The Stratford-on-Avon Canal - along the Kings Norton Junction to Lapworth section.
Walking and Cycling along the Stratford-on-Avon Canal towpath and looking at the canal's beautiful bridges, locks and other features.
The 25.5 mile long Stratford-on-Avon Canal runs between Kings Norton Junction near Birmingham (where it connects with the Worcester and Birmingham Canal) and more or less travels in a south easterly direction to Stratford-on-Avon
(where it links up with the River Avon). The canal was authorised by Act of Parliament in 1793 and after some delays finally opened between Kings Norton Junction and Lapworth in 1803 and eventually connected with the Avon at Stratford Canal at the end of June 1816.
Kings Norton Junction is a really nice peaceful area with it's nice old Junction Bridge 72, a beautifuly made old brick warehouse and additionally several seats along the grassy areas which are just right for stopping off for a lunch break or picnic. Several cycle routes intersect at the junction - by using the Worcester Canal's towpath the centre of Birmingham is only about 6 miles away in one direction and Worcester around 25 miles away in the other.
Right at the head of Kings Norton Junction is the fairly large Junction House - it's noticeboard makes interesting reading concerning toll and cargo charges in effect in 1894. For instance tonnage per mile of Lime at 1/2d, manure, bricks tile and stone at 3/4d, cattle, sheep and pigs were 1-1/2d and on top of this a charge of 1d per mile per boat.
The Stratford on Avon canal starts off by passing through residential areas of Birmingham's suburbs for around 5 miles but you would hardly know this - it is often heavily tree-lined and very peaceful. The canal is quite wide for narrowboats and the towpath is generally in really good condition as far as Dickens Heath with just one short stretch where it has become or tends to be muddy.
Kings Norton Junction.
Junction Bridge 72.
Junction Bridge 72.
Warehouse by the Jcn..
Around 200 yards along from the start of the canal there is a quite rare and nicely preserved
Stratford-upon-Avon Canal double guillotine stop lock . These type of locks were used to control water flow
between canals owned by different companies - water was a valuable commodity. The stop lock mechanism is still there and shows the gearings, chains and
iron gantry as well as the oak "guillotines" at each end of the lock.
Bridge 1 and stoplock.
guillotine double stoplock.
Site of swing bridge.
Brandwood Tunnel and The Stratford-upon-Avon Canal. Brandwood Tunnel is 322 metres in length and wide enough to be able to take two way narrowboat traffic - the size of barge it can accommodate is maximum 2.13 metres Beam and 2.1 metres Air draft. There is no towpath within the tunnel - before the days of mechanically powered barges boatmen pulled their narrowboats and barges through by using the iron hand-railings which were built into the tunnel's sides. If cycling or walking along the canal you have to divert up into Brandwood End. Although it's just a short distance you have to use a side road and then cross a major road.
Where several other main roads also meet (there are pedestrian lights) nothing is marked re where the way to the towpath is. From the West Portal walk up to the road - turn left and then go right on a path which cuts across grass to the main road. Go across the road and then shortly bear left down a path on the right and this takes you back onto the towpath.
Brandwood Tunnel (W)
Brandwood Tunnel (E)
Brandwood Tunnel Portal
bridge 3 + pipebridge
Canal Bridge no.3
Pipebridge and Bridge 4.
Pipes and Bridge 4.
Pipes and Bridge 6.
Bridge 6 and pipes.
Site of aqueduct stoplock.
Railway bridge 9a.
Bridge 14 Dickens Heath.
Up to this part of the Stratford on Avon Canal there are very few bridges however from Dickens Heath onwards you start to regularly come across many really nice old bricked bridges. The towpath surface changes to more of a grass and dirt layer from here. When we last walked this stretch there had been little rainfall for several weeks and most of the towpath was dry. However it is obvious
from the cracked surface that in places this must get extremely muddy when wet and probably difficult to traverse for cyclists. The canal is completely lined with beautiful trees and quite dense foliage for some miles now and walking along
especially when there is a little bit of dappled sunshine getting through is a complete walking pleasure. Just after passing Bridge 16 a feeder arm meets the canal - this provides water to the canal from the 3 reservoirs at Earlswood Lakes - the reservoirs were built in the 1820s.
Lady Lane Wharf.
Warings Green Wharf.
M42 Bridge 20a.
Hockley Heath Arm.
Draw Bridge 26.
Swallow Cruises Wharf.
Lift Bridge 28.
Please see the next part of our Stratford-on-Avon Canal topic which follows the canal is it goes through the huge flight of locks at Lapworth, and our final section on the canal is about the remainder of the canal's journey to it's end at Stratford-on-Avon where it meets up with the River Avon - please see our Stratford-on-Avon South topic.
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