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Crick & return from Rugby Base

3 Nights

Maps & Guides for this route: P7, N1, N3, E1 | Click here buy maps

Your route will lead you through glorious disputed territory before meandering lazily along one of engineer James Brindley’s renowned contour-hugging canals. A journey of trade and heritage, accompanied by the calls of poetry and the celebrity heritage of two of Britain's canals’ most loved marinas.

Rugby Marina is along a short arm to the north of Rugby, and before setting off, rugby fans won’t be able to resist exploring the town itself and its world-famous connection with the sport. The Webb Ellis Rugby Football Museum tells the story of how one schoolboy changed the course of sporting history, and a ‘Pathway of Fame’ around the town celebrates famous rugby players. You can even visit the very ground within Rugby School where the game was born. 

Boating the Oxford Canal just south of the town, the crew’s first challenge is the distinctive Hillmorton Locks. The locks are in pairs, originally doubled up to allow more traffic through this busy stretch  of canal, and the gates of locks 4 and 5 treat travellers to special lines of canal poetry that were carved into them as part of the celebrations when British Waterways became the Canal & River Trust in 2012. 

A few miles south of Hillmorton, the canal reaches the sleepy junction between the Oxford and Grand Union Canals, once one of the busiest commercial trading points linking with London. Canal engineer James Brindley built the Oxford Canal in his typical winding fashion, flowing around contours rather than bulldozing a straight course.

When the much straighter Grand Union Canal was built, it stole much of the Oxford Canal’s commercial traffic - but the Oxford Canal fought back by charging extortionate tolls to use its water in the London to Birmingham link between Napton and Braunston. Today its importance has not diminished as it has become a much-loved hotspot for canal leisure seekers and the marina hosts the annual Braunston Historic Boat Rally.

This idyllic canal village, a settlement steeped in history dating back to the Doomsday Book, has much to explore including the marina with its Horseley iron bridges and historic canalside workshops. All Saints’ Church is known as the ‘Cathedral of the canals’, having overseen the christenings, marriages and burials of generations of boaters. As the canal travels eastwards through Braunston’s locks, you pass through a magnificent hawthorn-flanked canalscape before diving into the hillside for 2,042yds (1,867m) at Braunston Tunnel. A short distance beyond the tunnel, turn left under the bridge at Norton Junction onto the Grand Union Canal - Leicester Section. The M1, the railway and the old Roman road hurl past the canal in their rabid hurry to reach the city.

Watford Gap service station is their only respite from their race. But from the canal, this brief encounter with noise is a thrilling reminder of the part canals played in the evolution of Britain's transport system, and the quest to constantly redefine speed. After scrambling through Watford Locks, four of which form a staircase, the canal drifts peacefully back into rolling fields dusted with trees before heading through a rather damp Crick Tunnel (1,528yds/1,397m long).

From Crick Wharf you can walk into the village which is oozing with deep history. The Doomsday Book records the numbers of households as, “17 villagers. 6 smallholders. 4 slaves. 4 freemen. 1 priest”. On a special calendar date every May, Crick redefines this total as its marina hosts one of the busiest gatherings of people anywhere on Britain's canals. Crick Boat Show sees hundreds of party-polished boats butting side by side, making overnight mooring a more communal affair than normal. If you prefer quieter times and boating solitude, it’s prudent to travel with the boat show date in mind.

After turning the boat, your journey now retraces its steps to Rugby Marina.

Featured Boats

Featured Boats from Rugby Base, Warwickshire

Two to Five berth Boats

Alvechurch Grebe

Max: 4 People

Length: 47ft

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Alvechurch Wren

Max: 4 People

Length: 49ft

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Viking Tyne

Max: 4 People

Length: 48ft

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Six to eight berth Boats

Alvechurch Duck

Max: 6 People

Length: 60ft

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Alvechurch Gull

Max: 6 People

Length: 66ft

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Alvechurch Lark

Max: 6 People

Length: 66ft (63ft from Falkirk)

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Alvechurch Warbler

Max: 8 People

Length: 69ft

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Viking Medway

Max: 6 People

Length: 57ft

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Up to twelve berth Boats

Alvechurch Wagtail

Max: 10 People

Length: 70ft

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