian marvel. Continuing from the lift, cruise through the 3 tunnels and join the Bridgewater Canal , cruising towards Lymm where there are a few pubs, local stores and a fish & chip shop. The scenery gradually turns more urban on the approach to Manchester. Continue to Castlefield Junction, where there are moorings if you wish to stop off and visit Manchester. At Ducie Street Junction, join the industrial Ashton Canal, tackling 18 locks on the way to Dunkenfield Junction, where you join the Peak Forest Canal. Head southwest along the canal, through a couple of tunnels before reaching the impressive Marple Aqueduct which carrys the canal 100ft above the River Goyt. Cruise through the 16-lock Marple Flight then join thegreen and peaceful Macclesfield Canal. Travel the entire length of the canal back to Harding’s Wood Junction, where you will turn southwards and back along the Trent & Mersey Canal. Cruise through the Harecastle Tunnel, past Stoke-on-Trent and Stone, then back to the base at Great Haywood.
Active Route: The Four Counties and Black Country Ring Combination - 144 miles, 150 locks, 82 hours total
A combination of two very popular ring routes, starting with the Four Counties Ring then onto the Black Country Ring. Head north from Great Haywood, heading through Stone and Stoke-on-Trent along the Trent & Mersey Canal. Pass through the Harecastle Tunnel (2926yds) and down the Cheshire Locks (Heartbreak Hill) to Middlewich Junction, where you'll join the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal, heading to Barbridge Junction. Turn south at Barbridge Junction onto the mainline of the Shropshire Union, cruising past the town of Nantwich and through the15 locks at Audlem. Cruise past the home of gingerbread, Market Drayton and the pretty village of Brewood, en route to Autherley Junction. Starting at Aldersley Junction, tackle the 21-lock Wolverhampton Flight and continue on the Birmingham New Main Line to Gas Street Basin. Moor here for direct access to Birmingham city centre, with the option to visit numerous attractions, shops, bars, pubs and restaurants. From here cruise east from Cambrian Wharf and join the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal, where you will travel through a short tunnel (57yds) then 11 locks at Curdworth. Continue to Fazeley Junction and head north, joining the Coventry Canal on the way to Fradley Junction. Join the Trent & Mersey Canal at Fradley for your return cruise to Great Haywood.