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Snarestone & return from Rugby Base

3 Nights

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Maps & Guides for this route: P6, P7, N1, N3, L14, L18, E1 | Click here buy maps

Gentle lock-free cruise whispering old stories of steam engines, rugby and fancy teapots. This peaceful route meanders through countryside and mingles pleasantly with wildlife, yet the informed traveller knows it secretly harbours deathly histories of Richard III and even more bloody battles beyond too!

Rugby’s connection with a certain sport is renowned the world over and the Webb Ellis Rugby Football Museum tells the story of how one schoolboy changed the course of sporting history.

A ‘Pathway of Fame’ around the town celebrates famous rugby players and you can even visit the very ground within Rugby School where the game was born. 

After exploring the town and its giant sport, relax, and cruise north from Rugby Marina along the main Oxford Canal, travelling through the short Newbold Tunnel (250yds/229m long) and out into open countryside, interspersed with characteristic cast-iron bridges. Canal engineer James Brindley built the Oxford Canal in his typical winding fashion, flowing around contours rather than bulldozing a straight course. The canal mainly skirts round villages and towns which dot the landscape, and enjoys activity centred on the boatyards and pubs which create occasional diversions from the calm.

The village of Brinklow is a short walk south of the canal at Stretton Stop, and has the remains of a medieval ‘motte and bailey’ castle built to defend the Fosse Way which crosses the canal here.  Just north of Brinklow, the M6 and then the M69 intrude on the peace and quiet of the landscape, as the Oxford Canal reaches its end on the outskirts of Coventry and Bedworth, at Hawkesbury Junction. The junction is a busy place filled with boats and a photogenic former engine house, which used to pump water up from a well to the canal. The original Newcomen steam engine, called rather appropriately ‘Lady Godiva’ and dating back to 1725, is now on display in Dartmouth Museum in Devon.

A detour into Coventry may now tempt you into heading south a couple of miles from the junction. The ruins of the original cathedral are a stark voice on the skyline of Coventry's own 'ground zero' left from the horror of World War II. In the 1960s a light of hope was built in the new cathedral. A bond between these two buildings that lean side by side is a powerful and emotional paradox. 

Skirting the edge of Bedworth, you now reach Marston Junction where the Ashby Canal heads off to the east away from the urban outskirts it has been following for the past few miles. The canal straightaway shows its credentials as it passes through a landscape of open farmland, trees and its distinctive stone bridges. After passing under the old Roman Road of Watling Street (now the A5), the canal winds through the edges of Hinckley, the last real sign of habitation for the canal’s entire length. The gentle contours of the canal, and of course the lack of any locks, give plenty of opportunity to take in the views and spot the wildlife.

Only history contradicts the tranquillity of this journey, as the canal skims the site of the bloodiest final battle of the Wars of the Roses. The window sills of Stoke Golding’s Church of St Margaret of Antioch show grooves which legend has it were caused by the soldiers sharpening their swords on the eve of the battle (during another war, World War II, the spire of the church was taken down due to low-flying aircraft heading to a nearby airfield, and the numbered stones were painstakingly rebuilt after the war).

Wars raged over several decades for control of the throne between the houses of Lancaster and York (the red and white roses), and this final battle between Yorkist King Richard III and Lancastrian Henry Tudor changed England's history. Richard III fell to a gruesome death here at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. Richard was the last king of England to die in battle, and was the last of the Plantagenet Dynasty, leaving Henry to found the Tudor Dynasty by becoming Henry VII. Of course, more recent history resulted in the mysterious ‘body in the car park’ in Leicester being formally identified as the remains of Richard III. He was finally laid to rest with full honours in Leicester Cathedral in 2015 after several days of commemoration. 

Following the footpath up from either Sutton Wharf or bridge 34A up to the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre, there are also trails to follow around the battle site. Near bridge 35, the Battlefield Line steam railway runs north to Market Bosworth and on to Shackerstone and its Victorian Tea Rooms. The canal swirls northwards with the railway, then branches off to the northwest to its current terminus just beyond Snarestone Tunnel (250yds/ m long). The original canal continued for another 8 miles through Measham (well-known for its pottery and, among canal boat dwellers, its Measham Teapots) to Moira where the last mile of canal has already been restored. If your itinerary allows, there is much to be explored here and it is hoped that the remaining miles may also be restored to connect up the entire canal again. 

After turning the boat in the winding hole, it’s time to gently cruise back 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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