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Drizzt

Best canal to learn

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Hi All,

 

I haven't been on a narrow boat for many many years but used to go a lot with my school when i was young and fit.

My wife has never been and i want to get her hooked on cruising.


I would like to take her on a short break 3 or 5 nights somewhere very pretty with easy locks to navigate.

I have shown her the Shropshire union on you tube and she likes that very much.

I am conscious of that canal being quite tight and narrow - & as we are total novice boaters would this be suitable?

 

Our/My long term aim is to get a boat and cruise full time. But want to get a much better understanding of boat handling and life on the water before taking the plunge.

 

Any advice on hire companies and locations very gratefully received.

 

Many Thanks,

 

Jeff

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I'm sure people will be along shortly with recommendations on quieter, wider canals, but I'm pleased you're planning this well, unlike me who's first outing was the Warwick Ring, with all those locks. I suffered a mutiny!

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Ashby Boat Co. at Stoke Golding - a good firm, and a pastoral, lockless canal.

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I guess lots of canals would be fine, but ideally for a beginner avoid rivers, wide locks, and anywhere with too many locks (or very few: potentially boring!). Consider whether a long tunnel could be off-putting; some people might love that on a first trip, others wouldn't!

Also, probably do a first trip in nice weather. Not too hot, cold or wet. Not that it put me off; my first trip ever was a few miles on a frosty day in January, including three locks; my brother just wanted crew to operate those for him.

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Mrs melly suggestion - seconded

Three hire bases

Several pubs

mostly rural - so quiet (apart from the other boaters)

Spend a day in Oxford

Easy shallow locks (mostly)

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Thanks all - some really good advice.

 

I'll take a look at the suggestions and see what the boss like the look of.

I would boat on a muddy puddle so i'm easily pleased.

 

Cheers

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What about going on the Shroppie from Norbury Junction or Breewood ? Wide straight canals and not too many narrow locks (unless you venture down Audlem) and  lovely scenery ?

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I agree, the South Oxford would be a good choice. Although if you hire from around Napton you will within an hour have th navigate the Napton lock flight.

 

I would also look at the Staffs & Worcs canal. This is an early contour canal, the locks are generally spread out and very pretty. It also has the much photographed  Bratch locks https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/places-to-visit/the-bratch and a staircase pair at Botterham locks.  

 

Napton Narrowboats run from Autherly Junction where the Staffs & Worcs ant the Shropshire union meet. They have a two berth Elite 2 boat that can be hired for short breaks https://www.napton-marina.co.uk/boats/finder/index.php Or Countrywide Cruisers hire Sir Ironside for short breaks, this also has a solid fuel stove to keep you toasty https://www.countrywide-cruisers.co.uk/sir-ironside/ 

 

I'd buy the Nicholson guides for the relevant canals to have a look at the route descriptions and lock frequency. You'll need to buy ay least three books to cover the canals already mentioned

Book 1 for the Oxford canal

"Grand Union Oxford and the South East" https://www.amazon.co.uk/Grand-Union-Oxford-South-East/dp/0008146527/ref=sr_1_3?crid=3D0YDF7DIPRCI&keywords=nicholson+guides&qid=1573046165&sprefix=nicholsons+guides%2Caps%2C145&sr=8-3

 

Book 2 for the lower Staffs & Worcs canal

"Severn Avon & Birmingham" https://www.amazon.co.uk/Severn-Avon-Birmingham-Waterways-Nicholson/dp/0008258015/ref=sr_1_6?crid=3D0YDF7DIPRCI&keywords=nicholson+guides&qid=1573046165&sprefix=nicholsons+guides%2Caps%2C145&sr=8-6

 

Book 4 for the Shropshire Union and upper Staffs & Worcs canal

"Four Counties & the welsh canals" https://www.amazon.co.uk/Four-Counties-Welsh-Canals-Waterways/dp/0008309388/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3D0YDF7DIPRCI&keywords=nicholson+guides&qid=1573046165&sprefix=nicholsons+guides%2Caps%2C145&sr=8-1

 

OR if yo do not want the Shropshire Union and do want the Ashby canal and upper Staffs & Worcs don't buy book 4 but buy book 3 "Birmingham and the heart of England" https://www.amazon.co.uk/Birmingham-Heart-England-Waterways-Nicholson-ebook/dp/B07C6LF7TG/ref=sr_1_4?crid=3D0YDF7DIPRCI&keywords=nicholson+guides&qid=1573046165&sprefix=nicholsons+guides%2Caps%2C145&sr=8-4

 

 

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1 minute ago, arbutus said:

I agree, the South Oxford would be a good choice. Although if you hire from around Napton you will within an hour have th navigate the Napton lock flight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, but the Napton flight is attractive (it slices through prime Middle England), the locks behave themselves and after the first few they're quite widely spaced. After that, the route is winding and pretty, and peaceful (no roads cross it for several miles).

BUT make sure you take provisions - no shops between Napton [good quality village store] and Fenny Compton [smallish but good Co-op, a bracing walk away from the canal].

Also, after the top lock there is, unless I'm mistaken, no turning point until Fenny Compton. This would be an active 3-night trip or a more leisurely 5-night one. We have done Napton Bottom Lock to Cropredy in a day from time to time, but we were pushing quite hard.

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1 hour ago, mrsmelly said:

South Oxford. Locks but small and easy, not over locked, Scenic etc etc.

Excellent choice. 

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Just to say the flow on the Shroppie can be a bit disconcerting for new boaters, it would not be my first choice. I would go with North or South Oxford plus the Ashby. I find wide beam canal lock far more difficult than narrow ones and narrow canals are not that narrow really - its only the locks.

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9 minutes ago, Nightwatch said:

Excellent choice. 

Yet another vote for the South Oxford. For all the reasons given. 

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24 minutes ago, Tony Brooks said:

Just to say the flow on the Shroppie can be a bit disconcerting for new boaters, it would not be my first choice. I would go with North or South Oxford plus the Ashby. I find wide beam canal lock far more difficult than narrow ones and narrow canals are not that narrow really - its only the locks.

What flow?  I've never noticed any significant flow on the Shroppie, unless you are referring to the by washes at the Audlem & Tyrley locks.

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Just now, Flyboy said:

What flow?  I've never noticed any significant flow on the Shroppie, unless you are referring to the by washes at the Audlem & Tyrley locks.

That's it, I suppose it all depends upon how much storm water Wolverhampton sewerage plant has to dump in the canal.

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15 minutes ago, Tony Brooks said:

That's it, I suppose it all depends upon how much storm water Wolverhampton sewerage plant has to dump in the canal.

Seems 'orrible when you describe it as that! (Correct of course)

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3 minutes ago, David Mack said:

Lots of newbies on the Llangollen, and that has much more flow.

But not poorly directed by wash flow in deep rocky cuttings.

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1 hour ago, Richard T said:

Staffs and Worcester heading south from Autherley is really attractive and there is Wightwick Manor to visit.

Yes I agree, Wightwick Manor is really good. We there last month in torrential rain so didn't see much of the gardens so will definitely visit again. The Rock Houses at Kinver are well worth visiting if anyones on the Staffs & Worc. If the visibility is good a walk up Kinver edge is well worth doing as the views are outstanding.

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Thanks again all-

 

plenty of food for thought!!

South Oxford seems like a good starting point, and isn't a million miles from either.

 

 

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No surprise that many have suggested the South Oxford, it's a popular canal for good reasons just make sure you don't coincide your trip with the Cropredy festival.

 

Forget the Shroppie/Llangollen, they are popular first timer choices but the locks, particularly going up, can be challenging, even for the experienced.

 

But I'd throw in for consideration the Macclesfield and Upper Peak Forest canals.  You can hire from Heritage Boats at Scholar Green and do the Macclesfield and the Peak Forest up to Whalley Bridge/Bugsworth Basin well within your 3-5 days.  Both are lovely waterways, (even if Macclesfield itself does rather turn its back on the canal) as scenic as any and full of interest.  

 

 

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The first canal I took the current Mrs T, when we were courting, was on was the Roachdale from Sowerby Bridge, to Summit and return.

 

It will sort out "The men from the boys." You will learn much about boating and relationships.

Survive that and you will manage any canal.

 

Stunning scenery and Hebden Bridge is well worth spending a day or two in: http://www.hebdenbridge.co.uk/

 

Shire Cruisers: https://www.shirecruisers.co.uk/index.php

Well appointed and turned out boats.

2006_1220Rochdale_Canal10181.JPG

Edited by Ray T
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