Week long breaks from Wootton Wawen

Week long canal boat holidays from Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal
The Birmingham Mini Ring (48 miles, 84 locks, 33 hours)

With more canals than Venice, exploring the Birmingham area by boat is one of the best ways to experience Britain’s vibrant second city. The Birmingham Mini Ring circuit takes in sections of the Worcester & Birmingham, Birmingham Main Line and Grand Union canals. Highlights include: the historic village of Bournville, home of Cadbury’s chocolate; Gas Street Basin in central Birmingham; and the flight of 13 locks at Farmers Bridge.

Cruise north along the Stratford Canal from Wootton Wawen though the Warwickshire countryside and remains of the Forest of Arden.  There’s a pretty barrel roof cottage next to lock no.37 built by engineers more accustomed to building bridges than houses who adapted the techniques they knew best to house the men who worked on the canal.  There’s another barrel roof cottage at lock 34 in the tiny hamlet of Yarningdale Common and the Grade II* listed Yarningdale Aqueduct. Continue meandering through the countryside before reaching the village of Lowsonford, with its canalside Fleur dy Lys pub, famous for its pies. Soon after, the canal passes beneath the noisy M40 motorway. At Lapworth junction you take the Lapworth link to connect onto the broad Grand Union Canal at Kingswood Junction.  The Heart of England Way connects to the Grand Union Canal at Kingswood Bridge no.65, next to the Navigation Inn.  From there it’s a short walk to the National Trust’s Baddesley Clinton house.  Cruise north along the Grand Union Canal towards Birmingham. The King’s Arms at Heronfield is canalside before you reach the Knowle flight of locks.  Continue on through the countryside, passing under the M42 motorway before reaching the Boat Inn at Catherine de Barnes. Pass through Solihull and the outskirts of Birmingham.  Go down the Camp Hill locks and you’ll reach Bordesley Junction. Continue past Typhoo Basin, through Ashsted Locks to Aston Junction. Turn onto the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal and go through the Farmer’s Bridge Locks.  At Farmer’s Bridge Junction, turn to moor up in Gas Street Basin, giving easy access to Brindleyplace and city centre attractions. Carry on down the Worcester & Birmingham Canal through Edgaston Tunnel, close to Birmingham’s Botanical Gardens.  Soon after you’ll go through Bournville and Cadbury World. Transfer onto the North Stratford Canal at Kings Norton Junction, via the famous guillotine lock, and then go through Brandwood Tunnel.  It’s quiet and rural here and once past the wharf at Hockley Heath, you aren’t far from the National Trust’s Packwood House.  Go through the Lapworth Locks and you’ll be back at Lapworth Junction. Head back down the Stratford Canal to Wootton Wawen.

Stratford-upon-Avon, Tewkesbury and back (99 miles, 68 locks, 45 hours)

Head south along the Stratford Canal, past the canalside Navigation Inn.  Soon after you’ll go through a lock and then you’ll cross over the 105-metre long Edstone Aqueduct, with lovely views across the Warwickshire countryside.  You can moor up north of Bridge 59 and take a ten minute walk into Wilmcote.  The village is home to the Mary Arden Inn and Mary Arden’s Farm, the childhood home of Shakespeare’s mother. Go through the Wilmcote Flight of 11 locks, beginning your descent downhill into Stratford-upon-Avon.  There are five more locks before you reach Bancroft Basin in the heart of Shakespeare’s Stratford.  This world-famous town has plenty of places to eat, shop and visit, including the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Shakespeare’s Birthplace and the Stratford-upon-Avon Butterfly Farm. Transfer onto the River Avon (you’ll need an additional licence from The Avon Navigation Trust).  You’ll reach the village of Welford-on-Avon and riverside pub at Blinton Bridges.  Continue cruising through the Warwickshire countryside and next you’ll reach Bidford-on-Avon.  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. There’s a good choice of pubs at Bidford, including the Bulls Head.  The Bridge at Offenham is worth a stop. 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.  You’ll go through the historic village of Fladbury next, with a choice of pubs including The Chequers Inn. Continue on cruising through the Worcestershire countryside to the village of Wyre Piddle and its Anchor Inn.  Next you’ll reach Pershore, one of the finest market towns in Worcestershire. There are lots of places to eat and shop, and a magnificent abbey to explore. Two bridges span the River at Pershore, including the Old (Great) Bridge built in the 14th century.  Continue meandering through the countryside past Tiddesley Wood.  The Shakespeare’s Avon Way follows the river for a while between Eckington Bridge and Strensham Lock.  You pass through Bredon next with the National Trust’s Bredon Barn and a choice pubs. Continue on past Twyning Green with its riverside Fleet Inn. Cruise under the medieval King John’s Bridge and into the historic market town of Tewkesbury with its 12th century abbey, half-timbered buildings and historic pubs. Turn just before Avon Lock.

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