Wyken Arm, Coventry - 4½ hours

Wyken Arm is a dissused arm of the Oxford Canal now used for private moorings to the North of Coventry.  The trip to the Wyken Arm and back to base takes 4¼ hours, plus any time you want to spend at the Greyhound Inn, or moored up somewhere nice as you have your self-catered lunch.

What to See

Starting from Bridge 20 on the Coventry Canal this trip passes through the outskirts on Nuneaton before reaching open countryside.

Watch out for some creative gardens.

The first point of interest will be on the right as we pass All Saints School and the allotments.

We soon reach a point where the canal is on an embankment (look at height of the trees and down where the steps are).

Further on we see on the right the remains of the entrance to the Griff arm of the canal which served the collieries at Griff and Clara (Bermuda Park). This now forms a winding hole (place wide enough to turn a narrowboat).

Bridge 18 is known as the Turnover Bridge (and to some as Mollies Bridge). It is unusual in that it is designed to allow a horse pulling a boat to cross the canal from one towpath to the opposite side without untying the rope.

Just after the ‘pipe bridge’ there is evidence on the right of the canal that used to serve the Arbury Estate. Look for the line of reeds across the edge of the field on the right, towards Collycroft. If you visit Arbury Hall you may see remnants of the canal route, which was for smaller boats than those used on the main canal network.

At Marston Junction the Ashby Canal entrance is on the left under the Marston Junction Bridge, number 15a (though the sign may be missing).

After about 10 min we reach Charity Dock on the right, with its unique display of mannequins, and afterwards the grounds of Nicholas Chamberlaine school.

After bridge 14 the canal passes through a cutting – one of the rare straight sections on this canal.

Just past bridge 13 the old Newdigate canal arm can be seen heading off to the right – now cut off by a footbridge. This is another place wide enough to turn a boat.

On reaching Hawkesbury there is the Engine House, for the steam engine that used to pump water from the mine to the canal. The Newcomen engine ceased work in 1913 and in is now on display at Dartmouth.

Hawkesbury marks the junction of the Coventry and North Oxford canals. The narrow section under the footbridge is where the charges were taken for working boats to use the canal – think M6 toll.

Hawkesbury is often referred to as Sutton Stop after the family who used to live and work there. Sephtons boat yard was opposite the distinctive black-and-white iron bridge, which was installed when this new canal junction was made. Initially the 2 competing canals ran in parallel to Longford.

The ‘stop lock’ at Hawkesbury is the only lock that is used by the Hargreaves. It is needed to cater for the 6 7/8 inch (circa 175mm) drop in water level from Oxford to Coventry Canals.

Bridge 4 ‘Tusses Bridge’ in Aldermans Green is where the power station was situated and was a destination for many canal boats to deliver coal from nearby coal fields. It now just hosts a sub-station.

Look out for the old VW cars and vans quietly rusting away in the field on the left just after the bridge.

Bridge 5 is a ‘side bridge’ on the right, where you can see and hear the M6, and is the entrance to Wyken Basin – another closed canal arm that is now mooring for a private cruising club. This entrance is our turning point for the return journey.

Catering

The Greyhound is very popular. Advance booking is essential and a deposit may be required. Allow extra time for this option.

Self-catering also works well and is particularly good for the less mobile as by self-catering it is possible to eat on board either when moored or when cruising if return time is critical.