One of the finest rural waterways in Britain, passing through consistently beautiful countryside as it follows its restful route to the Thames. Climbing the famous Napton Locks the traveller reaches the remote and winding summit, with stunning views over rich Warwickshire farmland. At Claydon the Canal starts its descent to Oxford, passing through historic Cropredy and then to Banbury to join the river Cherwell. Adopting not only its route but also some of its flavour the waterway glides gracefully through the Cotswolds to the Thames.
Towards Oxford and return: 1 week.
In the South Midlands Wolds it is hard to credit that one can cruise for a week and yet pass through only four locks but, head for Braunston, and you could begin such a journey. Thread around Rugby, cross the infant River Avon and descend the three narrow locks at Hillmorton to arrive on the edge of Coventry. A skillful sidestep just here leads to Marston Junction and the charmingly isolated Ashby Canal. Twenty lock-free miles through open countryside include the battlefield at Bosworth and the chance to visit a working steam railway. All in all, an ideal run for those who appreciate the British countryside but don't want to work too hard to see it!
To Snarestone and back, via Braunston & Coventry: 1 week.
We are fortunate that our base lies on one of the few circular cruising routes which can reasonably be completed in a week. Following the Four Locks Route to join the Coventry Canal at Hawkesbury leads in turn to the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal at Fazeley Junction. A gentle climb through the splendidly isolated Curdworth Locks ends amid backdoor Birmingham; an area rich in industrial heritage and intriguing in the manner peculiar to the 'BCN'. Turning south the route heads for Hatton and then the final climb to Calcutt.
Circular route via Braunston, Coventry, Birmingham and Warwick: 1 week (for energetic crews) or 2 weeks to include the Ashby Canal.
Four cavernous tunnels, three spectacular lock flights and the site of the ingenious Foxton inclined plane, now being restored, are just some of the memorable engineering features on this route through rural Leicestershire. Some consider this canal's long summit pound, rich in wildlife, to be one of the most beautiful lengths of artificial waterway in Britain.
Towards Leicester and return, via Braunston: 1 week.
In the best tradition of a pilgrimage the route to Shakespeare's Stratford is both demanding and arduous yet highly rewarding. Dropping down to Warwick the traveller is met by the awesome sight of Hatton Locks, striding boldly upwards in a 21 lock, 3 hour cruising stairway. Turn left at Kingswood to join the Southern Stratford Canal; a narrow, tree-lined and very beautiful waterway culminating in the florid splendour of Bancroft Gardens, moments away from the RSC Theatre.
To Stratford and return: 2 week for experienced or active crews.
From Braunston, just a few hours from Calcutt, the Grand Union heads south towards the rebuilt Blisworth Tunnel. Just beyond its southern portal stands Stoke Bruerne, the ideal among canalside villages and home of the Waterways Museum. Crossing the valley of the Ouze on a sturdy aqueduct the canal climbs to Marsworth and its summit level. Beyond lies Berkhamstead, Rickmansworth and Watford; the descent to the Thames, but to the west the intimate quiet of the sixteen-lock Aylesbury Arm drifts past hedge and pasture to its historic namesake.
To Aylesbury and return: 1 week.
Two Week Travels
Given two weeks the scope to travel yet further afield grows immeasurably and our location, so close to three major canaljunctions, offers an endless variety of routes. Some worth considering include:
The Grand Circle, through London and Oxford to include the River Thames and Oxford Canal.
The Leicester Ring, passing beyond Leicester to the picturesque River Soar, the Trent and Mersey Canal and back past Coventry.
To the Caldon Canal and return via the Wedgwood factory near Stoke-on-Trent.