Short Break Route Suggestions (3 & 4 nights):
Relaxed route: Worcester and Return - 25 miles, 42 locks, 16 hours total
Simply cruise to the lovely cathedral city of Worcester and return along the same route; makes for a great weekend break or even more leisurely mid-week break. Worcester is home to Worcester Porcelain and Worcestershire Sauce, the 500 year old Tudor House and the City Art Gallery. There is a general market on Monday, Wednesday & Saturday. This route has 2 tunnels and quote a few locks to keep you entertained.
Intermediate route: The Mid-Worcestershire Ring - 28 miles, 47 locks, 19 hours total
Best-suited to a mid-week break (or a very active weekend). Leave Stoke Prior and head down the Worcestershire and Birmingham Canal to Hanbury Junction & the Hanbury flight of 2 staircase locks and 3 locks, reaching Droitwich on the first evening. Continue west on the Droitwich Canal and the Droitwich Barge Canal towards Hawford Junction and down the River Severn. Come off the Severn at Worcester and back up the Worcs. & Birmingham Canal to Stoke Prior. If you have a mid-week break this trip can also be completed in the other direction i.e: clockwise. This route includes 4 tunnels as well as numerous locks. A great mid-week route for families.
Active route: Birmingham and Return – 34 miles, 70 locks, 23 hours total
Suitable for a mid-week break (not weekend). Almost immediately, having set off from the wharf heading east, you meet the first of the locks on this route. Between Stoke Prior and Tardebigge Wharf there are a total of 35 locks, which will take between 4.5 and 7 hours to complete. Moving through scenic countryside, farmland and woodland, these locks may take time to do but at least you can enjoy your surroundings whilst waiting for each lock to fill or empty. The 35th lock is followed by three long tunnels, each longer than the last – Tardebigge Tunnel (580 yards) Shortwood Tunnel (613 yards) and Wast Hills Tunnel (2726 yards). Between Tunnels you can stop at Alvechurch (near bridge 61) or at Hopwood (before bridge 67) for refreshment at the local canalside pubs. After Wast Hill Tunnel the scenery becomes more suburban, finally leading (past Bournville / Cadbury World) into central Birmingham, Brindley Place and the famous Gas Street Basin - with many shops, restaurants, bars and other attractions within walking distance.
Very Active route: The Mid-Worcestershire Ring and Stourport - 45 miles, 50 locks, 26 hours total
Suitable for a mid-week break (not weekend). Follow the route for the Mid-Worcs. Ring as above, but continue up the River Severn as far as the Georgian canalside town of Stourport, with its historic canal basins, and visit the amusement park with traditional fairground rides, local shops, pubs, restaurants, etc. The town hosts many events throughout the year, so it's worth checking what's on during your trip.
Weekly Route Suggestions:
Relaxed route: Tewkesbury and Return - 58 miles, 28 locks, 28 hours total
From Stoke Prior travel west on the Worcester and Birmingham Canal to Worcester, then downstream on the River Severn for 16 miles and through 1 lock, to historic Tewkesbury. Turn off the Severn and up through Avon Lock onto the River Avon*. There are plenty of vistor moorings close by, within easy reach of the High Street with shops, pubs, museums, restaurants, etc. Tewkesbury Abbey is also rather impressive. Return from here to Stoke Prior.
Places to stop and explore en route include the cathedral city of Worcester and one of our favourite towns, Upton upon Severn. The latter hosts a wide selection of events throughout the year, including a Folk Festival (April), the RHS Malvern Spring Festival in May, the Upton Jazz Festival (June), Upton Blues Festival in July and regular 'Flea & Collectors' and 'Arts & Crafts' markets throughout the year. Visitor moorings are available by the town bridge, close to all events. *You may need to purchase a River Avon Licence at Avon Lock if not already included in your hire.
Active route: Warwick & return – 64 miles. 152 locks. 48 hours total.
Almost immediately, having set off from the wharf heading east, you meet the first of the locks on this route. Between Stoke Prior and Tardebigge Wharf there are a total of 35 locks, which will take between 4.5 and 7 hours to complete. The 35th lock is followed by three long tunnels, each longer than the last – Tardebigge Tunnel (580 yards) Shortwood Tunnel (613 yards) and Wast Hills Tunnel (2726 yards). Between Tunnels you can stop at Alvechurch (near bridge 61) or at Hopwood (before bridge 67) for refreshment at the local canalside pubs. Turn right at King’s Norton Junction, through the narrow Lapworth Flight of locks, eventually reaching Kingswood Junction where you turn left under the bridge, onto the Grand Union, and head south. After the Shrewley Tunnel (433 yards) work your way down the 21-lock Hatton Flight, leading you down to the historic town of Warwick where you’ll find several historic buildings (such as Warwick Castle) and plenty of restaurants, cafés and bars. Turn around and return.
Active route: The Stourport Ring - 84 miles, 117 locks, 51 hours total
Leaving Stoke Prior and heading east, you encounter the Tardebigge Flight of 30 locks, after which there is lock-free cruising through 3 long tunnels and to Gas Street Basin in central Birmingham. Gas Street Basin is close to the International Convention Centre, National Sealife Centre and Brindley Place.. En route you'll also pass the pleasant University grounds, Botanical Gardens and Cadbury's World. Cutting through Netherton Tunnel to Merry Hill, onto the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal you encounter some beautiful countryside leading to the Severn at Stourport. At Stourport you join the River Severn to cruise downstream to Worcester. (You can bypass Worcester and use the Droitwich Link at Hawford Junction as an alternative route back towards Stoke Prior, which saves around 4 hours if you are running short of time). At Worcester you rejoin the Worcs. & B'ham Canal and climb gently back to Stoke Prior through open countryside.
Very Active route: Brewood (via Droitwich) then Stourport and Return - 89 miles, 118 locks, 55 hours total.
Head south from Stoke Prior in the direction of Worcester, but bear right on to the Droitwich Canal where you can stop overnight in Droitwich Spa.
Droitwich is an attractive town situated on massive deposits of salt, extracted since Roman times, and was made famous in the 1900's with the development of its spa facilities and subsequent name change to Drotwich Spa. The benefits were not from drinking the spa water, which is almost saturated brine, but from the muscular relief derived from swimming and floating in such a concentrated salt solution.
The canal passes through Vines Park; now a pleasant green space, but which used to contain the brine pits and workers cottages which were derelict by the beginning of the 20th Century.
Continue to Hawford Junction with the River Severn and cruise upstream to Stourport then up the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal to Addersley Junction. Turn north onto the Shropshire Union Canal at Autherley Junction then cruise along a pleasant lock-free section to Brewood and return. Brewood is an Anglo Saxon town, designated a Conservation Area due to the many listed buildings: half-timbered old houses and cottages along with more 'modern' buildings of the Georgian and Queen Anne period. There is a supermarket, independent grocer, butcher, pubs etc. to replenish supplies.
Fortnight Route Suggestions:
Relaxed route: The Avon Ring - 109 miles, 130 locks, 65 hours total
Starting with the 30-lock Tardebigge Flight, cruise through 3 tunnels and join the North Stratford Canal at King's Norton then on to the South Stratford Canal via the Lapworth Flight of 12 locks, where the canal character changes with split bridges and 'barrel-roofed' cottages. At Stratford-upon-Avon you can moor opposite the Shakespeare Theatre before joining the scenic River Avon.
The Avon, different again, meanders down past Evesham and Pershore to Tewkesbury, where you join the River Severn for a short trip up to Worcester, before returning home. An easy two week trip. The River Avon itself is controlled by independent waterway authorities and boaters will need to purchase a separate licence, which can be obtained from lock offices (cost is approx. £50.00). There are 5 tunnels (Tardebigge Tunnel, Shortwood Tunnel, Wast Hill Tunnel, Brandwood Tunnel and Dunhampstead Tunnel) and 1 major aqueduct (Edstone Aqueduct) on this route.
Plenty of good pub stops en route and historic places to visit such as Mary Arden's farm (Shakespeare's mother), Ann Hathaway's Cottage, The Shire Horse Centre and the Butterfly Farm in Stratford-upon-Avon; Evesham has its Abbey and is an historic market town; Pershore has pleasant boat moorings less than 5 minutes walk into town; Tewkesbury has a Norman Abbey and lots of Tudor half-timbered buildings; then the historic cathedral city of Worcester itself, which has numerous shops, attractions and historic sites to enjoy.
Intermediate route: The Warwickshire Ring - 130 miles, 190 locks, 90 hours total
Start your journey by cruising north up the Tardebigge flight to the North Stratford Canal at King's Norton Junction, then continue on to the Grand Union at Kingswood Junction. Travelling south, you progress through the Hatton Flight of 21 locks via Warwick and Leamington Spa to Napton and Braunston. From Braunston, travel the quite North Oxford & Coventry Canals (perhaps taking in the Ashby Canal or the City of Coventry itself) to Fazeley, then head into the centre of Birmingham via Farmers Bridge Locks. Leaving Birmingham behind start making your way back to Stoke Prior, down the Worcester & Birmingham Canal via Tardebigge.
Active route: The Four Counties Ring and The Stourport Ring - 195 miles, 214 locks, 104 hours total
A very active two week break, which will need to be completed over the summer months to ensure that there are enough daylight hours to cruise for approximately 8.5 hours each day.
Begin by cruising through the Tardebigge flight to King's Norton Junction, then north to Gas Street Basin and on to the Birmingham Canal Navigations (Main Line) with a short diversion at Factory Junction (Tipton) for a visit to the Black Country Museum at Dudley. Return to the Main Line and head to Aldersley Junction via the 21 Wolverhampton Locks, then north on the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal to Autherley Junction. Bear left on to the green and woody Shropshire Union Canal all the way to Barbridge Junction, then turn east along the Middlwich Branch towards Middlewich. At Middlewich travel south on the Trent and Mersey Canal to Harding's Wood Junction and continue via the Harecastle Tunnel (passage needs to be pre-booked) to Etruria Junction, continuing past Stoke-on-Trent to Great Haywood Junction. Turn here, onto the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal which you will bring you back to Autherley Junction. At Aldersley Junction cruise south on the Staffs & Worcs Canal to Stourport where you will join the River Severn. Cruise down the river to Worcester and back up the Worcs & Birmingham Canal to Stoke Prior.