Midland Canals
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A small craft guide
Map of area covered by this web site

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midlands-canals2 (131K)
Introduction

This guide is to help small craft users, ie Canoes, Kayaks, rowing boats and the like make the most of the Midlands Canal network.
Basically it should answer the question. Where can I get on and off a canal, which canals are suitable to use etc etc. It will also be of use to cyclists and horse riders.

The Midlands canal network was created in various stages, using both natural waterways and manmade navigations (called canals); these were used to transport goods more quickly than by using the roads. The earliest canals followed the lie of the land as much as possible, and are known as contour canals. Then as the industrial revolution gathered pace and civil engineering improved, greater use was made of cuttings and long flights of locks.

A good example of this is the Birmingham Canal Navigation. Originally the canal contoured across the landscape, only using locks where necessary. Then it was improved and straightened. The original course being called the Old line and the new alignment called the Main Line.


How to use the Web site

On the mapping I have rated the access onto the canal from: 0 to 3 where;

Canoeists and Kayakers
The launch site icons rate the access onto the canal from: 0 to 3 where:


0 No access or very restricted access
1 Restricted Access, you can walk onto the canal from here (often via steps), there is some parking nearby (good for small kayaks)
2 Good Access, There is a ramp down to the canal and parking (good for canoes and kayaks)
3 Very Good access, Level access to the canal, with parking (should be able to get a small rowing boat on here)

Your comments as to the suitability of the launching sites.
Plus any additional ones open to the public would be appreciated.

I have used a selection of methods to determine the access points to the canals, personal or local knowledge and Google Streetview.

Cyclists
The launch site icons are expected to be of use to cyclists wishing to gain towpath access.
Again your comments would be appreciated.

Licences
A licence is required to use the canals. This is available from British Waterways lasts a month and costs about 21.62 Pounds (June 2012) and is called a Short term visitors licence. The Licence for the River Avon is available from The Avon Navigation trust, for a month they charge 21 Pounds for unpowered craft (June 2012), or 3 Pounds a day.

Canoe England Licence
The most cost effective, for non powered craft, canoes kayaks etc is to join the British Canoe Union for about 32 Pounds (June 2011) which will cover access on all navigable stretches of the canals and rivers under British Waterways control plus the River Avon.

Size Matters!
The canals were built for barges powered at first by horse, then by an engine.
So if your canoe is wider than a horse, you may have to put it on its side to get through some of the passages by some of the older locks.
At their narrowest where there is a bridge and a lock adjacent to each other.
This will only be a problem if your craft is long and wide. Say over 18 feet long and 4 feet wide.

Other Hazards
Swans can attack you in May to June when they have young about.
Narrow boats are made of steel so take care when they are passing you. Keep to the shallows where they cannot hit you. If you are alone or in a small group take care in the urban and industrial sections of the canals. Mostly you should be ok; school holidays are a problem time as people have been injured by people throwing stones and the like. Wear a buoyancy aid, take a small first aid kit a mobile phone and take care. Don't be put off about using urban canals; they can be surprisingly peaceful and rural.

Lastly Tunnels and Locks.
It is better to get out and walk around locks, and also often quicker.
The British waterways have three classes of tunnels, they are no entry for small craft, take care and no problem.

The take care ones are:
Ashted on the Digbeth Branch;
Cookley, Dunsley on the Staffordshire and Worcester;
Cosley, Galton on the BCN main line;
Curdworth on the Birmingham and Fazeley;
Edgbaston on the Worcester and Birmingham;
Summit on the BCN old line.

The tunnels that have NO navigation for small craft are:
Brandwood on the Stratford on Avon Canal
Dudley on Dudley No:1 Canal
Dunhampstead, Shortwood, Tardebigge, Wast Hill on the Worcester and Birmingham
Gosty Hill on Dudley No:2 Canal
Netherton on the Netherton Tunnel Branch of the Dudley Canals
Possibly the M5 tunnel on the Droitwich Junction Canal.

The mapping contains Ordnance Survey Open Data Street View and Vector Map Data, displayed under Ordnance Survey dataŠ Crown copyright and database right 2010. Except for the map showing the extent of the South Staffs Coal Field, which uses British Geological Survey information. Also Google Map is used as a backdrop.

The canal and river networks and points were created using Esri ArcView. This web site was created between June 2010 and July 2011.
There was evidence of a PH or access point at the time of the creation of this web site, but they may not exist now. This web site is intended as a guide, it is best to check out the route before hand.

To send in info about errors or omissions please Email :canalsite@midlandcanals.co.uk

Change History: June 2011, Test version posted on internet.

Change History: August 2011, Went live

Change History: August 2011 to date, refining website to make it better to use.

Change History: April 2012, Found that the web site does not work very well on some mobile phones, test version tried

Change History: May 2012, need a lot more work on mobile phone version, test version taken off internet.

Change History: Feb 2013, Ashby de La Zouch canal added.

Change History: July 2014, link page created to test online mapping option.