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 9 gardens to enjoy on a canal boat holiday in 2024:
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.
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.
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.
Stroll around the award-winning Trentham Gardens, close to the Trent & Mersey Canal at Stoke on Trent
The make-over of the Italian Gardens at Trentham was led by renowned garden designer Tom Stuart-Smith. And 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Monkton Combe is three miles from Avoncliff, where footpaths lead to Iford Manor.
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, click here or call our Booking Team on 0117 304 1122.
By Kevin Yarwood, manager of Anglo Welsh’s Great Haywood narrowboat hire base
It’s been a long hard winter for everyone, but we are looking forward to welcoming canal boat holiday-makers back to the waterways this Spring.
Lockdown and restrictions have been very strange at times, and challenging. It feels almost like a weird dream that we have not yet woken up from. However, it has been a time we have appreciated family, nature and what we have.
Living on the boat at Great Haywood, my family and I were almost in our own bubble, so it often didn’t feel real. Coronavirus wasn’t on our doorstep as it was for so many others. We have our home and our garden, and that is a blessing, especially as the weather was so good during the first lockdown, and we had things to do to keep us occupied.
Nature seemed confused at times
The canals have been quiet during the lockdown as boat movements are restricted. Last spring this made the water almost crystal clear, and it seemed that fish and other wildlife were thriving. We had a carp regularly visiting our side hatch to feed. It was about three foot long, the biggest I’ve seen.
Nature seemed confused at times. We would sit out in the garden and have the pheasants, ducks, birds and squirrels roaming around us. They seemed to get used to us being there all the time.
Looking ahead to the new season
Thankfully, the Prime Minister’s roadmap out of lockdown gives permission for our holidays to resume on 12 April.
Initially our boats will be for single households only, but from 17 May the rule of six or two households will hopefully apply indoors. Then from 21 June, it’s hoped there won’t be any more social distancing restrictions in place.
In the meantime, Spring is beginning again here at Great Haywood, with beautiful Spring flowers – snow drops, daffodils and crocuses. And buds appearing on the trees and hedgerows. The pair of swans that live here have started to build their nest ready for their next brood. Last year they had eight cygnets, but sadly none of them made it to full adulthood. I hope they have more luck this year.
I think everyone enjoys being close to nature and wildlife, and every day we become more aware of the importance of biodiversity to our own health and wellbeing.
Our narrowboat holidays offer people the chance to explore the countryside, with the feeling that nature is all around them. You can moor up in a remote spot and enjoy listening the birds, seeing sheep and cows in nearby fields, and watching ducks, moorhens and swans swimming by at the same level as you.
Four ways to make your narrowboat holiday greener
Here at Great Haywood, we are keen to encourage our narrowboat holiday-makers to make their break as environmentally friendly as possible:
• We use aqua-friendly Poddy cleaning products to help reduce the amount of harmful chemicals entering our waterways. These are also for sale in our boat yard shop;
• We encourage our holiday-makers to take part in the Canal & River Trust’s #PlasticsChallenge, which asks everyone to pick up a piece of litter each time they visit a waterway;
• We offer recycling facilities at our boat yard, and we recommend that everyone brings their own shopping bags, hot drink cups and water bottles to reduce the amount of plastic they use on their holiday; and
• Some of our boats have multi-fuel stoves on board, so we provide logs made from recycled sawdust, rather than coal.
Escape into the countryside on a canal boat this Spring
By Emma Lovell, Anglo Welsh’s Reservations Manager
Spring and the chance to take a long awaited break, can’t come soon enough this year!
Narrowboat holidays offer a fantastic way to explore the countryside, with everything you need on board. You don’t need a licence to steer a canal boat, and tuition is included in all our packages. We’ve got hundreds of routes and destinations to choose from, and many are suitable for beginners.
So why not pack up and ship out for an adventure afloat this Spring. Travelling gently through the countryside, you can watch the natural world around you bursting with new life. From blossom on the hedgerows and new leaves on the trees, to birds busy nesting, and spring lambs playing in the fields.
To help you plan your waterway getaway, we’ve put together a list of our Top 8 Spring escapes:
1. Cruise through the Welsh Mountains to Llangollen
From our barge hire base at Whixall Marina, on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire, it takes around 12 hours, passing through two locks, to reach the historic town of Llangollen. Perfect for a week away, this route will take you through Ellesmere and the Shropshire Lake District, and then across the UNESCO World Heritage Pontcysyllte and Chirk aqueducts, with incredible views of the Welsh Mountains and the Dee Valley.
2. Take a Thames boating holiday to Lechlade
Cruising along 23 waterway miles, and passing through seven locks, from our canal boat hire base near Oxford on the River Thames, it takes around nine hours to reach the pretty market town of Lechlade. This peaceful journey will take you through the Oxfordshire countryside into the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. You’ll pass the historic village of Radcot and William Morris’s Kelmscott Manor. This holiday is perfect for a mid-week break.
3. Cruise gently through the countryside to Whitchurch
It takes around nine cruising hours to reach Whitchurch from our Bunbury base, perfect for a short break. The journey begins on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire, and transfers onto the Llangollen Canal at Hurleston Junction in Shropshire. There are 20 locks to pass through and miles of unspoilt countryside. Once at Whitchurch, you can take time to explore this historic market town and its choice of places to eat.
4. Complete the Birmingham Mini-Ring Circuit
From our narrowboat hire base on the Stratford Canal at Wootton Wawen, the Birmingham Mini-Ring can be completed on a week’s break. The route will take you through 83 locks and takes around 35 cruising hours. Highlights include: cruising through the remains of the Forest of Arden on the Stratford Canal; the village of Bourneville, home of Cadbury’s chocolate on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal; Gas Street Basin in central Birmingham; and the flight of 13 locks at Farmers Bridge on the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal.
5. Navigate through the Yorkshire countryside to Saltaire
On a short break from our base at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, you can travel to Sir Titus Salt’s famous model town at Saltaire. The journey takes around seven hours, and passes through 11 locks. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sir Titus Salt built the textile Mill and entire village of Saltaire for his mill workers.
6. Travel round the Four Counties Ring
On a week’s break from our canal barge hire base on the Trent & Mersey Canal at Great Haywood, you can travel round the Four Counties Ring. The journey, which travels 110 miles and passes through 94 locks, takes around 55 cruising hours. The four counties you’ll pass through are Cheshire, Staffordshire, the West Midlands and Shropshire. Highlights include: the 2,670-metre long Harecastle Tunnel on the Trent & Mersey Canal; the flight of 15 locks at Audlem on the Shropshire Union Canal; and the tranquil waters at Tixall Wide on the Stafforshire & Worcestershire Canal.
7. Cruise through the Worcestershire countryside to Lapworth
From our narrowboat hire base at Tardebigge near Bromsgrove, it takes around seven hours to cruise along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal to the village of Lapworth. With two tunnels but no locks along the way, it’s a great short break for beginners. Once moored up in Lapworth, you can visit the magnificent gardens at the National Trust’s Packwood House, and follow guided walks to explore the beautiful Warwickshire countryside surrounding it.
8. Travel through the Avon Valley to Devizes
On a short break from our canal boat rental base at Sydney Wharf on the Kennet & Avon Canal near Bath, you can cruise to the edge of Devizes. It takes around 10 hours to cruise the 18 miles to Foxhanger Wharf, passing through eight locks and over two magnificent Bath stone aqueducts along the way. There are overnight moorings available here at the base of the Caen Hill Flight of locks, one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways.
Enjoy a family canal boat holiday adventure afloat this summer, closer to home
By Emma Lovell, Anglo Welsh’s Reservations Manager
England and Wales are criss-crossed by hundreds of miles of beautiful inland waterways to explore afloat. They take narrowboat holiday-makers through some of our best loved countryside, and into the heart of some our most famous waterside towns and cities.
Narrowboat holidays are great for families, bringing everyone together for an adventure afloat. From steering the boat, and working the locks, to planning the route and the stops, everyone can get involved.
Pets are welcome aboard all our boats and the first pet travels free, so your dog, hamster or budgie can enjoy the floating holiday home break too!
Anglo Welsh offers narrowboat holidays from 11 starting points across England and Wales. So, whether you want to stay close to home and explore your local waterway, or travel further afield to see another part of the country, we have hundreds of routes and destinations to choose from.
From views of the dramatic Welsh mountains on the Llangollen Canal, to meadows full of birdsong alongside the majestic of the River Thames, we’ve put together a list of our Top 10 narrowboat holidays for families this summer:
1. Cruise to the Shropshire Lake District – from our narrowboat hire base on the Llangollen Canal at Trevor in North Wales, on a short break you can cruise to Ellesmere, in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District. The journey takes around seven hours, passing through two locks, two tunnels and over two magnificent aqueducts, including the famous UNESCO World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. This Wonder of the Waterways, carries the Llangollen Canal 38 metres high above the Dee valley, with magnificent views of the valley below, and Welsh Mountains beyond.
2. Navigate through Shakespeare country to Stratford upon Avon – from our narrowboat hire base at Wootton Wawen, on the Stratford Canal near Henley-in-Arden, it takes around six hours to cruise through the Warwickshire countryside, which includes passing through 17 locks, to reach overnight moorings in Bancroft Basin in the heart of Stratford upon Avon. Once there, you can walk to all the top attractions in Stratford, from theatres and museums, to pubs and restaurants. This destination is perfect for a weekend away.
3. Travel round the Black Country Ring – on a week’s break from our barge hire base on the Trent & Mersey Canal at Great Haywood in Staffordshire, you can travel round the Black Country Ring. The journey, which travels 75 miles and passes through 79 locks, takes around 43 hours. Highlights along the way include: Gas Street Basin in the heart of Birmingham City Centre; the 21 locks at Wolverhampton; and the tranquil waters at Tixall Wide.
4. Take a Thames boating holiday to Wallingford – from our narrowboat rental base on the River Thames at Oxford, it’s a nine-hour, 11-lock cruise to the historic market town of Wallingford. Along the way, you’ll travel through miles of peaceful Oxfordshire meadows and pastureland. Places to stop off along the way, include the City of Oxford with its world famous museums, and the market town of Abingdon, with its popular waterside pub, The Nag’s Head. This journey is perfect for a four night mid-week break.
5. Potter through the Worcestershire countryside via the Stourport Ring – on a week’s break from our canal boat rental base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, you can travel round the Stourport Ring. This popular circuit will take you on an 84-mile, 114-lock journey, cruising for around 56 hours. Highlights include: Gas Street Basin in the centre of Birmingham; Kinver Edge with its extensive woodlands and National Trust Holy Austin Rock Houses; the magnificent Cathedral City of Worcester; idyllic stretches of Worcestershire countryside along the River Severn; and the dramatic flight of 30 locks at Tardebigge.
6. Cruise across the Pennines to Foulridge Tunnel – from our canal boat hire base at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire, it takes just around 13 hours, passing through 15 locks, to reach Foulridge Tunnel. The journey will take you through a series of historic towns and villages, including Skipton, with its medieval fortress and acres of woodland trails to explore, and East Marton with a choice of pubs and access to the Pennine Way. This route is perfect for a week’s holiday.
7. Travel through the Avon Valley and up the Caen Hill Flight – on a week’s break from our canal boat rental base at Monkton Combe on the Kennet & Avon Canal near Bath, it takes around 19 hours to reach Pewsey Wharf. The route will take you through 37 locks each way, including the 29 locks of the Caen Hill Flight at Devizes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways. This journey will also take you over two dramatic Bath stone aqueducts at Dundas and Avoncliff, through the historic market town of Bradford on Avon and the beautiful Vale of Pewsey, part of the West Berkshire Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
8. Journey to the Eisteddfod town of Llangollen & back – on a week’s holiday from our canal boat rental base at Whixall Marina, on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire, it takes around 12 hours, passing through two locks, to reach the historic town of Llangollen on the edge of the Berwyn Mountains. Along the way, you’ll travel through the Shropshire Lake District and then across the magnificent World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte and Chirk aqueducts, with incredible views of the Welsh Mountains.
9. Navigate through the Cheshire countryside to The Cathedral of the Canals – on a short break from our canal boat rental base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal, you can cruise to the Anderton Boat Lift. The journey takes around nine hours and passes through 20 locks. Looking like a giant spider crouched on the hillside, this incredible feat of Victorian engineering moves boats 15 metres up or down between the River Weaver and the Trent & Mersey Canal.
10. Boat to Warwick Castle and back – on a short break from our canal boat hire base at Stockton, on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, you can cruise to moorings close to the magnificent Warwick Castle, said to be Britain’s greatest medieval experience. The journey there and back takes around 14 hours and passes through 40 locks (20 each way).
Celebrate a special occasion with a day afloat on your local waterway
Bookings manager, Emma Lovell, highlights Anglo Welsh’s Top 6 day boat destinations for 2021.
Whether you are celebrating a special occasion, like Mother’s Day or a birthday, or just looking for a different day out in your local area, our day boats offer the chance to enjoy a relaxing day afloat on your local waterway.
You can cruise gently along, watching out for waterway wildlife, and enjoying a picnic afloat or lunch at a canalside pub along the way.
We offer day boat hire from six of our bases, from just £99 per day for up to 10 people*. Full tuition is included, so you can get the hang of steering, working the locks and mooring up. Cruising hours during the season are from 9am to 4pm.
All our day boats are equipped with the facilities you need for a day afloat – cutlery, crockery, a kettle, cooker, fridge and toilet. There’s indoor and outdoor seating on all our day boats, so whatever the weather, you can enjoy the ever changing view.
And if you’ve ever fancied taking a canal boat holiday, but want to experience what it’s like before committing to a short break or week away, our day boats offer a great way to dip your toe in the water.
To help you plan your day out of the ordinary on one of our beautiful canals, we’ve put together a list of our Top 6 day boat destinations for 2021:
1. Wend your way through the Shropshire countryside to Whitchurch – from our canal boat hire base at Whixall on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire, you can head to the historic market town of Whitchurch on a day afloat. The lock-free journey, which takes just over two hours, travels through six peaceful miles of countryside, passing the medieval Pan Castle. Once at Whitchurch, you can moor up to explore the town with its half-timbered buildings, independent shops and restaurants, way-marked circular walks and Brown Moss nature reserve. Prices aboard our Whixall day boat ‘Julia’ are £99 for up to 10 people on a weekday, £150 on weekends and bank holidays.
2. Potter along the Stratford Canal to Wilmcote – from our narrowboat rental base at Wootton Wawen near Henley-in-Arden in Warwickshire, day boaters can head south along the Stratford Canal. The route takes you across the impressive Edstone Aqueduct and passes through one lock before reaching the historic village of Wilmcote in around two hours. You can moor up above Wilmcote Top Lock and take a short walk into the village, where you’ll find a choice of pubs, and The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s Mary Arden Farm. Prices aboard our Wootton Wawen day boats ‘Dolly’ and ‘Charlie’ are £99 for up to 10 people on a weekday, £150 on weekends and bank holidays.
3. Cruise the Trent & Mersey to Rugeley for some Outstanding Beauty – from our narrowboat hire base at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal near Stafford, on a day out, you can reach the historic market town of Rugeley. The journey travels four miles, passes through two locks and takes around two hours. Along the way, you’ll pass the National Trust’s Shugborough Estate and Cannock Chase Forest, a designated Area of Outstanding Beauty. Once at Rugeley, you can moor up to explore the town or turn at bridge 68 and head back to Wolseley to visit the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust’s Wolseley Centre or lunch at the canalside Wolseley Arms pub. Prices aboard our Great Haywood day boats ‘Daphne’ and ‘Abi’ are £99 on a weekday, £150 on weekends and bank holidays.
4. Travel through the Forest of Arden in Worcestershire – from our canal boat hire base at Tardebigge near Bromsgrove, on a day out you can cruise north along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal to Kings Norton Junction in around two and a half hours. The eight-mile, zero-lock journey passes through the remains of the Forest of Arden, with two canal tunnels along the way, including Wast Hills, which at 2,493 metres long is one of the longest in the country. There’s a choice of pubs along the way, including The Crown or The Weighbridge at Alvechurch, and the Hopwood House at Hopwood. Prices aboard our Tardebigge day boat ‘Emma’ are £99 on a weekday, £150 on weekends and bank holidays. ‘Emma’ can also be hired for a night for two people for £198, plus fuel.
5. Glide across ‘The Stream in the Sky’ for some incredible views – from our canal boat hire base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, it’s less than 10 minutes by water to the incredible World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. Standing at over 38 metres high and stretching for 305 metres across the Dee Valley, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, is truly one of the wonders of the waterways. After travelling across the Aqueduct, enjoying incredible views of the valley below, you can continue on to Glendrid to enjoy lunch at the Poacher’s Inn. This gentle five-mile journey with no locks, also takes you across Chirk Aqueduct and through Whitehouse and Chirk tunnels. Prices aboard our Trevor day boats ‘Jacob’, ‘Daniel’ and ‘Lotty’ are £120 on a weekday, £180 on weekends and bank holidays.
6. Cruise through the Cheshire countryside to Nantwich – from our canal boat rental base at Bunbury Wharf on the Shropshire Union Canal near Tarporley, on a day afloat you can cruise to Nantwich and back. The journey takes you through six peaceful miles of countryside, past the canalside Barbridge Inn and across the impressive Grade II* listed Nantwich Aqueduct with panoramic views across the town. With no locks along the way, the journey to Nantwich takes around two hours. Prices aboard our Bunbury day boat ‘Bella’ are £99 on a weekday, £150 on weekends and bank holidays.
Britain’s 3,000 mile network of navigable inland waterways provides the perfect destination for a Staycation afloat in 2021.
Pottering slowly through the countryside at just four miles per hour, watching out for wildlife, is a great way to relax.
Canal boat holidays offer a self-contained floating holiday home experience, and the chance to curate your very own adventure afloat. It’s free to moor up almost anywhere, so you can stop off at canalside pubs, villages and waterside destinations along the way.
To help plan your next waterway-getaway, here are our Top 10 narrowboat holidays for 2021:
1. Cruise across the Pennines – from our canal barge rental base at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire, on a week’s break you can cruise across the Pennines to Foulridge Tunnel and back. The journey to Foulridge takes around 13 hours and passes through 15 locks. Along the way you’ll pass through Skipton (known as ‘The Gateway to the Yorkshire Dales’), with its medieval stone castle. And you’ll pass through a series of villages with traditional pubs, including The Slaters Arms at Bradley, The Anchor Inn at Gargrave and The Cross Keys at East Marton.
2. Navigate the Stourport Ring – on a week’s break departing from our narrowboat hire base at Tardebigge near Bromsgrove, you can cruise the popular Stourport Ring. With 79 miles of waterway to cruise and 118 locks to pass through, it takes around 52 hours. The scenery ranges from peaceful open country on the River Severn, to vibrant cityscapes on the Birmingham Main Line. Destinations to visit include: Worcester Cathedral; Cadbury’s World; and the Sea Life Centre at Brindleyplace.
3. Take a Thames cruise to Wallingford – on a short break from our canal boat hire base close to Oxford, you can take a Thames boating holiday to the historic town of Wallingford. The journey passes through 11 locks each way and takes around 18 hours, there and back. You can stop off at Oxford, packed with architectural treasures, including the magnificent Bodleian Library. And Abingdon with its popular riverside pub, the Nag’s Head. At Wallingford, you can take time to explore the Castle Gardens dating back to Saxon times, and follow the Agatha Christie Trail.
4. Spot an otter on the Montgomery Canal – on a week’s break from our canal boat rental base at Whixall Marina, you can cruise a section of the Montgomery Canal. This beautiful canal, which runs for 38 miles between England and Wales, is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) on both sides of the border. You can cruise a seven-mile section to Gronwyn Wharf and back, looking out for otters and water voles. From Whixall, the journey to Gronwyn Wharf and back takes around 20 hours, travelling through 34 miles of beautiful countryside and passing through 16 locks (eight each way).
5. Cruise to Caen Hill – on a short break from our base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Bath, it takes around 9 hours to reach the Caen Hill Flight of Locks. One of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways, this dramatic flight of locks at Devizes is one of the most iconic sights on the waterways. You’ll pass through eight locks each way. You can enjoy stops at Bradford on Avon, with its magnificent medieval Tithe Barn, and Avoncliff Aqueduct with its popular Cross Guns pub.
6. Head to ‘The Cathedral of the Canals’ – from our canal boat hire base at Bunbury in Cheshire, it takes around nine hours to reach the iconic Anderton Boat Lift. This Wonder of the Waterways is also known as ‘The Cathedral of the Canals’. It lifts boats 15 metres between two waterways in two giant tanks of water. On the way to Anderton, you’ll navigate through beautiful Cheshire countryside along the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal. And you’ll pass through the historic Roman town of Middlewich
7. Glide across ‘The Stream in the Sky’ – from our boat yard on the Llangollen Canal at Trevor in North Wales, you’ll soon encounter the incredible Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. One of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’, this World Heritage structure transports canal boats 38 metres high across the Dee Valley. On a short break from Trevor, you can travel cross the aqueduct and on to Ellesmere, in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District. The journey to Ellesmere and back takes around 14 hours, passing through two locks each way.
8. Navigate the beautiful Oxford Canal – on a short break from our canal boat hire base at Stockton, you can reach the pretty canalside village of Fenny Compton. You’ll begin your journey on the Grand Union Canal in the Warwickshire countryside. You can transfer onto the Oxford Canal at Napton-on-the-Hill, with a choice of pubs. From there, the route winds gently through the countryside, with a series of locks to negotiate along the way. The journey to Fenny Compton and back takes around 20 hours, passing through 24 locks (12 each way).
9. Cruise into the Peak District – on a week’s break from our narrowboat hire base at Great Haywood near Stafford, you can travel into the Peak District. It takes around 20 hours to reach Froghall Basin, passing through 35 locks. The route will take you along the Trent & Mersey Canal to Stoke on Trent. Here you can transfer onto the Caldon Canal. You’ll then travel through beautiful stretches of unspoilt countryside, with moorlands, woodlands and an abundance of wildlife.
10. Visit Shakespeare’s Stratford – from our base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal, it takes around six hours to reach Bancroft Basin in the centre of Shakespeare’s Stratford. Along the way, you’ll pass through 17 locks and miles of peaceful Warwickshire countryside. You can moor up in the basin and use it as a base to explore Stratford-upon-Avon. This lively market town has a great choice of shops, restaurants, museums and theatres.
Winter cruising through the countryside on a canal boat holiday
We offer winter cruising from six of our narrowboat hire bases*, giving you the chance to cruise gently through the countryside, stopping off to explore canalside villages along the way, and to celebrate Christmas and New Year afloat.
The canals are quieter during the winter months and people tend to make shorter journeys. Winter cruising is about enjoying being close to the water and visiting canalside pubs with traditional log fires and other local attractions, rather than travelling lots of miles each day.
From a cosy narrowboat for two to a family canal boat for 12*, all our boats have central heating, hot water, WiFi, TV and DVD players, so it’s always nice and warm on board. Some of our boats also come with multi-fuel stoves for some extra special winter warmth, and there’s plenty of storage room on board, so you can bring lots of warm and wet weather clothing.
Some of our routes will be affected at times by the Canal & River Trust’s annual winter maintenance work, but here are our Top 6 winter narrowboat holidays for 2020:
1. Cruise through the Staffordshire countryside to Fradley
Heading south from our narrowboat holiday hire base at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal in Staffordshire, you’ll reach Fradley Junction in around five hours. The journey passes through five locks and 12 peaceful miles of Staffordshire countryside, including the Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Places to enjoy along the way include The Wolseley Centre run by the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, the Wolseley Arms pub and the village of Handsacre with its pub ‘The Old Peculiar’. Once at Fradley, you’ll find refreshments at the Canalside Café or The Swan Inn, and walking trails at the Fradley Pool Nature Reserve.
2. Travel gently through the Shropshire countryside to historic Whitchurch
From our barge holiday rental base at Whixall on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire, it takes around four hours to reach the pretty historic town of Whitchurch. Along the way, the route passes Whixall Moss, a Mecca for wildlife. Once at Whitchurch, enjoy way-marked walks, Brown Moss nature reserve and a choice of eateries, including the award-winning Black Bear pub.
3. Float to through the Warwickshire countryside to Shakespeare’s Stratford
From our narrowboat rental base at on the Stratford Canal at Wootton Wawen, near Henley-in-Arden in Warwickshire, it’s a picturesque six-hour cruise through the Warwickshire countryside to Shakespeare’s Stratford. Once there, you can moor up in Bancroft Basin in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon to enjoy exploring this historic town, and visiting some of its many pubs, restaurants and cafes.
4. Navigate to the canalside village of Lapworth
From our canal barge holiday hire base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, it takes around seven hours to cruise the historic canal village of Lapworth. With no locks to pass through along the way, it’s a great route for canal boat holiday beginners. Once there, you can moor up for countryside walks along the Heart of England Way, and visit the National Trust’s Packwood House, with beautiful gardens to explore.
5. Visit historic Chester afloat
From our narrowboat hire base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal near Tarporley in Cheshire, it’s a seven-hour cruise through the Cheshire countryside, passing through nine locks, to reach the historic city of Chester. Once moored up at Northgate visitor moorings, you can take time to explore this ancient Cathedral City with Roman City Walls, Amphitheatre, riverside gardens and fabulous City Centre Christmas lights.
6. Cross ‘The Stream in the Sky’ to the Shropshire Lake District
Our canal boat rental base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, is a ten minute cruise away from the incredible World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. This magnificent feat of Victorian engineering carries the canal 30 metres high above the Dee Valley, with amazing views to enjoy. On a short break, canal boat holiday-makers can cruise to Ellesmere, in the centre of the Shropshire Lake District, to visit the famous Mere, a haven for wildlife.
*Subject to government guidance and the lifting of relevant restrictions to control the spread of coronavirus, our boat yards are due to reopen on Monday 7 December. If you make a booking, but are legally unable to take your holiday as planned due to a Government coronavirus lockdown, you can transfer your booking with no admin fee or request a refund.
From the doldrums of lockdown to the busiest summer on record, Matt Lucas-Stern looks back on the 2020 narrowboat holiday season at Wootton Wawen.
“The coronavirus pandemic has bought dramatic changes to our lives, particularly for those of us involved in the world of travel and hospitality.
When the main 2020 boating season got underway at the beginning of March, even though we knew that Covid-19 was devastating communities elsewhere in China and parts of Europe, we still didn’t have any idea how much it was going to affect our lives.
Here at Wootton Wawen, we were focussing on getting all our boats in tip top shape ready for the main boating season, and making plans to hold an open day to show off our newly painted day boats. When Boris announced a national lockdown on that unforgettable evening on 23 March, everything changed and our boats were suddenly grounded until further notice.
At first we focused on enjoying watching the waterway burst into life as a particularly sunny and warm Spring progressed. As for many people, the peace and quiet of lockdown gave us the chance for reflection, family time and to connect to nature.
But as the weeks went by, we worried more and more about what the future would hold for our industry and when our holidays would be able to resume.
Then on the 20th of June, we received the fantastic news that domestic holidays could resume on the 4th of July. We needed to get our team back from furlough and put in all the necessary measures to ensure our holidays were safe.
We put in new social distancing measures at our boat yards, introduced extra cleaning regimes and we made a video showing people all the facilities on board our boats and how to operate them, to give holiday-makers extra information in advance of their boat handover.
It was a busy and exciting time, both for everyone working at the boat yards, and for our bookings team who were inundated with calls and emails from people wanting to book their canal boat holiday. Many of them were newcomers who had often thought about taking a canal boat holiday, but never quite got around to it before. They realised how perfect our staycation holidays are – offering the chance to escape into the countryside aboard a self-contained, self-catering floating holiday home!
The next two months were full on. For the first time ever, literally all our boats were booked out for the six week summer holiday peak. The first few weeks of July were a bit strange as everyone got used to the news ways of working and just being around people again. But we soon got everything working like clockwork and before long, it became the new normal.
With canal boat holidays, people usually turn up to the boat yard a bit stressed and anxious to get their holiday underway. But by the time they return, the slow time of the canals makes people much calmer and more relaxed.
It was great to see the smiling faces of families returning from their holidays, with kids telling us about some of their experiences. We had a 13-year-old lad who was really keen on narrowboating and ended up working all 113 locks by himself on his family holiday to Stratford on Avon and Warwick. He proudly told the staff about his achievements when they got back at Wootton, and has decided he is definitely coming again next year! He’s even bought his own windlass.
Another really enthusiastic group of newcomers to the world of narrowboating made friends with our boat yard team, and even took a hand painted dipper from my boatman’s cabin to hang over their fireplace to remind them of their boating adventures!
Going into the autumn, particularly in September and over the October Half Term, we were still extremely busy with most of our boats booked out by people taking advantage of the mild weather, and the chance to see the changing colours of the autumn leaves on the trees that line our waterways.
Now it’s November, and sadly another lockdown has just been announced. Here at Wootton Wawen we stay open all year round for winter cruising, so we hope our boats can get back out again in December.
In the meantime, here at Anglo Welsh we are all extremely grateful to the vast majority of our customers who have been prepared to postpone their holidays with us, rather than cancel. We are glad that our holidays were able to resume and have been more popular than ever, helping to support other businesses like canalside pubs and village shops.
As we continue to live with the coronavirus and the changes it has made to our lives, the future remains uncertain. But spending time by the water always somehow makes things feel better, watching nature peacefully continue to change with the seasons.”
We offer a range of different types of holidays such as City Breaks, Relaxation Cruises and Popular Destinations
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
...but don't just take our word for it
No account found, Please enter the account ID available in the dashboard
The technical storage or access is strictly necessary for the legitimate purpose of enabling the use of a specific service explicitly requested by the subscriber or user, or for the sole purpose of carrying out the transmission of a communication over an electronic communications network.
The technical storage or access is necessary for the legitimate purpose of storing preferences that are not requested by the subscriber or user.
The technical storage or access that is used exclusively for statistical purposes.The technical storage or access that is used exclusively for anonymous statistical purposes. Without a subpoena, voluntary compliance on the part of your Internet Service Provider, or additional records from a third party, information stored or retrieved for this purpose alone cannot usually be used to identify you.
The technical storage or access is required to create user profiles to send advertising, or to track the user on a website or across several websites for similar marketing purposes.