Canal Boat Holiday Cruising Rings
Cruising rings are popular with canal boat holiday-makers, offering journeys along several different waterways, and taking in a wide range of landscapes.
Some are seriously challenging, with steep flights of locks and long dark tunnels to negotiate. While others, like the Droitwich Ring, are easier and more suitable for narrowboat holiday beginners.
The Droitwich Ring (21 miles, 33 locks, 16 hours) – Travelling the full length of the Droitwich Canals, as well as sections of the River Severn and the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, highlights include the historic Spa town of Droitwich, the flight of locks at Hanbury and the beautiful City of Worcester. The best starting points for this circuit are Worcester and Stoke Prior. (Central Region)
The Outer Pennine Ring (192 miles, 248 locks, 130 hours) – this ring crosses the Pennines twice and includes the passage of Britain’s longest canal tunnel. It takes in the Calder & Hebble Navigation, the Huddersfield Narrow, Ashton, Rochdale, Bridgewater, Leeds & Liverpool canals, as well as the Aire & Calder Navigation with electric locks. Highlights include dramatic Pennine views, Manchester City Centre, Standedge Tunnel, Bingley Five Rise locks, Skipton with its medieval castle and Leeds Waterfront. Starting points for this epic three-week journey include Sowerby Bridge, Silsden or Barnoldswick. (Northern Region)
The Stourport Ring (79 miles, 122 locks, 56 hours) – this narrowboat holiday route takes in sections of the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal, Worcester & Birmingham Canal Navigation, the River Severn, Birmingham Canal Main Line and Stourbridge canals. Highlights include Brindleyplace and Gas Street Basin in Birmingham, views of the countryside on the River Severn, the Stourport Basins, Kinver with its National Trust rock houses, the City of Worcester with its magnificent cathedral and the flight of 30 locks at Tardebigge. Starting points include Autherley, Stoke Prior, Tardebigge, Gailey and Alvechurch. (Central Region)
The Cheshire Ring (97 miles, 92 locks, 55 hours) – this route takes canal boaters through the heart of Manchester and the Peak District via the Ashton, Macclesfield, Peak Forest, Rochdale, Trent & Mersey and Bridgewater canals. Highlights include: the Anderton Boat Lift, Dunham Massey Hall and its working Elizabethan Mill alongside the Bridgewater Canal, Manchester’s China Town, Buxworth Basin, Whaley Bridge and the Top Lock at Marple on the Peak Forest Canal. Starting points include Anderton, Acton Bridge, Autherley and Peak District. (Northern Region)
The Warwickshire Ring (104 miles, 120 locks, 56 hours) – this ring travels sections of the Grand Union, Oxford, Coventry and Birmingham & Fazeley canals. Highlights include the flight of 11 locks into Atherstone, the pretty canal village of Braunston, Newbold and Shrewley tunnels, the awesome flight of 21 locks at Hatton, Warwick Castle and Birmingham’s Gas Street Basin. Starting points include Stoke Golding, Stoke Prior, Napton, Coventry, Warwick, Stockton, Stretton, Braunston and Rugby. (Central Region)
The Avon Ring (108 miles, 130 locks, 58 hours) – this journey navigates sections of the Stratford Canal, River Avon, River Severn and Worcester & Birmingham Canal. Highlights include the flight of 30 locks at Tardebigge, Shakespeare’s Stratford, the River Avon with its panoramic views, historic Evesham, Tewskesbury and Worcester and its magnificent cathedral. Starting points include Napton, Autherley, Stoke Prior, Tardebigge and Wootton Wawen. (Central Region)
The Four Counties Ring (110 miles, 94 locks, 55 hours) – this ring takes canal boat holiday-makers through the counties of Staffordshire, the West Midlands, Cheshire and Shropshire. The route includes sections of the Trent & Mersey, Staffs & Worcs and Shropshire Union canals. Highlights include the 2670-metre long Harecastle Tunnel, the Wedgewood Pottery Visitor Centre, views of the rolling Cheshire Plains, the Roman town of Middlewich, the National Trust’s Shugborough Hall, Churches Mansion and the flight of 15 locks at Audlem. Starting points include Autherley, Acton Bridge, Coventry, Brewood, Great Haywood, Peak District and Gailey. (Northern & Central Regions)
The Black Country Ring (75 miles, 101 locks, 56 hours) – this circuit cruises sections of the Birmingham & Fazeley, Birmingham Main Line, Coventry, Staffordshire & Worcestershire and Trent & Mersey canals. Highlights include Birmingham’s Gas Street Basin, the 21 locks at Wolverhampton; the Black Country Living Museum; the waters at Tixhall Wide, the 11 locks at Ashton and 13 at Farmer’s Bridge. Starting points include Autherley, Great Haywood, Coventry and Gailey. (Central Region)
The East Midlands Ring (154 miles, 100 locks, 84 hours) – this epic route, also known as the Leicester Ring, takes canal boaters along sections of the Birmingham & Fazeley, Coventry, Oxford, Trent & Mersey and Grand Union canals, as well as the rivers Soar and Trent. Highlights include Saddlington Tunnel, the Foxton Staircase of Locks, the pretty canal village of Stoke Bruerne with its Canal Museum, Blisworth Tunnel, the 11 locks at Atherstone, the City of Coventry and the village of Shardlow. Starting points include Stoke Golding, Rugby, Napton, Coventry, Braunston, Stretton, Market Harborough and Gayton. (Central Region)
The Birmingham Mini-Ring (47 miles, 59 locks, 27 hours) – this popular circuit takes narrowboat holiday-makers along sections of the Worcester & Birmingham, Birmingham Main Line and Grand Union canals. Highlights include Cadbury World at Bournville, Gas Street Basin, the flight of 13 locks at Farmers Bridge and the Birmingham Railway Museum at Bridge 88. Starting points include Tardebigge, Alvechurch and Wootton Wawen. (Central Region)