Stourport-on-Severn is the only British town to come into being solely because of the canal system.

The Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal, completed in 1772, was originally intended to join the Severn at Bewdley, but that town's reluctance to accommodate it meant that a hamlet called Lower Mitton, between the Severn and the Stour, was chosen instead. Lower Mitton became Stourport (the suffix "-on-Severn" was not added until 1934) and a new town was created.

When the canal trade was killed by the railways Stourport continued to prosper through its appeal to daytrippers. No longer an inland port so much as an inland resort, its locks, basins, warehouses, wharves and chandleries are nonetheless still intact, though some are now used for other purposes. There is still a constant passage of narrowboats, though their purpose is now pleasure rather than commerce.

Not far to the south of Stourport is Lincomb Lock, one of a series built on the Severn in 1842 to make the river more easily navigable. The adjacent tangle of wet woodland is an important wildlife habitat, used by a variety of birds for nesting and feeding. In fact, this is an excellent walk for bird-watching, and you are more than likely to see grey wagtails, kingfishers and herons along the river. Look out for green woodpeckers further on in the walk as you follow the bridleway from Bugle Gate.

Your return route to Stourport is a lovely path through Leapgate Country Park, a linear country park based around the dismantled railway line which once linked Stourport to Hartlebury. In part, the path runs through a deep cutting below tree-hung sandstone cliffs. Elsewhere it is carried on an embankment, providing excellent views across the countryside. Birch woodland has grown up on the site of a former quarry which is also part of the country park.

Hartlebury is bypassed by the route described below, in order to avoid a busy road (B4193). However, should you want to visit it, whether for the pub or for Hartlebury Castle, which houses the County Museum, you should just carry on along Chadwick Lane instead of turning onto the footpath described. When you reach the village turn left for the entrance to the museum and to rejoin the main route.