BLACK COUNTRY RING FROM GAILEY
You can do this route from :
This Ring is jam packed with things to do if you want to explore.
Moor up in the fabulous Gas street Basin in Birmingham near the Sea Life centre and Jewellery Quarter.
Visit Drayton Manor Theme park & Tamworths Snowdome, Cadbury World and the Black Country Museum or just enjoy the lovely scenery of the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal, & visit the historic Shugborough Hall, home of the Earl of Lichfield.
(Some of the visits may require a longer stay!)
Read our cruising notes to help you plan your canal boat holidayRead our cruising notes.
At Gailey Wharf look out for the large round toll keepers watch tower , there is now a canal shop selling gifts on the bottom floor.
½ mile east of Gailey Wharf is the Gailey & Calf Heath reservoirs which are now nature reserves, and ½ west is the Spread Eagle- a large road house serving real ale & food.
The canal is very twisting which shows its considerable age, you soon pass Calf Heath Marina near Hatherton Branch Junction. There is a restaurant serving reasonable priced food in the marina.
You soon reach the outskirts of Wolverhampton, and the junction of the Shopshire Union Canal with the Staffordshire and Worcester Canal at Autherley.
It is 3 hours cruising to here.
Continue on down the Staff & Worcs Canal as you will soon reach the Aldersley Junction where you turn left onto the Birmingham navigations.
21 Locks now carry you up into the heart of Wolverhampton so your crew are going to keep fit today! Dunstall Park racecourse is passed on the right.
After the last lock there are useful water and refuse points. It is also not far into the centre of Wolverhampton.
The cruise will take you to the Black Country Museum, right through Birmingham.
Continue down the main line of the Birmingham canal, ignoring the left turn up the Wyrley & Essington Canal, and later on the Wednesbury oak Loop also on your left. After the short Coseley Tunnel you will see a canal leading off to your right which you should take towards Dudley and the Black Country Museum. It is worth mooring up near this superb 26 acre outdoor Museum which has been built around a re-constructed canal village, with a pub, shops and an inland port. You can ride on a trolley bus or tram, try sweet making , metal working or glass cutting, experience an underground coal mine & meet the characters in the shops and houses.
It is 6 hours cruising to here, so if you set off early there is still plenty of time to explore the fantastic Outdoor living museum or do so tomorrow morning.
There are moorings both sides of Owen Street bridge , and you can walk to the Museum.
Turn right along the Wolverhampton level canal, it is lock free for a while now, ignore the right turning at Oldbury Junction, and turn right at the Spon Lane Junction. There are 3 locks at Smethwick, but after these it is lock free again and the canal joins the Birmingham main line at Smethwick Junction. At Deep Cuttings Junction turn left on the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal & try & moor up near Cambrian Wharf.
There are a huge number of shops and of course you cannot miss the jewellery quarter. Plus for the kids there is the Sealife centre opposite Cambrian Wharf.
It is 4 hours cruising to here.
Amongst some of the attractions are the National Sea Life Centre and 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 and entertainment venues in Europe.
Have a big breakfast because you have 12 locks at Farmers Bridge straight away, and 10 locks at Aston, all to do this morning!
From this point the locks fall steeply away from the heart of Birmingham, you will soon encounter the Farmer's bridge flight of 12 locks, where you will need a BW anti vandal key.
At Aston Junction continue left and northwards where you encounter the Aston flight of locks which takes the canal down 11 locks to Salford Junction. All shops are readily available alongside the canal beyond Salford, a good access point is where the A452 crosses the canal at Tyburn Bridge.
The Minworth Locks are soon reached & there is a handy transport cafe near Hansons bridge. There are also pubs – the Hare & Hounds by Minworth Green Bridge, and The Boat by Caters bridge.
As the canal descends towards Fazeley it loses the industry that has accompanied it since Birmingham.
At the village of Curdworth there is a pub to the south of Curdworth Bridge, and another in the village.
Moor up here for the night, it is 7.5 hours Cruising.
Beyond Curdworth Tunnel and the M6 motorway, the canal continues to Fazeley in complete isolation through empty fields, only the 11 locks falling to Fazeley junction breaking the journey.
At Bodymoor Heath is a lovely pub- the Dog & Doublet by Cheatles Farm Bridge. To the right is Kingsbury Water Park, a 600 acre landscaped park containing 30 lakes from old gravel pits. There are walks, nature trails, fishing, horse riding, sailing and wind surfing and power boating.
There is also a childrens farm at Broomey Croft near Kingsbury Swivel bridge.
The Gothic style footbridge at Drayton Bassett is worth a photo, it has twin battlemented towers which look quite ridiculous on such a small construction, but it is wonderfully eccentric.
Just beyond that is Drayton Manor Theme park to the left of the road. It has 15 acres of serious rides so a definite day out for the children, also for the smaller children there is Thomas Land, and for all there is a Zoo to look around.
In the evening it might be worth getting a Taxi into nearby Tamworth and visit the Snowdome, where you can ski, snowboard or toboggan on real snow.
At Fazeley Junction the Coventry Canal meets the Birmingham & Fazeley, turn a sharp left and you will pass Peels Wharf.
This all gives way to lightly wooded open fields towards Hopwas Hill as the Canal follows the course of the River Tame very closely, passing below Hopwas village.
Hopwas is a pretty & tidy village with a green, built on the side of a hill. It has a PO, and a convenience store. On the Canal is the Tame Otter Pub, where real ale & food are served all day, there are moorings available, also here is the Red Lion, food at lunch and in the evenings, steaks are a speciality.
Just beyond here there is a delightful wooded stretch that covers the side of the hill.
Landing is forbidden because these are the Whittington Firing Ranges.
After the wood the canal continues in a side cut embankment with a view of Tamworth to the east.
The next village you will reach is Whittington. There is a PO stores, garage, chemist, Chinese takeaway & off licence. The village centre is to the west of Whittington Bridge, the shops are best approached from Bridge 78. There are 3 pubs here, The Swan Inn on the Canalside, and the Bell Inn & Dog Inn in the main street.
From here you can catch a bus into Lichfield, which is well worth the detour.
The three spires of the 13th century Cathedral in Lichfield, the 'Ladies of the Vale' are a visible landmark for miles around. The modern shopping centre contrasts sharply with the graceful Georgian buildings of the city centre. There are excellent pubs & restaurants and night clubs, with a Farmers market on Sundays.
You can also catch a train into the centre of Birmingham from Litchfield.
Between Whittington & Bridge 78, the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal changes to the Coventry Canal.
At Huddlesford is the junction with the Wyrley & Essington Canal, now only used for private moorings. There is an award winning friendly canalside pub here, - The Plough serving real ale & good food. You can walk the 1- 2 miles to Lichfield.
The Canal runs northward through flat open country and a swing bridge announces your arrival at Fradley Junction, where you meet the Trent & Mersey canal.
There is a boatyard here, a British Waterways information centre and cafe, and a very popular pub, The Swan – reputedly one of the most photographed pubs in the country. It is in a 200 yr old listed building, with cosy fires, real ales, and good bar meals with a carvery on Sundays.
You arrive on the Trent & Mersey in the middle of a 5-lock flight.
It is worth mooring near here, maybe before you get to the Fradley Junction if it is busy.
It is 8.5 hours cruising to here
Also nearby & good for kids to unwind is the Fradley pool Nature reserve, with lots of walks quite close to the Canal.
The canal soon enters quiet countryside until it gets to the village of Handsacre. There is useful store 500 yards south of Bridge 59, and a fish and chip shop and a cafe near Bridge 58. The next village is Armitage and there is a very popular restaurant called Tom Cobleighs Spode Cottage, also the Plum Pudding Pub is canalside, and the Ash tree at bridge 62.
You pass on your left Spode House, a former home of the pottery family.
The huge chimneys of Rugeley Power station come into view, there are pleasant moorings by Bridge 66 with the town centre and shops just a short walk away.
Cannock chase to the south covers an area of 26 miles and has been designated an area of outstanding natural beauty. Near the Sherlock valley are German war graves from the 1st and 2nd World wars. The museum of Cannock Chase illustrate the life of the Chase, from medieval times to a 19th century colliery.
To the south of Wolseley bridge is a pub, indian restaurant, and antique, craft & garden centre.
The village of Little Haywood is off to the right, but a good place to moor up for the night is before Haywood Lock, with lovely views of Shugborough Hall. Shugborough Hall dates from 1693 and belonged to the Earl of Lichfields family. The estate is now managed by Staffordshire County Council and is open during the season. You can look around the Mansion, servants quarters, walled garden and beautiful terraces and stone monuments with extravagant names scattered around the stunning 19th century Grade One listed gardens. Also on hand is Park Farm which contains an agricultural museum a working mill and a rare breeds centre. There are stores in Great haywood.
It is 6 hours cruising to here
After the lock turn left at Great Haywood Junction onto the Staffordshire & Worcestershire canal.
You soon come into Tixall Wide, which resembles a lake rather than a canal. To the north is the extraordinary Tixall Gatehouse , this massive 4 storey Elizabethan building dates from 1598 and is all that is left of Tixall hall. To the south is Shugborough Hall and the park surrounding it.
At Milford there is good farm shop south of Bridge 105. Your crew should always be at the ready on this canal, as the locks come at regular intervals!
Radford Bridge is the closest point to Stafford, about 1.5 miles if you fancy the walk, although there is frequent bus service. (Stafford is to the North, or right of the canal.)
Stafford is well worth visiting as there is a lot of fine old buildings including the City Hall complex of Italianate buildings dating from 1880. There is also a robust looking gaol and there are some very pretty back alleys.
The canal continues along the Canal until it reaches the relatively old village of Penkridge, and you can moor up above the lock. There is a Pub canalside by the lock, and a few pubs and stores and a bank in the village.
At Filance bridge 84 there is a useful Spar shop 100 yards north on the estate.
Gailey Wharf and the end of your holiday is soon reached, the Wharf is the other side of the Lock after Gailey bridge.
It is 7.5 hours cruising to here
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.
Maps and Guides
Pubs available on this canal route:-
|Distance from Gailey
|Cannock Road, Penkridge ST19 5DT
|The Bottle And Glass Inn
|The Black Country Museum DY1 4SQ
|The Holly Bush Inn
|Salt, Stafford ST18 0BX
NB: Distances are as the crow flies and will vary for actual canal boating travel distance.