Holidays in the UK Masthead

Guide to the Leicester Ring

This pleasant and leisurely two week cruise on rivers and canals covers four counties in the East Midlands.

The route includes 5 tunnels, several aqueducts, and flights of 'staircase' locks.

Distance, Time, and Locks

157 miles, about 75 hours cruising, 102 locks

The Ring can be covered in two weeks, which may also give time to explore the Ashby and Coventry Canals. Several sections provide out-and-back routes suitable for one week or short breaks.

Cruising the Ring

Starting in the Rugby area it is a short trip through farmland to the Grand Union Canal at Braunston. Turn left to Braunston Locks and Tunnel before turning at Napton Junction onto the Leicester section of the Grand Union Canal. This peaceful canal through open countryside is noted for its 'staircase' locks.

Graceful black and white towpath bridges at the waterway crossroads of BraunstonAfter the lock keeper assisted flight at Watford there are 22 miles of isolated waterway with villages and pubs to explore. Two long tunnels lead to Foxton and a short branch route to Market Harborough. At Foxton climb the famous 10 lock staircase (lock keeper assistance), and visit the remains of the inclined plane once used to haul boats up the embankment in iron tanks.

Travel on to Leicester city, where the River Soar joins the canal, meandering through Loughborough and Barrow on Soar to Redhill Lock where it meets the River Trent. At Fazeley, the old wharf crane is a reminder of the textile tradesA short cruise upstream on the wide River Trent is a fascinating contrast before reaching the Trent and Mersey Canal at the restored inland canal village port of Shardlow.

At Burton on Trent, centre of the brewing industry and home to many varieties of ale, the locks change from broad to narrow. The rural route continues down the Coventry Canal through Atherstone to Rugby. If time, detour into Coventry to see the Cathedral.

Possible Holidays on the Leicester Ring

Click on a boat base below for more information and possible routes from that base.

Canal Holidays near Rugby from Base 32

Canal Holidays near Market Harborough from Base 52

Canal Holidays near Market Harborough from Base 55

Holidays in the UK, Bowers Wharf, Skipton, BD23 2PD