TAYLORS WATERWAYS TOURS LTD
Calcutt to London (or the reverse ) (One way, approx two weeks) c. 5- 6 hours average cruising including locks per day
This route takes the rural Oxford canal to Oxford and the River Thames downstream through Abingdon, Henley, Windsor and Eton, Hampton Court and Kingston-upon-Thames, to Teddington and onto the tidal stretch through London to Regents Canal Basin It is a route with much history, shopping and attractive scenery.
From Calcutt we climb the famous Napton flight of locks built by James Bridley to the summit level of the Oxford Canal. You can give a hand if you like! From Napton we cruise this largely pastoral canal, with its wonderful views and amazing bends to Oxford. We pass little villages like Wormleighton, Cropredy (well worth a visit) and Aynho and the town of Banbury. All around, the scenery is typical English "shire" with rolling hills, trees, hedgerows and the remains of medieval ploughing. We can arrange visits to Blenheim Palace (built for the Duke of Marlborough), Rousham Park and Sulgrave Manor (built by an ancestor of George Washington). At Oxford we usually moor at Christchurch Meadows within a few minutes walk of the centre of Oxford and in sight of the college built by Cardinal Wolsey and confiscated by Henry VIII. With its colleges (mostly 13th to 18th century buildings), the small but incomparable Ashmolean Museum, fine shops and numerous churches the city of dreaming spires will tax the feet of even the keenest walker. From Oxford the locks are all manned and mechanised. We can visit Abingdon and Henley (famous for the Royal Regatta held in early July). Eton and Windsor are conveniently close together and you can visit Eton College and its 15th century chapel and cloister. Windsor has good shopping and there is a rather large castle ! We usually moor one night in the glorious wooded reach near Cliveden House (formerly home of the Astors and the scene of much of the Profumo scandal of the 60's). We also moor (often overnight) at Hampton Court to enable you to visit the Palace and grounds. Also once a year, usually in June or July, they hold a major flower show here . At Teddington the Thames becomes tidal, and subject to tides and weather conditions we proceed to Regents Canal Basin, passing through all central London, the Houses of Parliament, the Tower of London and under Tower Bridge. From Regents Canal Basin the Docklands Light Railway is part of the London Underground System and gives full access to London.
Oxford to Stratford ( or the reverse) (one way, approx 10days) c. 5 -6 hours average cruising including locks per day
This is mainly a cruising and scenery route but with the great historic towns of Oxford, Warwick and Stratford-on-Avon to visit. The three canals involved, the Oxford, the Grand Union, and the Southern Stratford canals have their distinctly separate characters and are all largely unspoilt. We meet you at Oxford where we will usually be moored on the River Thames within a few minutes walk of the centre of Oxford. The Colleges, Bookshops and Museums are an architectural treat for anyone interested in history. Also great shopping ! The River is normally alive with activity, especially rowing and punting. A change of scale and tempo as we enter the winding Oxford Canal, built by Brindley in the late eighteenth century, with its narrow locks, mellow brick and stone bridges and the strange wooden lift bridges. The canal is largely pastoral, and meanders in an almost aimless fashion northwards with peaceful hills, cuttings, trees and medieval fields. And canal side pubs. We go past several villages, including Cropredy (scene of a Civil War skirmish), Aynho and Wormleighton. Banbury, of Banbury Cross fame, is the only town. We can arrange visits to a few stately homes in the area, particularly Blenheim Palace. The first sighting of Napton Windmill marks the beginning of the descent towards Calcutt and Warwick by the beautiful Napton flight. We usually moor overnight at our home base of Calcutt and, as our car is here, Sue can take you for any excursions you wish. The locks are wider from Calcutt, being on the Grand Union Canal, but the scenery equally attractive. We can visit Warwick, with its massive castle, before tackling the "Twenty One Golden Steps to Heaven", the 21 locks of the Hatton Flight which take the Grand Union up almost 150 feet. It takes us about three hours and, especially if you wish to assist, is a very memorable experience. Onward via embankments and a short tunnel to Kingswood Junction, where we leave the Grand Union going off to Birmingham while we join the Stratford Canal, restored by the National Trust and volunteers in the Sixties. This is very quiet small-scale canal, with unusual barrel roofed lock cottages and tiny split bridges. Many locks but magnificent walking and countryside. Wootton Wawen, passed through on an aqueduct, is a pretty village whose church has a unique interesting Saxon interior. We also go over the 200 yard long Edstone Aqueduct where the boat seems to fly over a railway, a road and a stream. At Wilmcote you can visit Mary Arden's cottage, supposedly the home of Shakespeare's mother, a magnificent 15th century farmhouse. A few more locks take us into Stratford Canal Basin, where we moor near the statue of Shakespeare in the gardens by the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Shops, pubs and restaurants are a stones throw away.
Stratford-on-Avon to Gloucester & Worcester or reverse (one way, approx 10 days- with several add-ons possible ) c. 7 hours average cruising including locks per day
This route is based on Shakespeare's River Avon and River Severn. We start from the canal basin at Stratford, which is situated in the Shakespeare Memorial Gardens, adjacent to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the town centre. One lock takes us onto the beautiful River Avon and from there we head downstream passing a number of towns and villages, although the general aspect is rural. The main places to visit are Evesham with its good shopping and Abbey ruins, Pershore which has many Georgian buildings and an Norman abbey, now the parish church, and Tewkesbury a historic town with many shops and a very fine 12th century abbey. From Tewkesbury we lock down onto the River Severn and travel to Gloucester, mooring in the Dock with its many fine buildings. There is a Waterways Museum and a large antiques centre, a few minutes walk takes you into the city centre and to the Cathedral which contains the tomb of King Edward II who was "foully murdered" in 1327.
From Gloucester we return upstream and, after passing (or revisiting) Tewkesbury, can visit Upton-on-Severn and then continue to Worcester. Here we moor in or near the canal basin, which is within easy reach of the city centre, Cathedral, and the Royal Worcester Porcelain Factory and Museum.
This trip has good town visits, but due to the navigations being river based, very little rural walking, although the surrounding scenery is truly beautiful.
There are several add-on options for this trip
Calcutt - Warwick - Stratford (extra 4 days) Mainly a canal cruising addition, with wonderful scenery, good walking and you can visit Warwick with its vast Castle.
Gloucester - Slimbridge - Gloucester (extra 2 days) This is to visit the headquarters of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust to see both wild and 'collection' birds. There is also some pleasant canalside walking.
Worcester - Birmingham (extra 3 days) Up the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, via Cadbury World (for all chocoholics !!!), to the centre of Birmingham. This section has both rural and urban walking, as well as a very large number of locks and three tunnels.
Worcester - Stratford (extra 5 days) Up the Worcester & Birmingham Canal and then down the full length of the Stratford Canal, ending back in the canal basin. This section has plenty of rural and urban walking, as well as a large number of pleasantly sited locks and some lift-bridges
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