Location & Routes
Explore Circular Canal & River Routes
We are extremely fortunate at Cafwin Cruises to be based in an area where we are spoilt for choice with numerous circular routes, consisting of canals and rivers, either remaining in Worcestershire, going on into Shropshire & Warwickshire, or travelling down to Gloucestershire.
The mighty River Severn is Britain’s longest river. It runs for 220 miles from the Welsh mountains, through the beautiful Shropshire and Worcestershire countryside and down to the flatlands of the Severn estuary in Gloucestershire. The Severn truly has something for everyone: historic cities, delightful scenery, cosy pubs, stunning cathedrals and boats of just about every shape and size. It is famous for its tidal bore, the second highest tide anywhere in the world. At very high tides, water is forced from the wide estuary into the narrower channel upstream. This forms a wave (or bore) that travels inland as far as Gloucester and beyond however, this is not going to affect you as you will be using the Severn the northern end of Gloucester and much further up nearer to Upton-upon-Severn and Worcester.
The navigable river Avon runs from Alveston Weir above Stratford-upon Avon, for 47 miles, winding its way through the Warwickshire, Worcestershire, and Gloucestershire countryside, down to Tewkesbury where it joins the River Severn. We hope you will enjoy the natural beauty of the river, but remember that the licence to use the River Avon is the only one not covered under your holiday with Cafwin Cruises. Licences are available for the full river from Tewkesbury to Stratford-upon-Avon. Short term excursion licences are available for 24hrs or 48hrs. Alternatively licences may be purchased in person from:
The Trust Office (Mondays & Fridays only)
Welford Boat Station
Avon Boating Ltd
Stratford Waterways Information Centre
07584 086 321
The Worcester & Birmingham Canal
The Worcester & Birmingham Canal takes you from the vibrant centre of Birmingham, through the green hills of Worcestershire, to the cathedral city of Worcester. At its northern end, the canal joins the Birmingham Canal Main Line at Gas Street Basin. This pretty basin was once a thriving transport hub. Now, traditional narrowboats and elegant black and white iron footbridges sit side-by-side with modern bars and restaurants. Close by is the luxury shopping centre the Mailbox, with its stylish clothing shops and cafes. Among the cargo that once travelled on the canal, was chocolate crumb to the Cadbury factory. Today, this is Cadbury World, a great day out if you have a sweet tooth. All 58 locks are in the second half of the canal, as it descends through rural Worcestershire; the Tardebigge lock flight has 30 locks in just over two miles, making it the longest in the country. Hanbury Hall (National Trust) can easily be reached by a pleasant walk across the fields from Astwood Bottom Lock. Hanbury Junction marks the connection with the Droitwich Junction Canal, linked with the Droitwich Barge Canal and offers a route to the River Severn at Hawford. You might like to take a short walk down the Hanbury Flight, which was rebuilt by volunteers. Hanbury’s other claim to fame is that it is said to be the real-life counterpart of Radio 4’s Ambridge, home of The Archers. Around Bilford, the countryside is left behind as the canal begins to encroach on the city environs of Worcester. The Commandery, which you can moor up at, was the headquarters of Charles Stuart before the Battle of Worcester in 1651. Ahead lies Diglis Basins and two wide locks accessing the Severn. Once very busy with commercial traffic, the working boats have long been replaced by pleasure craft. Worcester Cathedral stares down imposingly on travellers entering the river. In all, the Worcester & Birmingham Canal is one of the prettiest, diverse and interesting canals in the country.
Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal
The Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal runs through softly undulating West-Midlands countryside. It skirts around the edges of Birmingham without ever becoming truly urban. The canal was one of the major routes of the canal age and would have been constantly busy with coal boats. It now forms part of two cruising rings and is one of the prettiest ways to explore the region. At one end, it connects to the River Severn at the historic Stourport Basins in the Georgian town of Stourport. The southern reaches of the canal run close to the River Stour, which is an important wetland habitat. The canal near Kidderminster and Kinver has unusual sandstone ‘cliffs’. At its northern end, in Staffordshire, it runs through the wild pine woods and heathland of Cannock Chase. It then passes the grounds of the grand Shugborough Estate, before joining the Trent & Mersey Canal.
The Stratford-upon-Avon Canal runs from Birmingham’s suburbia to Shakespeare’s Stratford in 25 picturesque miles. The Northern Stratford starts at Kings Norton Junction, with its guillotine-gated stop-lock that prevented water loss from one company’s line to the other. It continues on the same level for ten miles then descends by 19 locks to Kingswood Junction, where there is a link to the Warwick & Birmingham Canal (now the Grand Union Canal). The South Stratford is memorable for its split bridges, built with a gap to allow the tow ropes of the boat horses to pass through, and its unique barrel-roofed lock cottages. The charming conservation area of Wootton Wawen has many ancient timber-framed houses. Nearby is Edstone, or Bearley, Aqueduct, with its cast-iron trough. Just before Stratford, the canal passes through the tiny village of Wilmcote, where you can stop and visit Mary Arden’s house. The historic half-timbered Tudor farmhouse was home to Shakespeare’s mother before she was married. The canal joins the River Avon at the Bancroft Basin in Stratford-upon-Avon, where a pretty park and waterfront paths are overlooked by the famous Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
The River Severn & The Gloucester & Sharpness Canal
The mighty River Severn is Britain’s longest river. It runs for 220 miles from the Welsh mountains, through the beautiful Shropshire and Worcestershire countryside and down to the flatlands of the Severn estuary. The Severn truly has something for everyone: historic cities, delightful scenery, cosy pubs, stunning cathedrals and boats of just about every shape and size. At Gloucester Docks you can get a real sense of the canal’s cargo-carrying heritage. Listed warehouses have been converted into shops and leisure facilities, and the marina is still busy with boats of all shapes and sizes. The National Waterways Museum Gloucester tells the story of the canal and has a fascinating collection of historic boats. The section from Gloucester to Sharpness is dangerous for boats, and is thankfully bypassed by the beautiful Gloucester & Sharpness Canal. This Canal was once the broadest and deepest in the world. Even today, it stands out from other navigations because of its sheer scale and impressive engineering. Its immense swing-bridges and ornate bridge-keepers’ houses add to its unique identity. From the canal, there are spectacular views of the Severn Estuary, the Forest of Dean and the Cotswolds. We love this route, which can easily be achieved in 7 nights in the longer summer days.
The Canal & River Trust (CRT) firmly believe that life is better by water so they keep our waterways in the best working order possible to benefit the millions of people who use our canals each year. However, keeping 200-year-old waterways open can sometimes throw up a surprise or two. With over 2,000 miles of historic canals and rivers to look after, the CRT occasionally have to shut a stretch of canal or towpath whilst they are repairing it. When you are planning your boat holiday it’s a good idea to check the CRT’s navigational advice at this following site before you make a journey: canalrivertrust.org.uk/notices
When the CRT close a stretch of canal or towpath, whether it’s an emergency stoppage or planned maintenance work, they’ll post a notice on the site above to let you know what they’re doing and how the work is progressing. This is also the best place to find out about any placed restrictions, opening times of manned structures, booking information and general navigation advice. All you need to do is select the waterway(s) you’d like to find out about and then select the type of notice that you’re interested in from the search box.