A 58-mile stretch of the Grand Union Canal passes through Northamptonshire, mostly in the Daventry district.
Canals offer great days out, with waterside walking trails to follow, wildlife to spot, historic bridges and buildings to look out for, ducks and swans to feed, and brightly coloured boats to watch.
For more information about visiting the canals in Northamptonshire, including activity sheets to download, go to www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/places-to-visit
Here are the Canal & River Trust’s Top 6 canalside destinations in Northamptonshire:
1 Visit the Canal Museum at Stoke Bruerne – take a trip to the chocolate box pretty village of Stoke Bruerne and visit The Canal Museum. Housed in a historic corn mill, the Museum gives visitors a fascinating look at the history of Britain’s canals, with a treasure trove of stories, films and collections. In the school holidays and at weekends March to October, the Stoke Bruerne Boat Company runs regular boat trips from outside the Museum. Or, take a stroll along the towpath to the east portal of the Blisworth Tunnel, with information along the way about the history of the canal, village and wildlife, plus connection to a woodland walk trail. Alternatively, head south down the canal, passing by its flight of seven locks to a nature reserve at the former brickworks site. There are plenty of places to eat in Stoke Bruerne, including the Boat Inn, Navigation Inn and the Museum’s Waterside Café.
2 Head to a historic pub in Braunston – the canal at Braunston is one of the busiest on the whole network, making this pretty village a great place to watch narrowboats, take a walk in the country and enjoy a meal at a country pub or café. Choose from the Boat House, the Admiral Nelson or the Gongoozlers Café by the water, or head up into the village to visit the Old Plough. Union Canal Carriers offers visitors the opportunity to hire a boat for the day here to enjoy a gentle chug through the countryside, either travelling north along the Oxford Canal to the village of Hillmorton and back, or south to Napton on the Hill.
3 Walk a stretch of the Northampton Arm – The 4.8-mile long Northampton Arm connects the River Nene in the centre of Northampton with the Grand Union Canal at Gayton Junction, close to the village of Blisworth. Once used to carry grain via the Nene to Wellingborough, the 17 locks along its length take the canal downhill from Northampton, dropping 30 metres. There’s a car park at Northampton Town Lock, close to Becket’s Park, or start from the Gayton Junction end at Blisworth Marina, close to the Walnut Tree Inn.
4 Enjoy a boat trip at Crick Boat Show – every Whitsun May Bank Holiday, Crick Marina just outside the village of Crick, becomes the focus for the biggest inland waterways festival in the country. This year, from 27-29 May 2017, over 250 exhibitors from across the canal world will gather to showcase the canals, creating a fantastic family day out with free boat trips, boats to look round, live music, children’s activities, a real ale marquee, and a large variety of food and drink stalls. For information and to book tickets, visit www.crickboatshow.com or call 01283 742970. Kids under 16 go free.
5 Watch out for wildlife at Boddington Reservoir – surrounded by beautiful Northamptonshire countryside, Boddington Reservoir at Byefield is an oasis of greenery, wildlife, walking trails and picnic areas. Built in 1805 to supply water for the Oxford Canal, since its creation the reservoir has been gradually colonised by birds, insects and wild flowers. Visitors can look out for ducks, dragonflies, damselflies, green woodpeckers, toads and grass snakes.
6 Take a walk at Welford – once busy with barges laden with limestone to be taken to nearby lime kilns, Welford Wharf is now a picture of rural tranquillity and a great place to take a country walk. There are a number of short and medium distance walks around Welford Reservoir, or visitors can pick up the Jurassic Way for a long distance adventure. Refreshments at Welford can be found at The Wharf Inn or Elizabethan pubs.