The Stourport Ring
The Stourport Ring is one of the most popular circular routes and provides a one week holiday of great variety combining canal and river cruising through the very heart of England.
The three hour voyage along the River Severn from Worcester to Stourport is one of the scenic highlights of this trip, and it will come as a pleasant surprise to find the locks automated and operated for you by friendly and informative chaps in neat lockside cabins. Stourport Basin with its canal wharves and clock tower is probably the finest example of an inland port on the British waterways.
Kidderminster, famous for it’s carpet production is soon reached. One of the more imposing carpet works has been demolished and replaced with a giant supermarket. Handy for replenishing stores and a convenient mooring point to go and take a trip on the steam locomotives of the Severn Valley Railway.
Kinver is a pretty, much visited port of call. Once upon a time it was linked to the Black Country by electric tramway and advertised as the ‘Switzerland of the Midlands’. Few canals are as picturesque as this one, and apart from the famous most photographed trio at the Bratch, the locks come at lonely intervals and are not too demanding on you muscles.
There are two routes through Birmingham, Brindley’s original canal of 1772 or Telford’s 1829 successor. The former tends to twist and turn with the contours, the latter goes boldly where, quite literally, no man - or engineer, at least - had gone before. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Black Country museum, a reconstruction of Victorian houses and shops, workshops, collieries, foundries and boat yards. An old time fairground proves irresistible to children and a working tramway provides instant nostalgia.
The circuit is completed following the Worcester-Birmingham canal back to the Severn. At Tardebigge read the plaque commemorating the historic meeting between Tom Roult and Robert Aickman at this spot in 1945, without which the canals might not have enjoyed their second coming as a leisure amenity with few rivals.
Encounters with villages are few and far between. The ancient salt town of Droitwich keeps it’s distance, but there are many canal side pubs at which to slake your thirst. Worcester finally hoves into view and what better place to moor than under the great west window of the cathedral.
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