Day Trip Canal Routes
We have an ideal base for day trips, whether you go north or south. What follows is a short itinerary to give you an idea of what to expect and to help you plan your trip.
After passing through some open farmland and a pay-and-play golf course you reach Ansty in about one hour. The ‘Rose & Castle’ pub has a good reputation for food and has a canal-side garden.
After Ansty the character of the canal begins to change as you approach the outskirts of Coventry, but it still manages to retain a rural character for much of the one and a half hour run into Hawkesbury Junction (also known as Sutton Stop).
On the way there you will find the ‘Elephant & Castle’ by Bridge 4 (all the bridges should be numbered), with a good garden for children. Hawkesbury Junction was designated a conservation area in 1976 and is something of an industrial archeology haven nestling among vast attendant pylons! There is an impressive cast iron bridge, an engine house which once housed the Newcomen Beam Engine now at Dartmouth, a colourful pub ‘The Greyhound’, and a 6″ deep stop lock. Just down the road is a charming Victorian pub, the ‘Boat’. This area is rich in industrial history – you can discover the mysteries of the Newdigate Arm and Arbury Hall and the various quarries and coal mines that were the raison d’etre of the canal in the first place.
We would recommend that you go round the hairpin bend to the Coventry Canal and turn right to go north (the left turn takes you into the basin in Coventry and is not as rewarding as it might sound). Heading towards Marston Junction you pass through woodland and past a large pub, the ‘Navigation’ before skirting Bedworth and what can only be described as the experience of Charity Dock.
Shortly after this you come to Marston Junction. Do not turn right into the Ashby Canal as there is no turning point for some way! This is about one hour from Hawkesbury and about three and a half hours from base.
If you continue north on the Coventry Canal, the countryside features landscaped quarries (more attractive than they sound). You would need to turn around before Nuneaton, in the Griff Arm after bridge 18, about two hours from Hawkesbury.
The first stretch runs through woodland, passing the occasional farm as well as two of the attractive cast iron bridges that are a feature of the North Oxford Canal. These take the towing path over James Brindley’s original late 18th century contour line of the canal which was shortened in 1830.
After one and a half hours you navigate the small tunnel at Newbold, after which most people look for a mooring before or after the next bridge, to take advantage of one of the two pubs, the ‘Barley Mow’ and the ‘Boat’, that adjoin the canal at right angles (this is because the original canal ran in front of the pubs but is now a lane). In Newbold churchyard you can see the remains of the earlier tunnel and there is another pub, the ‘Crown’, near the shops.
Half an hour after Newbold you pass another cast iron bridge over a dead end leading to Rugby Wharf (you can turn here), then cross two aqueducts over the River Swift and a road. A ‘Harvester’ is on the left -moor opposite or beside the picnic area after the next bridge to visit the pub or the nearby shops.
The next hour sees more woodland, a boat yard and a golf course as the canal skirts attractively round Rugby towards Hillmorton Locks. (These locks will take you uphill. They were part of the 1830 improvement which called for a doubling of the standard 7ft wide locks to speed the flow of commercial boats and so compete with the new wide locks on the Grand Union).
This is about as far as most people go – you can turn around Just before or just after the first lock, or after the third at the top. The last possible turning point for a day trip is about half an hour further on just past the ‘Old Royal Oak’ pub, (providing good food and a marvellous safe ‘soft’ indoor play area for young children downstairs). It is however about four hours back to base from here.