A snow day doesn’t have to mean staying at home, worrying about work while you crank up the heating and wait for the thaw to set it. It’s also the perfect chance to get out and about, enjoy the snow before it turns to slush and see some of those local sights and attractions you might not have got round to visiting before. In the West Midlands, we reckon that means heading to the Bishop Street Basin, the canal basin in the heart of Coventry that marks the end point of the Coventry Canal. You can spend some time exploring the basin, and then follow the canal as it meanders out towards Hawkesbury Junction.
The Bishop Street Basin is a fine example of the way the relationship between canals and cities has changed over the centuries. Constructed in 1769 and expanded in 1788, this was originally a noisy, busy place for loading and unloading cargo. By the mid-20th century it was in poor condition but fortunately it survived destruction. It was a proposed site for the new Coventry Cathedral, and instead became the focus of regeneration efforts in the 1990s after decades of neglect. Plans are in place to improve the area still further, but it’s already a great space to enjoy being beside the water and in the open air.
The basin now houses shops, small business and has a range of listed historic canal architecture including a crane, a hump-backed bridge and old coal vaults – the latter are now home to the Tin, a music and arts venue. There are also several cafés and restaurants nearby in the city centre, but the best recommendation from here is to follow the canal to Hawkesbury Junction, a decent walk of around five miles that takes you along the route of a designated heritage area that is also home to an award-winning outdoor art and heritage trail. This features a number of statues and other works of art, starting with a statue of James Brindley, the pioneering engineer who built more than 365 miles of canal before his death.
Plan your day out with our downloadable guide to Coventry Canal Basin.
*If however it’s looking too treacherous outside, don’t risk it, save this walk for another day – you won’t be disappointed!