We love and care for your canals and rivers, because everyone deserves a place to escape.

The tranquil Ashby Canal meanders through a very level, rural environment, and so needs no locks at all. It is the perfect destination for first-time boaters, or walkers in search of a gentle and pretty route.

Walkers on bridge across Ashby Canal Ashby Canal

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Although it is named for Ashby-de-la-Zouch, the canal never reached the town. It winds peacefully through the countryside for almost the whole of its 22-mile length. Hedgerows and reeds add to a green landscape, rich in wildlife, including herons, kingfishers and moorhens.

Coarse fish species include bream, roach, chub and pike. From Snarestone to Carlton Bridge, the canal is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, supporting aquatic plant life and several varieties of dragonfly.

This unspoilt canal is also a gateway into medieval times. The ridge and furrow patterns created by medieval farmers can still be seen and the canal line touches the western edge of Bosworth Field, where Richard III met his match at the hands of Henry Tudor in 1485. The hawthorn bushes at Stoke Golding are said to be where Richard's crown was discovered following the battle

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Days out

Have a grand day out at Sutton Cheney on the Ashby Canal and find more places to visit near you.

More history

Originally intended as a broad-gauge connection between the Coventry Canal and the River Trent (which it failed to reach), the Ashby Canal was constructed lock-free on a contour of 300 feet and served the coalfields around Moira and Measham.

Such was the quality of the coal, prized more highly for its burning qualities than for its use in making iron, that it was still being routinely transported on the line until the 1960s. All this mining activity unfortunately led to serious subsidence throughout the 20th Century, resulting in the closure of the canal's northern reaches. Since the 1990s, restoration work has seen stretches of canal reopen beyond Snarestone - where the width of the tunnel illustrates the original ambition to build a broad-gauge canal.

Nearby Measham gave its name to a particular style of pottery bearing a homely motto. Usually brown, it was popular with working boaters.

This unspoilt canal is also a gateway into medieval times. The ridge and furrow patterns created by medieval farmers can still be seen and the canal line touches the western edge of Bosworth Field, where Richard III met his match at the hands of Henry Tudor in 1485. The hawthorn bushes at Stoke Golding are said to be where Richard's crown was discovered following the battle.