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Alvechurch on the Worcester and Birmingham canal to start you Canal boat holidays.

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Alvechurch Cruise 12


This route combines historic castles, like Warwick, daredevil rides at Drayton manor, tobogganing or skiing in Tamworth, the Stairway to heaven at Hatton's 21 locks, Birmingham's Gas Street basin, Braunston's pretty marina and much more....

Start : Alvechurch marina, Worcs.
Finish: Alvechurch Marina, Worcs.
Total Distance: 97 miles
Total Locks: 121
Cruising Hours: 63

Cruise from the medieval village of Alvechurch with its pretty half-timbered houses. This route is very varied as one day you will be spotting rare wildlife on a tranquil stretch of water, the next you will be moored up in the heart of a bustling city.


Once setting off from Alvechurch, you soon leave the traffic behind and cruise through lovely Worcestershire countryside to your 1st Tunnel at Wast Hills which at 2726 yards is one of the longest in the country!

For your 1st nights stop it is nice to cruise for an hour to Hopwood & then stop by Bridge 67 where there is a convenient pub- The Hopwood House, by the Canal.


Continuing on through the Tunnel, before you turn off at the Kings Norton Junction, onto the Stratford on Avon canal, there is a an old Canal House on your left, and as you turn you will see the interesting guillotine mechanism of the now disused Stop Lock which was balanced by chains & counterweights.

The Canal briefly passes through a small tunnel & the quiet residential outskirts of Birmingham before leaving it behind and passing out into open country. There are very few villages along this stretch, but there is a steel lift bridge which is lowered & raised electrically, and you will need your British waterways key for this. One button does all!

The Canal continues through the countryside until you get to Hockley Heath where you can get refreshment at the nearby Wharf Inn, because soon you will encounter your first locks, the first 4 of the 20 or so Lapworth Locks, but you can do the rest tomorrow! If you moor up for the 2nd night after Bridge 31 you can walk down to the Boot Inn by locks 13/14 at the bottom of this lovely flight of Locks.

It is 7 hours & 20 minutes cruising from Hopwood to here.


You can then have a good breakfast next morning ready for the next locks. The Lapworth locks are surrounded by very pretty countryside so it is worth having a brief look around, but after Lapworth lock 19 turn left  and negotiate lock 20 and then right to join the Grand Union Canal at the Kingswood Junction.

You now have a fairly long stretch of lock free cruising before you reach the Hatton locks on your descent down to Warwick, which is 8 and half hours cruising from Lock 6 on the Lapworth flight. Near bridge 55 you can walk to the Hatton Craft centre, with craft workshops, rare breeds and a children's play area.

The 'Stairway to Heaven' the spectacular Hatton flight of 21 locks offers fine views of the spires of Warwick.

Once down the Hatton flight, either moor down the Saltisford Arm, or near Bridge 49 which is ½ mile from Warwick Town centre.


Warwick Castle is well worth a visit and is possibly the finest medieval castle in the country, it is open all year except Xmas, see the Kingmaker exhibition which uses wax sculpture to recreate the preparations for battle in 1471, as well as the dungeons, ghost tower & sumptuous state rooms. Warwick itself is a lovely little town with some Tudor buildings, you can get all your provisions here.


Continuing on from Warwick you soon reach Royal Leamington Spa, a prosperous Regency Spa town with a great choice of shops.

You then enter open country only interrupted by locks, such as the Stockton Locks which are set on a bed of blue limestone in which fossils of giant reptiles have been found. Moor up near Bridge 21, the Old Boat Inn is a pleasant old pub canalside here. You can walk into Stockton for supplies, where there are also a couple of takeaways.

Cruising time to here is 8 hours


Soon you will arrive at Napton Junction, which is where the Oxford canal & Grand Union meet, & you turn left here. Soon you will reach Braunston, which is a must for Canal enthusiasts, with its hustle and bustle of canal traffic, boat builders and restorers. It is a real Canal village and you get can get supplies here or stop off for a pub meal. You can turn right down the Grand Union & moor up by Bridge 91 & turn around by the marina to turn right up the Oxford canal .

Continue on northwards up the Oxford Canal, through wide open country backed by hills to the east. You will reach civilisation when you get to Rugby, and your overnight stop will be at Rugby visitor moorings, where there are frequent buses to Rugby Town centre.

Cruising time to here is 8 hours.

Rugby has a pedestrianised shopping centre, look out for the Rugby football museum, and the Rugby School museum, as this was where the sport was invented.

There are also shops to the south of bridge 59, and a picnic area below bridge 58 with a huge Tesco supermarket nearby. There are also moorings by Newbold Tunnel with a choice of pubs close by, also Newbold Quarry Park is here, a nature reserve beside the canal on the site of an old limestone quarry.


As you leave Rugby you will encounter one of the most unusual tunnels on the waterways, with brightly coloured lights, making it a very magical experience. After Rubgy the canal runs through quiet countryside passing small villages on its way up to the Coventry Canal.

Hawkesbury Junction, where the Oxford Canal meets the Coventry is a very pretty site with lots of traditional boats, interesting buildings including a fine engine house, and a splendid pub called the Greyhound. Corn Oats and maize used to be stored at the back of the pub for feeding the towing horses, and it was the children's job to bag this up, and lower the sacks down using a small hand crane.


When you reach the Hawkesbury Junction with the Coventry canal, you can make a slight detour by turning left into Coventry if you have time, it adds about 5 cruising hours to your journey, but it is well worth a look.

Just beyond bridge 2 before are 'Cash's Hundred Houses', an elegant row of weavers houses. The weavers slept on the 1st 2 floors, and the looms occupied the top floor. Only 37 of the houses remain.

The end of the Canal at Coventry basin is very interesting on the side of a hill, overlooked by attractive wooden canal warehouses. The Old weighbridge office is now a shop and information centre.

The old Coventry Cathedral was destroyed during World War 2, but the new cathedral was completed in 1962, and is worth a visit.

The Museum of British Transport is south of the canal basin, and claims to be the largest collection of British made transport in the world, with over 200 cars, 90 motorbikes, and 230 cycles, also period street scenes, royal vehicles and the awesome Thrust SSC -the world land-speed record holder.

It is 7 hours cruising from Rugby to the Coventry Basin

If you decode not to detour into Coventry, then turn right at the Hawkesbury Junction.

You now cruise alongside the outskirts of Bedworth, and through the suburbs of Nuneaton, there is good access to facilities by bridge 20. Soon the landscape changes as what were once quarries have been transformed into Nature reserves, and a nice quiet mooring place is by the British Waterways yard at Hartshill, which has a splendid clock tower, and some lovely architecture. About 1/2 mile walk up the lane behind Hartshill Yard is a lovely family run village green Pub- the Stag & Pheasant.

It is 8 hours Cruising from Rugby to Hartshill Yard.


After a good breakfast you will be prepared to descend the Atherstone locks, a flight of 11 locks in pleasant surroundings. The canal then turns towards Polesworth through arable farmland on its approach to Tamworth. You can moor up near Alvecote Marina & take a taxi into Tamworth, as it is worth visiting the Snowdome -real snow on a 170 metre indoor ski slope. You can do tobogganing, skiing, skating, snow boarding or swimming, but it is best to book first: or telephone 08448 000011. Whilst in Tamworth visit Tamworth Castle, with its fabulous Norman castle with medieval banqueting hall & Jacobean apartments. It is 5 hours cruising to here.


After Tamworth you will soon see the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal to your left which you should take. Alongside the canal at Drayton manor bridge is Drayton manor Family Theme park.

Adults & children will love the white knuckle rides, but the park has many family rides and a Thomas Land area for the younger children, and a Zoo to explore. The park is closed during November to March.

It is 2 hours cruising to here from Alvechurch.

DAY 10

On to Bodymoor Heath near Curdworth, where you may like to indulge in a spot of fishing or walking at Kingsbury water Park - a 600 acre landscaped park containing 30 lakes & pools, with walks, nature trails, fishing, horse-riding, sailing, power boating & windsurfing. There is a visitor centre& coffee shop. For details of their excellent program of events go to their website:

There is a lovely pub here, the Dog & Doublet, look out for George the local ghost. From Bodymoor cruise to Curdworth and moor up. There are a couple of pubs in Curdworth.

It is 4 hours cruising to here from Drayton manor.

Day 10

From Curdworth you now begin your journey through Birmingham, to the fantastic Brindley Place, where you can sit & watch the world go by in one of the areas many waterside bars, cafes and restaurants. 

At the Salford Junction turn left on the Birmingham main line (don't take the Grand Union Canal Turning), & you head towards the Gas Street Basin. At deep Cuttings Junction turn left onto the Worcestershire & Birmingham canal, & you soon arrive at the Gas Street basin, Brindley Place, which is in the heart of Birmingham's canal network, and has been redeveloped into a unique experience where traditional narrow boats moor up next to cosmopolitan cafes and bars.

The surrounding area is a vibrant arts & entertainment area and there are many shopping options within a short walk.

It is 7 ¾ hours cruising to here

DAY 11 & DAY 12

There is so much to see in Birmingham that is is worth spending 48 hrs here & you can visit the website:

Amongst some of the attractions are the National Sea Life Centre (, & the Jewellery Quarter Discovery centre, also many fine Art galleries and over 500 restaurants offering every choice of food!

For shopping a visit to the new Bullring is a must, which covers an area the size of 26 football pitches and a has a huge range of shops. Close by is the national Indoor Arena, one of the busiest large scale indoor sporting & entertainment venues in Europe.

DETOUR TO THE BLACK COUNTRY MUSEUM - Cruising From the Gas Street Basin take the Birmingham Main line canal, & ignore the turnings left & right. After about 3 hours cruising you will negotiate the 3 Factory locks, just after the last lock turn left down the Dudley Canal, and moor up near the 2nd turning on your left, near the Dudley Tunnel, for the Black Country Museum. Dudley Zoo & Castle are close by.

Total cruising time 4 ½ hrs

The 26 acre outdoor Museum has been built around a re-constructed canal village, with a pub, shops and an inland port. You can ride on a trolley bus or tram, try sweet making, metal working or glass cutting, experience an underground coal mine & meet the characters in the shops and houses. Useful websites are &

DAY 13-14

From the Gas Street basin, cruise down the Worcs & Birmingham canal, and moor up at Bournville as you might want to visit Cadbury World (booking is advisable Tel. 0121 451 4159).

Cruising time from Black Country museum back to Alvechurch is 9 ¼ hours- retrace your steps to the Gas Street basin, then continue down the Worcestershire & Birmingham canal to Alvechurch.

Cruising time from Gas street basin to Alvechurch is 4 ¾ hours.

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