The Stourport Ring visits no fewer than three cities of contrasting hues, the newly recognised City of Wolverhampton, industrial Birmingham and the ancient City of Worcester taking in both urban and countryside scenes.
Commencing at Aldersley Junction the route follows the line of the Birmingham Canal Navigations, the Worcester & Birmingham Canal and part of the River Severn navigation before returning to Aldersley along the southern section of the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal.
Access to Birmingham Canal Navigations from Aldersley involves a lengthy haul up the ‘Wolverhampton 21’, the longest flight of locks on the BCN. The flight emerges a short distance from Wolverhampton City Centre with the Wyrley & Essington branching off to the left.
Modern development at Bilston conceals the former site of British Steel and its blast furnace, one of the last to be demolished in the Black Country in the 1980s. At Tipton the line to the right leads to Dudley Limestone Caverns whilst the route ahead drops through Factory Locks towards Birmingham.
Brindley Place, Gas Street and Broad Street are at the heart of a totally rejuvenated Birmingham waterfront. Passing through the former stop-lock at Worcester Bar the canal turns through a sharp right and leaves the city behind. A long rural stretch of the Worcester & Birmingham Canal leads to the first of 58 locks before Worcester. The River Severn between Worcester and Stourport is a pleasing run that passes through swathes of open countryside. On the left below Bevere Lock is The Camp Cider House; it routinely floods in winter and locals access it by rowing boat. To the right above the lock is the entrance to the Droitwich Canals, now undergoing restoration. The sandstone cliffs near Lincombe Lock were once a hermitage.
The Staffs & Worcs Canal is accessed via four narrow locks into Stourport Basins. The broad gauge locks a few yards downstream near to the Angel pub are normally the preserve of larger river vessels. The southern section of the Staffs & Worcs is almost entirely rural. The market town of Kidderminster has undergone substantial canalside redevelopment. At Stourton the Stourbidge Canal heads for the BCN. Bratch Locks at Wombourne have what appear at first glance to be impossibly short pounds between the locks; the secret of their operation is in the side pounds behind the wall to the left. The canal skirts to the west of Wolverhampton before returning to Aldersley.
Last date edited: 29 July 2015