See historic towns
Kennet Avon Canal
Take a canal boat
Take canal locks
up and down hills
Stop at peaceful
pubs and villages
Four Counties Ring
Base 35 is south of Birmingham in the heart of the UK canal network. It is run by one of the best boat operators in the UK, with a friendly, professional service. It is easily reached by road, close to the M42, and is next to a local railway station. It is not far from Birmingham Airport.
Base 35 is on the Worcester and Birmingham Canal which forms part of both the Avon and Stourport Rings. It is an easy cruise to the restored centre of Birmingham with mooring in the Gas Street basin close to the National Sea Life Centre.
Lapworth Flight and Return: 3/4 Night cruise and No locks
Wootton Wawen and Return: 4 Night cruise and 74 locks
Birmingham Mini Ring: 4 Night cruise 22 hours cruising and 49 locks
Cruise into Birmingham via the Wast Hill tunnel for the first night's mooring. You then pass through fine industrial architecture and along the Grand Union canal to Catherine de Barnes then into rural Warwickshire. Three hours further on and you pass over the Stratford-upon-Avon canal and cruise to join the Worcester/Birmingham canal back to base.
Stratford on Avon and Return: 110 locks 42 hours
A magnificent introduction to canal cruising. The Worcester/Birmingham canal takes you into the suburbs of Birmingham but a right turn at Kings Norton onto the Stratford upon Avon canal means that you quickly leave Birmingham behind and head off into the West Midlands 'stockbroker belt'. There is splendid countryside and delightful villages with quaint names. You pass through a canal crossroads with a connection to the Grand Union canal. If time allows you can have a detour along a lock free stretch of the Grand Union to the top of Hatton locks and then take a train the short distance to Warwick and visit its superb castle. Further south on the Stratford canal, you will find the house of Shakespeare's mother, Mary Arden, close to the canal at Wilmcote as well as the longest aqueduct on the main canal system which allows you to soar across a valley, over a railway and a road. Finally, after a short tunnel under a very busy road, you burst out into Bancroft basin with its manicured grass and colourful flowerbeds, right by the entrance to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the River Avon. A quick walk across the road to the Tourist Information Centre will produce reams of information about the local attractions.
Stourport Ring: 116 locks 48 hours
Four hours cruising into central Birmingham will reveal why the Worcester/Birmingham canal is known as the green route into the city. Moor amid the splendour of the magnificently re-developed area, by the pubs, clubs and restaurants around Gas Street and Brindley Place and admire the International Convention Centre and Symphony Hall with their delightful waterfront. There is so much to see and do that you will be spoilt for choice. On perhaps to the Black Country Museum at Tipton, well worth at least half a days visit and then through Wolverhampton to join the incredibly scenic and atmospheric Staffs & Worcester canal. Alternatively, avoiding Wolverhampton, take the route down the Stourbridge canal. This is hardly a short cut as your crew are unlikely to resist the delights of the vast Merry Hill shopping centre with its futuristic monorail connection to the canal basin. Perhaps visit the Stourbridge Crystal factory. Both routes lead through Kidderminster where steam railway fans can indulge themselves on the Severn Valley Railway. Stourport on Severn gives access to the River Severn. Half a days cruising with a few large, keeper controlled, locks brings you to Worcester and to join the Worcester/Birmingham canal. Don't forget to visit the celebrated porcelain factory and museum before returing to base.
Avon Ring: 139 locks 58 hours
An experienced crew can cover this route within a week but it is much better to spend 10/11 days. Two weeks may allow time to also cruise to Gloucester with its historic docks and warehouses (now offices and museums) and on down the lock free Gloucester to Sharpness canal which ends alongside the Severn estuary with, at high tide, the sea lapping just the other side of the canal towpath wall. LeavingBase 356 you take the very rural Worcester/Birmingham canal to historic Worcester and then join the River Severn to Tewkesbury. On entering the River Avon via Tewkesbury lock, the lock keeper will sell you a licence for this privately maintained river navigation. The river twists and turns to present to you different vistas of the delightful countryside in the Vale of Evesham, through Pershore (thought to be the Borchester in the long running 'Archers' radio serial) and Evesham until finally you leave the River at Stratford upon Avon and return to base along the route described in 'Stratford and Back'. At the end of your holiday you will sincerely feel that you have found and experienced the true England.