Once a hive of industrial activity, the Coventry Canal Basin is now primarily used for leisure purposes. This walk takes you along part of the Coventry Canal and highlights some of the heritage of the city along the way.
Our walk actually starts in the city centre, outside the Belgrade Theatre. If you’re driving into the city for this walk, there is a multi story car park at the back of the theatre. If you’re travelling in on public transport – the theatre is a short walk from Coventry Train Station or Pool Meadow bus station.
We cross over Belgrade Plaza and take a left on to Upper Well Street, towards the ring road, before turning right on to Lamb Street and then left onto Bishops Street. Here we can use the footbridge that crosses the ring road and takes us straight to the canal basin. You can either use the steps straight ahead of you to go in, or walk around to the left and go in, on the level, through the main gate.
The canal basin is home to temporary exhibition space and the Playwrights Cafe (this is your last chance to grab a drink and snack until you come off the tow path in a couple of miles time!). You may also notice the sign for the 2 Tone Trail – this is where the cover for one of The Specials albums was shot back in the day. If you need to use the facilities – there are some here just before the bridge (on the left hand side).
When you’re ready – we’re going to cross the old bridge (Bridge 1) that’s ahead, crossing over to the other side of the canal and joining the tow path and start our walk along the canal. Along the trail there is some artwork to keep an eye out for that was installed as part of Coventry being the City of Culture in 2021. It’s also worth keeping an eye on the canal as it’s rich with wildlife!
On the opposite side of the canal you’ll see the Daimler Powerhouse. It was built in 1907 to power the factories and foundries on site and has since become the purpose-built £2.5million Daimler Powerhouse Creation Centre that focuses primarily on outdoor arts and play an integral part of Coventry being UK City of Culture 2021, and will be a creative centre of excellence combining art, environment, engineering and social change.
Next up, still on the opposite bank just past bridge 2, you’ll see the Cash’s Hundred Houses. Built by Quaker Brothers, Joseph and John Cash for their weavers back in 1857, this is one of the earliest examples of social housing with cottages for the workers on the lower floors and the looms at the top. This idea for a model factory for, quite literally, a cottage industry, wasn’t a success and by 1862 the whole building had been given over to the factory.
By the time you reach Bridge 6 (Gallagher Retail Park) you will have walked around 3 miles. This is where you have a choice of where to go from here. You might want to retrace your steps back towards the canal basin and then on into the city centre. You might want to carry on further along the canal towards the CBS Arena or even further to Hawkesbury Lock where the Coventry Canal meets the Oxford Canal. Alternatively, if you feel you’ve walked enough – you can get a bus back to the city centre from here.
If you’re looking to have a pit stop for something to eat or drink – follow the towpath under the bridge and exit on the towpath on that side. If however you’re looking to catch a bus straight back to the city – exit the towpath just before bridge 6. As you come up on to the main road and the traffic roundabout – turn left along the Stoney Stanton Road and you’ll find the bus stop near the junction with Eden Street. You’ll need the National Express Coventry Bus number 21 back to Pool Meadow Bus Station in the city centre. From here it is a short walk along Hales Street (by the Coventry Transport Museum – which is well worth a visit) back to where we started.
Accessibility: Whilst there is wheelchair access on to the tow path at Drapers Field (Bridge 1 / Canal Basin), the other bridge exits have barriers, designed to keep motorbikes off the tow-path, that would make exiting the path in a wheelchair problematic. If you are a wheelchair user and want to explore the Coventry Canal, you would need to find a suitable place along the towpath to turn around (the best places are by the bridge exits) and head back in the direction you came.
Nearest Train (or tube) Station(s):
Coventry (1.6 mile)