Here are some suggestions for routes you can explore from our base in Penkridge.
Check back here as we're adding more route suggestions all the time.
Which route is most suitable for you depends on how long you decide to spend aboard Maddison and your level of experience. Also, how far you can travel is very much dependant on how busy the canals are and how many hours a day you are prepared to cruise for.
One other thing to consider is the time of year you decide to cruise. Spring and autumn have much shorter daylight hours than summer time. As you can't cruise at night, this will impact on the number of hours you can actually cruise a day.
We tend to find that novice boaters tend to opt for the Out & Back Routes as when they reach the mid-point of their hire period, they can simply turn around and head back without having to plan the cruising hours to complete a Ring route.
Out & Back Routes
Primarily these type of routes are for shorter hire periods, say 3 to 7 nights hire. Typically you would cruise out to a destination for a few days, turn around and retrace your trip back to our base.
Penkridge to Stone & Back - 3 to 4 Nights
This is a trip of 41 miles and 22 locks from Otherton Marina to the canal town of Stone and back to our base.
Heading North from our base on the Staffs & Worcester Canal, you pass through the market town of Penkridge. One suggested stopping place for your first night could be the Moat House Hotel at Acton Trussell where you can usually moor up opposite and walk over the bridge for a drink or even a meal.
Continuing you will pass through a stunning location called Tixall Wide which is a very popular mooring location. It is a wide section of the canal with open views across the Staffordshire countryside.
Turning left onto the Trent & Mersey Canal you head through countryside Passing several pubs that provide excellent ales and food like The Saracens Head which is adjacent to the canal mooring areas and The Dog & Doublet.
Carrying on past Aston Marina you reach the canal town of Stone itself. The canal passes through and has moorings and access to supermarkets, local shops and plenty of pubs. This is where you usually turn around and head back. Possibly stopping at places you missed on the way through.
If you find you have a little more time on a 4 night cruise, you could possibly continue up to Barlaston where you could visit the Wedgwood Visitor Centre or possibly moor outside Neil Morrissey's pub, The Plume of Feathers. Here you can get some nice ales and very good food. We do like a nice pint with good food.
Penkridge to Norbury Junction & Back - 3 to 4 nights
This is a trip of 50 miles and 14 locks from Otherton Marina to Norbury Junction and back to our base.
Heading South toward Gailey, you pass by the famous Round Hose where canal side services are located. Further on and a total of 7 miles from your starting point is the Anchor Inn pub where mooring are nearby and good food and ales are to be found.
The next waypoint in your journey is where you turn right, leaving the Staffs & Worcester canal and head north onto the Shropshire Union canal at Autherley Junction.
Heading north of Brewood (pronounced Brood) is the Bridge Inn located at Bridge 14 with plenty of moorings. Further on at Wheaton Aston you'll find a supermarket and canal side services. There's also a couple more pubs to visit. The Hartley Arms and The Coach and Horses.
Then it's a short hop up to Norbury Junction where the Junction Inn is located opposite Norbury Wharf. Here you can turn around and decide where you want to stop on your return journey to our base in Penkridge.
These type of routes are more suited to 7 nights or more. As the name suggests, the ring routes take you in a loop arriving back at our base without covering the same part of the canal twice.
The maps below are from Canal Plan AC a very good website used to plan your cruise.
Four Counties Cruising Ring - 7 to 14 nights
This is a trip of 110 miles and 94 locks from Otherton Marina. This will take about 60 hours cruising which is 8 days, 4 hours at 7 hours cruising per day.
The Four Counties Ring, offers a variety of scenery and cruising for a narrowboat holiday. It takes in the counties of Cheshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire and West Midlands.
Highlights include the Industrial Canal Heritage of the Stoke-on-Trent potteries region, a 40 min trip through the Harecastle Tunnel, the wealthy pasturelands of Cheshire, to the stunning remote sandstone cuttings of Shropshire.
While energetic crews may be able to complete the ring in just a week, those who do not want to be cruising all day for the entire week will typically take 10 to 14 days.
Black Country Ring - 7 nights plus
This is a trip of 75 miles and 79 locks from Otherton Marina. This will take 42 hours which is 6 days at 7 hours cruising per day.
This route is packed with places to stop, visit and explore.
Moor up in the famous Gas street Basin in Birmingham near the Sea Life Centre and Jewellery Quarter.
Visit Drayton Manor Theme park & Tamworths Snowdome, Cadbury World and the Black Country Museum or just enjoy the lovely scenery of the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal, & visit the historic Shugborough Hall, home of the Earl of Lichfield.