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

< Back to Alvechurch Marina.

Alvechurch Cruise 8

The Black Country Ring

10 – 14 Days Cruise (or 7 days without stops) packed with options for family activities and also a rich mixture of canal scenery, can include visits to Dudley Zoo & castle, Drayton manor Theme Park, & the Black Country 26 acre outdoor Museum, Cadbury World at Bournville, & the Snowdome at Tamworth. Shopping in the Bullring in Birmingham & the lovely town of Stafford.

Start & Finish : Alvechurch marina, Worcestershire
Total Distance: 102 miles
Total Locks: 79
Tunnels: 8
Cruising Hours: 56 hours

DAY 1

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.

DAY 2

Continuing on through the Tunnel, for those with children you might want to stop at the visitor moorings at Bournville for Cadbury World, which is 1 mile north of the Kings Norton Junction (booking is advisable Tel. 0121 451 4159).It is signposted from the canal. There is an exhibition dedicated to the history of chocolate, audio visual displays, Victorian Birmingham & a Jungle to explore! Or catch it on the way back, see Day 10.

About 3 miles later you arrive at the Gas Street basin 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.

There is so much to see in Birmingham that is is worth visiting the website:https://visitbirmingham.com/

Amongst some of the attractions are the National Sea Life Centre (https://www.visitsealife.com/birmingham/), & 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.

Total cruising hours from Alvechurch to Gas Street basin is 4 ¾ hours.

DAY 3

From the Gas Street basin, cruise up to the Deep cuttings Junction & turn right where you will soon encounter your first locks as you begin your descent from Birmingham, the flight of 13 locks at Farmers bridge.

You will only have time for a short breather before you get to the next flight- the 11 locks at Aston. (Do not turn right onto the Digibeth Branch just beforehand). Bear right at Salford Junction onto the Birmingham & Fazeley canal.

After the 3 locks at Minworth you will start seeing the countryside again, and if you stop at Curdworth there is a pub and a steak house, and you will have done 7 ¾ hours cruising to here.

If you want to press on there is a lovely pub at Bodymoor Heath by Cheatle's farm Bridge, about another 2 hours cruising, so 9 ¾ cruising in total.

DAY 4

Cruise up the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal, you will soon pass Drayton Manor & the entrance to the Theme park & Zoo is a short walk from here. 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. https://www.draytonmanor.co.uk/

If you are mooring up & spending the day here, it might be worth booking a session at the Snowdome in Tamworth & catching a bus or a taxi there for the evening.

There is Skiing, snowboarding, Tobogganing, Ice-skating, swimming & Adrenaline Tubing!! All on real snow! https://www.snowdome.co.uk/

Total cruising time 1 ½ hours

DAY 5

Continuing on turn left at the Fazeley Junction on to the Coventry canal. The Coventry canal is in a peaceful, rural setting on the Warwickshire and Staffordshire borders.

You will cruise past villages and delightful countryside, with some delightful pubs along the canal, where you can moor up and have some refreshment. The Plough Inn at Huddlesford and the Dog Inn at Whittington are 2 good ones.

Fradley Junction is where you meet the Trent & Mersey Canal, and it brings you into the middle of 5 locks, with a much-photographed 200yr old pub.

This is a busy place, with many canalboats moored up, and you can stop at the Canalside cafe or walk through the Fradley pool Nature reserve.

Turn left here and continue on the Trent & Mersey canal to Armitage where there is a good pub- The Plum Pudding. You can moor up for the night here.

It is 7 ¼ hours cruising to here.

DAY 6

After Armitage you pass by the town of Rugeley, there are shops & moorings near bridge 66. The canal passes by Great Haywood, where Shugbrough Hall is found, the home of the Earls of Lichfield, also Cannock Chase Country park is close by, one of the largest in Britain and an area of outstanding beauty. Both are well worth a visit.

You then turn left down the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal, across an aqueduct, keeping Shugborough Park on your left, you can buy gifts in the old Canal Booth here. This Canal is one of the prettiest & most interesting in the UK.

The canal soon enters Tixall Wide, which is more like a lake than a Canal, and is well known for its Kingfisher population, and continues on through the pretty valley of the River Sow.

At Radford Bridge you can catch a bus for the 1 ½ miles into Stafford Town centre. For shoppers, the town offers a tempting blend of specialist shops and high street names, while its pedestrianised areas and winding side streets are perfect for leisurely browsing. Shop in the airy Piazza-style Square, adjacent to the Shire Hall Gallery. Step off the main retail area, and find yourself in a peaceful haven like St. Mary's Mews - an award-winning complex overlooking the church of St Mary.

Cruising time to here 5 ¾ hours

Day 7

Cruising on you will pass through Penkridge village. There are stores & a bank, & about 5 pubs, including The Boat which is canalside by the Lock.

The canal twists and turns through an unpopulated stretch of former heathland until you reach Gailey marina. Carry on southwards & a good place to moor up for the night is by the Fox & Anchor Inn which has moorings by Cross Green Bridge 71. This is 2 hours cruising from Gailey.

Cruising time to here 7 ½ hours ( from Radford Bridge, 2 hours from Gailey)

DAY 8

The canal winds its way through the countryside until you reach the surburbs of Wolverhampton, and Autherley Junction which is where the Shropshire Union Canal joins.

Shortly after this junction you reach Aldersley Junction and you should turn left here down the Birmingham Main Line Canal.

Through the  proud and ancient manufacturing town of Wolverhampton you will have to negotiate 'The Twenty One'- a memorable flight of locks. There is so much to see that the flight never becomes tedious, and seems less exhausting that one might expect. On the right you will see Dunstall Park- Wolverhampton's race Course, they have Horse racing fixtures throughout the year.

Ignore the canal off to your left. Passing through Dudley, you can make a short detour to the BlackCountry Museum, turn right just before the Factory Locks. This is a superb outdoor museum built around a reconstructed canalside village, with a pub, shops and an inland port, you can ride a tram or a trolly bus, or tour a coalmine. It is worth spending at least half an day here.

Cruising Time is 8 hours

DAY 9

After spending the morning at the Black Country Museum, cruise back up to the Birmingham main line canal & turn right & cruise on the the Gas Street Basin, where you were on Day 2, and spend some more time catching the attractions & shops that you missed the 1st time around.

Cruising time to here is 4 ½ hours.

DAY 10

Take a leisurely cruise back to Alvechurch, perhaps taking in Cadbury World if you didn't get to it on the way out. (Booking is essential).

Cruising time 5 ¾ hours

For a 14 night cruise take more time sightseeing & add more stops

For a 7 night cruise, there will be about 9 hours cruising a day, great if you love to cruise!

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