10-day and two week breaks from Wootton Wawen

Visit Stratford upon Avon by canal boat

On a longer boating break from Wootton Wawen you can complete the Warwickshire Ring or the Avon Ring

The Warwickshire Ring (128 locks, 59 hours)

This circuit offers a great mix of rural and urban stretches.  It travels sections of the Grand Union, Oxford, Coventry and Birmingham & Fazeley canals. Highlights include: the flight of 11 locks into Atherstone; the pretty canal village of Braunston; the awesome flight of 21 locks at Hatton; and Warwick Castle.

Head north up the Stratford Canal from Wootton Wawen, passing through two locks at Preston Bagot, with a barrel roof cottage at lock number 37. Next the canal passes close to the tiny hamlet of Yarningdale Common, with another barrel roof cottage at lock 34 and the Grade II* listed Yarningdale Aqueduct. At the village of Lowsonford, the canalside Fleur de Lys pub is well worth a visit, renowned for its home-made pies. Several locks, barrel roofed cottages and miles later, the canal passes beneath the noisy M40 motorway. After another five locks you’ll reach Lapworth junction where you can take the Lapworth link to connect onto the Grand Union Canal at Kingswood Junction.

To travel clockwise around the ring, turn left and head north. The Heart of England Way meets the canal here at Kingswood Bridge, and it’s just over a miles walk to the National Trust’s Baddesley Clinton stunning moated manor house in the heart of the Forest of Arden from here. Soon after, the canal passes the Black Boy and King’s Arms pubs at Heronfield, and then reaches the Knowle flight of five wide locks, which raise the canal by 12.5 metres. The town of Knowle is a short walk away, with a supermarket and choice of pubs.

Soon after, the canal passes beneath the M42 motorway, and continues north past the Boat Inn at Catherine de Barnes, before entering the urban outskirts of Birmingham at Solihull. Six miles later, you’ll reach the six locks at Camp Hill and then Bordesley Junction. From here it’s just half a mile to moorings at Typhoo Basin, close to Warwick Bar in the centre of Birmingham.

There’s so much to do in Birmingham – theatres, art galleries, museums, concert halls, restaurants and shops, but the City’s award-winning Thinktank Science Museum, with its exciting Spitfire and Marine Worlds galleries, is close by. Next turn back to Bordesley Junction and head up the Birmingham & Warwick Junction Canal, which connects with the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal at Salford Junction. From there begin heading east, still in a very urban environment for another four miles until the Hare & Hounds pub at the bottom of the Minworth flight of three locks.

Now back in the countryside, the route passes the White Horse at Cudworth, where the Cudworth flight of 11 locks starts. The Dog & Doublet pub is next to Lock 9 of the flight and there are moorings soon after, with access to Kingsbury Water Park, offering 600 acres of country park to explore. The Heart of England Way follows the line of the canal here for several miles and passes the RSPB’s Middleton Lakes Nature Reserve, great for a spot of birdwatching. Fazeley is next with its choice of pubs – the Plough and Three Tuns, plus a short bus or taxi ride to Drayton Manor Theme Park if you fancy a change of pace!

The Coventry Canal meets the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal here, taking you east through Tamworth to Alvecote with its Samuel Barlow pub, the ruins of Alvecote Benedictine Priory and the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust’s Alvecote Pools nature reserve. Now heading south, the canal passes beneath the M42 and past the Pooley Visitor & Heritage Centre, displaying mining memorabilia and offering waymarked paths around woodland and spoil heaps.

Then it’s on through the village of Polesworth, a good place to stop and re-stock with shops, and Bulls Head, Red Lion and Royal Oak pubs. The canal becomes very rural for a while, passing Hoo Hill obelisk which marks the site of the Chapel of Leonard at Hoo, demolished in 1538 by Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries. Atherstone is the next town, with a flight of six locks, choice of shops and pubs, including the Kings Head. The canal continues south, lock-free for the next 11 miles. The Anchor at Hartsmill is the next canalside pub you’ll pass.

Soon after the canal becomes more urban again as it winds its way through Nuneaton, before meeting its junction with the Ashby-de-la-Zouch Canal at Bedworth. Two miles later, the Coventry Canal meets the North Oxford Canal at Hawkesbury Junction, where you’ll head south down the Oxford Canal. The route soon passes under the M69 motorway and through the pretty village of Ansty, with its Rose & Castle pub. Three miles later, it’s worth stopping at Brinklow to visit the remains of Brinklow Castle, a Norman earthwork motte and bailey fortress, and Brinklow Arches to the south of the village, a canal aqueduct built during the Imperial Period. There’s a number of pubs in the village, including The Raven and White Lion.

The canal then passes through the 186-metre long Newbold Tunnel, past the Barley Mow and Boat pubs, becoming more urban again as it travels through the town of Rugby. Next you’ll reach the Bell & Barge pub and Tesco store at Brownsover, and then the village of Hillmorton, with its flight of three locks, plus Old Royal Oak and Stag & Pheasant pubs.

After Hillmorton, the canal cuts through open countryside again, and is lock-free to the Braunston Turn, where the Oxford Canal merges with the Grand Union Canal. The historic village of Braunston, in the heart of the canal network, is a great place to stop with a marina, boatyard, fish and chip shop, and plenty of pubs including the canalside Admiral Nelson.

Eleven miles and nine locks later, the canal reaches Napton Junction where the Oxford Canal splits off and heads south.  Continue along the Grand Union Canal towards Birmingham, soon reaching the three locks at Calcutt. The next two miles are on one level until the route reaches Stockton Top Lock, the peak of a flight of 13 locks taking the canal to the village of Long Itchington.  There’s a choice of pubs here, including the Duck on the Pond and The Green Man. The next four miles remain rural and just before Leamington Spa, the canal passes by the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust’s Lea Valley Nature Reserve.

There are plenty of visitor moorings in Royal Leamington Spa, giving you the chance to enjoy some of this historic spa town’s attractions, including its impressive Georgian and Edwardian architecture, Royal Pump Rooms Museum, Loft Theatre, Welches Meadow Nature Reserve, and choice of shops and restaurants.

Next it’s the beautiful country town of Warwick, with its jaw-dropping medieval castle on the banks of the River Avon. Dating back to William the Conqueror, Warwick Castle offers a fantastic day out with ramparts to climb, birds of prey and trebuchet firing displays, landscaped gardens, Castle Dungeon and daily history team tours.

Warwick itself has a vibrant market place hosting a variety of shops, pubs and cafes and a thriving Saturday market, as well as a popular racecourse.  Warwick’s many museums include: the Yeomanry Museum; Lord Leycester Hospital Museum; Queen’s Own Hussars Museum & Master’s Garden; St John’s House Museum; and Warwickshire Museum.

Heading out of Warwick, you’ll soon encounter Hatton Bottom Lock and the start of the epic Hatton Flight of 21 locks, traditionally known as the ‘Stairway to Heaven’, which raises boats up by nearly 45 metres along a two mile stretch of the canal. Just below the Top lock, you’ll find the Hatton Locks Café. It’s another four miles back to Lapworth from Hatton, passing through the Shrewley Tunnel and Rowington cutting, before heading back down the Stratford Canal to Wootton Wawen.

The Avon Ring (109 miles, 131 locks, 61 hours)

This epic ring navigates sections of the Stratford Canal, River Avon, River Severn and Worcester & Birmingham Canal. The journey will take you to Shakespeare’s Stratford, the charming historic town of Evesham, the Cotswold medieval town of Tewskesbury, the City of Worcester with its stunning cathedral and the flight of 30 locks at Tardebigge.

First head north up the Stratford Canal, passing through two locks at Preston Bagot, with a barrel roof cottage at lock number 37. Next the canal passes close to the tiny hamlet of Yarningdale Common, with another barrel roof cottage at lock 34 and the Grade II* listed Yarningdale Aqueduct. At the village of Lowsonford, the canalside Fleur de Lys pub is well worth a visit, renowned for its home-made pies. Several locks, barrel roofed cottages and miles later, the canal passes beneath the noisy M40 motorway. After another five locks you’ll reach Lapworth junction where you continue onto the North Stratford Canal and through the 14 locks at Lapworth. Pass through Hockley Heath where you’ll find The Wharf pub, fish & chips, a Chinese take-away and a Co-op store nearby.  The Horseshoe pub is canalside at Kings Heath and then you’ll go through the 321-metre long Brandwood Tunnel.  You’ll transfer back onto the Worcester & Birmingham Canal at Kings Norton Junction, turning left to travel down the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. Go through the 2,493-metre long Wast Hill Tunnel and then pass the Hopwood House pub at Hopwood.  Nest you’ll go through Alvechurch with the Weighbridge pub at Alvechurch Marina and then the canalside Crown pub soon after.  Travel through the 560-metre long Shortwood Tunnel.  Next you’ll reach the Anglo Welsh base at Tardebigge Old Wharf at the top of the Tardebigge flight of 30 locks, the longest in the country.  You can break up the journey through the locks at the canalside Queen’s Head pub at Stoke Wharf.  Keep heading south until you reach Diglis Basin at Worcester, with its beautiful cathedral and choice of places to eat and shop.  Here you transfer onto the River Severn. The River Severn rises in the Cambrian Mountains of Wales and runs 220 miles to reach the Bristol Channel.  It’s Britain’s longest river.  Follow the meandering River Severn through the countryside.  You’ll pass by the village of Kempsey with a choice of pubs, including The Crown Inn and the Anchor Inn.  The Severn Way follows the River for much of this stretch.  At Upton upon Severn there’s a marina and shops. You’ll pass under the M50 motorway and then you’ll reach the market town of Tewkesbury, with its 12th century abbey, medieval King John’s Bridge, half-timbered buildings and historic pubs. At Tewkesbury, you’ll transfer onto the River Avon.  Watch out for the sandbar on the inside of the turn.  You’ll need an additional licence for the River Avon online from the Avon Navigation Trust or at the Welcome Centre, Tewkesbury. Continue on past Twyning Green with its riverside Fleet Inn. You pass through Bredon next with the National Trust’s Bredon Barn and a choice pubs.  Two bridges span the River at Pershore, one of the finest market towns in Worcestershire.  Continue on cruising through the Worcestershire countryside to the village of Wyre Piddle and its Anchor Inn. You’ll go through the historic village of Fladbury next, with a choice of pubs including The Chequers Inn. The next place you’ll reach is Evesham, with its famous abbey and plenty of pubs and cafes. Moor up near Workman Gardens and Abbey Park to explore this historic market town.  Next you’ll reach Bidford-on-Avon, with a good choice of pubs at Bidford, including the Bulls Head.  The seven arched medieval bridge at Bidford dates from 1482. Look out for signage, as only one of the arches is suitable for boats to pass through. You’ll pass the village of Welford-on-Avon and riverside pub at Blinton Bridges, before reaching Stratford-upon-Avon. Here you can moor up in Bancroft Basin to explore Shakespeare’s Stratford, with plenty of places to eat, shop and visit, including the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Shakespeare’s Birthplace and the Stratford-upon-Avon Butterfly Farm.  Next travel up the Stratford Canal, passing through a series of locks.  At the top of the Wilmcote Flight you can moor up and walk into the village the Mary Arden Inn and Mary Arden’s Farm, the childhood home of Shakespeare’s mother.  Soon after you’ll cross over the 105-metre long Edstone Aqueduct, with lovely views across the Warwickshire countryside.  And then you’ll be back at Wootton Wawen.

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