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Stockton


Route Highlights:

Stockton Top Marina is conveniently situated for a variety of routes, with Birmingham to the North, Oxford to the South, Stratford-upon-Avon to the West and Market Harborough and Leicester to the East. This starting point allows you to choose a very easy, almost lock-free trip towards Braunston, Rugby and Coventry or if you’re looking for a challenge you can cruise in the opposite direction, towards Birmingham or Stratford-upon-Avon, through the many locks that punctuate those routes. Very central on the UK canal system, you can have the best of both worlds if you start at Stockton with a choice between a relaxing or active route, and lots of alternatives to consider. 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.
Stockton map

Short Break Route Suggestions (3 & 4 nights):

Relaxed route: Hillmorton and Return - 30 miles, 12 locks, 12.5 hours total
Cruise east through 3 locks at Calcutt, meeting the South Oxford Canal at Napton Junction. Turn left, following the Grand Union Canal, eventually passing under the cast-iron Bridge at Braunston Junction (approx. 2.45hrs from Stockton). Stop near the canalside pub and walk into the pretty village (over the bridge and up the hill). *Turn around at the Marina, past the two cast iron bridges (now to your left) and up the North Oxford Canal. This canal is lock-free until you reach Hillmorton. The route is a quiet one, mainly flanked by open farmland and grazing farm animals. There is a pub near Wharf Bridge (No. 73) before you continue to Hillmorton, doing the 3 locks there before turning around. There is a canalside café / bistro near the locks (open 9am – 6pm).

Relaxed route: Norton Junction and Return - 24 miles, 18 locks, 11 hours total
Cruise east through 3 locks at Calcutt, meeting the South Oxford Canal at Napton Junction. Turn left, following the Grand Union Canal, eventually passing under the cast-iron Bridge at Braunston Junction (approx. 2.45hrs from Stockton). Stop near the Boathouse Pub and walk into the pretty village (over the bridge and up the hill). Next day, cruise past Braunston Marina and the nearby Café boat (a great option for breakfast). Next comes a flight of 6 locks (another pub nearby) followed by amazing Braunston Tunnel (1.16 miles long). After the tunnel the canal leads to Norton Junction, where there is another canalside pub. Turn around here and return to Stockton Marina.

Intermediate route: Fenny Compton and Return - 29 miles, 24 locks, 15 hours total
Cruise east through the 3 locks at Calcutt, meeting the South Oxford Canal at Napton Junction. Turn right towards Napton and moor up at one of 2 nearby pubs for your first evening. Next comes the 9 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, as this is a contour canal following the natural curve of the land. 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 waterpoint. Turn after the bridge and return to Stockton. 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 Stockton.

Active route: Warwick (Bridge 49) and Return - 20 miles, 42 locks, 15 hours total
Cruise west through the first 8 locks of the Stockton Flight with the a pub just after. There are 2 further locks before the village of Long Itchington, which has 6 pubs and mooring (a good place to stop first night). Next cruise over a low aqueduct then through the 6 locks at Bascote. A further 5 locks then 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 Stockton. A 4 night midweek break would also allow you time to visit Warwick Castle for the day: https://www.warwick-castle.com/

Weekly Route Suggestions:

Relaxed route: Banbury and Return – 50 miles, 50 locks, 29 hours total
Cruise east through the 3 locks at Calcutt, eventually meeting the South Oxford Canal at Napton Junction. Turn right towards Napton and moor up at one of 2 nearby pubs for your first evening. Next is the 9 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, as this is a contour canal following the natural curve of the land. 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 waterpoint. 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 3 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. Moor up just after Albion Bridge 166 where possible. 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 (c. 1570). Turn at the winding hole after Bridge 168 and return to Stockton.

Intermediate route: Linford Wharf (Milton Keynes) and Return - 80 miles, 48 locks, 35 hours total
Cruise east through 3 locks at Calcutt, meeting the South Oxford Canal at Napton Junction. Turn left after the bridge, following the Grand Union Canal and eventually passing under the cast-iron Bridge at Braunston Junction (approx. 2.45hrs from Stockton). Stop near the Boathouse Pub and walk into the pretty village (over the bridge and up the hill). Next come 6 locks followed by Braunston Tunnel (1.16 miles long) leading to Norton Junction. Turn right, heading south through a further 7 locks leading to the village of Weedon Bec. Passing Bugbrooke and Gayton Junction you’ll arrive at the long Blisworth Tunnel (1.74 miles long). After the tunnel you’ll find Stoke Bruerne where there are pubs and a canal museum. Descend the 7 locks at Stoke Bruerne and continue south past Thrupp Wharf to Cosgrove, crossing over the Great Ouse Aqueduct there. After the aqueduct the scenery becomes more suburban as you skirt around Milton Keynes and continue to Linford Wharf. If travelling with children, Gulliver’s Land is just a 7 minute taxi ride from Linford Wharf and there are various other attractions in Milton Keynes (e.g. Snozone and Escape Milton Keynes). Turn at Linford Wharf and return to Stockton.

Active route: Stratford-upon-Avon and Return - 62 miles, 154 locks, 48 hours total
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. 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. Here there is a very sharp turn to the left under a footbridge leading to the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal. Turn left, heading south through 9 locks before reaching Lowsonford , then after 8 more locks you reach Preston Baggot (both villages have pubs). Cruise over the aqueduct at Wootton Wawen then through one lock and over a 2nd aqueduct (the Edstone Aqueduct) to Wilmcote, where you can visit Mary Arden’s House. Between here and Stratford-upon-Avon there are 17 locks, mainly running through pretty countryside before arriving on the residential & industrial outskirts of the town. After lock No. 53 the scenery becomes far prettier, before arriving at Bancroft Basin in the middle of the famous Shakespearian town. There is plenty to experience in the town including timbered Tudor buildings, Theatres, guided tours, restaurants & shops, etc. Turn here and return to Stockton.

Very Active route: The Warwickshire Ring - 105 miles, 121 locks, 58 hours total
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. 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. Here there’s a sharp turn to the left leading to the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal. 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 N. 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 Village. Turn right at Braunston under the cast-iron bridge and onto the Grand Union Canal, heading towards Napton Junction. After Napton Junction there are 3 locks at Calcutt before you arrive back Stockton Top Marina. *For a slightly shorter option, continue to the right at Kingswood Junction. There are 3 pubs and no locks at all until you reach the 5-lock flight at Knowle, then it’s lock-free as you cruise through Solihull. The next 5 locks start at Small Heath, after which you come to Bordesley Junction. Turn right at Bordesley and through 5 locks before Salford Junction, then continue to Fazeley Junction (as above). This cuts out quite a chunk of the previous route and will take fewer hours to complete. This route is also well-suited to 10 / 11 night holidays, to allow extra time.

Fortnight Route Suggestions:

Relaxed route: Oxford and Return - 105 miles, 82 locks, 58 hours total
Follow the ‘relaxing’ weekly route to Banbury - home to Banbury Cross, Banbury Cakes and Ye Olde Reindeer Inn (c. 1570) - shown above, then 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). Through a further two locks you then reach the ‘Rock of Gibraltar’ pub with its canalside garden and just south of here the canal meets with the deeper River Cherwell for a while, until you reach lock No. 41 (which is diamond shaped) when it becomes canal once again. After a sharp turn to your right you reach Thrupp with its two very pretty pubs, followed by Kidlington (near Oxford Airport). 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 2 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 Stockton.

Intermediate route: The Warwickshire Ring - 105 miles, 121 locks, 58 hours total
Same as the Active weekly route above, but with time to stop for longer periods to enjoy the many places that this route allows you to visit and maybe have some very long, lazy lunches in between. There is a real mixture of countryside & woodland, industrial heritage & cityscape, historical sites & places of interest along this route. Also suitable for 10 / 11 night holidays.

Active Route: The Leicester Ring - 170 miles, 107 locks, 83 hours total
Cruise east to Napton Junction and along the Grand Union Canal to Braunston. Continue through 6 locks and the Braunston Tunnel (2042 yards) to Norton Junction. Turn left up the Leicester Arm of the Grand Union Canal and through 6 locks at Watford followed by Crick Tunnel (1528 yards) passing the ‘Welford Arm’ to your right. Head towards North Kilworth, followed by Husbands Bosworth Tunnel (1166 yards) and the 10 scenic staircase locks at Foxton. Turn left at the junction then north through Saddington Tunnel (880 yards) heading towards the city of Leicester. N.B. The villages of Crick, Yelvertoft, North Kilworth, Husbands Bosworth and Fleckney can all be accessed from the canal (approx. 20 minutes’ walk). Between Saddington Tunnel and Crow Mills Bridge (No. 92) there are 13 locks running through countryside, then you start to approach the suburbs of Leicester and after a further 12 spread-out locks, reach the City Centre with its many pubs, shops, restaurants, parks, museums and historic sights – such as Leicester Cathedral where Richard III has now 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 and moorings, towards Barrow-Upon-Soar (with its deep lock) and then Loughborough. At Loughborough you reach a T-junction (under Bridge 39 B) and turn right, joining the Loughborough Navigation (stay to the right) leading past Kegworth and to the River Trent (pay attention to weirs). At the junction turn left on to the River Trent 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, with its Heritage Centre, Trent Mill and numerous canalside pubs. Locks appear at regular intervals along the Trent & Mersey, well spread out with no long flights, until 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 to your right. 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 N. 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 find Braunston Village. Turn right at Braunston under the cast-iron bridge and onto the Grand Union Canal, heading towards Napton Junction. After Napton Junction there are 3 locks at Calcutt before you arrive back Stockton Top Marina.

Suggested Guidebooks