Narrowboat Ring Routes

Waterways Ring canal boat holidays:

A waterways Ring is quite simply a circular route that will take you back to your starting point. They tend to offer a lovely variety of town and countryside and can cover some distance.

There are Rings that are suitable for a one or two week holiday and rings that are more active than others in terms of number of locks and hours per day that you wish to travel.

The Mid Worcester Ring for example offers a nice short break route, whereas the Avon Ring is aimed at fourteen days with six hours cruising per day. The Avon Ring also includes the famous Tardebigge flight – the longest flight of locks in the UK!

See below for the variety of canal Rings to choose from across the UK. Click on a route and you will see the length of time it takes, plus the amount of hours per day that you will need to travel.

Cheshire Ring canal boat holiday

98 Miles
92 Locks
2 Week Cruise
5 Hours per day

Warwickshire Ring canal boat holiday

100 Miles
95 Locks
1 Week Cruise
8 hours per day

Four Counties Ring Canal Boat Holiday

111 Miles
94 Locks
1 Week Cruise
9 hours per day

Stourport Ring canal boat holiday

76 Miles
105 Locks
1 Week Cruise
6 hours per day

Avon Ring canal boat holiday

120 Miles
130 Locks
2 Week Cruise
5 hours per day

Mid-Worcestershire Ring

Total Locks: 46
Total Cruising Time: 20 hrs

Canal Rings in more detail

As mentioned above, a waterways Ring is quite simply a circular route that will take you back to your starting point.

Ring routes are a great way for narrowboaters to get the most from their holidays on UK canals as they offer a different view each day. The scenery is constantly changing and there are a great variety of places to visit and activities to engage in. Popular ring routes take in some of England’s most historic cities and towns, supplemented by breathtaking countryside landscapes. Narrowboat holidaymakers undertaking a ring route can also enjoy plenty of unique pubs and restaurants, giving visitors a true feeling of local life and atmosphere.

Benefits of Ring Routes

The best aspect of a Ring routes on the UK’s canals and waterways is that you do wake up to a different view each morning and don’t have to repeat the same trip as you would on an out and return narrowboat holiday.

The Rings tend to be a great challenge as well, you’ll have a great sense of achievement after covering usually over one hundred miles and managing many locks, including flights, along the way. You gain an incredible bond with the people you are enjoying the holiday with, plus you will no doubt make friends along the way with other boaters on the canal network.

Planning your narrowboat trip

The important thing to remember when tackling a waterways ring is that you need to plan well, as you need to ensure that you reach certain places by a particular day in order to be back at your narrowboat hire base in time. This doesn’t suit all boaters, as it potentially restricts time to stop off and visit places that you come across. If you want to cruise a Ring and enjoy time to explore the towns and villages then we suggest allowing extra time than our guides state. For example, if our guide map says that it would take a week to complete a Ring, this means continuous cruising. If you would like to stop off and explore towns or visit attractions, then build in some extra time on your holiday and perhaps book ten or twelve nights instead of seven.

So, firstly, you should become familiar with the route you plan to take, making sure you are aware of any tricky junctions or restrictive bridges. You should also read over the navigation rules and carry those on board at all times. Next, plan an itinerary and check the lock opening times to make sure you’re able to be flexible on the route you take. Finally, make sure you check you’re properly prepared for the weather conditions you’re likely to encounter on the trip. Following these essential steps will ensure that your narrowboat holiday lives up to expectations!

Remember, our team is here to help. You can call our reservations team for route help and advice, and you will be given specific advice on your arrival day at the narrowboat hire base about where you should be on each day to ensure that you return in time at the end of your holiday.

Popular Ring Routes

The UK has a fantastic range of canal ring routes to explore, each of varying distances to suit your preference. The most popular ring routes that boaters choose from include the Avon Ring, Warwickshire Ring, Four Counties Ring, and the Cheshire Ring. Whether you’re an experienced boater or this is your first time navigating a narrowboat, these routes offer a great way to experience the beauty of Britain’s canals from the deck of your boat.

There are no canal cruising rings in Scotland or Wales but central England has a wide variety of rings that include a lovely mix of countryside and city cruising.

Here is a list of the canal cruising rings in England:

Four Counties Ring: 141 miles, 102 locks, 14 days at 5 hours cruising per day.

  • Waterways: Shropshire Union Canal, Trent & Mersey Canal, Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal
  • Highlights: Harecastle Tunnel, Wedgwood Visitor Centre, Market Drayton, Tixall Wide, The Potteries, Audlem Mill, Audlem Locks, Tyrley Locks.

Stourport Ring: 76 miles, 105 locks, 7 days at 6 hours cruising per day.

  • Waterways: Birmingham Canal Navigations, Worcester & Birmingham Canal, River Severn, Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal
  • Highlights: Tardebigge Locks, Worcester Cathedral, Worcester City, Birmingham Science Museum, Birmingham Symphony Hall, Birmingham Sealife Centre, Brindley Place, National Indoor Arena, Cadbury World, Kinver village, Bratch Locks.

Warwickshire Ring: 100 miles, 95 locks, 7 days at 9 hours cruising per day

  • Waterways: Coventry Canal, Oxford Canal, Grand Union Canal, Birmingham Canal Navigations, Birmingham & Fazeley Canal
  • Highlights: Drayton Manor Theme Park and Zoo, Gas Street Basin, Birmingham nightlife, Cadbury World, Coventry Cathedral, Coventry Museum of Transport, Birmingham Science Museum, Birmingham Symphony Hall, Birmingham Sealife Centre, Brindley Place.

Avon Ring: 120 miles, 130 locks, 7 days at 9 hours cruising per day or 14 days at 5 hours cruising per day.

  • Waterways: Worcester & Birmingham Canal, River Avon, Stratford on Avon Canal, Birmingham Canal Navigations.
  • Highlights: Stratford on Avon, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Tewkesbury Abbey, Mary Arden’s House, Birmingham nightlife, Birmingham Science Museum, Birmingham Symphony Hall, Birmingham Sealife Centre, Brindley Place, Evesham town, Pershore town, Stourport, Worcester City, Worcester Cathedral.