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Top 10 gardens to visit afloat

Gardens are great places to visit on a canal boat holiday, offering beautiful vistas, cafes serving dishes made with produce grown on site, and places for quiet contemplation and inspiration.

There are dozens of beautiful gardens to visit within easy reach of our canals and rivers, so we’ve put together our Top 10 gardens to enjoy afloat:

  1. Enjoy spectacular views of Snowdonia from the gardens of Plas Newydd, close to the Llangollen Canal in North Wales…the gardens at Plas Newydd House in Llangollen are set within 169 acres of woodland and parkland, where the setting, geology and climate allow extraordinary plants to flourish. Tender exotics grow in the Menai Courtyard, alpines and dwarf shrubs in the sun room terrace, dahlias and agapanthas in the Italianate Terrace, magnolia in the Rhododendron Garden, aromatic eucalypts in the Australasian arboretum and spring flowers alongside the cascades of Rill Garden. From our narrowboat hire base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal, it takes just two hours to reach Llangollen.
  2. Find the oldest botanic garden in Britain, close to the Oxford Canal in Oxford…founded in 1621 as a garden growing plants for medicinal research, the University of Oxford Botanic Garden now contains over 8,000 plant species in a 1.8 hectare site at Rose Lane, close to the City Centre. The Garden offers family friendly trails and ‘Botanic Backpacks’ full of activities and equipment to help visitors get more from their walk around the Garden and its Glasshouses. From our Oxford boat yard on the River Thames at Eynsham, Oxford can be reached in three-and-a-half hours, travelling through four locks.
  3. See the ancient topiary at Packwood House, close to the Stratford Canal at Lapworth…according to legend, the 350-year old trees in Packwood’s iconic Yew Garden represent the ‘Sermon on the Mount’. Packwood’s beautiful gardens also boast stunning herbaceous borders, with a wide variety of colourful plants, including its unusual North African Cabbage Trees, as well as a bountiful Kitchen Garden, wildflower meadows, an orchard and a gorgeous rose walk leading to the cafe. From our canal boat hire base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal near Henley-in-Arden, it’s a 7-mile, 31-lock and 10-hour journey to Lapworth Lock No 6, half-a-mile’s walk from Packwood.
  4. Stroll around the award-winning Trentham Gardens, close to the Trent & Mersey Canal at Stoke on Trent…voted ‘BBC Countryfile’s Garden of the Year’ in 2015, the make-over of the Italian Gardens at Trentham was led by renowned garden designer Tom Stuart-Smith, while the Rivers of Grass and Floral Labyrinth gardens were designed by the eminent Dutch plantsman, Piet Oudolf. As well as a series of themed gardens, visitors to Trentham can enjoy a walk around the Capability Brown designed central mile-long lake and the vast new wildflower meadows, as well as taking the Fairy Trail through woodland, a maze and gardens where the fairies live. There’s also an adventure playground, trip boat and miniature train. From our boatyard at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal near Stafford, it takes approximately 10 hours to reach Stoke bottom lock No. 36, travelling 13 miles, through 13 locks.
  5. Discover over 60 varieties of heritage apples at Hill Close Gardens, close to the Grand Union Canal in Warwick...this two-acre site features the remains of Victorian leisure gardens, originally laid out in the mid-19th The delightful 16 individual hedged gardens feature brick summerhouses, ornamental plantings, and a range of vegetables and fruit trees, including more than 60 varieties of heritage apples. From our narrowboat hire base at Stockton on the Grand Union Canal, it’s a seven-hour, 20-lock journey to Warwick.
  6. Relax in the Walled Garden at Churches Mansion, close to the Shropshire Union Canal at Nantwich…the immaculately maintained Walled Garden at the stunning Elizabethan timber-framed Churches Mansion is mainly laid to lawn. It has well stocked borders of cottage garden flowers and shrubs, as well as specimen fruit trees, including mulberry, walnut, pear, cherry and plum. There is also an oak tree, magnificent magnolia tree and trailing wisteria wrapped around a first floor balcony. From our boatyard at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal, Nantwich is just six miles away.
  7. Find peace in the Botanic Gardens at Winterbourne House on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal in Edgbaston…owned by the University of Birmingham, this seven-acre garden oasis is a rare surviving example of an Edwardian Arts and Crafts suburban villa garden. Home to over 6,000 different plant species, the Grade II listed garden was lovingly created by Margaret and John Nettlefold in the early 1900’s, using the books of Gertrude Jekyll as inspiration. Offering colour and interest throughout the year, visitors will find a beautiful walled garden, magnificent borders, glasshouses and a sandstone rock garden. From our canal boat hire base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, it’s an 11-mile journey to Edgbaston, and with no locks along the way, the journey takes just four-and-a-half hours.
  8. Follow the Sculpture Trail at Saltaire Gardens on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal near Bradford…designated World Heritage Status in 2001, Sir Titus Salt’s model village at Saltaire in West Yorkshire hosts an annual festival, which includes an Open Gardens & Sculpture Trail event (9-10 September 2017). Built in the Italianate style, Salts Mill is the main feature of the village and is now home to an art gallery dedicated to the work of David Hockney. Salt also built houses, a school, church, hospital and a park for his textile mill workers. The Park, which is open all year round, has 14 acres of lawn with lovely walks, flower beds and a bronze statue of Sir Titus Salt erected in 1903 to celebrate 50 years of the opening of the Mill and Salt’s 100th. From our boatyard at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, it takes seven hours, passing through 12 locks to reach Saltaire.
  9. Explore the Grade I listed Italianate garden at Iford Manor, close to the Kennet & Avon Canal at Bradford on Avon…the romantic terraced hillside garden at Iford Manor, with stunning views across the Iford valley, was designed by architect and landscape gardener Harold Ainsworth Peto, who lived there from 1899 to 1933.   Peto was particularly attracted to the charm of old Italian gardens, characterized by cypresses, broad walks, statues and pools. The garden’s striking features include a Loggia, Great Terrace, Casita and Cloisters. Our canal boat hire base at Bradford on Avon is just one lock and two miles from Avoncliffe, where footpaths lead to Iford Manor.
  10. Visit the Rose Garden at Rode Hall, near the Macclesfield Canal at Hall Green…set in a beautiful landscape designed by Humphry Repton in 1790, Rode Hall’s extensive grounds include a formal rose garden designed by Nesfield in 1860, terraced rock garden, woodland garden and a two-acre walled kitchen garden. Drifts of snowdrops grace the estate at the beginning of the year and spring boasts a large variety of rhododendrons and azaleas, followed by a stunning display of ancient bluebells. From our canal boat hire base on at Great Haywood near Stafford, it’s a two-day journey, cruising 25 miles, through 18 locks to reach Hall Green Lock on the Macclesfield Canal, where a footpath leads to Rode Hall & Garden.

To book one of Anglo Welsh’s superbly equipped canal boats, please contact our Booking Team on 0117 304 1122.