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pomkitanner

North or South From Autherley ?

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For a 7 day there and back hire, which direction is the more scenic ? I am considering either North to Stone/Stoke, or south to Stourport . Like most I wish to  stop at pubs overnight, but I prefer a more open route rather than one shrouded by long stretches of tree shrouded canal.  and of course a good selection of villages to explore . My searches suggest either route is feasible in the given time  ?  Have also determined that the 4 counties ring is a bit of a rush ?  Thanks

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8 minutes ago, pomkitanner said:

For a 7 day there and back hire, which direction is the more scenic ? I am considering either North to Stone/Stoke, or south to Stourport . Like most I wish to  stop at pubs overnight, but I prefer a more open route rather than one shrouded by long stretches of tree shrouded canal.  and of course a good selection of villages to explore . My searches suggest either route is feasible in the given time  ?  Have also determined that the 4 counties ring is a bit of a rush ?  Thanks

4 Counties in 7 days in summer is barmy, a headlong rush in the rain, see nothing, get sick of the engine running.

Southern to Stourport is less tree infested, north has some dark dank cuttings and much more traffic.

TD'

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South to Stourport every time for me - IMHO Kidderminster isn't worth the stop - so stop at The Lock at Wolverley pub just before and then do Stourport in one go the next day stopping just outside at the pub (The Bird in Hand ) if you run out of time to make it all the way - Stourport IS worth a stop 

One of our favourite runs in the country

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Another vote for Stourport.  N is OK, with some good spots, but is close to the M6 or the West Coast Main Line in places, pubs are scarcer, and there are less places of interest, though Shugborough Hall is good. 

T'other way there is Bratch,  the cave houses and the edge at Kinver, Severn Valley Railway, Stourport itself, some nice villages like Wolverley and the canal is in the Stour valley from Stewponey.

N

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I'd go t'other way - North -a bit more countryside and more places to visit - you do stop and do 'things', rather than rush past as everyone else does?

 

As it happens, while drinking my after lunch coffee - I came across another video from 'the man  with the glasses', just published today -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rarpkV5c_eA

 

He's doing the S and W the opposite way round from your trip, but it gives you a view of what you can expect. Have a look and see if it stimulates you!

 

Yes, there are trees, that's because they like the water - but the canal is not a tree lined cutting, they're just hedgerow that has grown a bit - you can still see the scenery through them.

 

Here's a video (from the same boater) going the other way - Kinver to Stourport -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=il6A9SwLaRY

 

   

Edited by OldGoat

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So I think South is the way to go. I watched both videos above, no contest .  The Stourport basin Looks complicated. Are there plenty of visitor moorings? it looks a busy spot.  Or would turning there and mooring up at the bird in Hand pub be a wise move ? Also is it necessary to enter the basin to make a turn? I see no winding hole .  Thanks for all the replies .

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4 minutes ago, pomkitanner said:

So I think South is the way to go. I watched both videos above, no contest .  The Stourport basin Looks complicated. Are there plenty of visitor moorings? it looks a busy spot.  Or would turning there and mooring up at the bird in Hand pub be a wise move ? Also is it necessary to enter the basin to make a turn? I see no winding hole .  Thanks for all the replies .

Mooring in the basin is not always available but you can enter and wind in the basin, then moor on the canal side.

TD'

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8 minutes ago, pomkitanner said:

So I think South is the way to go. I watched both videos above, no contest .  The Stourport basin Looks complicated. Are there plenty of visitor moorings? it looks a busy spot.  Or would turning there and mooring up at the bird in Hand pub be a wise move ? Also is it necessary to enter the basin to make a turn? I see no winding hole .  Thanks for all the replies .

We’ve just come up from Stourport to Autherley. It is a lovely bit of canal, probably one of the nicest. Well, except for Kidderminster which is a dump, but has a huge Tesco, Markies, Sainsburys etc all adjacent to the canal. So do your shopping then scarper!
 

The basin locks aren’t really complicated, for narrowboats there are 2 pairs of staircase locks down to the river. There are also some wide locks but they should not be used by narrowboats. There are some pontoons on the river below the lock which are the best moorings, if you can get on them. Or there are moorings above York St lock. The whole basin area is lovely, especially the lower portion near the river.

 

Or you can turn in the basin a short way below the York St lock, in the vicinity of the services.

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Got to disagree with most here.  North either on the S&W or the Shroppie is much nicer.  South, you're in dull outer suburbia most of the way until around Greensforge.  Then it's lovely from there to Kiddy.  Then there's a few nice bits between Kiddy and Stourport.  The nice bits don't nearly make up for the boring dross, views over suburban houses and supermarkets don't really do it for me.  It's also dogshit heaven on the towpath through Compton, Womborne, Swindon.  Add to that, the the nice bits as all very much tree lined.   In fact, if you want to go to Stourport, I'd sooner go up the 21, across the BCN and back down the Delph, but you don't have time for that.  Alternatively, north on the Shroppie to Audlem and back  is lovely all the way and there are lots of long stretches where you're high on embankments with great views across the Shropshire plain.  Second choice would be to Stone and back.  Lots of open views and interest along the way. 

This photo pretty much sums up the canal heading south:

 

Capture.JPG

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49 minutes ago, pomkitanner said:

So I think South is the way to go. I watched both videos above, no contest .  The Stourport basin Looks complicated. Are there plenty of visitor moorings? it looks a busy spot.  Or would turning there and mooring up at the bird in Hand pub be a wise move ? Also is it necessary to enter the basin to make a turn? I see no winding hole .  Thanks for all the replies .

Don't be fooled by those videos.  South from Kinver is nice (as I said), but there's a lot of canal to get through to get that far.

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Capture.JPGDo not be fooled by the picture posted above, it's  the exception on this stretch of canal. Most is rural with the canal wiggling down the valley alongside the Smestow and then the Stour. There are some very pretty parts from Greensforge down to near Kidderminster. You could also try the branch up towards Stourbridge as the first part of that is very rural. Then turn either at the Stourbridge junction or at the end of the Stourbridge arm (which I admit is urban).

 

Have a look at the Nicholson guide before you make your mind up it will give some idea of the countryside.

 

Also try the fish and chips at either Swindon or Compton, both very good.

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Hmm  so differing viewpoints , evidently its a subjective question but I am inclined to take the advice of the majority. I also like the winding contour aspect of the Stourport trip. The route north on the Shroppie looks line a railway line . In my view  boring in the extreme ( but I could be wrong ).  Thanks for everyones' input, much appreciated .

  • Greenie 1

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As the question was ‘which is the most scenic?’ I would say the southern end. It cuts through the south eastern side of Wolverhampton and through Wombourne and Kidderminster but i wouldn’t describe it as suburbia at all. It is heavily wooded but that’s part of its character as it is largely rural.

 

It’s possible to cover all of the Staffs & Worcs in seven days as neither end is more than 2 full days cruising from Autherley.

 

Stourport and return is a short trip for a weeks hire. You should be able to take a trip down the Severn to Worcester. It’s only half a day from Stourport and there is also the potential of returning via Hanbury Junction and the Droitwich Canal.

 

JP

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I have picked Countrywide cruisers at Brewood as my preferred hire company  .  Canalplan gives me just over 5 days  journey time at 7 hours / day to do Stourport return .  This I believe is ideal in that it should be quite a relaxed week.  Are there likely to be any unforeseen holdups that might delay me ? I am hoping this plan gives ample time to both explore some villages plus include relaxed lunches at whichever pubs we discover . Would appreciate anyones thoughts, good or bad  Thanks .

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14 hours ago, doratheexplorer said:

 

This photo pretty much sums up the canal heading south:

 

Capture.JPG

NO it doesn't

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1 hour ago, pomkitanner said:

Are there likely to be any unforeseen holdups that might delay me ............

YES......................

 

but ............ I suggest you don't ask too many more questions about "what ifs" otherwise you will lose all sense of adventure and exploring which is half the fun - you have your direction you know to avoid overnighting in Kiddy but do use it for VG/easy shopping - now look forward your chosen adventure

 

"Countrywide" is a good choice

Edited by Halsey

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1 hour ago, pomkitanner said:

I have picked Countrywide cruisers at Brewood as my preferred hire company  .  Canalplan gives me just over 5 days  journey time at 7 hours / day to do Stourport return .  This I believe is ideal in that it should be quite a relaxed week.  Are there likely to be any unforeseen holdups that might delay me ? I am hoping this plan gives ample time to both explore some villages plus include relaxed lunches at whichever pubs we discover . Would appreciate anyones thoughts, good or bad  Thanks .

We hired a couple of times from Countrywide, did the four counties and the Stourport ring.

 

The one point where you might get held up is at the Bratch locks but the lock keeper keeps boats flowing so you shouldn't be there too long if it is busy.

 

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If you find you are ahead of schedule on the way back, take a detour at Stourton Junction to Stourbridge. It's a pleasant bit of canal. I used to moor at Ashwood marina and take friends on day trips down the Stourbridge arm. The winding hole is right at the end of the arm and is just a cut out in the bank inbetween moored boats. You have to have faith that when you get to the end you'll be able to turn the boat.

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3 hours ago, pomkitanner said:

I have picked Countrywide cruisers at Brewood as my preferred hire company  .  Canalplan gives me just over 5 days  journey time at 7 hours / day to do Stourport return .  This I believe is ideal in that it should be quite a relaxed week.  Are there likely to be any unforeseen holdups that might delay me ? I am hoping this plan gives ample time to both explore some villages plus include relaxed lunches at whichever pubs we discover . Would appreciate anyones thoughts, good or bad  Thanks .

I hope you enjoy yourself.  The only really nice village with nice pubs on the your route would be Kinver, the others are really domitory villages formed out of Black Country urban sprawl.  Shame you're not heading north where you'd have, Wheaton Aston, Gnosall, Norbury, Audlem, along with towns Market Drayton, Northwich...

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25 minutes ago, doratheexplorer said:

Fair point.  Other parts look like this:

 

Capture.JPG

I wonder why you are deliberately trying to present a false picture of this canal? It’s not helpful to the OP.

 

The Shroppie is OK but as the OP says, it is a relatively modern canal that cuts through the countryside in straight lines. It can be fairly monotonous and is only pleasant when the sun is shining as there is nothing else to look at except a field. And another very similar field. And another one. And a very long cutting.

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I chose 'north' because you said that you didn't want a tunnel of trees - which large parts if the 'south' route certainly has - some of which is / are quite dark... However both routes have their plus and minus bits...

An advantage of the south route is the Severn. Go down to Worcester and look round the Cathedral, inside or out for a bit of 'culture'. The boat will go much faster downhill and if there's norra' lot of rainfall not much solwer on the return.

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39 minutes ago, nicknorman said:

I wonder why you are deliberately trying to present a false picture of this canal? It’s not helpful to the OP.

 

The Shroppie is OK but as the OP says, it is a relatively modern canal that cuts through the countryside in straight lines. It can be fairly monotonous and is only pleasant when the sun is shining as there is nothing else to look at except a field. And another very similar field. And another one. And a very long cutting.

I'm giving my honest view.  The Shroppie is lovely, there is loads to look at, and the villages are interesting.  The canal follows straight lines mostly but the surrounding countryside is gorgeous.  On a good day you can see all the way across to Wales!  Hardly just 'a field' then.  The S&W from Autherley to Greensforge is disappointing.  It meanders through a sort of no-man's land - not quite rural and not urban either, lots of housing developments fronting or backing onto the canal. Industrial estates and big box retail well represented too. The pubs are disappointing and the villages around them are too.  It seems bonkers to me to travel all the way from NZ to sample Womborne and Swindon.  The mile and a half from Caunsall to Wolverley is amongst the nicest bits of canal in the country though, but then you hit Kiddy. 

 

I would advise the OP to ignore all the pubs until you get to Kinver.  Then try the Plough & Harrow and the Cross.  Don't make the mistake of being tempted by The Vine.  Google it if you want to know why.  The Anchor at Caunsall is worth the stroll.  The Lock Inn at Wolverley is decent too.  Then I wouldn't bother with anywhere until you get to Stourport, where there are lots of choices for eating and drinking but I've never found anywhere that I've particularly loved.

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7 minutes ago, OldGoat said:

I chose 'north' because you said that you didn't want a tunnel of trees - which large parts if the 'south' route certainly has - some of which is / are quite dark... However both routes have their plus and minus bits...

An advantage of the south route is the Severn. Go down to Worcester and look round the Cathedral, inside or out for a bit of 'culture'. The boat will go much faster downhill and if there's norra' lot of rainfall not much solwer on the return.

You make a good point about the river although that might make the OP rush. 

 

You also make a very good point about trees.  The OP said "I prefer a more open route rather than one shrouded by long stretches of tree shrouded canal."  The problem with going south is that all the nicest bits are shrouded by trees.  In fact, that's the main draw of the southern S&W for me, I happen to love trees.  It's why, if I do go that way, I try to go in autumn when the southern bits are looking lovely, but not so late that the canal is full of leaves.

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