AVON RING FROM STRATFORD UPON AVON
You can do this route from :
Hill Farm Marina, Stratford-upon-Avon.
A cruise along the Stratford upon Avon canal, the Rivers Avon & Severn, visiting historical towns like Worcester & Tewkesbury & Evesham, & the home of the Bard himself - Stratford upon Avon.
Allowing two weeks enables a detour down to Gloucester to visit its docks, warehouses and museums.
Worcester ,Tewkesbury, Evesham and Stratford each offer a superb mixture of culture, history and shopping.
Enjoy the challenge of the Tardebigge locks- the longest flight in England !
If you want to spend a night here, either before setting off, or at the end of your cruise, you could perhaps book tickets for a production at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre or the Swan Theatre, both of which are on the banks of the River Avon.
There are open-top coach tours of notable places, such as Hall's Croft, Anne Hathaway's Cottage and Shakespeare's Birthplace.
Shops are plentiful, or if you prefer, why not take a picnic on the banks of the canal, among the open parkland?
There are many pretty villages and towns en route, and of course the Tardebigge Flight if you like a challenge! There are tunnels and lovely pubs, and predominantly peaceful countryside.
Unless you are planning to stay a night in Stratford, leave the mooring to head for the village of Wilmcote, the home of Shakespeare's mother .
Wilmcote is just north of the Wilmcote locks, a flight of 11 locks, rising just over 77 feet in total. Before these locks, is Bishopton Lock, on the outskirts of Stratford.
Once moored, Wilmcote village will be to your left. There is a fine old pub here, called The Mary Arden Inn, due to its proximity to Mary Arden's house. Real ales, and bar and restaurant food are available. There is a beer garden, and children are welcome. Nearby, is another pub called The Masons Arms, with open fires, and also serving food and real ales. Again, children are welcome.
You have cruised for 3 hours and done 3 miles.
Leaving your mooring, you will be heading towards Lapworth Locks.
As you cruise out of Wilmcote, you will be heading towards Edstone Aqueduct (South end). This is the longest aqueduct in England, with a towpath that is level with the canal bed, making it even more unique. At this end of the aqueduct, there is a very pretty cottage.
For a while the canal straightens out as you head towards Wootton Wawen. After navigating Bearley Lock, the canal curves to the left, and as it straightens again, you will see Austy Wood and Manor away to your right. A bend to the right takes you over another aqueduct, and Wootton Wawen is to your left.
If you want to moor up here, there is a conveniently placed pub, called The Navigation, which is in the basin. Real ale and home-cooked food are available. There is a garden with children's play area, overlooking the canal.
Continuing, you may just be able to see Wootton Pool over to your left, as you wend your way through the peaceful countryside. You will soon get to Preston Bagot Locks, Claverdon Top Lock, then Yarningdale Aqueduct. You will now be able to moor for the night if you wish.
Canalside, there is a pub called The Fleur-de-Lys, at Lowsonford. You can moor here, but you must ask first, and don't tie up to the trees. Again, real ale and bar meals are available, and there is a large canalside garden, which is safe for children to play in.
Cruising northwards, the canal crosses the M40, disturbing the relative peace for a while, as you meander through mostly open countryside. To the right, you may see the Grand Union Canal, as it too makes its way to Kingswood Junction.
Once you reach Kingswood Junction, keep left, on the Stratford Canal. Lapworth Lock No. 21 is between the two branches, then you will navigate the locks until you reach No. 14. You can moor here for the night, before tackling the rest tomorrow.
There is a handy shop near to Lock No. 14, and a pub called The Boot Inn. Children and well-behaved dogs are welcome. Real ale and food served lunch and evenings.
You will have cruised 10 miles and navigated 24 locks in around 8 hours.
Leaving your mooring, your first task is to complete the Lapworth Locks, then continue past Lapworth village, and on to Hockley Heath, to the right of the canal. Here you will find a few shops near the canal, and a pub, The Wharf Inn, which is canalside. Children are welcome and there is an outdoor adventure playground.
If you have time, and want to explore a bit, there is a cycle hire shop in Hockley Heath, called Dynamic Rides (www.dymamicrides.co.uk; 01564 783332).
North of Hockley Heath, you will pass under the M42 bridge, then on through some quiet countryside, cruising through Warrings Green and Earlswood.
You will see boats moored near Earlswood as it is the base for the Motor Yacht Club. To the left of the canal are Earlswood Lakes.
Following a wooded and twisting course, you will shortly reach the suburbs of King's Norton. As you cruise further into the suburbs, you will soon reach Brandwood Tunnel (352 yds). Once through it, you will soon be at King's Norton Junction. You need to bear left here onto the Worcester and Birmingham Canal.
Moor near Bridge 71 and there is a nice pub- The Navigation Inn about 100 yards west of Bridge 71 on your right
It is just over 7 hours to here
Looming in front of you now is Wast Hills Tunnel (2,726 yds). It is one of the longest tunnels in the country. It is often difficult to see right through, and there are lots of drips, so perhaps put on a waterproof jacket for the duration!
At the end of the tunnel, you will soon be in Hopwood. If you want to stop here, there is a pub called Hopwood House, canalside. Real ale and bar meals are served all day. Children are welcome until 9pm.
To your right you will be able to see the Bittell reservoirs, and again you will go under the M42 Bridge. Just beyond here is Alvechurch, a pretty little town with a marina.
Again, there is a pub here called The Weighbridge, right beside the marina, food is served, but not every day, so do check first. And at Bridge 61, also canalside, is The Crown Inn, serving bar food.
Leaving the marina, head towards Shortwood Tunnel (614 yards long), which seems longer due to the 3mph speed limit! Watch out for the drips, as tunnels are very wet.
Once through, you will cruise through some very tranquil and pretty countryside, with the sound of birdsong just audible above the gentle chug of the boat, before reaching the 580 yard Tardebigge Tunnel.
Just the other side of the tunnel, you will soon spot Tardebigge Top Lock No. 58 – the first one in the mammoth flight!
You won't have much chance to stop once you start on the locks. The flight consists of 30 narrow locks over 2¼ miles, and is the longest in the United Kingdom, just take your time and you will soon feel like you've been doing it all your life!
Before you know it, you will reach Tardebigge Bottom Lock No. 29.
If you have time and want to moor up, there is a really nice pub across canal (accessible by bridge), called The Queens Head. The food here is really good, and children and dogs are allowed in the restaurant if they are well-behaved. If you're lucky, you will get a table by the window, or outside on the decking, overlooking the canal.
It is 8.5 hours to here
Moving on from here, you will soon reach Stoke Locks at Stoke Prior, and once through, you might like to moor and have a look around this pretty town.
About 10 minutes walk from the bridge, is a nice pub called The Navigation. It has a pretty, sunny beer garden, and the food is very good value for money.
Moving on from here, you will approach Astwood Locks, a flight of six, but by now you should find it much easier.
Past Hanbury Junction, you will soon be at Dunhampstead Tunnel, a mere 230 yards long, after which, you will eventually see Tibberton Top Lock No. 16. Not too far from Bridge 25 is a pub called Speed the Plough, with real ale and bar meals. Children welcome until 9pm.
It is 5 hours cruising to here.
You then navigate the Tibberton (or Offerton) Locks, then, after a pleasant and peaceful cruise, you will encounter Tolladine Lock No. 10 and Blackpole Lock No. 9.
More locks follow at intervals, and soon you get to the last ones before reaching Lowesmoor Wharf – Gregory's Mill Locks.
You might like to moor up before the Gregory's Mill Locks, as about a miles walk away are shops including Lidl and MacDonalds, at Blackpole Road Trading Estate.
The cruise from here to Lowesmoor is lovely, with country scenery. In the distance you can see Worcester Cathedral. If you are lucky, you may spot a heron or two.
As you approach Lowesmoor, there is an enormous bridge, then a sharp turn to the right, where you will soon see the sign for Worcester Marina. Carry on, until you reach Diglis Basin, where you can moor for the night .
It is 4.5 hours to here.
If you want to go into Worcester, there is much on offer, from the glorious Cathedral, to museums, theatre's and art galleries. There are also many pubs and restaurants.
Once through the Diglis Basin you need to go right then immediately left, onto the River Severn, where the speed limit is slightly higher than the canals. On the Rivers you can only moor up at designated Visitor moorings, there is no right to moor and land as you please, unlike the canals where there are long stretches of towpath to moor up against. Be prepared to moor up side by side where necessary. Max speed is 6mph downstream.
Along the Severn, you will see anglers, boats from the rowing club, and all around, beautiful scenery.
You will pass Kempsey on your left, cruising on along the Severn, and as you approach Rhydd, there are steep red cliffs rising 100ft above the canal.
There is a wood to the right of the canal, called Cliffey Wood, then Severn Stoke village to the left. You can reach the village via a lane from the jetty on the river. There is a pretty pub here called the Rose and Crown.
Wooded banks flank the canal, as you wend your way towards Upton upon Severn, a pretty town with a mix of half-timbered cottages and Georgian buildings. The town is situated on the river bank, as are various pubs and restaurants.
In the town is a quaint little black and white tea shop, and pubs – The Swan Hotel, Ye Olde Anchor Inn and Pundits, a Bangladeshi restaurant.
You will need to cruise off of the Severn here, so turn left onto the slipway, then left again onto the River Avon.
If you want to go into Tewkesbury, you can moor up at Healing's Mill (there is a charge).
Tewkesbury is best known for it's Abbey , & is where the Avon meets the Severn.
Time to explore the historic town of Tewkesbury with its many attractive & ancient buildings including of course, it's cathedral-like Abbey, which is reckoned to be one of the finest Norman churches in the Country. The abbey was completed about 1120, and is splendid both inside & out. Its magnificent and beautifully decorated tower stands at 130 feet high and 46 feet square, and is the largest Norman tower in existence.
The most unusual buildings in Tewkesbury are the row of medieval shops near the Abbey, in fact most of the medieval aspects & character of the town have survived to this day.
One of the more unusual aspects of the town is the maze of small alleyways leading off from the main street. There is a couple of museums, and the Tourist information office can tell you more about other attractions.
The Battle of Tewkesbury fought here in 1471 was the penultimate battle in the War of the Roses.
There are many pubs and hotels in Tewkesbury.
It is 4.5 hours to here and you will have cruised 16 miles and done 4 locks.
Continuing upstream, go through the narrow arch of King John's Bridge, where the River widens a little, and you will soon pass Tewkesbury Cruising and Sailing Club.
The River meanders through water meadows and farmland, an area used by the sailing club. Moorings are limited to just the pub, The Fleet Inn, a riverside location, serving real ale and food. Child and wheelchair friendly.
Shortly, you will pass under the M5 motorway, and cruise past Bredon on your right. This is a pretty little village with local amenities. Bredon Pottery is a husband and wife business selling handmade and decorated pottery for home and garden. The C14th tithe barn alone is worth mooring up to take a look at. It was severely damaged by fire but has been restored. It is close to the River, so you can still see it even if you don't want to stop.
As you cruise towards Strensham Lock, you will notice that the River is wide and is used by the Severn Sailing Club. A wide curve to the right takes you under the bridge of the main Aberdeen to Penzance railway line, then on to Eckington Bridge, where you should take the largest arch of six.
There are two pubs in Eckington – The Bell Inn, serving food and real ales. Children and dogs welcome, and The Anchor Inn, with the same facilities.
Away to your left is Defford, and continuing past Eckington Wharf, you will reach Swan's Neck where Birlingham Wharf is situated.
Nafford Lock is next, adjoining Nafford Island, which is a nature reserve. There is a path from here into Birlingham, about one mile away. There are no moorings by the lock, so you would need to moor at Comberton Quay.
A wide left, then right curve, takes you to Pershore, a busy market town. There are some fine structures here, including the former abbey, now the Parish Church, and a couple of arched bridges, among some well-kept Georgian buildings. In the Town Hall is a Heritage Centre and Tourist Information.
Moor after the Pershore Lock at the designated moorings.
It is 5.5 hours to here.
Wyre Lock takes you around the straggling village of Wyre Piddle, and the oddly named Tiddle Widdle Island! The Anchor Inn is riverside and has it's own moorings. Food is available and children and dogs are welcome, but dogs must be kept on leads.
You will mostly only see wild life now as you skirt the Avon's flood plains, perhaps spotting the odd heron or two.
The next village is Fladbury, where the approach channel to the lock is very narrow and steep sided, with restricted vision. Then, just north of the Fladbury and Evesham Golf Course, is Café Craycombe. Food is available breakfast and lunchtime, with home made food, including cakes and puddings.
A wide right curve around Craycombe Turn skirts Craycombe Hill, until you reach Chadbury. You will then be in the suburbs of Evesham. Just prior to the almost U-bend in the River, is Hampton Ferry. There is an award-winning restaurant nearby called Raphael's. It has full bar facilities, food lunchtime and evenings, and has its own moorings and slipway. There are also toilets, showers and laundry facilities. Children are welcome, as are dogs in the riverside garden.
It is 5 hours to here
If you want to, and you have time, take a walk into Evesham. There is much to see and do here, including a Country Park, Evesham Vale Light Railway and a River Festival, which is held on the second weekend of July. For more information on any of the above, please visit www.eveshamtown.co.uk, where you will find all the details you may need.
At Harvington there is a pub called The Coach and Horses, offering food and real ale. Children are welcome.
Moving on, through Offenham (one of a minority of villages that still had a maypole), a wide curve to the right, then onto Cleeve Hill, which forms a virtual cliff at the River's edge, below Cleeve Prior.
The King's Arms at Cleeve Prior has the same facilities as previously mentioned pubs.
Leaving Worcestershire, you will now re-enter Warwickshire on the home straight, via Bidford-on-Avon. This village is well placed for shopping and takeaways, but mooring may be limited during peak season.
It is 9 hours to here
It is 5.75 hours back to the marina
Further on, the River flows through pretty fields and orchards, announcing the village of Welford-on-Avon. Meandering around the village you will soon reach Binton Bridges, which is a multi-arched bridge. Riverside, is The Four Alls pub, with overnight mooring (by prior arrangement). Food is available, and it has a garden with children's play area.
Passing Luddington, the River continues its journey to Stratford. Further upstream, it joins with the River Stour, then you will reach Bancroft Basin. You can moor here for access into Stratford, or turn left onto the Stratford Canal and return to One Elm Lock.
The boat must be returned by 9.30am in the morning, so you will either need to be up early to cruise for an hour or so back, or moor close by tonight.
NB: This route has been provided as a guide only. Information may become inaccurate or out of date. You should always check with the marina that the route is possible within your time frame, current weather conditions and canal stoppages etc.
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