Best boating holidays for beginners in the West Midlands
Birmingham famously has more canals than Venice, so a canal boat holiday is a great way to explore the West Midlands area.
Our canal boat hire bases at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, and Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal near Henley-in-Arden, offer a great choice of routes for beginners.
Whether you want to experience a rural retreat afloat, or cruise into the heart of Birmingham, there are dozens of destinations to choose from.
You don’t need a licence to steer a canal boat and tuition is included in our holiday hire.
To celebrate the hundreds of miles of waterways and exciting waterside destinations available in the Birmingham area, we’ve published a guide to our top five short breaks for beginners:
1. Navigate to the Black Country Living Museum, home of the Peaky Blinders
From our narrowboat hire base at Tardebigge, it’s an eight-and-a-half hour, three-lock journey to the Black Country Living Museum. Scenes for all six series of the BBC’s epic gangster drama Peaky Blinders were filmed at the 26-acre Museum. As well as walking in the footsteps of the Shelbys, you can explore period shops and homes and have a drink in the ‘Bottle & Glass Inn’. You can also sample the Museum’s famous traditionally cooked 1930’s-style fish and chips and take a trip ‘into the thick’ to experience life in an 1850’s coal mine.
2. Moor up to see a play in Shakespeare’s Stratford
From our canal boat rental base at Wootton Wawen, you can reach Stratford upon Avon on a weekend or mid-week break. There are moorings in the centre of town in Bancroft Basin, next to Bancroft Gardens and the Royal Shakespeare Company. This year’s Royal Shakespeare Theatre productions include As You Like It and Macbeth. Bancroft Basin is just a short walk from Stratford’s excellent choice of shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants, including Carluccios. From Wootton Wawen, it takes around six hours, to reach Shakespeare’s Stratford, passing through 17 locks.
3. Cruise through the countryside to Packwood House
On a short break from Tardebigge, you can cruise to the village of Lapworth, home of the National Trust’s Tudor Manor house, Packwood House. The journey takes you along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, through the Worcestershire countryside and the remains of the Forest of Arden, to Kings Norton Junction. Next, the route transfers onto the Stratford Canal to reach moorings in Lapworth. From there, it’s a short walk to the 16th century Packwood House, with 150 acres of parkland to explore and stunning gardens, including the famous Yew Garden. The journey to Lapworth takes around seven hours and passes through two tunnels. There are no locks on this route.
4. Moor up in the heart of Birmingham and visit the National SEA LIFE Centre
Departing from Tardebigge, it’s a five-hour, lock-free journey to moorings at Gas Street Basin in Birmingham City Centre. Here you are close to Brindleyplace and its National SEA LIFE Centre. The Centre is home to the UK’s only 360o Ocean Tunnel where you can marvel at sharks, a giant turtle, rays and hundreds of tropical fish. You can also see a group of Gentoo penguins, a pair of sea otters and a fascinating variety of jellyfish.
5. Cruise to the base of the magnificent Hatton Locks
On a short break from Wootton Wawen, you can cruise north along the Stratford Canal, transferring onto the Grand Union Canal to reach the bottom of the flight of 21 locks at Hatton. This lock impressive lock flight is nick-named the ‘Stairway to Heaven’. This is because of the hard work involved in the ascent, followed by an easy run to Camp Hill where the working boat men and women were once paid. Today the journey to Hatton takes you through the Warwickshire countryside and past a series of villages with country pubs. These include: the canalside Fleur de Lys at Lowsonford; and the Navigation Inn at Rowington. From Wootton Wawen, it takes around eight hours to reach the base of the Hatton flight, passing through 17 locks along the way.Tags: Birmingham Main Line Canal, canal boat hire, canal boat holiday, Grand Union Canal, LifesBetterByWater, narrowboat hire, narrowboat holiday, River Severn, Stratford Canal, Visit Birmingham, Worcester & Birmingham Canal