Short Break Route Suggestions (3 & 4 nights):
Relaxed route: Birmingham and Return - 28 miles, 0 locks, 11 hours total
A popular relaxed weekend route option. There are no locks to navigate, making it ideal for novices looking for an introduction to boating. Start your journey from Tardebigge Wharf heading north along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. Travel through the Shortwood Tunnel (613yds) and continue through a tranquil landscape to the little town of Alvechurch, where there a couple of canalside pubs. Cruise across a small aqueduct and through Hopwood on the approach to a much longer tunnel- the Wast Hill Tunnel of 2726yds, make sure to bring waterproofs- drips from the tunnel’s roof are a common occurrence. Once through the the tunnel, the scenery becomes more urbanised through the village of King’s Norton, moorings are available close to Bridge 71 for a short walk to the shops or pub. At King’s Norton Junction head north remaining on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, travel through Bourneville passing the famous Cadbury World. Cruise through the short Edgbaston Tunnel and continue a short way to the moorings at Gas Street Basin. Take some time to explore some of the many attractions Birmingham has to offer, including Birmingham Sea Life Centre and Cadbury World, spend an afternoon shopping in the impressive Bullring shopping centre and sample some of the many restaurants, pubs and bars in the city centre. Turn at the basin to begin your journey back to Tardebigge.
Intermediate route: Hockley Heath and Return - 37 miles, 2 locks, 16 hours total
Cruise north from the base at Tardebigge Wharf along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal and enter the Shortwood Tunnel (613yds). Travel through the pleasant, small town of Alvechurch, passing a couple of canalside pubs. Cruise across two small aqueducts on the way to the Wast Hill Tunnel (2726yds), watching out for droplets from the tunnel’s roof. Continue on to King’s Norton Junction and head east, passing through an open guillotine lock, and joining onto the Stratford-on-Avon Canal. Cruise through the Brandwood Tunnel (352yds) and past a canalside pub, pass over a small aqueduct, after which there is a steel lift bridge, which is electrically operated using a simple button. Continue on through quiet, rural countryside, passing Waring’s Green, where there is one canalside pub and one a short walk from Bridge 18. Moor up along the towpath by Bridge 20 if supplies are needed, as there is a bakery and shop within walking distance. Continue on to Hockley Heath Wharf, where there are moorings available, as well as a pub and a takeaway close by. Turn the boat here to begin the journey back to base.
Active route: Black Country Living Museum and Return – 46 miles, 6 locks, 19 hours total
Start your journey from Tardebigge cruising north up the Worcester & Birmingham Canal and through the Shortwood Tunnel of 613yds. Continue past a couple of canalside pubs in the small town of Alvechurch and make your way through Hopwood, to the much longer Wast Hill Tunnel (2726yds). Cruise up to King’s Norton, passing the entrance to the Stratford-on-Avon Canal and heading north along the Worcester & Birmingham. Continue past Bourneville and Cadbury World and pass through the Edgbaston Tunnel (105yds), mooring in Gas Street Basin to visit central Birmingham if you so wish. Cruise to Worcester Bar and join onto the Birmingham Main Line heading northwest to Smethwick Junction, travel through 3 locks just before Tipton Junction where you will head southwest down to the Black Country Living Museum. The 26 acre open-air museum features rebuilt historic buildings, showing how life was lived in the Black Country during the 19th Century. Take a trip down the coal mine or catch the vintage bus to the canalside village or sample the authentic fish & chips! Turn at your moorings to start the journey back to Tardebigge.
Weekly Route Suggestions:
Relaxed route: The Birmingham Mini Ring – 53 miles, 50 locks, 28 hours total
This ring is also achievable in an active midweek break, with around 8 hours cruising per day. A week will give you enough time to stop off and enjoy attractions along the way. Start your journey along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal cruising north through the Shortwood Tunnel (613yds). Continue through the town of Alvechurch and pass through the 2726yd Wast Hill Tunnel. Cruise north from King’s Norton Junction and head to Gas Street Basin and the centre of Birmingham. Take some time to explore this impressive city with its many attractions including Cadbury World, Birmingham Sea Life Centre and the famous Bullring shopping centre. Once you’ve finished exploring, cruise north from Gas Street Basin to Old Turn Junction and head northeast through the Farmer’s Bridge Locks to Aston Junction. Travel southeast from the junction along the Digbeth Branch and through the Ashted Tunnel and locks to Bordersley Junction where you will join the Grand Union Canal. Navigate through a further 6 locks and enjoy a nice lock-free stretch, cruising past several waterside pubs until you reach Knowle, where there will be 5 locks to tackle. Cruise on to the Lapworth Link through to Kingswood Junction, where you will join onto the Stratford-on-Avon Canal. Travel through the Lapworth Locks of 14 and pass through Hockley Heath, where there are moorings available, with a pub and takeaway close by. Continue cruising towards King’s Norton Junction, passing through the Guillotine Lock on the way. Cruise south from the junction back through the Wast Hill Tunnel and the town of Alvechurch before reaching the base at Tardebigge.
Intermediate Route: Warwick and Return - 60 miles, 86 locks, 38 hours total
Start your journey heading towards Birmingham on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal; cruising through the Shortwood Tunnel (613yds) and past the pleasant village of Alvechurch, before entering the long Wast Hill Tunnel (2726yds). Turn right at King’s Norton Junction and head south, passing through an open Guillotine Lock on to the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal. Cruise through the Brandwood Tunnel (352yds) and past a couple of canalside pubs near Waring’s Green, to Hockley Heath Wharf where there are moorings available – shops, takeaways and a pub. Navigate through the narrow Lapworth Locks, which fill quite quickly, until you reach Kingswood Junction where you turn left, under the bridge. Here you join the Grand Union Canal and turn right, heading further south. The canal then meanders lock-free until you pass under Shrewley Tunnel (433yds) and arrive at the top of the 21-lock Hatton Flight. The view from the top of the flight is quite extraordinary, with Warwick Cathedral’s ornate tower featuring as a centre point in the distance. After doing the Hatton Flight you come to Budbrooke Junction, where you continue ahead, up the Saltisford Arm to moor up. From here you can walk into the town centre and visit its many attractions, such as St. Johns House Museum, the timber-framed buildings of 14th-century Lord Leycester Hospital or magnificent Warwick Castle. Turn around and return to Tardebigge.
Intermediate Route: Birmingham, Worcester and Return - 59 miles, 112 locks, 41 hours total
A chance to visit two cities in one week and to cruise almost the entire length of the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. Start your journey north from Tardebigge, through several tunnels on the way to King’s Norton Junction. Continue heading north past Cadbury World until you reach Gas Street Basin. Moor here in the centre of Birmingham to visit various attractions, have a shopping spree, or sample some of the numerous bars, restaurants and pubs. Turn at Gas Street Basin and head south back down the Worcester & Birmingham Canal past the base at Tardebigge, ready to tackle the Tardebigge Flight! This lock flight is certainly a challenge, with 30 locks in total it is the largest flight in the UK and can take anywhere between 5-7 hours, luckily the flight is set in beautiful, rolling countryside so you can enjoy the views whilst working your way through. At the end of the flight there is a canalside pub to stop at for a well-earned rest! Continue cruising through open pastureland, passing through the Astwood Flight of 6 locks, after which you can enjoy a nice lock-free stretch for a while. Travel through attractive parkland, passing Hanbury Park and cruising past a couple of canalside pubs on the way down to Worcester. Cruise past the church and farm overlooking the canal at Oddingly and past the pretty village of Tibberton before arriving at the first of 6 locks at Offerton, follow the canal through the city and moor at either Lowesmoor Basin or Diglis Basin. Take a walk into the city to explore attractions such as Worcester Cathedral, The Greyfriars and The Commandery. Turn at your moorings to begin your journey back to Tardebigge.
Active route: Stratford-upon-Avon and Return - 69 miles, 108 locks, 45 hours total
Start your journey heading north on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, passing through the Shortwood Tunnel (613yds) and the pleasant town of Alvechurch before entering the long Wast Hill Tunnel of 2726yds. Continue to King’s Norton Junction and head east, passing through the open Guillotine Lock and joining onto the Stratford-on-Avon Canal. Cruise through the Brandwood Tunnel (352yds) and past a couple of canalside pubs through to Hockley Heath Wharf, where there are moorings available and a takeaway and pub close by. Navigate through the Lapworth Locks and continue south on the Stratford-on-Avon Canal, following a peacefully rural, but heavily locked stretch passing through Lowsonford and the pretty village of Wootton Wawen. Cruise across the Edstone Aqueduct, passing the shallow valley below and continue on to the small, attractive village of Wilmcote. The village hosts Mary Arden’s House and a couple of pubs along with some good walking routes. Travel through the Wilmcote Locks, set in pleasant, open countryside and continue down towards the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon, mooring in the picturesque Bancroft Basin. Take a walk into Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare, and discover all that this historic market town has to offer. Visit some of the attractions including Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, before turning your boat at the basin for the return journey to Tardebigge.
Fortnight Route Suggestions:
Relaxed route: The Black Country Ring - 104 miles, 79 locks, 54 hours total
This route is achievable in a very active week or busy 10 night holiday, however two weeks will give you time to stop off and visit attractions along the way. Start your journey heading north along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, travelling through the Shortwood Tunnel- the first of 13 tunnels on the route. Continue through the much longer Wast Hill Tunnel of 2726yds (wear waterproofs- the roof drips) and cruise to Gas Street Basin to visit the City of Birmingham. Travel north from the basin to Worcester Bar and Old Turn Junction and join the Birmingham Main Line heading northwest to Smethwick Junction, travel through 3 locks just before Tipton Junction- head southwest from the junction to visit the Black Country Living Museum. Cruise on through the Cosley Tunnel towards Wolverhampton; there are moorings available if you wish to visit the town. Travel through the Wolverhampton Flight to Aldersley Junction and join the Staffordshire and Worcester Canal, passing through the picturesque Gailey Wharf and through the Tixall Wide- a beautiful stretch of water where the canal widens, resembling a lake. Continue to Great Haywood Junction and head south, joining the Trent & Mersey Canal, travelling through beautiful, peaceful countryside to Fradley Junction. Cruise along the detached portion of the Coventry Canal to Fazeley Junction, where you’ll join onto the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal. Tackle the Curdworth Locks and cruise through the tunnel and on to Salford Junction heading for a lock-heavy stretch. Tackle the Aston Locks, followed by a short stretch before the Farmer’s Bridge Locks, after which you’ll arrive at Worcester Bar. Join the Worcester & Birmingham Canal and head south back past Gas Street Basin and all the way back to the base at Tardebigge.
Intermediate route: The Avon Ring - 109 miles, 131 locks, 61 hours total
This route is also achievable in 10/11 night breaks, but a fortnight will allow you to take your time and make the most of the many highlights along this ring. Start your journey heading south from the base along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. Tackle the mighty Tardebigge Lock Flight of 30, stopping for refreshment at the canalside pub at the bottom lock! Continue along this rural stretch of canal all the way to the historic City of Worcester, mooring at Lowesmoor or Diglis Basin to visit the city. Continue to Diglis Junction and join on to the River Severn, heading to the historic riverside town of Tewkesbury, with its medieval streets and Tudor-style timber buildings. Join the River Avon at Avon Lock, where you will be required to purchase a separate licence from the lock-keeper (approx £50). The river meanders its way through glorious, picturesque countryside and historic villages such as Pershore and Evesham before making its way to Stratford-upon-Avon. Moor at Bancroft Basin to visit this market town, with many attractions attributed to William Shakespeare, who was born in the town. From the basin take the entrance to the Stratford-on-Avon Canal and continue through a lock-heavy stretch of canal all the way to Wilmcote, moor close to Bridge 59 to visit Mary Arden’s House or the village pubs. Cruise across the Edstone Aqueduct and through the canalside villages to Lapworth Junction. Tackle the Lapworth Locks and cruise the remainder of the Stratford-on-Avon Canal, through the Guillotine Lock to King’s Norton Junction. At the junction head south, joining the Worcester& Birmingham Canal for the return cruise to Tardebigge Wharf.
Active route: The Warwickshire Ring and The Ashby Canal – 164 miles, 121 locks, 84 hours total
An interesting fortnightly route with a great mix of urban and rural scenery. Start your journey heading north through the tunnels, past King’s Norton Junction and Gas Street Basin. Moor at Gas Street Basin to visit the City of Birmingham, take a trip to Cadbury World or Birmingham Sea Life Centre. Cruise north from the basin up to Worcester Bar and Old Turn Junction and join the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal, heading northeast through the Farmer’s Locks. At Aston Junction remain on the Birmingham & Fazeley and cruise through the Aston Locks through to Salford Junction. Head towards Fazeley Junction, cruising through the short Curdworth Tunnel and the Curdworth Locks. There are moorings for Drayton Manor Theme park close to the Drayton Bridges. At Fazeley Junction head east, joining onto the Coventry Canal and through a very pretty, rural stretch passing Tamworth and on to Atherstone. Tackle the Atherstone Locks and cruise through Nuneaton to Marston Junction. At the junction, join onto the lock-free Ashby Canal and explore the whole length of this tranquil waterway, passing canalside villages and waterside pubs. Turn at the Ashby Canal terminus and cruise back to Marston Junction, heading south towards Hawkesbury Junction. If you wish to visit Coventry, with its great selection of pubs, bars and restaurants, continue along the Coventry Canal to Coventry Basin. From Hawkesbury Junction join the Oxford Canal, travelling through Rugby to Braunston Turn. At the junction, join the Grand Union Canal, passing through Napton Junction and through the lock and pub-heavy stretch of canal near Stockton and through to Warwick. Moor at the Saltisford Arm for a short walk into Warwick to visit attractions such as Warwick Castle and the Lord Leycester Hospital. Cruise on from Warwick and tackle the Hatton Lock Flight of 21, travel through the Shrewley Tunnel (433yds) and up to the Lapworth Link through to Kingswood Junction. At the junction join onto the Stratford-on-Avon Canal and travel to King’s Norton Junction, where you will head south on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal back to Tardebigge.