The Leicester Ring From Rugby.php Canal Boating Cruising Route
A pleasant two week cruise through parts of Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire which involves cruising on rivers as well as canals.
This route takes you up the Grand Union Canal to the Foxton flight of locks, then on to Leicester itself where you join the River Soar.
You continue along the Soar to Trent Junction, where you briefly join the River Trent which takes you up to Sawley. At this point you rejoin the canal system and complete the ring.
Rugby is a large town with many shops and of course is the home of the game of Rugby. It is 30 minutes walk to the town centre.
If you need to stock up on provisions, the selection of shops to supply food is brilliant in Rugby, offering deli’s, supermarkets, organic shops, local produce, bakers and butchers, and making it worth a look just for the shopping opportunities alone. The centre of Rugby is a very pleasant place offering nice parkland and places to eat and drink in abundance. There is a pedestrianised shopping centre and an open market with a town crier.
The Web Ellis Rugby football museum tells the story of the game of Rugby over the last 160 years
As part of your tour of the birthplace of the game be sure to take a walk along the Pathway of Fame, a unique tour which celebrates the history of the game and some of its most notable players- download a copy from the website
The town and borough has much more to offer than its unique connection with the famous game. It has links to great literary figures such as Rupert Brooke, Matthew Arnold and Lewis Carroll.
As you leave Rugby you will encounter one of the most unusual tunnels on the waterways, with brightly coloured lights, making it a very magical experience.
Newbold Quarry park is beside the canal, it is a local nature reserve, there are wildflowers, butterflies & birds and muntjac deer.
The canal continues on this lock free stretch with no villages to speak off, until you reach Brinklow which is about a mile off to your left by Stretton Stop,
There are 3 pubs in Brinklow which can be accessed from the road to your left just before Stretton Wharf. There are stores & a takeaway as well.
When you reach the Hawkesbury Junction with the Coventry canal, you can make a slight detour into Coventry if you have time, it adds about 5 cruising hours to your journey, but it is well worth a look.
The end of the Canal at Coventry basin is very interesting on the side of a hill, overlooked by attractive wooden canal warehouses. The Old weighbridge office is now a shop and information centre. The basin is home to shops, small businesses and an art gallery and has a welcoming community of boaters. A canalside walk is ideal for spotting wildlife.
A footbridge over the ring road gives access from the basin to the town centre, with shopping, eating and drinking possibilities. Coventry Art Gallery, the Museum of British Road Transport and Sir Basil Spence's remarkable Coventry Cathedral are also nearby.
The Basin features a bronze statue of the famous 18th-century canal engineer James Brindley - one of fifteen artworks commissioned from local artists for the Canal Art Trail which extends from the basin to Hawkesbury Junction.
The old Coventry Cathedral was destroyed during World War 2, but the new cathedral was completed in 1962, and is worth a visit.
The Museum of British Transport is south of the canal basin, and claims to be the largest collection of British made transport in the world, with over 200 cars, 90 motorbikes, and 230 cycles, also period street scenes, royal vehicles and the awesome Thrust SSC -the world land-speed record holder.
Cruise back to the Hawkesbury Junction and then continue straight on passing the old Engine house on your left.
The route up the canal takes you through the Atherstone locks, which is a flight of 11 locks.
At Alvecote marina there is a nice pub & restaurant- The Samuel Barlowe, in the marina.
Carrying on first you will pass through Amington, to the south of Bridge 68 is the canal Craft Shop where you can have Buckby canalware painted to order.
There is also a friendly Canalside Pub by Bridge 69, The Gate Inn, serving real ale & home cooked meals, there are moorings outside.
Reaching Tamworth the Canal runs though suburban housing, turning in a wide sweep south west past Tamworth towards Fazeley Junction.
In Tamworth, which was originally a Saxon settlement, there is a Castle near the town centre, open mid Feb-Oct 12.00-17.15. It has a Norman motte, an Elizabethan timbered hall, and Jacobean apartments. Tamworth itself has a Post office, stores, garage, station and cinema.
There is also the famous Snowdome (booking may be necessary), where there is everything from skiing, snowboarding. snowmobile, tobogganing, to ice-skating on their real snow indoor slopes.
There is a childrens snowplay area for 2-10yrs, where children can build snowmen, enjoy a game of snowballs, or play & slide around in the snow.
You will soon reach the only locks on this stretch at Glascote, there are 2 locks fairly close together.
There is the Anchor Pub at Anchor Bridge, which serves Real Ale & Indian food (evenings only), & has a garden with moorings.
Houses and factories flank the canal as it passes Kettlebrook Wharf, and then it moves briefly into more open country, crossing the River Tame on an impressive aqueduct. The Barge & barrel is situated by Bridge 74 next to Kettlebrook basin, serving real ale & food , with moorings. Also the Three Tuns is alongside the canal.
There are useful stores south of Bridge 76.
At Fazeley junction , the Coventry Canal meets the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal and continues north west towards Fradley Junction, initially on the Birmingham & Fazeley canal, until it becomes the Coventry Canal once again.
You can choose to make a detour down the south arm of the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal if you have children, as there is a large theme park - Drayton Manor - alongside the Canal, at Drayton Manor Bridge,– open late March to October 10am to late afternoon. There is an extensive series of exciting rides, including Storm Force Ten, and amusements.
There is a winding hole (turning) just past Coleshill Road Bridge.
Getting back to the Fazeley Junction you turn North West along the Trent & Mersey Canal towards the Fradley Junction , and you soon reach Peels Wharf which is surrounded by new dwellings & completes at attractive urban scene.
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. It is a nice stop for an overnight stay, as 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.
Also nearby & good for kids to unwind is the Fradley pool Nature reserve, with lots of walks quite close to the Canal.
You now turn eastwards towards Shardlow.
The very picturesque village of Alrewas is worth a look, the back lanes harbour very pretty thatched cottages. There is also a fine butchers here, and a fantastic wine & whisky shop.
If you make a stopover in Burton on Trent, moor up at the Horninglow Wharf, and walk into the town from there.
Also visit Claymills pumping station, which houses one of the largest collections of working steam engines. It is ¼ mile from bridge 29, you will see the tall brick chimney from far away.
Passing by the outskirts of Derby, you will pass through small villages & delightful canalside pubs until you reach Shardlow. This is a pretty village with a restaurant and a Heritage centre near the lock.
It takes less than 3 hours to get to Trent Lock, where the River Trent meets the River Soar and the Erewash canal.
The Navigation Inn and Steamboat Inn are located canalside, as are the Lockhouse tearooms.
At the very busy Trent Lock, go South on the River Soar. Cruising may be restricted in times of flooding.
Boaters are reminded that this is basically a River & navigation is liable to flooding in wet weather. There are red flood warning lights along the River Soar.
Boats negotiating the junction of the rivers Soar & Trent should keep well away from Thrumpton Weir, which is just downstream of the big iron railway bridge.
The River is a tributary of the River Trent & is about 40 miles long. meanders down to Loughborough , with a few villages & pubs on the way.
After 9 miles you will reach Loughborough, and the Loughborough Navigation becomes the Leicester navigation, and the start of the Grand Union canal.
The Canal continues on to Mountsorrel, which is only a few yards from the canal and is a useful place for supplies. The lock is is very much a waterways show-place, & the extensive moorings and lockside pub, make it a very busy one.(The Waterside Inn by Lock 50).with its nice waterside pub.
Then to the large city of Leicester.
From the River Trent to Leicester West Bridge is 25 miles.
In the City of Leicester There are secure moorings at Castle Gardens (on the right past Bridge 2). The city centre is remarkably compact with everything surprisingly close to these moorings.
Places to see in Leicester
Belgrave House & Gardens,- 1709 Queen Anne House.
Abbey Pumping Station- 1891 with Victorian steam powered beams engines that used to pump the towns sewerage. Also unique public health exhibition & managers house circa World War 2. Moorings here.
Castle Gardens & Motte (where you moor) The Motte or raised mound dates from the 11th C.
Cathedral- Guildhall Lane, dating from 14th & 15th Centuries & restored in 19 C.
Eco House- Environmently friendly show house Tel 0116 285 5489. Buses from High Street.
NATIONAL SPACE CENTRE- close to Belgrave Lock 44.
A great day out for the whole family is at The National Space Centre. View the space age building as you approach from you narrowboat.
The opportunity to explore many facets od space travel, to meet the furthest reaches of our universe face to face & to interact with both science fact & science fiction. Open Tues -Sun all year & Mon pm -school hols.
St Mary de castro- Founded in 1107 with excellent examples of Norman glass, stone & wood carving.
De Montfort Hall- Prime venue for touring Opera & Ballet companies & Orchestras & Soloists
Haymarket Theatre- Venue for hit shows bound for the West End. www.lhtheatre.co.uk.
Phoenix Arts Centre – Cinema & live performances of contemporary dance, mime, jazz & folk.
Golden Mile- an area centred on Belgrave Rd., to the north of the city, where the focus lies on the superb range of Asian cultural delights & cuisine.
In a large city such as Leicester, there is a wide range of pubs & restaurants , these are near the canal:
The Hat & Beaver- close to the Shires shopping centre.
The Northbridge Tavern- by North Lock.
The Mulberry Tree , Birstall, riverside gastro pub.
Market Place – the Food hall selling fresh meat , poultry, dairy produce & fish from all over the world. Tues – Sat.
The retail market with over 300 covered stalls is open also.
Jewry Wall Museum- Collection of the count's archaeology up to the Middle Ages, overlooking the Jewry Wall, which dates from 2nd C & is thought to be part of Roman Baths. Two Roman Mosaic pavements can be seen in situ.
New walk Museum & Art gallery-you will discover the mighty dinosaurs as you walk in their footprints, be on the lookout for the ‘Barrow Kipper’ and the Rutland dinosaur.
Newarke Houses Museum- The social history of the area from 1500 to the present day, inc the history of hosiery, costume & lace industries.
Royal Infirmary Museum- history from 1771.
Wygston's House Museum of Costume.
Shires Shopping Centre- All the usual big name stores under one high, glass-arched roof plus cafes, pizzerias, etc.
Continuing on down towards Foxton Locks just a mile or so away from Saddington Tunnel, is the village of Saddington, the award winning pub - Queens Head in the main street has superb views over Saddington reservoir, and serves a wide range of food.
Visit Saddington reservoir built to keep the canal well watered now a wildlife haven.
Cruise leisurely through rural and peaceful countryside back towards the Foxton Locks.
Foxton is the site of a steam powered Inclined Plane, which replaced ten locks and lifted narrow boats 75 feet. It was opened in 1900 but suffered from mechanical and structural problems. The locks were reopened in 1908 and now work beautifully. Whilst here visit the Foxton Museum and gift shop. The well stocked canalside shop offers you groceries, hardware as well as the traditional “roses and Castles” canalware, made and hand-painted on site.
Stop for a cream tea in the canal side cafe or a well deserved pint in the Foxton Locks Inn. Spend a couple of hours watching the colourful narrow boats passing through the staircase locks. British Waterways organise events based on Foxton Locks – visit
Cruise from Foxton towards the Watford Locks to the South.
The Canal weaves its way through an remote but attractive stretch. There are no villages on the canal here, Husbands Bosworth being hidden by the tunnel.
Look out over the vale of Welland and to the nearby Laughton Hills. Slow down, cruise on and watch mile after mile beautiful and unspoilt countryside unfold
Enjoy an easy cruise as the canal meanders through unspoilt surroundings passing through theHusband Bosworth Tunnel. The Tunnel is 1166 yards long and was opened in 1813. Stop and moor for a while, stroll into Husband Bosworth for a pub, newsagents and general store. The Bell Inn here serves Real Ale & food daily.
North Kilworth is off to your right, with a couple of pubs- The White Lion & the Swan Inn.
Kilworth Wharf Marina – overnight mooring + maps & gifts
At the Welford Junction you can if you wish take a slight detour up the Welford Arm an overnight mooring makes a pleasant stay with the facilities of the village close by.
There is even a local on your doorstep – The Wharf Inn, with large well kept gardens by the River Avon. Some open air theatre functions during August. Nearby are the Welford & Sulby reservoirs – a public footpath from the village crosses the causeway between the two reservoirs that supply the canal & provides good views of the wildfowl on both.
The Battle of Naesy 1645 was fought 2 miles east of Welford. Here Fairfax's New Model Army routed the Royalists under King Charles I, ensuring the end of the Civil War.
Gently continue your journey passing the Hemplow Hills to your left, and open fields of grazing sheep.
2 Miles east of Bridge 31 is Stanford Hall, a William & Mary brick mansion built in the late 17th Century. On display also here is a replica on an experimental flying machine built in 1898. Teas, shop & craft centre. Open pm Easter -Sept.
The next stretch of the canal wanders southwards in a series of loops through wonderful rural scenery with not much signs of habitation.
Yelvertoft is a delightful village to stop for a while and there are moorings between bridges 19 and 20. The local is is the Knightly Arms which serves real ales & home cooked food. You can stock up on supplies here as there is a stores, off licence & butcher.
Before you pass through the Crick Tunnel, you can moor up at bridge 12 & visit Edwards of Crick, a restaurant & coffee house offering a wide ranging menu. Stroll into the village of Crick, home of one of Britain’s largest annual boat show held each year in May and have a pint and a meal at one of the local pubs . There is an intriguing second hand shop here open Wed Fri & Sat that is worth a visit (14.00-18.00)
Crick Tunnel is 1528 yards long, & has no tow path so if you wish to walk it you will have to go over the top.
Meet the lock-keepers at the Watford Locks and they will cheerfully help you on your way through their complex set of locks. Watford Locks raise the canal to it summit level of 412 feet. Four of these locks form a staircase, with a 'one up one down procedure.
The new Inn is Canalside at Buckby Top lock & has moorings.
The small village of Watford is not to be confused with the large town of Watford in Hertfordshire. Moor up at Bridge number 6 for a true taste of the Orient at the Thai Garden, Restaurant in Station Road.
Once through the Watford Locks continue towards the Norton Junction were we meet the Oxford Canal.
(You soon will find that the M1 motorway swings away from you, but if you want 24 hr provisions you can moor up by Bridge 6 which is right beside The Watford Gap motorway services.)
At Norton Junction you can then go down the Grand Union towards London, or we recommend that you head west towards Braunston.
From Norton Junction to Braunston the canal runs westward through hills and wooded country, then into a wooded cutting whichs leads to Braunston Tunnel.
Off to the north on your right you will pass the small village of Welton on a hill. At Bridge 6 ¾ mile from the Canal you can find a 400 yr old pub – The White Horse Inn.
Braunston Tunnel was opened in 1796 & is 2042 yards long.
Long rows of moored craft flank the canal, but there is usually plenty of places to moor, as it is worth strolling into Braunston as there are a fine selection of old buildings here. The British Waterways office in the Stop House, was originally the Toll office between the Oxford and the Grand Union canal.
Turn right at Braunston Turn up the Oxford Canal, until you reach Rugby.