Towpath Walk: An amble with a pub…

Published: 11:55AM Dec 15th, 2011
By: Web Editor

on the Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN) - Highlights from Phillippa Greenwood and Martine O’Callaghan’s towpath walk from Cornwall to Scotland.

Towpath Walk: An amble with a pub…

THE Bullring, the markets, Symphony Hall, Anthony Gormley’s sculpture, designer shopping at the Mailbox, multi-cultural panache and lots of people who speak like Julie Walters. That’s Birmingham.

But first impressions don’t give away the city’s biggest secret. It’s the capital of Britain’s canals with more miles of waterway than Venice. Without a gondola in sight, Birmingham’s water is less extrovertly romantic than Venice’s. But never underestimate Brummie passions.

Where the modern architecture of the skyline meets the canal basin, a powerful aesthetic is the pride of Birmingham. The canal hub isn’t a grimy leftover from the past, it’s a lovingly regenerated meeting place between the old and the new. The canal isn’t exactly hiding from the city, it just waits quietly below the bridge, reached by steps leading down from the urban flurry into its parallel waterworld. A slow haven a few yards, and a million more, from the unwholesome anxiety of city-consumerism blindly frogmarching past.

The famous water area known as Brindley Place leads from Gas Street Basin. Brindley, the indomitable engineer responsible for much of Britain’s original canal building, would probably approve of this millennium’s waterway through Birmingham.

Its purpose has changed, but its architectural integrity remains.

Disrespecting the architecture, a gargoyle of clubland straddles Broad Street above the bridge over the canal, but there’s a wide choice of pubs and cafes along the canal for a more discerning light lunch.

For good, and even great, beer go straight to the Tap and Spile. It’s the sort of pub where if you ask for your pint of ale to be pulled without a sparkler, you won’t get a blank look or a tut. From the minute you arrive, the welcome is real. An elusive canalside door set unceremoniously into unspoilt brickwork lures the pub-goer from the cut.

Inside, a hunky wooden bar rubs up to red brick walls and the bare sounds of old floorboards announce your arrival. A distinguished display of taps paints the beery culture, but there are impressive continental lagers behind the bar and it’s just as easy to come and have a Jagermeister or a Smirnoff and lime.

The Tap and Spile was a warehouse in a former life, and now it’s a casually intimate pub that’s utterly non-pretentious. Very likeable.

EXTRACT from ‘Cool canals Pub Days Out (Britain)’ by Phillippa Greenwood and Martine O’Callaghan – published March 2010. www.coolcanalsguides.com

Responses to “Towpath Walk: An amble with a pub…”

Current Issue: Apr 2015

Issue Apr 2015

Canal closure challenge to start of new season
£25,000 boost for Canal & River Trust
Staveley to host festival
Mon & Brec repairs finished
Nominate your volunteer of the year
Feature footbridge gets a facelift
Learn the right way to paint your boat
388 boats for sale

PLUS:

Buy this issue now

• Next issue on sale: April 23, 2015

Issue 114

Issue 114
Apr 2015

The UK's Number One read for all waterways users

Subscribe and get this issue

Buy it now facebook Read on-line

We featured Liverpool and the announcement of a new northern boat show in our March edition. Have you used the Liverpool Link?

Yes
I am planning to this summer
Not yet but I may in the future
No

View results without voting

Other Feature Articles

Tips from Towergate Insurance to help you to keep your investment afloat

FOR most people, buying a boat is a significant financial investment so it’s important to have the right protection in ...

Read More »

De-winterise your narrowboat

WITH spring and the start of the boating season soon upon us, it’s time to de-winterise your narrowboat. Emma Watson ...

Read More »

View all...

Advertisements

Related magazines:

Heritage Commercials magazine The Railway magazine Aviation Classics

Follow towpathtalk on Twitter

Advertising Deadline:

May 2015 - April 8, 2015
June 2015 - May 13, 2015

Book advertising here

Next Issue Out:

April 23, 2015

Advertisements

Advertisements

Advertisements