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The Black Country Ring (anticlockwise) from Gailey Base

7 Nights
TOTAL LOCKS: 78
CRUISING TIME PER DAY: 7.5 HOURS (47 HOURS IN TOTAL)

Maps & Guides for this route: P1, N3, L12, E1 | Click here buy maps

Gailey is ideally placed for this ring that takes you on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal, through the water fronts of Birmingham via the new Main Line, onto the Birmingham & Fazeley and the Trent & Mersey. It is a route jam packed with things to do from shopping, restaurants and museums in Birmingham to theme parks and places to visit, including Drayton Manor Park, Cadbury World and the Black Country Museum. A good mix of urban and countryside to keep all the family happy.

Day 1

Your holiday begins here! After your boat handover depart from Gailey Wharf Marina and cruise south along the Staffordshire & Worcestershire canal where you are treated to 3 miles of lock free quiet landscape allowing you time to accustom yourself to boat handling. After approximately 2 hours cruising you will arrive at the village of Coven. There are good moorings at bridge 71, with The Anchor Inn canalside, it is an ideal place to stop for the evening.

Day 2

Today you can expect around 7½ hours of cruising.  Begin cruising south along the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal for 3 miles to Aldersley Junction. Take care navigating through the stretch of canal around Forster and Marsh Lane bridge, as it is very narrow and there may not be enough room to pass other boats. At the junction, turn left to join the Birmingham main line where you will then be met with the first of a series of 21 locks. As you continue south on this stretch and through Wolverhampton locks you will notice that the locks are flanked with industry and the railway criss-crosses over the canal on many occasions. If in need of a break, moor after the top lock where you will find plenty of pubs within walking distance. At Horseley Fields junction you will continue south on the main line for 4 miles of relatively simple cruising before reaching the 360 yard Coseley tunnel. A further mile south is Factory Junction, where you will need to bear right and continue on the Wolverhampton level towards Tipton Junction. Moor along this stretch for the evening and you will find The Barge and Barrel and Mad O’ Rourke’s pie factory (serving real ale and their world renowned pies) nearby or continue on to the moorings at the Black Country Museum.

The Black Country Museum is a fantastic attraction for all and is situated south of Tipton Junction. This open-air museum demonstrates life in an industrial era, with a reconstructed village. Visitors can take a tour around a coalmine, watch demonstrations of metal and glass work and explore a fairground. You can visit the Bottle & Glass Inn, built in the 1820’s and originally located by the Stourbridge flight or the traditional Hobbs’ Fish & Chip Shop. If you wish to visit the museum, you may want to extend your holiday or cruise additional hours each day. There is a charge for mooring at the Black Country Museum.

Day 3

Today you can enjoy around 4 hours of cruising into the heart of Birmingham city centre. Departing from the Black Country Museum, return to Tipton Junction and cruise east on the Wolverhampton level, bearing right at Spoon Lane Junction and then re-joining the Birmingham main line at Smethwick Junction. This is an interesting stretch which is steeped in history, the old Wolverhampton Level line built by Brindley crosses the new Main line built by Telford by way of an aqueduct. The two lines run side by side until Smethwick Junction and after the 3 locks there is a further 2½ miles of cruising before reaching Old Turn Junction and the heart of Birmingham. There are moorings along this stretch and a great place to stop is outside The Distillery, a modern pub which offers its own handcrafted gin and a gin school! The Sealife Centre and Brindley Place are in easy walking distance from here but alternatively you may prefer to turn right at Old Turn Junction (easily recognisable with its roundabout!) and continue cruising to Gas Street Basin, mooring here for the evening. This short stretch of canal will take you through Brindley Place with pubs and restaurants on either side of the canal as well as the Birmingham Symphony Hall which is immediately before the Broad Street Bridge.

There is so much to do in Birmingham that you will be spoilt for choice but perhaps take a walk along the towpath from Gas Street Basin to The Mailbox. The Mailbox is a centre which houses numerous designer stores, a cinema, the BBC visitor centre as well as many upmarket restaurants and pubs.

Day 4

Today, you can expect to be cruising for approximately 8 hours, through two lock flights and navigating 27 locks overall.

Departing from Gas Street Basin, cruise back towards Old Turn Junction, turning right on to the Birmingham and Fazeley canal. Your first challenge of the day is Farmer’s Bridge Locks, a flight of 13 locks taking you on a steep northeast route out of the city centre. Turn left at Aston Junction and you will then arrive at the first of the 11 locks which make up the Aston lock flight. At Salford Junction bear right and continue on the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal. Cruising becomes more straightforward now and after around 6 miles, signs of industry start to disappear, replaced by a much quieter landscape. A further mile along this stretch is Curdworth, which is perhaps a good place to moor for the evening. A short walk from the canal is The White Horse Inn, an attractive country pub which is child and dog friendly with a large garden. You will certainly have earned a good meal this evening!

 Day 5

Today, you will be cruising for around 7 hours. Leaving Curdworth, you will continue to cruise northeast along the Birmingham and Fazeley canal. Within a mile, you will come to the first of the 11 lock Curdworth flight. The locks are intermittently spaced with the canal paralleling the M42 until Bodymoor where it swings north. The Dog & Doublet is positioned canalside if you are in need of refreshment or continue on and enjoy the quieter, scenic landscape until Fazeley Junction. 

At Fazeley Junction, the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal meets the Coventry Canal, but you will turn left here and continue cruising north on the Birmingham and Fazeley. Interestingly, at Whittington bridge the canal now becomes the Coventry canal for a short section as far as Fradley Junction. In 1789, The Birmingham & Fazeley Canal had reached completion at Fazeley Junction, where it joined the Coventry canal. Frustrated by the lack of progress in completing the Coventry Canal the Trent and Mersey and Birmingham and Fazeley canals bought this section and built half each connecting the two canals. Later, the Coventry canal bought the northern section, creating an isolated stretch of the Coventry Canal.  Shortly after Whittington, you will arrive at Huddlesford Junction, this is a good place to moor for the night. The Plough Inn is canalside, offering good food and a beer garden.

Drayton Manor Theme Park is within walking distance of Fazeley Junction, customers who plan to visit should discuss suitable places to moor with Gailey Wharf. You may prefer to extend your holiday to allow for a full day here or visit the park on the last day of your holiday once you have returned your boat to the Marina.

Day 6

Today you will cruise from Huddlesford to Great Haywood, cruising for around 7½ hours in total. Leaving Huddlesford, cruise north on the Coventry Canal through flat open country for 4 miles before reaching Fradley Junction. After the swing bridge and turning left on to the Trent & Mersey canal you will then navigate 3 locks before enjoying a further 7 miles of lock free quiet countryside. Arriving at Rugeley, moor up at bridge 66 and take a short walk into the centre of the town where there is a good choice of shops and services. An interesting and attractive stretch now as the canal moves through a narrowing valley with Cannock Chase visible to the south and the elegant Bishton Hall at Wolseley Bridge. After Colwich you will start to see the beautiful grounds of Shugborough Park and eventually the impressive Hall itself. Moor up after Haywood lock for the evening or continue to Great Haywood Junction and turn left on to the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal where you will find additional moorings along this stretch. Great Haywood is a small village with a pub, the Clifford Arms offering good pub food and a friendly welcome.  

Shugborough Hall is open between 9am and 4:30pm, with the park open until 6pm most days throughout the spring/summer. Access to the park and hall is by Haywood Lock.

Day 7

Penkridge is your destination today and you will be cruising south west on the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal for around 6 hours. Departing from Great Haywood you will pass through Tixall Wide, an amazing stretch of canal resembling a lake which is renowned for its Kingfisher population. The canal then sweeps south, through the Penk Valley and after the village of Acton Trussell, the crew will be kept busy working 3 well-spaced locks as you approach Penkridge. There are moorings before Penkridge Lock where the Boat Inn is canalside, or you can go through that lock and then Filance Lock to then moor at Filance Bridge by the Cross Keys Inn. The centre of Penkridge is within easy walking distance, with a variety of stores as well as the popular Star Inn.

Day 8

Your last morning aboard and an early start! Penkridge to Gailey Wharf marina should take around 2 hours cruising time (2 and a half hours if you moored before Penkridge Lock). The last leg of the journey takes you through open countryside with the occasional glimpse of the M6 as the canal meanders south. There are a handful of locks to navigate, all very attractive and some with beautiful brick bridges. As the toll keeper’s watch tower and the picturesque lock at Gailey Wharf come into view, it marks the end of your holiday and hopefully a great adventure!

Featured Boats

Featured Boats from Gailey Base, Staffordshire

Two to Five berth Boats

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Six to eight berth Boats

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