Top nine canal destinations in Northamptonshire
To celebrate the 58-mile stretch of the Grand Union Canal, which links London to Birmingham, we have put together a list of the top nine canal destinations.
From towpath walks and canalside pub lunches, to boat trips and historic sites, Northamptonshire’s canals offer some cracking days out by the water.
- Walk the Blisworth Tunnel Woodland Trail – from the village of Stoke Bruerne, visitors can take a stroll along the towpath to the east portal of the Blisworth Tunnel, with information along the way about the history of the canal, village and wildlife. The trail continues into an area of woodland next to the tunnel, dotted with waterway themed sculptures.
- Eat Fish & Chips in the heart of the network – the canal at Braunston is one of the busiest on the whole network, making this pretty village a great place to watch narrowboats, take a walk in the country and enjoy a meal at a country pub (The Boat House, Admiral Nelson or Old Plough), the Gongoozler’s Rest Café or the Braunston Fryer, serving traditional Fish and Chips.
- Hire a day boat at Gayton – from ABC Boat Hire’s canal boat hire base at Gayton Marina, it’s a tranquil two hour cruise along the Grand Union Canal to the village of Weedon, with a choice of pubs, including the canalside ‘Heart of England’. Heading in the other direction, day boaters can reach Stoke Bruerne in an hour, passing through the 2,795-metre long Blisworth Tunnel along the way.
- Visit the Canal Museum at Stoke Bruerne – take a trip to the chocolate box pretty village of Stoke Bruerne and visit The Canal Museum. Housed in a historic corn mill, the Museum gives visitors a fascinating look at the history of Britain’s canals, with a treasure trove of stories, films and collections. In the school holidays and at weekends March to October, the Stoke Bruerne Boat Company runs regular boat trips from outside the Museum.
- Walk a stretch of the Northampton Arm – The 4.8-mile long Northampton Arm connects the River Nene in the centre of Northampton with the Grand Union Canal at Gayton Junction, close to the village of Blisworth. Once used to carry grain via the Nene to Wellingborough, the 17 locks along its length take the canal downhill from Northampton, dropping 30 metres.
- Watch out for wildlife at Boddington Reservoir – surrounded by beautiful Northamptonshire countryside, Boddington Reservoir at Byefield is an oasis of greenery, wildlife, walking trails and picnic areas. Built in 1805 to supply water for the Oxford Canal, since its creation the reservoir has been gradually colonised by birds, insects and wild flowers.
- Take a waterside walk at Welford – once busy with barges laden with limestone to be taken to nearby lime kilns, Welford Wharf is now a picture of rural tranquillity and a great place to take a country walk. There are a number of short and medium distance walks around Welford Reservoir, or pick up the Jurassic Way for a longer distance adventure. Refreshments can be found at The Wharf Inn or Elizabethan pubs.
- Enjoy a towpath walk at Bugbrooke – the Grand Union Canal runs past the village of Bugbrooke and offers a great place to take a waterway walk, followed by a pub lunch or dinner at the canalside Old Wharf Inn or the Five Bells or Bakers Arms in the village. Head west along the towpath from Bugbrooke and you’ll reach Nether Heyford after just over a mile. Head east and you’ll reach Blisworth in five miles.
- Take a boat trip to Hillmorton - from Union Canal Carriers narrowboat hire base at Braunston, day boat hirers can enjoy a delightful seven-mile journey along the North Oxford Canal to the village of Hillmorton. Here, boaters can stop for lunch at the canalside Old Royal Oak and meet volunteer lock keepers Maurice Farndon and Vince Laramy, who last year helped over 10,000 boaters through the flight of three locks there.