Jump to content
Strawberry Orange Banana Lime Leaf Slate Sky Blueberry Grape Watermelon Chocolate Marble
Strawberry Orange Banana Lime Leaf Slate Sky Blueberry Grape Watermelon Chocolate Marble
FiFiW

Route Tips Please Southern Canal Network

Featured Posts

Hi all, I'm a long term boater - well born into it as my parents had a boat all their married lives, well into retirement.  The husband isn't keen on the expense of us owning our own but humours me with hire boating. I'm pretty familiar with the canal network, particularly T&M, Shroppie & Llangollen as this is where we were based & have hired before.  I've also done the Stourport ring.  I'm now thinking let's go further afield, so I'm looking at hiring from a more southerly base.  I've cruised the southern network but many many moons ago so I would love some advice on some nice routes and hire bases we could look into.  I'm thinking 7 or 10 days and will be end of July, don't mind locks or tunnels - in fact we enjoy them.  Therefore, I think i'd prefer to stick to canals rather than Thames so there's plenty for us to see and do as we are quite an active family but we will consider any advice on this.  A few canalside pubs along the way would add to our holiday too!

 

Thank you!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One obvious option is start from Napton/Braunston - there are several hire boat firms there - and head south down the Oxford canal. Some very beautiful countryside, go now before HS2 is built..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you like tunnels and don't mind doing double locks, go down the Grand Union for Braunston and Blisworth tunnels. If you do 7-10 days starting at Braunston, you get to turn back before the beautiful countryside ends on the outskirts of London. The GU in west London is not bad, but no-one really sees it as a holiday destination.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 hours ago, Scholar Gypsy said:

One obvious option is start from Napton/Braunston - there are several hire boat firms there - and head south down the Oxford canal. Some very beautiful countryside, go now before HS2 is built..

More or less exactly what I was going to say! Hire from Union Canal Cruisers or Napton Narrowboats, go South. At that time of year, probably best not to go further than Cropredy, as the festival is on the second weekend of August and the canal gets VERY crowded. Stopping places could include Napton bottom lock (Folly pub) and Fenny Compton (Wharf pub).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't disregard the Thames - it's really a pussy cat (when it's not in flood and that only happens in extreme weather)

 

Somebody posted this on another forum - most of the images can still be recognised -

https://youtu.be/rkJtmvLDwEo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd suggest hiring from Wyvern Shipping at Leighton Buzzard, go North up the GU then turn left and head south down the South Oxford, you could get all the way to Oxford in a week and there's not a dull spot on that route.  The only issue is the chaos at the three locks pub on setting off day, as most of the hire boats arrive there at the same time.

 

Those Wyvern boats always look immaculately turned out, I think they must touch up the paintwork at the end of every hire.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The south Oxford is ideal. Plenty of starting points to include, Oxford, Lower Heyford ( good boats ) and further north several more. Occasional locks rather than massive flights a small flight at Napton, all easy to do. Very rural with several good pubs along or close by the route.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Start from Braunston and head to Foxton Locks, if you have time (which you should have) head on to Market Harborough. This would let you experience Braunston and Crick tunnels and both Watford and Foxton locks.

Start from Braunston and head to Foxton Locks, if you have time (which you should have) head on to Market Harborough. This would let you experience Braunston and Crick tunnels and both Watford and Foxton locks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Having just been down the GU to Milton Keynes from Napton and back, for the first time in a number of years, I have to say I don’t particularly rate that section as anything other than a way of getting from A to B, it not nice county side and once past Norton Junction is blighted by the M1 (and other roads) and the railway most of the time.  There are very much nicer canals to cruise than that part of the GU although this is the furthest south we have been on the GU and perhaps it gets better once you are through Milton Keynes, but you would still have more than 2 days each way from Braunston to get to the good stuff.  The South Oxford would be a better bet to go south from Braunston/Napton in my opinion.

  • Greenie 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, john6767 said:

Having just been down the GU to Milton Keynes from Napton and back, for the first time in a number of years, I have to say I don’t particularly rate that section as anything other than a way of getting from A to B, it not nice county side and once past Norton Junction is blighted by the M1 (and other roads) and the railway most of the time.  There are very much nicer canals to cruise than that part of the GU although this is the furthest south we have been on the GU and perhaps it gets better once you are through Milton Keynes, but you would still have more than 2 days each way from Braunston to get to the good stuff.  The South Oxford would be a better bet to go south from Braunston/Napton in my opinion.

Nope, its much grottier past MK and gets progressively worse.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, john6767 said:

Having just been down the GU to Milton Keynes from Napton and back, for the first time in a number of years, I have to say I don’t particularly rate that section as anything other than a way of getting from A to B, it not nice county side and once past Norton Junction is blighted by the M1 (and other roads) and the railway most of the time.  There are very much nicer canals to cruise than that part of the GU although this is the furthest south we have been on the GU and perhaps it gets better once you are through Milton Keynes, but you would still have more than 2 days each way from Braunston to get to the good stuff.  The South Oxford would be a better bet to go south from Braunston/Napton in my opinion.

Seconded. and as you go 'down the other side' towards Lunnon - it's now wall to wall boats.

The Oxford's much nicer with something even better at the bottom Tim got there first - though a bit stronger than I.

  • Greenie 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
29 minutes ago, OldGoat said:

Seconded. and as you go 'down the other side' towards Lunnon - it's now wall to wall boats.

The Oxford's much nicer with something even better at the bottom Tim got there first - though a bit stronger than I.

Milton Keynes seemed wall to wall boats, I guess it counts as London these days.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
44 minutes ago, mrsmelly said:

Nope, its much grottier past MK and gets progressively worse.

Disagree, the section from MK to Leighton Buzzard is pretty, from Grove Lock to Cowroast delightful, below Watford to Denham equally so. 

Yes, lots of boats moored but lovely cruising as most of them don't move much.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, matty40s said:

Disagree, the section from MK to Leighton Buzzard is pretty, from Grove Lock to Cowroast delightful, below Watford to Denham equally so. 

Yes, lots of boats moored but lovely cruising as most of them don't move much.

You should have gone to specsavers innitt ? Plus never seen so many rubbish areas in such a foul state and more dog shit absolutely everywhere than any were else of late. 

  • Happy 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Either-which-way, the comments above show what an apalling state the canals are - not CaRT's direct fault, but indicative of the housing crisis, certainly in the London area. It doesn't say much for the attitude of the local population's regarding all sorts of rubbish.

 

Where there are facilities I've seen the local population using boaters' facilities for domestic rubbish (that was elsewhere, though). 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hilperton to Bristol is a great 7 day trip, look up "latelink "for cheaper deals, and has all the bases and routes on there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 hours ago, matty40s said:

Disagree, the section from MK to Leighton Buzzard is pretty, from Grove Lock to Cowroast delightful, below Watford to Denham equally so. 

Yes, lots of boats moored but lovely cruising as most of them don't move much.

I agree - it is mostly very nice around there. 

 

My suggestion: Pick up a hire boat just north of Trowbridge - there is Hilperton / Sally I think. You can cruise along through Bradford On Avon and up to Bath, with the option to dash up the Avon (Say to Hanham where there is a big pub). Then of course make your way back. Should fill 7-10 days nicely.

 

Edit to add: I always think the Foxhangers boats look very well kept (based just west of the flight after Devizes) - another option to hire from there and bomb along towatd Bristol! 

Edited by Johny London

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’d also say the GU is a perfectly decent cruise. From my perspective it’s just that the locks are too big. The stretch from Braunston to Wolverton is rural and has quite a few features of interest. It’s a bit of a drag around MK but the climb up to Marsworth is nice and although I’ve never cruised any further south I know the surroundings well and there are some picturesque locations such as Berkhamsted and Cassiobury Park. I can’t see why it’s blighted to any greater extent by the railway or the motorway than the Oxford (although personally I don’t view any railway as ever blighting a canal). When I last cruised that far south in the summer of 2017 there were a lot of moored boats from MK onwards but probably less than I’d anticipated based upon reports of wall to wall boats I’d read here. Probably not that different to what I might expect cruising the Napton/Braunston pound on a summer’s weekend.

 

JP

 

 

Edited by Captain Pegg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We bought our boat 4 years ago in the Napton area and did all the available local routes bar one in the first 3 years. We put off doing the southern GU until Easter last year, partly because of the wide locks, partly because I didn't think it would be that great.

 

In the event we were very pleasantly surprised and thoroughly enjoyed it (we did Braunston to Marsworth Junction). The fat boats caused us no problems, the scenery was good ( although not as good as the Oxford summit), there were tons of places to moor (far better than the Oxford for mooring choices), the canal seemed wider and deeper (probably cos it is), the canal through Milton Keynes was not bad on the whole and pretty good in places. I don't recall anywhere being particularly bad for rubbish, we saw far worse in Nuneaton and Leamington Spa.

 

We enjoyed it enough to not want to wait another 3 years before we do it again.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Lily Rose said:

We bought our boat 4 years ago in the Napton area and did all the available local routes bar one in the first 3 years. We put off doing the southern GU until Easter last year, partly because of the wide locks, partly because I didn't think it would be that great.

 

In the event we were very pleasantly surprised and thoroughly enjoyed it (we did Braunston to Marsworth Junction). The fat boats caused us no problems, the scenery was good ( although not as good as the Oxford summit), there were tons of places to moor (far better than the Oxford for mooring choices), the canal seemed wider and deeper (probably cos it is), the canal through Milton Keynes was not bad on the whole and pretty good in places. I don't recall anywhere being particularly bad for rubbish, we saw far worse in Nuneaton and Leamington Spa.

 

We enjoyed it enough to not want to wait another 3 years before we do it again.

 

Having criticised that section of the GU, mainly for road and rail noise, I would agree with you that it does seem quite deep and wide in many places so you can get a good move on. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Also, the Oxford South (much as I love it, and I'm on it now) is not exactly immune to this  with the Oxford to Birmingham line running close by in many places and the M40 running nearby and criss-crossing the canal in a number of places.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Lily Rose said:

Also, the Oxford South (much as I love it, and I'm on it now) is not exactly immune to this  with the Oxford to Birmingham line running close by in many places and the M40 running nearby and criss-crossing the canal in a number of places.

And eventually the South Oxford summit ruined by HS2.  God, I hope that project dies a death and is never built. Maybe than I can spend my final years here in peace without having to move.

  • Greenie 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Boater Sam said:

And eventually the South Oxford summit ruined by HS2.  God, I hope that project dies a death and is never built. Maybe than I can spend my final years here in peace without having to move.

Yes, indeed. I note from the HS2 map that it runs next to the canal at one point and will (I am expecting) spoil one of my favourite mooring spots.

 

I have given up hope of the project not proceeding, heading down from Napton to Fenny a couple of weeks ago we noticed there is already preparatory work underway.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The southern GU is much maligned. When we had share boats, They were based at Gayton and Blisworth for a couple of years, so we often travelled South. The scenery is neither outstanding or awful, but generally pleasant.

 

Back in the early 90's we took a we travelled from Stockton Top to Little Venice and that was very enjoyable, because it pre dated the invasion of the London canals by those seeking cheap homes.

  • Greenie 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.