The Tranquil Rose Cruising Schedule
Cruising Holidays – price per guest
|6 nights||7 nights||8 nights||9 nights||10 nights||13 nights|
|Premium Single Cabin||£1250||£1440||£1630||£1820||£2010||£2575|
Walking Holidays - price per guest
|Premium Single Cabin||£1220|
Saturday 9th to Saturday 23rd October
With a busy schedule organised for 2021, our walking holidays are planned for the Autumn. As usual, the concept is simple; we will provide your accommodation and meals throughout your stay, (mooring at different locations each afternoon), and you will be free to walk as much or little as you would like, safe in the knowledge that you are never too far away from somewhere to rest and put your feet up. If you follow the towpath the mileage will be as indicated, but there are plenty of detours you can take to extend the distance if you are a hardier walker, just ask the crew who will be pleased to offer suggested changes to your route.
Your day will start with a continental or cooked breakfast, whilst we prepare a pack lunch for your departure around 10am (after confirming our afternoon mooring location of course!) We have maps and guides to help you plan your day, but if you change your mind, just ring and we will arrange to meet you mid walk at a convenient location. Following your day’s exertions, a hot shower, freshly prepared three course evening meal, and large saloon with a warming stove and a fully licenced bar will help you recharge your batteries for the following day.
Walking Holiday, Cruise No.20, Lechlade to Reading
Saturday 9th to Saturday 16th October – 7 nights, 10 to 13 miles per day
This cruise is the first of two planned to enable guests walk the non-tidal section of the Thames Path, and takes you from Lechlade, within ½ mile of the limit for power craft on the River Thames, to Reading, a distance of approximately 70 miles. If you care to arrive in Lechlade a couple of days earlier, you can trace the Thames Path back to the source of the River Thames, which can be found beside an old ash tree in a Cotswold meadow not far from Kemble. A stone marker identifies this point, although for most of the year there is no water at all. We start our journey travelling along a very isolated, rural stretch of the river, meandering through meadowland, with little contact with the outside world. After a couple of days, we will have reached Swinford, close to the outskirts of Oxford, and move on to Abingdon by the end of the third day. Where possible, our evening moorings will be located close to “civilisation” allowing time to explore the surrounding area, if you have enough energy left! The second half of your holiday will take us close to or through larger towns including Dorchester, Wallingford, Goring and Pangbourne, before we finally arrive in Reading, and a well-earned rest.
Walking Holiday, Cruise No.21, Reading to Teddington
Saturday 16th to Saturday 23rd October - 7 nights, 8 to 12 miles per day
This walking holiday, our second along the Thames Path, has slightly shorter days averaging between 8 and 12 miles per day. This may well allow for the occasional detour to wander around the many riverside towns, or to find a Costa (other coffee shops are available) for your daily coffee fix. We will be mooring for the evenings at locations including Henley, Marlow, Windsor and Hampton Court and, if all our guests agree, we can allow a ½ day for sightseeing at one of the many historic landmarks on this section of the Thames. Your walk will also take you past Sonning, Marlow, Cookham, Maidenhead, Cliveden Reach, (which will be full of autumn colour at this time of year), and Windsor which needs little introduction. Leaving Windsor behind we continue through Runnymede, Staines and Weybridge before arriving at Hampton Court. Your last days walk is shorter and brings us to our final mooring at Teddington.
17th April to 9th September
Cruise No.1, Round trip from and back to Weybridge along the River Wey Navigations
Tuesday 20th to Monday 26th April - 6 nights, 39 miles, 32 locks
River Wey Navigations
For the first cruise of our season, we will be exploring the complete length of River Wey Navigations from its junction with the River Thames at Weybridge back up to the head of the navigation at Godalming, and a leisurely trip back to our starting point. We will alternate between the natural river sections and the man-made navigation sections as we head upstream into surprisingly rural surroundings. We pass the imposing Coxes Mill, the sleepy hamlet of Pyrford, and as we ascend one of the many pretty locks, we catch a glimpse of the deserted priory at Newark. We pass through Papercourt lock with its idyllic cottage and weir before reaching Guildford, a town that makes the most of its river with its cathedral standing on a hill overlooking the town. Leaving Guildford the meadowland continues to belie our closeness to suburbia until finally we reach the end of the navigation at Godalming. We then return downstream stopping for a few hours to visit Dapdune Wharf in Guildford, the site of the National Trust visitor centre and barge building sheds. We continue retracing our steps down stream, passing countryside and farming land and the occasional lock, continuing to twist and turn even as we re-enter Weybridge.
Cruise No.2, Weybridge to Pyrford via the Basingstoke Canal
Tuesday 27th April to Thursday 6th May - 9 nights, 38 miles, 62 locks
River Wey Navigations and Basingstoke Canal
This holiday has quickly become a favourite with our guests and on this occasion, we are visiting the canal during Spring. This often-forgotten canal opened in 1794 and passes through a variety of countryside; often wooded, sometimes open meadows, but always full of nature which can be a surprise when you consider how close we are to suburbia for much of the time. With 62 locks there will be plenty of time to learn the dark art of “lock wheeling”, so if you fancy a little exercise on your holiday – just ask a crew member, I am sure they will be happy to accept your help! There will be plenty of opportunities to wander along the towpath during the day and to explore the beautiful parkland in the afternoons when we reach our moorings at the end of each day.
Cruise No.3, Pyrford to Rickmansworth
Friday 7th to Friday 14th May - 7 nights, 63 miles, 27 locks,
Wey Navigation, River Thames and Grand Union Canal
This cruise offers a great contrast between the beautiful open views of the Thames, the working waterways around Brentford, a quick trip into London and Little Venice, and a variety of open countryside views as we reach our destination at Rickmansworth.
Starting on the Thames we travel downstream past Hampton Court and join the tidal Thames for the short trip to Brentford. From here we join the canal system and head up the flight of locks at Hanwell to Bulls Bridge Junction, where the working boats of old would tie up and wait for their orders to be carried to Birmingham and the rest of the canal system. At Bulls Bridge a short detour sees us leaving the Grand Union main line as we head into Little Venice, an unexpected oasis amidst the rush of London. Retracing our steps, we re-join the Grand Union at Bulls Bridge and start to climb up the Colne valley and the Chilterns Hills. Leaving the outer suburbs of London, we continue past Denham village, (which is well worth the ¾ mile walk to visit), Black Jacks Lock, and Copper Mill Lock before reaching Rickmansworth and the small, volunteer run, Canal Centre at Batchworth Lock.
Cruise No.4, Rickmansworth to Roydon
Monday 17th to Sunday 23rd May – 6 nights, 54 miles, 33 locks, 2 tunnels, 1 aqueduct
Grand Union, Regents and Hertford Canals and the Lee & Stort Navigation
This cruise passes through a wide variety of environments: from open countryside, surprisingly rural approaches to London, the buzz of Little Venice, Camden and Kings Cross, the trendy Hipster cafes and eateries of East London and out to the East along the Lee Valley Regional Park. Leaving Rickmansworth, we pass through Copper Mill, Black Jack’s, and Denham Deep Lock – the clue is in the name, with a drop of 11’ 1” it is the deepest on the Grand Union. Continuing south we eventually reach Bulls Bridge Junction, where we turn onto the Paddington Arm of the canal and 13 miles later reach the tranquil basin of Little Venice. From Little Venice we pass through Regent’s Park and London Zoo, and the bustling activity at Camden before descending a series of locks to moor at Battlebridge Basin and the London Canal Museum. The 886mtr Islington Tunnel greets us first thing the following morning, as we continue through East London, past Victoria Park to the junction with the Hertford Union Canal. This short (1 ¼ mile) canal takes us to the junction with the Lee Navigation where we begin to travel north through the 10,000 acres of the Lee Valley Regional Park with its many reservoirs supplying around 15% of London’s water, through Enfield, Waltham Abbey and Broxbourne before reaching the entrance to the River Stort and our destination at Roydon.
Cruise No.5, Roydon to Little Venice
Monday 24th to Monday 31st May - 7 nights, 54 miles, 45 locks, 2 tunnels
Lee Navigations and Regents Canal
This cruise takes us from the delightful stretches of the rivers Lee and Stort, into the heart of London. From Roydon, we will first explore the River Lee as far as Ware and then return to the River Stort, passing amongst water meadows, several old water mills and the memorable Pishiobury Park. After retracing our steps to re- join the River Lee we will continue our journey south towards London. We will pass Broxbourne where we cross the prime meridian just below Carthagena Lock, Waltham Abbey and Enfield Lock, close to the site of the Royal Small Arms Factory and the home of the Lee Enfield rifle. As we approach London, we travel past the site of the 2012 Olympics and Three Mills before arriving in Limehouse Basin for a glimpse of the tidal Thames. The following morning, we leave the basin and join the Regent’s Canal to cross London, passing the western end of the Hertford Union Canal, Victoria Park, and the 877 metres of the Islington Tunnel before reaching the London Canal Museum in Kings Cross. Our final days cruising sees us travel up a short flight of locks into bustling Camden and on through Regents Park and Maida Hill Tunnel, to our final mooring in Little Venice.
Cruise No.6, Little Venice to Reading
Tuesday 1st June to Wednesday 9th June – 8 nights, 72 miles, 32 locks, 1 aqueduct
Paddington Arm, Grand Union Canal and River Thames
This cruise gives a wonderful contrast between the surprisingly green exit from London on the Paddington Arm and Grand Union Canal, and the beautiful open views and extraordinary properties along the River Thames. We leave our mooring in Little Venice and travel along the Paddington Arm past Kensal Green and Norwood to Bulls Bridge Junction, where we join the main line of the Grand Union Canal. From here we descend via Hanwell Locks to join the River Thames at Brentford. Once out onto the tidal river, we pass the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and Richmond before locking up onto the non- tidal river at Teddington and mooring at Hampton Court, where the Royal Palace and gardens are worth a visit. We continue past Shepperton before reaching Runnymede and the site of the signing of the Magna Carta. Royal Home Park marks our approach to Windsor, with a great view of the castle in the distance. The river winds its way to Boulter’s Lock, which is instantly recognisable from Edwardian photographs, and is followed by the lovely wooded Cliveden Reach (Cliveden means “valley among cliffs” and is aptly named). Next comes Cookham, home to the Stanley Spencer art gallery, and continuing upstream, we pass through Marlow, Henley (with its Rowing Museum), and Sonning before our arrival in Reading.
Cruise No.7, Reading to Bristol
Thursday 10th to Wednesday 23rd June – 13 nights, 93 miles, 107 locks, 1 tunnel, 2 aqueducts
Kennet & Avon Canal
This trip takes in the complete length of the Kennet & Avon canal and the lower section of the River Avon as we travel from East to West between Reading and Bristol. Leaving our mooring on the Thames we immediately enter Reading with its unusual traffic light-controlled town centre section. Beyond Reading we pass through water meadows and continue through to Aldermaston and Woolhampton (often a bit of an adventure!) to arrive at the market town of Newbury. Still surrounded by open countryside we pass Hungerford and Great Bedwyn on our way towards the Crofton flight of locks, with its restored steam pumping house. This was built between 1807-09 and was used to supply water to the summit of the canal. The top lock of the Crofton Flight announces our arrival at the summit and the 459 meter Savernake tunnel, after which we start our decent through a flight of locks to the charming village of Wootton Rivers. Onwards past Pewsey Wharf, we meander along a 13mile lock free pound past isolated hamlets such as the quaintly named Honey Street, (with its pub the Barge Inn, home to the intriguing phenomenon of crop circles) before reaching our final moorings in the market town of Devizes. This is where the fun starts as we descend the Caen Hill flight of 29 locks, an energetic day for our crew. If you would like to lend a hand, just ask, the more the merrier! After working our way down the locks, this day’s cruise finishes at moorings in the garden of the Barge Inn, Seend, for a well-earned pint! We continue through relaxing landscapes to Bradford on Avon with its huge old tithe barn and interesting local shops. The scenery just gets better and better as we cruise along the Avon Valley where the canal clings to the sides of the hill, twice crossing the river on stone aqueducts at Avoncliff and Dundas. We approach Bath through the charming Sydney Gardens and catch glimpses of the magnificent crescents of grand houses, all constructed from the local sandstone. From Bath we descend a flight of six locks to join the picturesque River Avon (keep your eyes open for Kingfishers) and on to the Floating Harbour at Bristol, where time is available to wander and perhaps visit Brunel’s SS Great Britain, harbour side cafes or the Clifton Suspension Bridge before you depart.
Cruise No.8, Bristol to Devizes
Thursday 24th June to Thursday 1st July – 7 nights, 39 miles, 49 miles
River Avon and Kennet & Avon Canal
If you have not visited Bristol before, take this opportunity to arrive early and enjoy the many delights of this famous city, including Brunel’s iron steamship, the SS Great Britain. After our initial cruise through Bristol’s floating harbour we sample the remote pleasures of the River Avon, most of it set in an impressively wooded valley, before passing Keynsham and Saltford to arrive in Bath. An interesting and winding set of locks takes us onto the Kennet & Avon Canal, and we continue to cruise along the side of the Avon valley at a higher level. We leave Bath catching glimpses of the magnificent crescents of grand houses, all constructed from local Bath Stone. The scenery is amazing as the canal clings to the side of the valley, crossing it on great stone aqueducts at Dundas and then Avoncliff. We soon approach our mooring in Bradford on Avon, with a little time to visit its huge old tithe barn and wonderful local shops. We will journey on through isolated locks and rolling countryside past Semington and Seend, and then prepare for the incredible Caen Hill flight up to Devizes. It’s all hands to the pumps (or windlasses) as we tackle the 29 locks to the summit and moor for the end of our adventure in Devizes.
Cruise No.9, Devizes to Bristol
Friday 2nd to Friday 9th July – 7 nights, 39 miles, 49 miles
Kennet & Avon Canal and River Avon
This leisurely cruise takes in the Kennet & Avon Canal as well as the River Avon, with plenty of opportunities to explore the local towns and countryside our way. Although we describe this as a leisurely cruise, it starts with a rush as we descend the magnificent Caen Hill flight of 29 locks. If you would like to lend a hand, just ask, the more the merrier! After working our way down the locks, this first day’s cruise finishes at moorings in the garden of the Barge Inn, Seend, for a well-earned pint! We continue through relaxing landscapes to Bradford on Avon with its huge old tithe barn and interesting local shops. The scenery just gets better and better as we cruise through the Avon Valley where the canal clings to the sides of the hill, twice crossing the river on stone aqueducts at Avoncliff and Dundas. We approach Bath through the charming Sydney Gardens and catch glimpses of the magnificent crescents of grand houses, all constructed from the local sandstone. From Bath we descend a flight of six locks to join the picturesque River Avon (keep your eyes open for Kingfishers) and on to the Floating Harbour at Bristol, where time is available to wander and perhaps visit Brunel’s SS Great Britain, harbour side cafes or the Clifton Suspension Bridge before you depart.
Cruise No.10, Bristol to Reading
Saturday 10th to Friday 23rd July - 13 nights, 93 miles, 107 locks, 1 tunnel, 2 aqueducts
Kennet & Avon Canal
This is a new cruise gives an opportunity to travel the complete length of the Kennet & Avon Canal and River Avon from West to East in one holiday. If you have not visited Bristol before, take this opportunity to arrive early and enjoy the many delights of this famous city, including Brunel’s iron steamship, the SS Great Britain. After our initial cruise through Bristol’s floating harbour we sample the pleasures of the River Avon, (most of it set in an impressively wooded valley), before arriving in Bath. At this point we join the Kennet & Avon Canal, and continue to cruise along the Avon valley. The scenery is amazing as the canal clings to the side of the valley, crossing it on stone aqueducts at Dundas and Avoncliff. Bradford on Avon follows, with a little time to visit its huge old tithe barn and wonderful local shops. We will journey on through isolated locks and rolling countryside past Semington and Seend, and then prepare for the incredible Caen Hill flight up to Devizes. It’s all hands to the pumps (or windlasses) as we tackle the 29 locks to the summit and moor for a well-earned pint. Leaving Devizes, we begin 13 lock free miles, meandering our way to Wootton Rivers before the final three locks to the summit of the K&A at the 459 meter Bruce Tunnel. Descending the Crofton flight with its massive pumping house, we continue “downhill” through Great and Little Bedwyn to the town of Hungerford, famous for its antique shops. Beyond Hungerford we are back in open countryside as the canal takes us past Kintbury to the market town of Newbury. From here we are back in open countryside again, past Thatcham and then Monkey Marsh Lock, one of the last turf sided locks on the K&A and listed as an Ancient Monument by English Heritage. Continuing eastwards, we pass Aldermaston, and join the winding River Kennet for our final descent into Reading.
Cruise No.11, Reading to Godalming
Monday 26th July to Monday 2nd August - 7 nights, 64 miles, 34 locks, 2 aqueducts
River Thames and River Wey Navigations
This cruise includes some of the finer parts of the River Thames plus the complete length of the Wey & Godalming Navigations. We start our journey on the Thames heading down river passing through Sonning with its lovely 18th century bridge, to moor at Henley. We will have time to visit the town or the excellent Rowing Museum, before continuing past Temple Island to Hambleden Lock, with its fine weather-boarded mill. Further down river, we pass the lovely Hurley and Temple Locks, Marlow with its fine suspension bridge and large curved weir, and Cookham, a pretty village with its Norman church and the Stanley Spencer Art Gallery. Cookham is a very popular mooring, but we will try to moor within walking distance of the village if at all possible. After Cliveden Reach, a long deep wooded valley leading to the famous Boulter’s Lock, we cruise past Maidenhead, and arrive at Windsor. Below Windsor we pass Home Park, the Queens ‘back garden’, before we wind our way around Runnymede, with its Magna Carta connections. At Weybridge we will leave the Thames to join the Wey Navigations, a very different waterway. The quietness of this National Trust owned waterway belies its closeness to suburbia, and the 19 miles to our final mooring in Godalming passes through a variety of flood meadows, picturesque locks and open countryside; a waterways gem if ever there was one.
Cruise No.11, Reading to Devizes
Thursday 2nd to Thursday 9th July - 7 nights, 54 miles, 58 locks, 1 tunnel
Kennet & Avon Canal
This is a gentle cruise along some of the finer sections of the Kennet & Avon Canal, featuring the River Kennet as well as the winding and lockless long pound through to Devizes. Leaving our mooring on the Thames we immediately enter Reading with its unusual traffic light-controlled town centre section. Beyond Reading we pass through water meadows and continue through to Aldermaston, Woolhampton (often a bit of an adventure!) to arrive at the market town of Newbury. Still surrounded by open countryside we pass Hungerford and Great Bedwyn on our way towards the Crofton flight of locks, with its restored steam pumping house. This was built between 1807-09 and was used to supply water to the summit of the canal. The top lock of the Crofton Flight announces our arrival at the summit and the 459 meter Savernake tunnel, after which we start our decent through a flight of locks to the charming village of Wootton Rivers. Onwards past Pewsey Wharf, we meander along a 13mile lock free pound past isolated hamlets such as the quaintly-named Honey Street, (with its pub the Barge Inn, home to the intriguing phenomenon of crop circles) before reaching our final moorings in the market town of Devizes.
Cruise No.12, Godalming to Teddington
Tuesday 3rd to Monday 9th August - 6 nights, 29 miles, 18 locks
River Wey Navigations and River Thames
If there is a “slow boat to china” trip this season, this is it! There will be plenty of opportunities to take a leisurely wander along the tow path as well as the chance to explore the historic towns of Godalming and Guildford, and if you have green fingers, or just an appreciation of gardens, the opportunity to visit the RHS Gardens at Wisley. Uniquely the Wey Navigations are owned by the National Trust and their care of the natural environment can be seen along the whole of the waterway. Our mooring for the second night will be at Dapdune Wharf, National Trust head office and visitor centre for the navigation. There will be plenty of time to explore the visitor centre as well as Guildfords cathedral, castle, museum, and cobbled high street. Continuing downstream we pass many flood meadows, picturesque locks and open countryside to Newark Lock with the remains of its Priory close by. Unfortunately, the priory is on private land, but this is one of the many picture opportunities along the waterway. A couple of miles further downstream we come to Pyrford, which is only a 10-minute drive from RHS Wisley, apparently “one of the worlds great gardens, packed with horticultural inspiration” (I cannot confirm this as I am not in any ways a gardener!). At Weybridge, we will pass through Thames Lock onto the River Thames and turn downstream past a variety of “novelty garden ornaments” including Shrek, Laura Croft and an alligator to Hampton Court and our final mooring at Teddington.
Cruise No.13, Teddington to Little Venice
Tuesday 10th to Tuesday 17th August - 7 nights, 38 miles, 22 locks, 1 tunnel, 1 aqueducts
River Thames, Grand Union Canal, Paddington Arm, Regents Canal and the Hertford Union Canal
Depending on the tide times at Teddington, we will pass through Teddington Lock onto the Tidal Thames and travel downstream to Brentford to join the Grand Union Canal. From here we ascend the Hanwell flight of eight locks with their interesting water-saving side pounds – if you would like a bit of exercise why not grab a windlass and lend a hand, there will be no complaints from the crew! At Bulls Bridge, which was once the main layby for working boats awaiting orders from Brentford or Limehouse to be taken to the Midlands, we will join the Paddington Arm and head into London. We wind our way past Norwood and Kensal Green to arrive at our evenings mooring, the tranquil basin known as Browning’s Pool or Little Venice. From Little Venice we pass through Regent’s Park and London Zoo and catch a glimpse of the bustling activity at Camden Lock, before overnighting outside the London Canal Museum in Kings Cross. An early start sees us passing through the 877 meter Islington Tunnel and we continue through East London, past Victoria Park and down to Limehouse Basin. Here we will join the Lee Navigation and take a short detouring through the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park before returning via the Hertford Union Canal to Kings Cross and finally Little Venice once more
Cruise No.14, Little Venice to The Globe, Leighton Buzzard
Wednesday 18th to Wednesday 25th August - 7 nights, 54 miles, 63 locks
Paddington Arm and Grand Union Canal
This cruise takes in the lower section of the Grand Union Canal with constant reminders of the last days of the working boats on the canals between London and Birmingham. Leaving Little Venice, we soon reach the junction at Bulls Bridge, once the main layby for working boats awaiting orders from the Thames at Brentford or Limehouse, to be taken to the Midlands. Here we join the main line of the GU, travelling northwards through the Colne valley and the Chilterns Hills. After reaching Uxbridge Lock with its turnover bridge we begin to leave the outer suburbs of London. Continuing up the Colne Valley we pass Denham Deep (the deepest lock on the GU), Black Jacks, and Copper Mill locks before reaching Rickmansworth. After passing through the beautifully wooded Cassiobury Park, with its ornate bridge and (hopefully) kingfishers, a multitude of locks follow through Hemel Hempstead and Berkhamsted (Hemel and Berko to the working boatmen), before the summit of the canal at the quaintly named Cowroast Lock. Continuing along the summit pound, if time allows, we will take a detour to visit the Wendover Arm for the evening before descending the curling flight of locks at Marsworth. At the bottom of the flight we continue through rolling countryside and isolated locks, before finally reaching Leighton Buzzard and the Globe Inn, our mooring for the last night.
Cruise No.15, The Globe, Leighton Buzzard to Warwick
Thursday 26th August to Thursday 2nd September - 7 nights, 65 miles, 51 locks, 2 tunnels, 2 aqueducts
Grand Union Canal
This cruise takes us north from Leighton Buzzard through delightful locks and tree lined stretches before we reach Milton Keynes with its old villages of Simpson and Great Linford. If you are interested in the history of the Second World War, there will be the opportunity of visiting Bletchley Park, the home of the World War Two Codebreakers. After Milton Keynes we pass by the old railway town of Wolverton and onto Cosgrove, which is a delightful village with an unusual horse tunnel under the canal and the ornate Solomon’s bridge. We will ascend a flight of seven locks to reach Stoke Bruerne with its excellent Canal Museum, which we hope to have time to visit. Early the following morning, we will pass through the 2795 mtr Blisworth Tunnel, and continue through rural countryside as we cruise past Brockhall Park and ascend Whilton and Long Buckby locks to the summit at Braunston Tunnel. A second early start sees us travel through the 1867 mtr Braunston Tunnel where we begin our decent down a flight of locks to Braunston village, which has been described as the heart of the English waterways. Leaving Braunston under the elegant cast iron bridges, we pass through open countryside and via several sets of locks towards Leamington Spa, where we cross the River Avon. At this point the canal starts its final to climb towards our destination in Warwick, and our mooring in the Saltisford Arm.
Cruise No.16, Warwick to Stoke Bruerne
Friday 3rd to Friday 10th September – 7 nights, 40 miles, 38 locks, 2 tunnels
Grand Union Canal
On leaving the Saltisford Arm behind us we leave Warwick behind us and cross the River Avon to skirt Royal Leamington Spa. A pleasant rural stretch of canal follows, including a passage under the Roman Fosse Way. We ascend flights of locks at Stockton and Calcutt, which are relatively new having been constructed in the 1930s during a period of modernisation for the Grand Union. We then join the Oxford Canal for a short stretch as far as Braunston; a village that is well worth a visit. The flight of locks from Braunston leads us to the famous tunnel, with its notorious kink in the middle (concentrate James!). The summit opens out to rolling countryside before we reach Long Buckby and descend to the peace of Brockhall Park. We pass Weedon with its Napoleonic barracks, before reaching Blisworth village. A long cutting leads to the Blisworth Tunnel which recently celebrated its bi-centenary. On emerging from the tunnel, we are in Stoke Bruerne, famous for its Canal Museum. We continue down the flight of locks into open countryside with barely a house in sight until we reach the pretty village of Cosgrove. Here after a look around we turn the boat and head back to Stoke Bruerne where there will be time for a leisurely visit to the museum in the afternoon.
Cruise No.17, Stoke Bruerne to Winkwell (Hemel Hempstead)
Monday 13th to Monday 20th September – 7 nights, 43 miles, 47 locks, 1 aqueduct
Grand Union Canal
For those of you who enjoy your canal history this trip is a must, as it features the Grand Union Canal, the last viable canal of the short canal age, and two excellent museums. To start your holiday, you may like to arrive early and visit the Canal Museum at Stoke Bruerne and spend a couple of hours wondering around the exhibits. Leaving Stoke Bruerne we descend a short flight of locks before travelling through peaceful and open countryside past Cosgrove with its amazing iron trunk aqueduct, to Milton Keynes. Here you will have the opportunity to visit Bletchley Park, the home of the WW2 Codebreakers, and see the amazing work they carried out. Leaving Milton Keynes, we commence a gradual climb up the northern slopes of the Chiltern Hills via Soulbury, Leighton Buzzard and the Marsworth flight of locks. If you care to walk up this flight of locks you will see the huge reservoirs feeding the Grand Union Canal as well as the junctions with the Aylesbury and Wendover Arms, before we reach the summit at Bulbourne. The heavily wooded Tring cutting takes us to the curiously named Cowroast Lock, where we commence our descent to the historic market town of Berkhamsted with its motte-and-bailey castle remains and high street. If you have the time do visit 173 High Street, the oldest known extant jettied building in England and now a shop. Our last half days travelling takes us from Berkhamsted to our final moorings at Winkwell.
Cruise No.18, Winkwell (Hemel Hempstead) to Teddington
Tuesday 21st to Monday 27th September – 6 nights, 34 miles, 43 locks
Grand Union Canal
Easy to access, Winkwell is situated 5 minutes from Hemel Hempstead mainline station and consists of a dozen or so cottages and the Three Horseshoes, a great pub beside the canal. If you arrive early, it should be easy to find the crew! If you are feeling energetic, this cruise gives our guests an excellent opportunity to learn the dark art of ‘lock wheeling’ with locks coming thick and fast. Of course, you can just sit back in the well deck and take in the views with a cuppa instead. The first lock arrives within 400 mtrs of our departure as we travel ‘downhill’ through Hemel Hempstead and out into the countryside towards the wooded Cassiobury Park on the outskirts of Watford. We continue down the Colne Valley through Rickmansworth, with locks at Copper Mill, Black Jacks, Denham Deep (the clue is in the name), Uxbridge and Cowley before arriving at Bulls Bridge, once the main layby for working boats awaiting orders from Brentford or Limehouse to be taken to the Midlands. Continuing southwards we will descend the Hanwell flight of eight locks to join the River Thames at Brentford and finish our cruise with a short journey up the tidal Thames to Teddington.
Cruise No.19, Teddington to Lechlade
Tuesday 28th September to Friday 8th October – 10 nights, 10 nights, 122 miles, 43 locks
This cruise gives the opportunity to explore the complete length of the navigable non-tidal River Thames. Within half an hour of leaving our mooring in Kingston we are passing the royal palace of Hampton Court, the first of many reminders that we are on the ‘Royal River ‘. After passing through Sunbury, Shepperton and Staines (where the first lino factory was established in 1864!), we reach Runnymede, where in 1215, King John met with rebel leaders to sign what became known as the Magna Carta. Continuing the Royal theme, we are soon approaching Windsor, with The Home Park and the castle in the distance, and finally the town itself. The classic locations continue, with Boulter’s lock at Maidenhead followed by the lovely wooded stretch of Cliveden Reach. Arriving at Cookham, we may have time to visit the Stanley Spencer Art Gallery. Continuing upriver, we pass through Marlow with its fine suspension bridge and Hambleden with its picturesque mill, to moor at Henley. Here we will have time to visit the River and Rowing Museum or some of the fine shops in the town. Leaving Henley, we continue upriver past Sonning, a delightful and peaceful riverside village, and then Caversham and busy Reading. A particularly attractive stretch of the river takes us past Mapledurham and Goring and on to Wallingford. After passing through the ornate bridge at Clifton Hampden, we will moor at the lovely little town of Abingdon. From here, the river becomes narrower as we pass Sandford, the boat houses at Christ Church Meadow and The Head of the River pub at Folly Bridge, before arriving in Oxford, the city of Dreaming Spires. We cruise gently through Oxford, and as we leave the city, the river changes character - becoming totally rural. We are now on the picturesque upper reaches of the Thames, which are quite unlike the more familiar downstream parts of the river. This is an idyll of water meadows, sleepy waterside villages and inns. The river twists and turns passing the old manor at Kelmscot (once the home of William Morris), and Buscot lock. Finally, we pass a fine statue of Old Father Thames reclining proudly by the side of St John’s lock before arriving at our destination of Lechlade.