Anglo Welsh’s Top 7 canal boat holidays for beginners

Every year more and more people are discovering the delights of holidaying on Britain’s beautiful inland waterways network.

You don’t have to be an expert and you don’t need a licence to steer a canal boat. It’s easy for first-timers to learn to operate our boats and as part of our holiday package, we provide hirers with expert boat steering tuition.

With our nationally accredited handover, we’ll make sure you’re comfortable and in control before you set off. There is a manual on board every boat if you need to check on anything and our engineering teams are always on hand – 24 hours a day- to help over the phone or come out to you if you need them.

So if you’ve thought about taking a canal boat holiday, but you’re not sure where to begin, here’s our top seven short break narrowboat holidays for newcomers to get you started:

  1. Head to Birmingham lock-free – with no locks between our base at Tardebigge and Birmingham City Centre, this five-hour cruise is perfect for first-time canal boat holiday-makers. The first half of the journey passes through fields, woodlands and sleepy villages before the route becomes more urbanised. Once in the centre of Birmingham, narrowboat holiday-makers can find over-night moorings at Gas Street Basin, with easy access to Brindley Place, the Mailbox and Bullring shopping centres, theatres, museums and restaurants.
  2. Learn the ropes on the Llangollen – passing through stunning North Wales landscapes, the Llangollen Canal is one of the most popular on the network. With just two locks along the way, the seven-hour journey from our base at Trevor to Ellesmere and back offers a fantastic short break holiday for beginners. And the route includes the experience of travelling across the incredible World Heritage status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, with jaw-dropping panoramic views of the Dee Valley below.
  3. Dip your toe in the water at Bath – from our base at Bradford on Avon on the Kennet & Avon Canal in Wiltshire, Bath Top Lock is a lovely six-hour, one-lock cruise away. Skirting the southern foothills of the Cotswolds, the route passes over two stunning Bath stone aqueducts and past a series of popular canalside pubs, including the George at Bathampton. From Bath Top Lock, canal boat holiday makers can walk into the centre of Bath in just 15 minutes to enjoy all that the World Heritage Status City of Bath has to offer, such as the Roman Baths, Royal Crescent, Bath Abbey and an excellent range of independent shops and restaurants.
  4. Take to the tiller along the Thames – from our base on the River Thames at Eynsham near Witney, it takes just 3½ hours, passing through four locks to reach City centre moorings in Oxford. All the locks are manned along the Thames so there’s help on hand for newcomers. Once in Oxford, boaters can use their vessel as a base to explore all that this fascinating city has to offer, including the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, the Carfax Tower and pubs like the Lamb & Flag, steeped in literary and film history.
  5. Steer gently along to Stone – from our base at Great Haywood it takes just five hours of gentle cruising along the Trent & Mersey Canal to reach the historic Shropshire market town of Stone. There are just four locks to pass through and plenty of pubs to take refreshment at along the way, including the ‘Woolpack’ and ‘Saracen’s Head’ at Weston, the ‘Holly Bush Inn’ at Salt, the ‘Dog & Doublet’ at Sandon and the ‘Greyhound’ at Burston.
  6. Chug up the Shroppie to historic Chester – it’s a seven-hour, nine-lock journey to Chester from our Bunbury base on the Shropshire Union Canal. The route passes through glorious English countryside and villages with historic local pubs, including the ‘Ring O’Bells’ at Christleton and the ‘Shady Oak’ at Bates Mill Bridge. Once in Chester, canal boat holiday-makers can explore this wonderfully cosmopolitan ancient City, including its Roman Amphitheatre, city walls, Chester’s Rows shops, 1,000-year old cathedral, racecourse and zoo.
  7. Test the waters on the Leeds & Liverpool – from our Silsden base on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire, it’s a great short break route for beginners to travel west to Gargrave and back. Travelling 12 miles through just three locks, the journey takes around 6½ hours and passes through the historic town of Skipton, with its fascinating medieval castle, one of the most complete and best preserved in England.


To make a booking or to get friendly advice on canal holidays, please call our Booking Office on 0117 304 1122.

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We offer a range of different types of holidays such as City Breaks, Relaxation Cruises and Popular Destinations

City Breaks
Rural retreats
Popular places

So why choose Anglo Welsh?

Over 55 years providing unique canal boat holidays in England and Wales.
Modern and spacious narrowboat and wide beam barge hire – from 2 to 12 berths.
Wide choice of narrowboat hire locations and canal boat holiday destinations.
Canal boat holiday routes for novices & experienced boaters.
Flexible holiday booking, no hidden costs.
Family friendly and pet friendly holidays.
Great days out on the water.
Luxury canal boat hire and Thames boating holidays.

Anglo Welsh. So much more than narrowboats

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