The Worcester Birmingham, as it is colloquially known, is famous – some might say infamous – for Tardebigge, the longest flight of locks in the country. Starting in the heart of Birmingham at Worcester Bar and Gas Street Basin, the W&B resorts to a series of tunnels as it strives to eke out 14 miles on the level. Finally, it takes the plunge courtesy of 30 (mercifully narrow) locks. Another six, at Stoke Prior, follow hard on their heels.
But despite that, this is not a difficult canal. Indeed, a good number of newcomers get their first taste of the canals here, courtesy of the many hire-bases which regularly despatch them for a week on the Avon Ring. The Worcestershire countryside is enjoyable, never dramatic, but almost entirely unspoilt once you are free of the confines of Birmingham. Even these present a good face to the canal, with Bournville and the university on its banks.
The canal sneaks into Worcester by the back door, but Diglis Basins, where it terminates at a junction with the Severn, are interesting. The cathedral city is an unpretentious place, with much history and a bustling pedestrianised centre.
The Droitwich Canals leave the W&B a short way south of Stoke Prior. Two canals, one narrow and one broad, now provide an alternative route to the Severn through the old salt town.