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Top 5 Castles to Visit Afloat

From Royal weddings, state apartments and banqueting halls to siege towers, murder holes and dungeons, Britain’s beautiful castles bring history to life and make fantastic narrowboat holiday destinations.

Here are our top five castles to visit afloat in 2018:

  1. Explore the magnificent State Apartments at Windsor Castle  from our canal boat hire base on the River Thames near Oxford, it takes three days (travelling 74 miles through 27 locks), to reach Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world and home to The Queen. With over 900 years of Royal history to discover, including Charles II’s magnificent State Apartments with painted ceilings by Antonio Verrio and paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens and Canaletto, Windsor Castle is packed with treasures from the Royal Collection. On 20 November 1992 a fire destroyed or damaged more than 100 rooms at the Castle. Its restoration, particularly the Grand Reception Room and St George’s Hall, is a testament to the incredible skills of some of the finest crafts people in Europe. Today Windsor's State Apartments are frequently used by members of the Royal Family for events in support of their charities, and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are set to marry in St George’s Chapel in May.
  2. Wonder at Warwick Castle with over 1,000 years of history to explore – from our Stockton boat yard on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, it’s a seven-hour journey, passing through 20 locks, to reach the beautiful historic town of Warwick with its jaw-dropping medieval castle on the banks of the River Avon. Dating back to William the Conqueror, Warwick Castle offers a fantastic day out with ramparts to climb, the Castle Dungeon, Great Hall and Staterooms to explore, the sights, sounds and smells of the medieval period to experience in the Kingmaker exhibition, soaring birds of prey and trebuchet firing displays to watch, the Horrible Histories Maze to navigate and landscaped gardens to tour.
  3. Find out about the siege at Skipton Castle – from our canal boat hire base at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire, it takes just over three hours to reach Skipton with its 900-year old fortress, one of the most complete and best preserved medieval castles in England. The journey takes canal boat holiday-makers through the typical Yorkshire stone built villages of Kildwick and Farnhill and a dense wooded area famous for its bluebells and deer. Once at Skipton, visitors to the castle can explore every corner of this impressive fortress which withstood a three-year siege during the Civil War. Climbing from the depths of the Dungeon to the top of the Watch Tower, with the magnificent Banqueting Hall, Kitchen, Bedchamber and Privy in between, Skipton Castle is certainly a national treasure.
  4. Discover the impenetrable medieval fortress at Chirk – from our narrowboat hire base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, it takes just over an hour to reach Chirk, passing over the incredible World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct along the way. Once safely moored, it’s a half-hour walk up to the National Trust’s Chirk Castle, one of several medieval marcher fortresses built on the Welsh-English border to keep the Welsh under English rule. Started in 1295, Chirk Castle had the most up-to-date defences of the time, with round 'drum' towers that allowed archers a wide firing field and created a 'killing zone' where the fields of fire overlapped. The towers are wider at ground level and with their five-metre thick walls, were designed to splay outwards - making it difficult for siege towers and battering rams to get close. Today it’s the only one of Edward I’s marcher fortresses still inhabited, with lavishly furnished rooms to explore, as well as the Adam Tower, complete with its two-level dungeons, medieval toilets and murder holes.
  5. Take a guided tour of Oxford Castle – from our Oxford base at Eynsham near Witney, it’s a tranquil three-hour cruise along the River Thames to City Centre moorings at Hythe Bridge, perfect for exploring Oxford and the City’s 11th century earthwork motte-and-bailey castle. Founded by the Norman baron Robert D’Oilly the elder in 1071, most of the fortress was destroyed in the English Civil War and by the 18th century, the remaining buildings had become Oxford’s local prison. Today, tours of the Castle are led by costumed character guides who lead guests up the Saxon St George’s Tower for panoramic views of the city of Oxford, deep underground to the 900-year old crypt, through the austere confines of the 18th century Debtor’s Tower and Prison D-Wing and up the Mound of the castle.

To book a holiday or break on any of Anglo Welsh’s fleet, call our friendly booking team on 0117 304 1122.