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Anglo Welsh has been shortlisted for a West Midlands Tourism Award

We are delighted to announce that we have been shortlisted for a 2022 West Midlands Tourism Award, in the Self-Catering Accommodation of the Year category.

The winners of these Awards, which celebrate the success and resilience of tourism businesses across the region, will be announced at an Awards Ceremony at Coombe Abbey Hotel in Coventry on 31 March.

Eligible winners from the West Midlands Tourism Awards will automatically feed into the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence 2022, for the chance to be recognised as a national winner.

Wish us luck! We’ll let you know how we get on.

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Three new luxury canal boats are joining our fleet in 2022

Anglo Welsh's new luxury Admiral Class boats

Emma Lovell, reservations manager for Anglo Welsh, explains more about our luxury canal boats available to hire in 2022.

This winter we’re building three new luxury 65ft Admiral Class narrow boats, ready to join our top class fleet next Spring.

We are delighted to be launching: ‘Curzon’ at Great Haywood on 11 March; ‘Duncan’ at Wootton Wawen on 12 March; and ‘Codrington’ at Bath on 16 April.

These boats offer extra space and facilities, as well as exacting standards of craftsmanship, comfort and finish.  They will have accommodation for up to four people in two cabins (which can be made up as either doubles or singles), and two spacious bathrooms.  They will have a substantial saloon area with a large TV, WiFi, multi-fuel stove, full radiator central heating, and a spacious kitchen with modern fittings and LED lighting.

Their striking blue and gold livery has been designed with Admiral Nelson in mind, in memory of our late Director Tim Nelson Parker, an incredible character who was devoted to the canals.

We launched our first Admiral Class boats in 2020, building on the popularity of our Heritage, Constellation and Bond Class luxury canal boats.  All these boats offer increased space per person, and particularly high standards of comfort and finish.

2022 Admiral Class prices start at £875 for short break, £1,210 for a week.

Here’s a list of all our luxury narrow boats available to hire at our various bases in 2022:

·         Bath – Codrington (four berth Admiral Class), Pheonix (four berth Constellation Class), Gloria (four berth Bond Class), Silvia (six berth Bond Class), Bradbury (six berth Bond Class), Sagittarius (10 berth Constellation Class) and Langton (12-berth Bond Class).

·         Bunbury – Carina (four berth Constellation Class), Cassiopeia (six berth Constellation Class), Cygnus (six berth Constellation Class),

·         Great Haywood – Curzon (four berth Admiral Class), Leo II (four berth Bond Class) and Pegasus (six berth Constellation Class).

·         Oxford – Cunningham (four berth Admiral Class), Trossachs (four berth Bond Class), Duloe (six berth Bond Class), Orion (12 berth Constellation Class) and Delphinus (12 berth Constellation Class).

·         Stockton – Buckland (six berth Bond Class) and Lynx (12 berth Constellation Class).

·         Tardebigge – Hydra (four berth Constellation Class).

·         Trevor – Nelson (two berth Admiral Class), Fitzroy (four berth Admiral Class), Lily (four berth Heritage Class), Anna (four berth Bond Class), Aquarius (four berth Constellation Class), Blore (six berth Bond Class), Askrigg (six berth Bond Class) and Norton (12 berth Bond Class).

·         Whixall – Hawke (four berth Admiral Class), Centaurus (four berth Constellation Class), Aquila (four berth Constellation Class), Perseus (six berth Constellation Class), Braithwaite (six berth Bond Class), and Gemini (10 berth Constellation Class) and Andromeda (12 berth Constellation Class).

·         Wootton Wawen – Nelson (two berth Admiral Class), Duncan (four berth Admiral Class), Poppy (four berth Heritage Class), Aries (four berth Constellation Class), Summer (six berth Bond Class), and Scorpius (10 berth Constellation Class).

For more information about our luxury fleets, go to https://www.anglowelsh.co.uk/Our-Boats/luxury-canal-boat-hire

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A multi-generation narrowboat holiday on the River Avon

Canal boat holiday on the River Avon

Bridget Harrison reviews her family canal boat holiday cruising through Shakespeare country.

When I was a teenager we once went on a family holiday to San Tropez and I remember looking with envy at the boat owners breakfasting on the decks of their motor yachts in the marina, while we mortals walked by on land. I was reminded of this when arriving at Stratford-upon- Avon’s bustling Bancroft Basin, to find my family who were waiting for me on a barge there, which we had hired for a week’s holiday in August.

Enterprise, a 70 foot long narrowboat, was in pole position, moored side to side with a row of other smartly painted craft. And there was my family, sitting cheerfully at the stern, in the sunshine, enjoying a feast bought from the basin’s street-food market. Hopping aboard it was hard not to feel just a little bit smug on our floating home in pride of place in the historic town while crowds of tourists wandered past.

The others had taken charge of the boat at Wootton Wawen marina in Warwickshire on the Stratford Canal two days before and then navigated down the 17 locks to Stratford. With me, the last member of the crew now on board, we cast off, taking the town lock down onto the broad River Avon that was buzzing with row boats, restaurant boats, flocks of well-fed swans and geese and offering a fine view of the imposing Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

My family and I have been going on canal holidays since I was eight years old.

Now my brother and I each have two children (me, sons age 11 and 13, he, daughters age 11 and 15), and my sister has a frisky collie. We all join my parents for a week on the canals every year – nine of us in total.

This year we decided to focus our trip around Stratford-up-Avon, thinking it would add an extra ‘educational’ element for the children. Spending time on the river as well as the canal also appealed as my sister and I were keen to do some ‘wild swimming’ in a river.

The Avon winds from Stratford’s busy centre flowing southwest towards Evesham. As you leave the town, which makes way for stretches of parkland, and then the countryside beyond, the river is soon bordered on both sides by a jungle-like array of vegetation in a thousand greens. Weeping willows lean out and stroke the river’s smooth dark water. At Bidford-on-Avon we passed under a beautiful bridge of stone arches, learning that people have crossed the river there since medieval times.

The river, without the prerequisite canal towpath, felt a more lush and wild boating corridor than many canals.

One disadvantage though was not being able to hop off at any point for a walk. And also mooring spots proved to be few and far between and were often already taken requiring us to head on wards. Luckily the evenings were long. Even if the moorings were often full, the river itself, even at the height of summer, was blissfully peaceful and quiet.

Even though we were nine, the 70 foot long Enterprise didn’t feel cramped. Its layout also had the advantage of two dining areas which meant we could gather for card games without having to set up a table specially.

We got as far as Evesham in two days, then turned around.

As with all canals, retracing steps feels like a new journey with plenty to look at from the boat from elegant houses with gardens backing onto the river to completely wild stretches. We paused one early evening for dinner at the Four Alls pub beside the river, then had to cruise on until dark until we managed to find a free mooring just outside Stratford. Next morning we rose early to nab a prime spot opposite the theatre, making us perfectly placed for visiting the Shakespeare sites.

Visiting Stratford-upon-Avon on a canal boat holiday

First on the list was The Birthplace, a crooked, half-timbered Tudor house on the High Street which had been owned by his glove-maker father, John. Creaky narrow stairs led up to the room where he was born. Having just read ‘Hamnet’, Maggie O’Farrell’s novel based around Shakespeare’s family, the visit was particularly enthralling for me and I was pleased that the children found it engrossing too. A seven minute walk away is the site of New Place, the larger and more splendid home which Shakespeare bought after he became a successful actor and writer in London. The original building no longer exists but you can wander around its garden and admire modern sculptures illustrating how The Bard’s global influence has put Stratford proudly at the centre of the world.

Then finally, the highlight for us, was our visit to Anne Hathaway’s cottage, a 12-room farmhouse, the family home of Shakespeare’s wife – located in once prosperous farm land just beyond the city (a £7 taxi ride). Inside we walked up tiny windy staircases to see bedrooms perfectly preserved as they would have looked in 1582 when 18-year-old Shakespeare was courting Anne, 26. The farmhouse had beautiful kitchen gardens  filled with sage mint and lavender, and an orchard.  So enthused had the children obviously been by the days’ three evocative Shakespeare venues that each even began quoting bits of Shakespeare they knew from school over the dinner table.

Too soon it was our last day. My sister, the children and I rose early to walk a little way upstream along the Avon to Stratford Beach, a swimming spot where Shakespeare himself was said to have taken dips. We plunged shrieking into the silky cool river as the morning sun cast dappled gold around us. Then it was back to Enterprise  for bacon sarnies before readying ourselves to return to the Stratford Canal and to  Wootton Wawen, back up 17 locks over 17 miles, requiring both teamwork and energy.

Luckily by now, we all know the drill.

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The perfect getaway for the whole family

Best family canal boat holidays in England and Wales

Fancy doing something different for your family holiday this summer? A holiday on board a narrowboat is a wonderful way to bring the family together as it offers a varied and exciting experience with something for every age group to enjoy. With constantly changing scenery and the chance to explore a new destination daily, holidays on the canals offer an amazing range of sights, attractions and activities. With the help of our friendly Bookings Team, you can shape your canal boat holiday to suit your needs and desires – from the style and size of narrowboat you hire, which location you set out from and your desired destination(s).

Children

Any parent will tell you – kids are easily bored. An active, exciting holiday on the canals in which they are regularly on the move, seeing and experiencing new things every day, is the perfect choice to keep your little ones entertained.

With miles of canal towpaths and open countryside along the waterways, narrowboat holidays offer plenty of outdoor space for kids to run around and play in the fresh country air so that they collapse in bed and sleep soundlessly at the end of each day.

Most children love the novelty of staying on the water and the workings of the narrowboat, so life on the canals can be a great excitement. Helping to navigate the boat through a tunnel or working a lock offers a brand-new activity to get involved in that is far different from their day-to-day.

As well as the open countryside, canal boat holidays can also offer the opportunity to visit countless attractions that will appeal to your little ones, from the sweet allure of Cadbury World which sits right next to the Worcester & Birmingham Canal in Bournville, to the thrills of Alton Towers, accessible from the Caldon Canal, and the excitement of Chester Zoo, not far from our hire base at Bunbury.

Teenagers

Teenagers commonly seek independence and freedom to roam, which can make it difficult to satisfy their needs on a family getaway. Narrowboat holidays offer the chance for teenagers to take themselves off for walks, runs or bike rides along the traffic-free towpaths. Towpaths also make it almost impossible to get lost, easing the minds of worried parents!

There are also lots of water-based activities on offer along the canals. Kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding and fishing may appeal to teenagers in the family – and may even convince them to look away from their mobile phones!

Teenagers are also prone to boredom, so the constant movement and change of scenery that comes with a narrowboat holiday will satisfy their need for new surroundings. A canal boat holiday that combines both urban and rural surroundings is likely to appeal most teenagers – although this will depend upon the individual and their interests.

Our narrowboats are built to provide ample space for all crew members, so teenagers can enjoy the privacy of their own cabin – and if they do need a social media fix, they can connect to the WiFi available on all our barges. Hopefully though, there will be enough distraction and excitement to make this unnecessary!

Young adults

Narrowboat getaways are ideal for groups of friends or for couples wanting a unique romantic break. Our canal boats, built for the comfort and enjoyment of all our guests, range from cosy two-berth barges perfect for couples, to 12-berth ‘floating hotels’ ideal for large group holidays. There are a variety of city break destinations on offer along the canals such as Bath, Oxford, Birmingham and Chester, all of which offer the perfect blend of beauty, history and culture – as well as great places to eat and drink.

For group holidays, the choice of activities and destinations available along the canals works perfectly. Some crew members might wish to head off and explore the sights, while others choose to relax on board, or moor up by a canalside pub to enjoy a well-deserved pint. A canal boat holiday can take in historic towns and cities, rural loveliness, famous sights and a huge selection of activities that will keep even the most diverse group of people happy.

With fully equipped galley kitchens, our narrowboats are well set up for cooking delicious meals onboard. There are also countless tempting spots to go out for dinner and drinks along the waterways, if you want to treat yourself to a meal out.

Parents

For parents, a canal boat holiday is the ideal getaway to cater to both their children and themselves. As we’ve already mentioned, there is so much on offer along the canals to keep children occupied which will afford parents time to relax and enjoy themselves. It’s almost impossible not to be enchanted by the picturesque charm of the waterways. For parents who spend much of their lives racing around trying to balance their family, work and social lives, slowing down to the serene pace of 4mph can offer much-needed peace and tranquillity. By trading the whirlwind of day-to-day life for the calm of the canals, they can escape any anxieties, breathe deeper and destress.

Parents may wish to mix things up by experiencing a taste of city life afloat as well as some rural cruising, or simply stick to serene countryside routes. Some canal routes are renowned for their fascinating historic sights, museums and feats of engineering, while others boast abundant wildlife or incredible dramatic scenery. But what all canals provide is the opportunity to get outside and get active. Essentially, parents can customise their narrowboat holiday to ensure that all members of the family are kept happy throughout, including themselves. Our boats are all pet-friendly, so you can even bring along a maximum of two furry friends to join the adventure.

Grandparents

Now more than ever, we are appreciating the importance of spending quality time with extended family members, and it is lovely for grandparents to be able to join their children and grandchildren on family holidays. Spending time with extended family also benefits everyone that little bit more, as it enables parents to share the childcare while granny or grandpa spends some quality time with the little ones.

A narrowboat holiday is a fantastic way to bring everyone together as it can be as active or relaxing as the crew members wish. Grandparents who are still super fit and active will love the outdoorsy element, while those who may be less mobile can still enjoy the calm and serenity of life on the water from the comforts of our well-furnished narrowboats. Towpaths offer secure and relatively flat walking routes, with most being tarmacked or paved for ease of access.

Grandparents, like parents, are sure to love the rich range of destinations along the waterways. There are bustling cities like Birmingham and Bristol, historic destinations like Bath and Chester or cultural treasures such as Stratford-upon-Avon and Oxford. Away from the cities, there are an abundance of stately homes, castles, parks and gardens in addition to the natural beauty of the British countryside.

Everyone

Most importantly, everyone onboard is required to help out on and off the boat, from steering and mooring up, to working the locks. A narrowboat holiday is all about teamwork and coming together. It brings everyone closer, united by a shared goal to get to their desired destination as efficiently as possible, all while having lots of fun and enjoying time together as a family along the way.

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Admiral Class cruise from Great Haywood to Wootton Wawen

Canal boat holiday from Great Haywood to Wootton Wawen

As the Operations Director of Anglo Welsh, it’s always great to take one of our boats out on a family break, looking at it from a customer’s point of view.  So, with Christmas Day enjoyed, myself, my partner Claire, my two boys Jacob and Daniel, plus our two dogs George and Cooper, set off on one of the brand-new Admiral Class boats from Great Haywood the day after Boxing Day.

With the boat packed up with everything we needed for our planned three-day cruise to Wootton Wawen, we headed off at 8am.  All of us were excited to see what the next few days brought, although the weather forecast did not look like it was going to be kind to us.  I’d instructed all to pack warm clothes, waterproofs and suitable footwear.

We headed down the Trent & Mersey Canal, which took us up towards Fradley Junction to join the Coventry Canal as our plan of action was to moor in Fazeley for the night.  We arrived there at 5pm having had a great day cruising along, chatting, eating turkey sandwiches, Christmas cake and plenty of hot drinks along the way.  The boys and the dogs also love the quiet pace of life and it was great to see them all enjoying the fresh air.

Once moored at Fazeley, in the well-equipped kitchen Claire was able to make us all a lovely two-course dinner and a very enjoyable game of Monopoly was had.  The kitchen facilities on board are excellent and have all the items needed to cook throughout the trip, with Claire commenting that the only thing missing was a dishwasher!

After a great night’s sleep by all in the comfortable beds, we set off again at 7.30am and headed through Birmingham.  It’s fair to say that this part of Birmingham is not necessarily the prettiest, and Daniel hoped it would take us via the nicer side of Brindleyplace, but that was unfortunately not possible on this route.  It was interesting to cruise under the M6 though, as you get to see a very different side to Birmingham by boat as opposed to by car. We cruised all day, enjoying the scenery and wildlife with Jacob fishing along the way, then we were able to moor at Catherine de Barnes when we arrived about 5pm.

While I sorted out the boat and popped to the local shop, Claire and Daniel walked the dogs.  Then back to the boat for another hot meal and a second round of Monopoly and Jenga.  It was so warm on the boat during the evening with the central heating on board, we didn’t even need to light the multi-fuel stove during the trip!  The Admiral Class four-berths have two bathrooms and the hot showers are excellent, just what you need after a day of cruising along.

On our final day, we were all up early and headed off in the rain at 7.30am towards Knowle Locks.  Such a beautiful location which made for some great photos, it was a shame it was raining so hard and we did all get quite wet, but we just had to see the funny side of this! It’s definitely somewhere I’d like to visit again in the dry.

The scenery on the third day was stunning as we joined the Stratford Canal, and with all the pretty locks, it made for a really special day. Jacob and Claire were mainly on lock duty, perfected after going through over 40 during the 3 days, whilst Daniel kept the dogs entertained on the boat.  We arrived at Wootton Wawen around 4pm and so were bang on our original plan.

After such a busy year, it was a brilliant way to unwind and relax before seeing the New Year in.  We had lots of fun, relaxation, games, ate very well and had all the fresh air that we needed.  Everyone, including the dogs, came away from this break feeling refreshed and ready to see what 2022 brings us all.

Our brand-new four-berth Admiral Class boats ‘Duncan’ and ‘Curzon’ are joining our fleet at Wootton Wawen and Great Haywood this March, and ‘Codrington’ will join the fleet at Bath in mid-April.

Our Reservations Team are taking bookings for these boats now, so if you’d like to come aboard, please give them a call on 0117 304 1122.

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We are taking steps to make our holidays more sustainable

By Matt Lucas Stern, our Operations Manager

More and more people and companies are taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint and change their consumption patterns.

Here at Anglo Welsh, we’ve been looking at ways to reduce our impact on the environment.

For the last six years, all our new boats have been fitted with LED lighting and the latest engines with lower emissions.  By 2022, we aim to have replaced all on board lights with LED bulbs and in 2023, we plan to introduce our first hybrid powered boat.

This year, we’ve introduced our first electric call out van here at Wootton Wawen, and by 2030 we’d like to have replaced all our company vans with electric vehicles.

During this winter we have fitted solar panels on the roof of one of our boats, to trial here at Wootton Wawen next March.  They will be on our two berth Admiral Class boat ‘Collingwood’ and will provide power for some of the on board facilities, including the lights, fridge and television.  By 2030, we aim to have solar panels on all our new boats.  We are also looking at opportunities to fit solar panels at some of our bases, to help power our laundries and electric vehicles.

From next Spring, all our boats will be stocked with natural, eco-friendly and cruelty-free washing up liquids and cleaning products on board.

There’s so much we can do to make our holidays more sustainable, and we look forward to bringing you news of our progress as we embark on our journey to reach net zero by 2050.

In the meantime, here are our Top 10 tips to help you make your holiday more sustainable:

1.    Use green cleaning products – be kinder to the environment and aquatic life by using the eco cleaning products provided on board, and bring along microbead free toiletries.

2.    Bring your own hot drinks cups – so if you stop off to buy a coffee somewhere on your narrow boat holiday you won’t need a ‘difficult to recycle’ disposable cup.

3.    Reduce your use of plastic bottles – you can use water from the boat’s tank to make a cup of tea, but you will need to stock up on fresh drinking water, so we suggest bringing one large bottle or canteen to top up at water points.

4.    Take part in the #PlasticsChallenge – each year an estimated 14 million pieces of plastic rubbish ends up in Britain’s canals and rivers, with around 500,000 pieces flowing out into our oceans.  The Canal & River Trust is asking everyone who visits its waterways to pledge to pick up at least at least one piece of plastic litter each time we visit the waterways.

5.    Bring your own shopping bags – ready for shop-stops en route and avoid buying products with excess packaging.

6.    Plan some vegan and vegetarian recipes afloat – it’s healthier for us and the planet to eat less meat, so when you are planning your pre-holiday shop, include some meat-free meals.

7.    Shop locally – look out for farm shops and local stores selling locally grown produce that are walking distance from your canal boat holiday route, as well as pubs with menus using locally sourced ingredients.

8.    Bag all rubbish – help keep rubbish and plastic out of the waterways by making sure all your bin bags are tied securely so they can’t spill open, and make use of canalside recycling facilities along the way.

9.    Burn greener fuels – if you book a boat with a multi fuel stove, burn the fire logs provided made from recycled sawdust and wax instead of coal.

10. Become a Friend of the Canal & River Trust – to help protect and care for the waterway environment and the wildlife that lives there.

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Stan Cullimore’s canal boat holiday on the River Thames

Stan Cullimore's canal boat holiday on the River Thames

One of my happiest places is when I’m standing on the back of a narrowboat, chugging along, drinking in the scenery, smiling as the world slides on by. All done at walking speed. Sometimes on a canal, sometimes on a river and always, just loving the thrill of it all.

The joy of booking a weeks holiday starting from Anglo Welsh’s Oxford base, is that you get to choose which ever watery adventure you want. You can either head up the Oxford Canal, which is a thing of beauty in of itself, or you can drift on down the River Thames. Which is rather sublime.

We arrived at the boatyard one early October afternoon, to find it bathed in beautiful autumnal sunshine.

According to the forecast, there was a full weeks worth of sun ahead of us. Deciding we wanted to take advantage of the glorious weather to pootle through the wide open spaces of a river, we headed downstream, following The Thames. Wanting to see how far we could get before turning round in time to return the boat early the next Saturday morning.

The first afternoon we only managed a couple of hours gentle travel before tying up for the night next to the picturesque ruins of Godstow Priory, opposite The Trout Inn. Which meant we got to walk the dogs through pretty meadows before heading out for a welcome pint or two at the pub. After that we headed back onboard to enjoy a celebratory supper of carbonara and cava.

Next day started early as we let the dogs out and got chatting to a happy crowd of college friends who had moored nearby.

We had all set off from the Oxford base at the same time and compared notes on just how fab the whole experience was. To make things even sweeter, they gave us a cup of sugar, because we mentioned in passing that we had forgotten to bring any along for the tea. Was a reminder of just how friendly and welcoming most people are when you enter the world of waterways. Smiling, waving and chatting is par for the course when you’re on a boat.

After a pretty perfect days cruising we reached Abingdon.

A really nice market town nestled on the bank of the river, with a glorious golden stone bridge arching over our heads. Since the sun had been beaming down on us all day, I decided to have a nice cooling swim in the river, with one of the dogs to keep me company. Turned out to be a bit cooler than either of us expected. Definitely made me grateful for the hot showers, central heating and wood burning stove onboard our boat, the good ship, Trossachs. Bond Class. That evening, as the sun set, the moon came up and the bridge lights twinkled, it felt for all the world as if we had drifted into a Parisian scene.

By now we were all well into our stride when it came to cruising along, mooring up and working the locks.

Actually, since nearly all the locks are operated by lock keepers, it didn’t take that much team work to make our way through them. We just turned up, smiled and held on to the rope whilst the lock was worked for us. Most marvellous.

Next day was another beauty, just right for being out and about on the water.

We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast before setting off, slowly passing through miles of magnificent scenery. When the sun shines and the birds sing, it is easy to believe you are travelling through the prettier parts of France or Holland on this stretch of the river. Though some of the fabulous houses and gardens you drift past are very much English country living at it’s most luxurious.

Being keen on birdlife, the week was turning out to be bumper one. Every day brought plenty of sightings; Kingfishers by the dozen, Red Kites at almost every turn, an assortment of songbirds along with plenty of geese which ever way you looked.

Next day we moored up for the night at Wallingford.

Another pretty market town with a square, a High Street full of fine shops and yet another glorious stone bridge soaring over the river. Since we were moored near the Boathouse Inn, we went for a stroll round town, then treated ourselves to a pub dinner of Beef and Ale pies with chips. Mmm. Delicious. Just what the doctor ordered. Next morning we woke to the sound of a gentle knock on the window as a friendly council lady came to collect our £11 mooring fee.

By now, it was Tuesday, so we set off downriver, heading for Goring.

Arriving in time for lunch, tying up just a stones throw away from the cottage where George Michael used to live. After a delightful couple of hours pottering round yet another pretty waterside town, we got back onboard, turned the boat round and began the gentle trek back to base. Didn’t get very far, as we saw a couple of mooring pins stuck in the bank, in the middle of open greenery, so decided to “wild camp,” for the night.

Over the next couple of days we retraced our journey, revisiting Wallingford and Abingdon to pick up fresh food supplies. Another perk of a holiday afloat, is that you can eat out, on shore, or you can stay at home on the boat and treat yourself to whatever you want to cook. In our case, thanks to the sunshine, we enjoyed plenty of home made salads along with shop bought sausage rolls, scotch eggs and pork pies. Mmm. Just right for the life aquatic.

When we got back to the boatyard on Saturday morning, we were all sorry to say goodbye to our floating home from home. The good news is, I’m sure we won’t have to wait too long for our next trip with Anglo Welsh. Only question is, where to go next?

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Experience Christmas on the canals

Best canal boat holidays at Christmas

Anglo Welsh’s reservations manager Emma Lovell offers a guide to the best winter cruising destinations this Christmas.

This winter, we are offering winter cruising* from eight of our narrowboat hire bases, giving you the chance to spend Christmas or New Year on the canals.

The canals are quieter during the winter months and people tend to make shorter journeys.  Winter canal boat hire is about enjoying being close to the water and visiting canalside pubs and 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 routes will be affected at times by the Canal & River Trust’s annual winter maintenance work, but we can provide information on any planned route closures at the time of booking.

Here’s our guide to our Top 8 narrowboat holidays for Christmas 2021:

1.    Float to through the Warwickshire countryside to Stratford upon Avon – from our narrowboat rental base on the Stratford Canal at Wootton Wawen in Warwickshire, it’s a six-hour cruise to Stratford upon Avon.  The journey takes you through the Warwickshire countryside, passing through 17 locks along the way. Once in Stratford, you can moor up in Bancroft Basin, just a short walk from this popular tourist town’s excellent choice of theatres, restaurants, markets and museums.

2.    Experience Christmas in the World Heritage City of Bath – on a short break from our canal boat hire base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Monkton Combe, you can reach moorings in Bath City Centre in around four cruising hours.  The route takes you along a section of the Avon Valley and up the Bath flight of six locks.  From moorings close to Pulteney Bridge, you can enjoy exploring this beautiful City, including the Roman Baths and medieval Bath Abbey.

3.    Cruise through the Staffordshire countryside to Fradley – heading south from our base at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal, you can 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 ‘The Old Peculiar’ pub.  Once at Fradley, refreshments are available at the Canalside Café or The Swan Inn, and there are walking trails at the Fradley Pool Nature Reserve.

4.    Travel through the Shropshire Lake District to Ellesmere – from our base at Whixall on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire, it takes around four hours to reach the historic town of Ellesmere.  Along the way, the route passes Lyneal Moss and Colemere Country Park.  Once at Ellesmere, there’s a choice of independent shops and restaurants, as well as formal gardens, woods and castle grounds to explore.

5.    Navigate into the centre of Birmingham – from our base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, it takes around five hours to boat into the heart of Birmingham.  Boasting more canals than Venice and with preparations underway to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games, it’s a great time to visit Britain’s vibrant second city.  And there are no locks to pass through along the way, so this is also a good route for canal boat holiday beginners.

6.    Visit the ancient city of Chester afloat – from our base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal near Tarporley, it’s a seven-hour cruise through the Cheshire countryside to Chester.  Once there, you can visit the City’s famous 700-year old two-tired shopping galleries – the Rows.  And you can also take time to explore Chester’s Roman City Walls, Amphitheatre, riverside gardens and sparkling city centre Christmas lights.

7.    Cruise to the Eisteddfod town of Llangollen – from our base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, it takes around two hours to cruise to Llangollen.  There you can moor up in Llangollen Basin and enjoy visiting this beautiful town nestled in the Berwyn Mountains.  Things to visit include the Llangollen Steam Railway, Plas Newydd house and gardens and the Horseshoe Falls.  There’s a great choice of independent shops and places to eat, including the popular Corn Mill with stunning river and mountain views.

8.    Enjoy Christmas in historic Bradford on Avon – on a short break from our narrow boat hire base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Sydney Wharf, you can cruise to the historic market town of Bradford on Avon.  The journey takes around four hours and passes through just one lock.  Bradford on Avon, situated on the southern edge of the Cotswolds, has beautiful limestone buildings echoing those of nearby Bath.  It is packed with historic buildings, including the 14th century Tithe Barn and 15th century chapel of St Mary Tory, with amazing views across the town.  There’s a great choice of independent shops and places to eat to choose from.

*NB Winter maintenance work can affect some routes at certain times.  Customers are advised to check at the time of booking.

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Be Inspired

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

...but don't just take our word for it

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