Canal Boat Tour
Updated: Feb 2
Are you even a true Brummy until you have taken a Canal Boat Tour? I think not. Backing this up with a fact English GCSE style: Birmingham has MORE canals than Venice. Birmingham 1-0 Birmingham haters!
Me and my friends decided we wanted to take a tour of the canals (because we are desperate to be through and through Brummies' of course) so I got searching. The only company I could find that seemed to still be running is Sherborne Wharf but even then I was unsure as the website appeared to be paused for maintenance and their Facebook page slightly quiet. But after a quick phone call, I found that they were still up and running, although now only on weekends due to the winter quiet months. Success.
In the lead up to our tour, I must have rang Sherborne Wharf at least ten times, each time with a different query. I tried to disguise my voice as to not annoy the same lady who picked up on every occasion but it was a hard task as I have quite a distinguishable voice. Still if she recognised it, she was very kind... even on the tenth time.
In the end, I was satisfied about the price (£9, pay on board), meeting location (ICC, canal side), the fact it was definitely running at our intended time (Sunday at 2.30pm), that there would definitely be enough space for us all if we just turn up on the day... and other minor details. Thanks, Sherborne Wharf receptionist.
We turned up on the day, 15 minutes before the boat's departure to buy our tickets as advised. We had to do a quick 180 turn to hurry to the cash machines to withdraw cash because of course over the course of my ten phone calls, I had failed to check whether they took card on the assumption they must. It must be the millennial in me.
The boat also has a fully stocked bar (including soft drinks and snacks) so yes, cash was a must. If you have a weak bladder like me even after one sip of coke, there is a toilet on board too which I thankfully did not have to visit.
As we boarded the boat, we were told the commentary video tape was not working but this turned out to be a blessing! The worker on board said she will do the best job she could and she did not disappoint. I hadn't heard the tape but I much preferred her unfiltered, personal version. My friends were in agreement. She entertained us with facts about the canals including the buildings surrounding them, such as where President Bill Clinton once had a drink in 1998. She entertained us with harmless gossip about the canals and their residents, including a very famous actress who lived on the canals. She even entertained us with the occasional ghost story complete with evidence, which the kids on the boat absolutely loved (no sarcasm, really!).
I of course wont give any facts or spoilers away here...
There was lots to see on the journey and most of the tour covered canal space that you could not explore on foot as there was no path, so it was definitely an exclusive look. I crammed every fact in to my memory bank so I could tell my uncle and auntie later who are great lovers of the canal. Finally, I would be the one saying 'did you know...' on our canal walks. This is great power which I cannot resist so I definitely be giving away facts and spoilers on that occasion
When we reached the Mailbox canals, I was more in my element as I actually know this area so I took greater delight.
And then before we knew it, one hour had passed and we were back canal side of ICC.
The tour had surpassed our expectations and we were sad it was over. We even made a friend: an American who was visiting from California and taking the tour solo. The tour guide suggested she join with us after and we of course invited her to lunch with us where we swapped stories and tales. This was another sure highlight of the day.
Honestly, there was a mixed bag of reviews for this tour but if you from Birmingham or visiting, do take a this one hour tour of the canals... at least once. It makes for a really nice day out, especially coupled with all the food and drink places dotted around the area that you can visit after. You literally cannot go wrong for your monies worth!