Shakespeare’s Avon is undoubtedly one of the brightest jewels in the inland waterway crown. The river drifts deliciously through a seemingly timeless landscape, its progress punctuated by a series of immaculate towns and villages.
Tewkesbury – a classic English country town – sets the tone for this most memorable of river voyages, having recovered remarkably well from recent flooding. Here you join the Avon from the Severn and, passing Bredon Hill and 16th-century Eckington Bridge, arrive at Pershore, a Georgian town of immense charm, best known perhaps for its tasty red plums. There are a wealth of individual shops and restaurants to enjoy, and pleasant moorings are provided at the recreation ground. Evesham, some 11 miles upstream, boasts a fine waterfront and a host of convivial pubs and restaurants – once again good moorings are provided by the local authority close to Workman Bridge.
Henceforth, the river adopts a somewhat less manicured air, but its loveliness never wavers. Bidford – weekend playground of West Midlanders – offers excellent moorings and good facilities, and then you’re on the final approach to Stratford. To arrive in this internationally renowned town by boat represents one of the great inland waterway experiences. You can moor right at the heart of the action, opposite the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, while the Stratford Canal is accessed some 200 yards upstream. There are super shops, plush restaurants, cosy tearooms, museums, open-top bus trips, the list goes on and on. Enjoy your time in Stratford!
The Avon, meanwhile, is navigable for a further 3 miles or so up to Alveston. In the early 1980s plans were published advocating extension of the navigable section up to Warwick, some 10 miles distant, where a link could be made with the Grand Union Canal. Wealthy riparian landowners wasted no time in blowing the whistle on these plans and a potentially exciting project is still languishing on the drawing board.
Notes: This is a volatile river navigation prone to rapid flooding after quite moderate rainfall. Warning signs need to be obeyed. Moorings are comparatively limited, especially on the lower reaches of the river. Some forward planning is required, particularly in high season.