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Mick in Bangkok

Four Counties Ring holiday for 2021

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Good morning,

 

We are planning a narrow boat holiday for two weeks starting mid-April 2021 and are looking to hire from Napton Narrowboats. Our plan was to pick up a boat at Napton Junction and navigate the Warwickshire Ring, however the boat we prefer is based at Autherley Junction so now considering the Four Counties ring instead.

 

As we have only been on the South Oxford Canal before can anyone tell us how the Four Counties ring compares to Warwickshire Ring and/or South Oxford Canal.

 

Would stoppages, low or high water etc. Need to be factored in?

 

Would two weeks be sufficient to make this trip.

 

Cheers Mick

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It's an excellent trip. A fortnight is plenty; it could theoretically be done in a week if you didn't want to stop anywhere or see anything, so effectively that means you can spend nearly 50% of your time enjoying other things such as sightseeing or lunching. There are no river sections so no high/low water considerations, but you may have to wait a couple of hours to go through Harecastle Tunnel which has to be one-way traffic because it is too narrow for boats to pass each other.

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Two weeks is fine for the 4 counties.  Many do it in a week, so a diversion to,say, Chester, Anderton or up the Caldon is also possible.  Water is not normally a problem.  Oxley sewage works feeds the Shroppie and the Staffs and Worcs, so provided Wolverhampton folks keep p****ing there will be loads of water there and Rudyard lake looks after the  T&M.   Stoppages, who knows?

 

Harecastle tunnel timings can be interesting as you do not want an overnight stay at the Kidsgrove end. ( it is a gloomy dump).  In April it may not be on full summer opening hours so check with CRT for times.

 

Look out for the Easter gathering at Elesemere Port and the Middlewich FAB festival.  Both will make it busier but not cause major problems except for mooring in Middlewich for their do.

 

N

PS.  Lots more locks than the South Oxford, and mostly in flights.  The T&M is a  long drop of near-continuous locking from Harecastle to Wheelock. The  Shroppie has flights of 15, 5, 5.

None are hard.

 

Edited by BEngo

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One week would be sufficient.

 

If you have two weeks there should be no problem in completing a mash up of the Black Country and Warwickshire rings from Autherley i.e. Autherley - Great Haywood - Fradley - Fazeley - Hawkesbury - Braunston - Napton - Kingswood - Kings Norton - Birmingham - Aldersley - Autherley.

 

Otherwise the Four Counties is good but perhaps not as varied as the Warwickshire ring which I think rates as the best hire trip we ever did as a family when I was younger.

 

JP

  • Greenie 1

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27 minutes ago, Mick in Bangkok said:

This is great news, I expect to be cruising approximately 5 to 6 hours per day with a day or two stopping in interesting places.

If you cruised every day of the 13 full days available you would have to do 4 hours 40 mins per day (according to Canalplan). You would have a few more hours available on the first Saturday afternoon after pick up. I would say that is a perfect amount of time for cruising each day. On the way you could visit the Secret Nuclear Bunker at Hack Green There's an industrial museum at Etruria (Stoke on Trent) but I've never seen it open. Wedgwood have a Factory visitor attraction at Trentham south of Stoke. There's lots of pubs on the way (if they've opened by then), not to be missed is the Anchor at High Offley, a completely un-spoiled canalside pub but don't go there expecting food!

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we did it anti-clockwise in 9 days which included a trip up to the Anderton lift before doing the Middlewich, to be fair we do enjoy long days though. Our only "issues" were having to fend off a massive reedberg near Aston marina, only just getting a mooring in Stone, and not being able to moor at Westport Lake due to git gaps. We ended up moored near the entrance to Harecastle which was lovely and quiet and had the added bonus of us being first through in the morning.

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You've enough time to take in a bit of The Black Country as well - but only if you're not averse to locks...

But then there are a fair number of locks on the four counties. We've done the 4C in a week years ago thus a side trip is 'well in order'. Go and spend a day at the Black Country Museum. Excellent fish and chips, atmospheric coal mine. Learn a lot on how folks lived in the Victirian era and moor outside!  

Edited by OldGoat

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1 hour ago, BEngo said:

 

 

Harecastle tunnel timings can be interesting as you do not want an overnight stay at the Kidsgrove end. ( it is a gloomy dump).  In April it may not be on full summer opening hours so check with CRT for times.

 

 

We went last year (did it in a week with longish days). If you do find you're not going to get to the Harecastle in time you can always stop about an hour earlier near Red Bull/the Macclesfield aqueduct which was fairly quiet & pleasant (and the pub wasn't bad either!)

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4 hours ago, BEngo said:

Two weeks is fine for the 4 counties.  Many do it in a week, so a diversion to,say, Chester, Anderton or up the Caldon is also possible.  Water is not normally a problem.  Oxley sewage works feeds the Shroppie and the Staffs and Worcs, so provided Wolverhampton folks keep p****ing there will be loads of water there and Rudyard lake looks after the  T&M.   Stoppages, who knows?

 

Harecastle tunnel timings can be interesting as you do not want an overnight stay at the Kidsgrove end. ( it is a gloomy dump).  In April it may not be on full summer opening hours so check with CRT for times.

 

Look out for the Easter gathering at Elesemere Port and the Middlewich FAB festival.  Both will make it busier but not cause major problems except for mooring in Middlewich for their do.

 

N

PS.  Lots more locks than the South Oxford, and mostly in flights.  The T&M is a  long drop of near-continuous locking from Harecastle to Wheelock. The  Shroppie has flights of 15, 5, 5.

None are hard.

 

But you only have to go  down one or two locks o find OK moorings or turn just up the Macc

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