One of the West Midlands' most enticing aspects, the Birmingham canal navigation is forever proving it's much more than just a cute water feature. Spanning the length and breadth of the city, these waterways offer a wealth of action and activities to get involved with, from pastimes like canoeing and cycling, to more laidback affairs, such as tipples on the towpath. We're helping you take the plunge as we round up the best things to do on the Birmingham canal, and we're even throwing in some post-pursuit sipping spots.
Sure, you could rent a regular old boat without a G&T picnic, or you could grab a ticket to one of the best booze cruises in Birmingham. Run by local gin connoisseur, The Gintleman, these fun tours are offering much more than a little jaunt around some of the city's prettiest waterways. Over the course of two hours you'll be treated to an impressive selection of perfectly matched gins and tonics, complete with paired canapés and a cream tea featuring gin-infused jam.
One of the most unique parts of the canal network, Gas Street Basin offers a key insight into the city's industrial past with its imposing refurbished factory buildings. A meeting point for two of the network's largest canals, the basin is home to a unique selection of bars and restaurants, many housed in these old production plants. Take for instance, 52 Gas Street - while these days it makes its trade as a cocktail bar and live music venue, back in the older days of the city, it was used for manufacturing guns, before becoming a giant horse stables for the canal.
Splash About In A Canoe
There's no better way to get one-on-one with the water than in a canoe. Outdoor activity hubs such as Ackers Adventure can offer you fun guided tours of the canal networks, embarking from Icknield Port, through green suburbs and into the city centre. Ideal for ca-newbies as well as more advanced paddlers, the three mile expedition lets you explore the city from a new perspective. Looking to refuel afterwards as well? Just a five minute drive from the port you'll find the perfect place to dry off in the form of The White Swan, which offers tasty gastro-grub, beers and a gorgeous garden.
Sat just a stone's throw from the National SEA LIFE Centre, you'll find The Distillery, an idyllic pub housed in an impressive nineteenth century horse stables. Alongside their line-up of excellent food and local craft brews, you'll also find the the HQ of Round House Gin. Take a tour of their working copper still, which produces this small-batch gin on-site, before settling down for an interactive infusion session with their gin school.
Enjoy A Cycle Down The Towpath
Birmingham's 100-mile canal system makes it, essentially, the largest cycle path in any British city. Hop on your bike and see if you can't explore a cut of it, taking in various tracts including the mainline canal, Grand Union and Birmingham & Fazeley. The towpaths will take you past some of the city's most notable landmarks, including the Symphony Hall, the gorgeous Edgebaston reservoir and Brindleyplace, as well as some very enticing pubs. And when you're ready to put the brakes on your adventure, dip into the Pitcher & Piano for a cooling pint with views over the water.
Looking for more things to do near the Birmingham canal? Check out our favourite bars and restaurants by the water.