Starting From Hillmorton

The historical Hillmorton base is situated near to Rugby on the charmingly rural North Oxford Canal. It is perfectly positioned for a number of interesting and contrasting one week routes ranging from a simple and virtually lock-free trip up to Snarestone and back via the Ashby Canal, to the impressive Warwickshire Ring for the more energetic. For those with two weeks or longer to spare there is the Leicester Ring. Alternatively, a more ambitious fortnight can be spent traveling down the South Oxford Canal to the River Thames at Oxford, cruising along the Thames to Brentford and then returning via the Grand Union Canal.
Available Routes

Hillmorton to Banbury (1 week)

75 Miles – 50 Locks – 5 hours cruising per day. A relatively gentle cruise through the pretty Cotswold countryside first takes you down the North Oxford Canal via Braunston and Napton Junctions and onto the South Oxford Canal, renowned for its meandering route to the Thames. You will pass charming villages such as Cropredy with its thatched sandstone cottages before reaching Banbury itself, famous for its ‘cross’ and scrumptious cakes! You will need to turn round to head back to Rugby once you are halfway through your holiday.

Hillmorton to Stoke Bruerne (1 week)

42 Miles – 30 Locks – 4+hours cruising per day This interesting trip takes you down the North Oxford Canal to Braunston where you join the Grand Union Canal heading southwards towards London. This is essentially a rural route that incorporates several very impressive tunnels including Blisworth Tunnel which is over 3,000 yards long! The village of Stoke Bruerne awaits you as you emerge from Blisworth and we recommend that you take time to visit the excellent Canal Museum here. Milton Keynes is the next point of interest with its wealth of attractions and the more energetic crews might even push on to Leighton Buzzard before retracing their steps to Rugby.

Warwickshire Ring (1 week)

103 Miles -107 Locks – 9 hours cruising per day A rather more energetic week than some, but it is well worth the effort as it provides you with a cruise remarkable for its contrasts. You set off up the Grand Union Canal to Warwick with its fine castle. The next stop is Birmingham with all its amenities. Once you reach the International Convention Centre, you branch off down the Birmingham Fazeley Canal, which takes you out under ‘Spaghetti Junction’ to Coventry Canal, where you turn South past Coventry back to Rugby. There are a number of things to see and do on this most popular of trips and if you can make time, visits to Coventry, Stratford or up the Ashby Canal are a real bonus.

Hillmorton to Market Harborough (1 week)

65 Miles – 50 Locks – 5 hours per day Another ‘out and back’ trip, but well worth considering if you don’t mind a bit of exercise and are seeking something a bit different. This route involves cruising down the North Oxford Canal to Braunston and then heading up the Grand Union (Leicester Section) Canal towards Leicester itself. On the way to Market Harborough you will encounter no less than four tunnels, two sets of staircase locks and mile after mile of open countryside. At Foxton, you can explore the site of the short-lived Inclined Plane that was built to overcome the need for such an impressive flight of ten locks. At the foot of these locks is the canal arm that leads to Market Harborough where you can rest and recuperate before tackling the return journey.

Leicester Ring (2 weeks)

151 Miles – 100 Locks – 5 hours per day A really pleasant two week cruise through parts of Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire which involves cruising on rivers as well as canals. This route takes you up the Grand Union (Leicester Section) Canal to the Foxton flight of locks (see tour 12); from here you travel on to Leicester itself where you join the River Soar. You continue along the Soar to Trent Junction, where you briefly join the River Trent which takes you up to Sawley. At this point you rejoin the canal system and complete the ring by way of the Trent & Mersey Canal to Fradley Junction, the Coventry Canal to Hawkesbury Junction and the Oxford Canal back finally to Rugby.

Short breaks – Weekend or Midweek

For the non-energetic, there is a relaxing, almost lock-free trip to Snarestone, traveling up the North Oxford and Ashby Canals, before returning to Rugby.
For those of you looking for more activity (and locks) there are trips down the South Oxford Canal to Stockton, down the Grand Union Canal to Stoke Bruerne (National Waterways Museum), or up the Grand Union Canal to Warwick with its beautiful castle. All these trips require you to turn round half way though the break in order to return to the Rugby Hire base.

Finally there is a pleasant four day break (mid-week)to Crick and back, along the Grand Union Canal (Leicester Section).