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Warwickshire ring

Despite how close it comes to Birmingham and its urban and industrial areas, the Warwickshire ring manages to carve a surprisingly rural canal boating route through manicured fields and ancient meadows for much of its length.

Coventry Canal, Armington courtesy Joanne Rollason

About the Warwickshire ring

Duration2 weeks at roughly seven hours cruising a day
Distance in miles104
Number of locks121
Waterways in this ringBirmingham & Fazeley Canal Coventry Canal Grand Union Canal Oxford Canal

The Coventry, Oxford, Grand Union and Birmingham & Fazeley Canals are all part of the Warwickshire ring which, despite how close it travels to Birmingham and its urban and industry, manages to offer boaters a surprisingly rural and peaceful route through manicured fields and ancient meadows.

From Fazeley Junction the Coventry Canal heads through former coalfields. Two locks at Glascote lift the canal to a long pound until 11 locks raise it into Atherstone.

Nuneaton is the birthplace of authoress George Elliot. The Griff Arm to the right is the remains of a once-extensive system of private canals.

Sutton Stop

Hawkesbury Junction, also referred to as Sutton Stop after the occupants who once lived here, is where the northern section of the Oxford Canal joins the Coventry Canal via one of the tightest turns on the system. A stop lock is the last lock encountered for several hours cruising before the three at Hillmorton, which were duplicated to speed up traffic flow. At Braunston Turn the Grand Union Canal makes its way towards London, the Oxford continues to Napton Junction from which the Grand Union Canal branches towards Birmingham.

Stairway to Heaven

The Saltisford Arm above the two Cape Locks is the remains of the Warwick & Birmingham Canal. The Hatton Flight, or ‘Stairway to Heaven', is a flight of 21 broad locks that elevate the canal an impressive 146 feet.

At Kingswood Junction the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal is to the left. The Grand Union continues via five broad locks at Knowle and along the Olton Summit. Camp Hill Locks are in urban surroundings. Ahead is Warwick Bar, once the site of a toll office. To the right the Birmingham & Warwick Junction Canal, now part of the Grand Union, drops towards Salford Junction. Nechells Shallow Lock, permanently open, marks the approach of Salford Junction. Once this is negotiated the attendant industrialisation gradually peters out as the Birmingham & Fazeley wends its way to Fazeley Junction.


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Last Edited: 01 August 2023

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