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Spotlight on Great Haywood

Anglo Welsh’s canal boat hire base at Great Haywood, on the junction of the Trent & Mersey and Staffordshire & Worcestershire canals near Stafford, offers narrowboat holiday-makers the chance to explore the Potteries, the Peak District and the Black Country by boat.

Kevin Yarwood, Anglo Welsh’s manager at Great Haywood, says, “Situated at the junction of two key arteries of the canal network, our canal boat rental base at Great Haywood offers boaters a huge variety of route options. From easy short breaks, passing through peaceful canalside villages with cosy historic pubs, to epic journeys around some of the most popular cruising rings on the waterways.

“Perhaps the most popular route for beginners from Great Haywood is to take a short break (three or four nights) and cruise north along the Trent & Mersey Canal to the historic market town of Stone and back – a journey that takes 10 hours (five each way) and passes through just eight locks (four each way). Stone is renowned as the food and drink capital of Staffordshire, with regular markets, a good choice of restaurants and the annual Food & Drink Festival in October.

“Another great short break route is to head south along the Trent & Mersey to Fradley Junction and back – which takes around 12 hours, travelling a total of 24 miles and passing through five locks each way. The Coventry Canal meets the Trent & Mersey Canal at Fradley where visitors can enjoy refreshments at the Canalside Café or The Swan Inn and a wander around the Fradley Pool Nature Reserve, where a woodland trail and boardwalk take visitors on a tour of the reserve. Along the way to Fradley Junction, the route passes the magnificent Shugborough Estate with its stunning Georgian Mansion House and a number of family-friendly pubs, including the Wolseley Arms at Wolseley Bridge.

“The beautiful Caldon Canal, which takes boaters into the Peak District, is perhaps our most popular destination for those taking a week’s holiday afloat. It’s a 43-hour return journey to Froghall Basin and back, travelling a total of 72 miles (36 each way) through 70 locks (35 each way). To make this journey, boaters first head north along the Trent & Mersey Canal to Stoke-on-Trent, to connect onto the Caldon Canal at Etruria.

“As the Caldon Canal leaves Stoke, it begins to pass through gently rolling hills, wooded areas and past old mills and then alongside the beautiful River Churnet, where boaters can look out for kingfishers, herons, jays and woodpeckers, as well as otters which have recently returned to the area.

“For those looking for an active week’s break from Great Haywood we recommend travelling the Black Country Ring, which takes narrowboat holiday-makers on a 45-hour waterway odyssey, cruising a total of 75 miles and passing through 79 locks. Highlights of the route, which travels along sections of six different canals, include Cannock Chase, once a medieval royal hunting forest where deer still roam, and the Black Country Museum where visitors can step back in time and meet costumed characters, explore period shops and houses, take a 1912 school lesson and eat traditional fish & chips.

“On this route, boaters will also see the beautiful Tixal Wide – an amazing expanse of water home to many birds and animals, plus the historic market town of Penkridge with its striking church tower dominating the skyline, and Birmingham’s Gas Street Basin in the heart of the City, with easy access to Brindleyplace and a host of attractions.

“On a 10-day or two-week break from Great Haywood, we recommend tackling the Four Counties Ring - travelling through Cheshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire and the West Midlands, covering 110 miles and 94 locks, and taking around 55 cruising hours. Highlights along this scenic, largely rural journey include the Wedgewood Museum at Etruria, the 2,670-metre long Harecastle Tunnel at Kidsgrove and historic Market Drayton, home of the Gingerbread Man.

“We are particularly proud of the Luxury canal boat hire options available here at Great Haywood, including our 65ft long boat for four people ‘Centaurus’ and the 67ft six-berth ‘Pegasus’. They are both Constellation Class boats with semi-traditional sterns, two shower rooms with toilets, and two cabins which can be configured as a double bed or two single beds. In its spacious saloon, ‘Pegasus’ also has a bench seat and table that can be converted into either a double or two singles in the evening.”

If you would like to book a short break or holiday from Great Haywood, or any of our bases, simply call our friendly booking team on 0117 304 1122.