Tuesday 11 February 2014

Cruising the English canals on a traditional narrowboat

Celebrate Shakespeare's birthday in Stratford-upon-Avon

This year will be mark the 450th birthday of England’s greatest poet and playwright, William Shakespeare.

The entire English nation will be celebrating during ‘Shakespeare Week’ from 17th – 23rd March 2014 and there will be special celebrations all year but especially during March and April.

On 26th and 27th April 2014, the town will celebrate with a weekend of spectacular events, including special performances by the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Boating holiday specialists Outdoor Travel Pty Ltd, based in Bright, Victoria are offering you the change to join in the celebrations and visit Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford upon Avon in March or April aboard a self-skippered traditional narrowboat on the Stratford Canal and River Avon cruising right to the centre of Stratford.

They offer a range of narrowboats comfortably catering for from 2 to 12 passengers.

Cruise hire starts every Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday from 15th March 2014.

Prices for a 7-night cruise start from £549 for a 2-berth narrowboat, £749 for a 4-berth, £899 for a 6-berth and £999 for a barge carrying up to 12 passengers

More details are available from the website:

Suggested Stratford-Upon-Avon 7-night round-trip cruise from Alvechurch Marina (which is easily reached from Birmingham Airport or International Railway Station):

After a full introduction to your barge and instruction on how to navigate and managed the locks, cruise to Kings Norton Junction and down the 25-mile Stratford-upon-Avon Canal. After negotiating the unusual guillotine stop lock (one of 110 locks on this route) you come to the fascinating Brandwood Tunnel, the only one on this route. The canal winds through green outer suburbs of Birmingham to Shirley, where there is an electrically operated drawbridge beside a lovely pub.

The first ten miles are lock free but then there is a flight of locks at Lapworth taking your barge up the levels to match the contours of the rolling countryside. Once through here the locks are spaced out a regular intervals until Wilmcote where there is a flight of eleven. From Wilmcote cruise to Stratford where the canal meets the River Avon in Bancroft Basin. It's a popular site for visitors from around the world visiting the town and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre which overlooks the river.

Mary Arden's House is only a short walk from Bridge 59 at Wilmcote.

One fascinating feature to look out for is the footbridges on the Stratford Canal which were built in two halves with a 1 inch gap so that the rope can pass through when boats were towed by horses. This gap meant that the boatman didn't need to untie the horse as he walked the towpath.

The narrowboats are easy to operate, have a well equipped kitchen, shower/toilets and all bedding, even wet weather gear…it is England after all!

In the heart of rural Warwickshire there are lots of places to moor overnight and restaurants, pubs and villages to explore along the route

For a quote or to make a reservation call OUTDOOR TRAVEL on 1800 331 582 or email

More details on the website

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