Duration: 7 Nights
TOTAL LOCKS: 88
CRUISING TIME PER DAY: 7.5 HOURS (47 HOURS IN TOTAL)
Maps & Guides for this route: P4, N4, L10, E1 | Click here buy maps
An alternative to the Four counties ring, but equally energetic. You will head up towards the Peak District and enter the Churnet Valley with its stunning countryside.
The canal terminates at Froghall where you turn and retrace your steps.
Gailey Wharf is situated along side Gailey lock, a great location for first time boaters who would like a hands on lock demonstration!
Cruising north on the Staffordshire and Worcester Canal you will tackle 4 locks in fairly close succession with the canal taking you on a twisting path through scenic countryside. The M6 road accompanies you on the right hand side for just half a mile, after which you part from it and return to the peace and quiet of nature. After for around 2 hours you will arrive at the pretty village of Penkridge. You can moor just after the Cross Keys pub, with its small but attractive garden or continue through Penkridge’s two locks and moor after Penkridge Bridge. The Boat Inn is canalside and The Star Inn is just a 10 minute walk away in the heart of the village.
Leaving Penkridge behind and cruising under the M6 bridge the canal is calm and quiet once more. Teddesley Park bridge is a good place to moor for those wanting the opportunity to explore the extensive wooded estate. As you continue north there is a great mixture of countryside and beautiful canalside gardens as you cruise through small villages. Look out for the cyclist sculpture!
After around 3.5 hours cruising you will reach Radford Bridge, the nearest point to Stafford. There is a bus service here which can take you the 1.5 miles into the centre of Stafford.
The canal continues in a sharp curve to the south east and follows the pretty valley of the River Sow and at Milford crosses the river via an aqueduct. After the attractive Tixall lock you are spoilt by a stunning stretch of water, Tixall Wide resembles a lake rather than a canal and there is plenty of wildlife to spot here. At Great Haywood Junction you will turn left on to The Trent and Mersey Canal, immediately on the left is an opportunity to fill up with water before finding a mooring spot along this stretch. Great Haywood is an attractive village with a couple of pubs – the Clifford Arms and the Lockhouse Restaurant.
A short walk south on the tow path will take you to Shugborough Hall, a National Trust property not to be missed.
You will continue to cruise north west along the Trent and Mersey Canal. A short time cruising and you will reach Canalside farm, located east of bridge 75, which sells a selection of fresh produce and when in season, offers strawberry and raspberry picking. A further 3 miles of cruising and you will pass the attractive village of Weston Upon Trent. You may wish to stop at a local pub such as The Saracen’s Head, which located just 20yds east of bridge 80.
Continue to cruise and you are treated to 5 miles of rural and peaceful cruising and quiet landscapes until you reach the busy town of Stone. This old market town offers good shopping and boating facilities, should you need them. There is a water point available near pipe bridge, providing another opportunity to fill up with water. There are also pubs conveniently located on this stretch throughout Stone, such as The Star Inn beside Star Lock 27, which serves real ale and pub food.
A further mile of cruising out of Stone, you will experience a stretch of dynamic cruising, navigating several locks. Following this there are 3 miles of relatively easy cruising through a quieter landscape. You will then reach Trentham Lock, where you can moor if you wish to visit the World of Wedgwood, located a short distance away from the canal. Here you can take factory tours and visit the museum, exhibiting a wide range of Wedgwood pottery. You can moor near Hemheath Bridge in Trentham, where the Toby Carvery is near the canal
Leaving Trentham, in just over an hour you’ll reach the first of 5 locks that take you into the heart of Stoke-on-Trent, where you turn right to begin your exploration of the Caldon Canal (a statue of James Brindley stands near the junction). After a 2-lock staircase and the interestingly named Planet Lock (where there are shops and a chemist nearby), you can enjoy lock-free cruising all the way to the town of Milton. Close to the canal is a small memorial garden dedicated to Susie Cooper, who was an important pottery designer of the 20th century. The whole area around Stoke is famously known as ‘The Potteries’. You might like to moor at Stockton Brook, a pleasant stop with pubs and views to the River Trent.
After the Stockton Brook locks, it is lock-free cruising for the next hour and a half until you reach a point, just after Bridge 34, where you have a choice of keeping left and going through the 3 Hazelhurst locks to travel all the way to Froghall, or steer to the right and and join the Leek branch.
Opting for the Froghall route takes you under the Leek branch of the canal, so you may see another narrowboat passing overhead! Continuing on, after about an hour you reach Cheddleton, where it’s worth stopping to visit the Cheddleton Flint Mill which is a beautifully restored water mill, museum and period cottage. Entrance is free, they just ask for donations!
After Cheddleton, the canal joins the River Churnet for a short while, finishing at Consall Forge where there are moorings right by the historic Black Lion pub.
Journeying on, if your boat is longer than 65ft then you will need to turn just before Flint Mill lock, as this is the last winding hole capable of turning a full-length boat. Otherwise, you are able to continue as far as Froghall tunnel which is extremely low overhead and restricted to boats of 65ft maximum length, 5ft in height (from the waterline) and 5ft across the top of the cabin. There is a winding hole before the tunnel if you are unable to go through, and another one afterwards if you are!
The terminus of the canal at Froghall has a wharf house and stables, lime kilns, a picnic area and a couple of pubs within walking distance.
If you turned right after Bridge 34 onto the Leek branch of the canal, after just under an hour you’ll pass over the Hazelhurst Aqueduct and perhaps see some boats cruising underneath you. A further hour and a half brings you to the short Leek tunnel and then the canal terminus at Bridge 9 where there is a winding hole just after the bridge.
Whichever route you chose, it’s now time to turn your boat and retrace your steps to the marina. If time permits, you might like to stop in Stoke and visit the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery which is in Hanley.
Max: 4 People
Max: 4 People
Max: 4 People
Max: 6 People
Max: 8 People
Max: 6 People
Max: 8 People