Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Worcester & Birmingham Canal

Last October we went on a canal holiday, cruising the Cheshire Ring.  It was the first time we'd tried a holiday like this and it was incredibly hard work, but we all loved it and decided to do the same again this year.

This time our starting point was Worcester (a city very special to me as it's where I spent my student years) and we had plans to set off northwards along the River Severn before joining the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal.  However, due to the large amount of recent rain, we were told on arrival that this wouldn't be possible.  Pilots were being sent out to boats already on the river to guide them safely back to the marina so a complete change of plan was needed and we set off up the Worcester & Birmingham Canal instead.

This turned out to be a fascinating route, mostly involving travelling (slowly - max 4mph) through beautiful scenery, and also visiting Birmingham city centre.  I haven't been to Birmingham for many, many years, and I was delighted to see what a pleasant city centre it has become.  I used to work on New Street when it was choked with traffic but now it's a very pleasant pedestrianised area.  I kept thinking how Aberdeen could do with taking a leaf out of Birmingham's book.  It was great to see the redeveloped Bull Ring and I even visited the Rag Market and bought some fabric - so pleased to see it's still thriving.

Our 60 ft narrowboat, Magnus.  
Equipped with a small kitchen, 2 toilets, shower, seating area and plenty of sleeping accommodation. 

Lovely countryside - this was taken from the Tardebigge Reservoir.

Some of the winding mechanisms were a bit stiff!

We moored by canalside pubs overnight and ate out in the evenings - such a treat!

We went through several tunnels, the longest being Wasts Hill Tunnel (also known as King's Norton Tunnel) at a mile and a half in length!

We moored right beside the Sea Life Centre in Birmingham.

The city centre was a huge contrast with the mainly leafy rural canal.

Following lots of overnight rain, on our return journey many of the locks on the Tardebigge flight of 30 were very full.  Water was gushing over the top of the lock gates which made walking across impossible.

In 6 days we travelled through a total of 112 locks!  That's about ten more than last year, but they weren't so stiff and heavy as the nightmare locks we'd experienced in central Manchester (never again!).

So, where do we go next year...?


  1. Looks like another fantastic floating holiday.

  2. Fab pictures of what sounds like a brilliant bargey break! (I must have caught the alliteration from Linnhe!)
    I did some of your route as a teenager...all sounds familiar! Although I seem to remember a distinct lack of water at times - having to observe water saving prtocol! Your views, smells (distinct canal water!), sounds and travels must have been impressive after such a watery summer!
    Glad you were impressed with Brum - it must have changed significantly - particularly where you moored...its amazing to think of all the canals meandering through the busy city!
    Looking forward to hearing your next venue!
    Ali x

  3. We've done 3 narrow boating holidays and loved them all. On 2 of them I was quite heavily pregnant! We did the Grand Union starting from Aylesbury (very pretty) Llangothlan in north Wales (very wet weather) and the Oxford ring which was the most beautiful by far but that may have been because it was late April and we had the boat for two weeks so we got to see so much more. Thinking about them and looking at your photos has got us all nostalgic and wanting to plan another canal boat holiday! Can't wait to hear your plans for your next one.
    Becky x

    1. Hi Becky
      Co-incidentally, about an hour ago I booked a week on a wide beam boat on the Leeds & Liverpool canal!
      It would be lovely to have the luxury of a two week holiday to see everything properly. I've heard great reports about how beautiful the Llangollen Canal is, but it doesn't have enough locks to keep my hubby and teenagers happy!
      I hope you do manage to book another canal trip, there's really nothing else like it!
      Kate x


Thanks so much for reading my blog.
I love receiving your comments :)