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Spotlight on the canals – the Worcester & Birmingham Canal

Canal boat holidays on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal

Cruise through the remains of the Forest of Arden, visit Birmingham and the beautiful Cathedral City of Worcester

The  29-mile long Worcester & Birmingham Canal starts in Worcester as an off-shoot of the River Severn.  It travels through the green hills of Worcestershire and the ancient Forest of Arden, before ending at Gas Street Basin in the heart of Birmingham.

The canal climbs 130 metres from Worcester to Birmingham, using 58 locks, including 30 at Tardebigge – one of the largest lock flights in Europe.

Construction of the canal began in 1792 from the Birmingham end, and the final section was completed in December 1815.  A major user of the canal in its freight-carrying heyday was the canalside Cadbury chocolate factories at Bournville and Blackpole.

There are a series of tunnels on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, including the 2,493-metre long Wast Hills Tunnel.  This is one of the longest in the country and it’s close to King’s Norton Junction, where the Worcester & Birmingham meets the Stratford Canal.

Popular destinations on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal include the canalside Weighbridge Inn and Crown Inn at Alvechurch, the Hopwood House at Hopwood.

Cadbury World in the historic village of Bournville is on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal.  Richard and George Cadbury moved their expanding business here in 1879, with the canal a critical mode of transport for the chocolate factory’s products and raw materials.

The Worcester & Birmingham Canal forms part of the Stourport Ring.

Stockton Locks

Canal boat holidays on the Grand Union Canal

The Stockton flight of 10 locks is on the Grand Union Canal near the historic village of Stockton in Warwickshire.

From the locks, there are stunning views of the surrounding countryside. Stockton Top Marina and The Boat Inn are at the top of the flight and the Blue Lias pub is at the bottom.

The Grand Union Canal links London and Birmingham and was completed in the early 19th century.  Stockton Locks are between Napton Junction and the village of Long Itchington.

The Millennium Way walking route passes through the village of Stockton and crosses the canal at Stockton Bridge no.23. The village has a long history, with evidence of human habitation dating back to ancient times. Its name is of Old English origin, possibly meaning “farmstead or village by the tree trunk,” indicating its agricultural roots. The village of Stockton is home to the family-run Crown Inn.

Stockton Locks are on the Warwickshire Ring.  You can complete the Warwickshire Ring on a 10-day or two-week break from Wootton Wawen.

Tardebigge Locks

Travel through Tardebigge Locks on a canal boat holiday

The Tardebigge flight of 30 locks is on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove

Tardebigge is famous for its flight of 30 locks, the longest in Britain.  The locks are spread over two-and-a-quarter miles and enable boats to ascend or descend 67 metres.

It takes around four hours to travel through the Tardebigge flight, and no over-night mooring is allowed so boaters need to plan ahead.  In the spring and summer, Canal & River Trust volunteer lock keepers are on hand to help boaters pass through the locks.

The historic village of Tardebigge is surrounded by a panorama of beautiful Worcestershire countryside and has a rich history dating back centuries. Its name is believed to have Anglo-Saxon origins, possibly meaning “lookout place on a hill”. Tardebigge church offers fantastic views of the Worcester & Birmingham Canal and the Tardebigge Locks from its place on the hillside.

At Tardebigge Top Lock a plaque commemorates the meeting here between Tom Rolt and Robert Aickman, who founded the Inland Waterways Association in 1946 with the aim of keeping Britain’s canals navigable.

You can reach Tardebigge Locks on a week’s holiday from Wootton Wawen.

Take a boat trip across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct May Half Term

Take a boat trip across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct May Half Term

Over May half term our ‘Little Star’ trip boat will be operating five Pontcysyllte Aqueduct boat trips a day

Our Little Star trip boat offers families the chance to enjoy skippered cruises across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.

At 300 metres long and 38 metres high, the awesome Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is the longest and highest aqueduct in Britain.

Described by Sir Walter Scott as a ‘stream in the sky’ where fish swim above birds, in 2009 it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. This puts it on a par with the pyramids in Egypt and the Taj Mahal in India.

Our ‘Little Star’ daily boat trips offer the chance to cruise across this incredible structure, experience amazing views across the Dee Valley.  And make some fantastic family memories over the May half term.

Our knowledgeable team provides commentary on board about the Aqueduct and the Llangollen Canal. It’s a great way to learn more about the fascinating history of the site as you cruise gently along.

Trips depart daily at 11am, 12 noon, 1.30pm, 2.30pm and 3.30pm from Canal Wharf, Trevor, Llangollen LL20 7TT.

Little Star’ (‘Seren Fach’ in Welsh) offers space for up to 48 passengers.

Adult tickets are priced at £10 each, children (aged under 16) are priced at £6.  Family tickets for two adults and two children are priced at £25 each.

Refreshments are available to purchase on board, including hot and cold drinks, and ice creams.

For more information and to book in advance, visit www.anglowelsh.co.uk/little-star, or call the bookings team on 0117 304 1122.

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Top 7 canal boat holidays for beginners

Best canal boat holidays for beginners

We’ve got some great short break canal holiday destinations perfect for beginners

You don’t need a licence to steer a canal boat and it’s easy for first-timers to learn to operate our boats.

As part of our narrowboat hire, we provide you with expert boat steering tuition. And our series of ‘How to’ videos give step by step instruction on everything from switching the boat engine on to the best way to tie your ropes when mooring up. We’ve also published guides to ‘What to pack on your narrowboat holiday’, and ‘Tips for narrowboat holiday beginners’.

When you arrive at one of our boat yards, we’ll take you through our nationally accredited handover. And we’ll make sure you’re comfortable and in control before you set off.  As well as our Youtube videos, there’s a manual on board every boat if you need to check on anything.  And our engineering teams are 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 a guide to our top 7 short breaks for beginners:

1. 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 Trevor to Ellesmere offers a fantastic short break holiday for beginners.  The route includes the experience of travelling across the incredible UNESCO World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, with jaw-dropping panoramic views of the Dee Valley 38 metres below.

2. Dip your toe in the water at Bath

From our base at Bradford on Avon on the Kennet & Avon Canal in Wiltshire, it takes around six hours to cruise to Bath. There’s just one lock to pass through and two stunning Bath stone aqueducts to glide across.  And there are popular canalside pubs to visit, including The George at Bathampton, Cross Guns at Avoncliff and Barge Inn at Bradford on Avon.

3. Float gently along to Fradley

From Great Haywood, you can head south along the Trent & Mersey Canal to Fradley Junction, where the Coventry Canal meets the Trent & Mersey.  The journey takes around five hours, travelling 12 peaceful miles through the Staffordshire countryside.  There are just five locks to pass through, and you’ll pass canalside pubs at Wolseley and Rugeley.  At Fradley, you can enjoy refreshments at the Canalside Café or The Swan Inn.  And you can enjoy spotting wildlife along the woodland trail and boardwalk at Fradley Pool Nature Reserve.

4. Take to the tiller along the Thames

From our Oxford base at Eynsham, you can enjoy a Thames boating holiday.  It takes just over three hours, passing through four locks to reach City centre moorings in Oxford.  Many of the River Thames locks are manned, so there’s often help on hand for newcomers.  Once in Oxford, you take time to explore the city, including the famous Bodleian Library, Carfax Tower and Ashmolean Museum.

5. Navigate the Shroppie to historic Chester

It’s a seven-hour, nine-lock journey to the ancient city of Chester from our Bunbury base on the Shropshire Union Canal.  The route passes through the beautiful Cheshire countryside and villages.  There are historic local pubs to enjoy along the way, including The Ring O’Bells at Christleton and The Shady Oak at Bates Mill Bridge.  Once in Chester, you can take time to explore this cosmopolitan ancient city.  Attractions include: a Roman Amphitheatre and city walls, Chester Rows shops, 1,000-year old cathedral, racecourse and award-winning Zoo.

6. Test the waters on the Leeds & Liverpool

Setting off from Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire, the journey to Gargrave and back is nice and easy for beginners.  The route travels 12 miles through the Yorkshire countryside.  It passes through just three locks, and takes around 6½ hours.  Along the way, you’ll pass through Skipton, home to one of the best preserved medieval castles in England.  At Gargrave, there are plenty of pubs, including The Mason’s Arms and Cross Keys Inn.  Gargrave is on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, with over 680 square miles of some of England’s finest walking country to explore.

7. Cross the border into Wales surrounded by breath-taking scenery

From Whixall Marina on the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire, on a short break you can cruise to Chirk and back.  The journey to Chirk takes around eight hours and passes through just two locks.  The route passes Whixall Moss nature reserve and historic Ellesmere, in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District. At Chirk, where the Llangollen Canal crosses the Welsh border, there’s a choice of canalside pubs and the National Trust’s medieval Chirk Castle to visit.

To check availability and book click here or call us on 0117 463 3419. 

Best spring days out canal boating

Best spring days out boating on the canals in England and Wales

If you’re looking for a great day out this spring, why not hire a canal boat for the day

and enjoy cruising through the countryside.

You can enjoy cruising through the countryside, seeing the spring blossom on the trees and hedges. And spring lambs playing in the fields, ducklings, goslings and cygnets on the water, and bluebells in canalside woodlands.

We offer canal boat day boat hire from six of our bases, from just £99 per day for up to 10 people.

Tuition is included and our day boats are equipped with the things you need for a day afloat, including a kettle, cooker, fridge and toilet. Our day boats are pet-friendly too.

Here’s a guide to our top five day boat hire destinations on the canals in England and Wales this spring:

1. Float across The Stream in the Sky

On a day afloat from Trevor on the Llangollen Canal, you can cruise across to the World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct to Chirk and back.  As you cross, you’ll be 38 metres high above the Dee Valley with amazing views of the spring countryside. You can stop to enjoy a drink or a meal at the Bridge Inn at Chirk Bank or the Poacher’s Pocket at Gledrid.  The journey to Chirk and back takes five hours.

2. Potter through the Warwickshire countryside to Wilmcote

From Wootton Wawen you can cruise south along the Stratford Canal to the village of Wilmcote and back.  The journey will take you across the Edstone Aqueduct, the longest aqueduct in England, with views across the Warwickshire countryside.  From moorings at the top of the Wilmcote flight, it’s a short walk into the village to the Mary Arden Inn.  The journey to Wilmcote and back takes five hours.

3. Cruise through the Staffordshire countryside to Rugeley

From Great Haywood, near Stafford, you can cruise along the Trent & Mersey Canal to the historic market town of Rugeley and back.  You’ll pass through the Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Along the way, you can stop for a drink or a meal at the Wolseley Arms at Wolseley Bridge.  The journey to Rugeley and back takes six hours.

4. Boat through the Bath Valley to Brassknocker Basin

From Bradford on Avon, on the Kennet & Avon Canal in Wiltshire, you can cruise through the Bath Valley to Brassknocker Basin and back. Along the way you’ll pass over the magnificent Bath stone aqueducts at Avoncliff and Dundas.  You can stop for lunch at the canalside Cross Guns pub next to Avoncliff Aqueduct or the Angelfish Restaurant at Brassknocker Basin.  The journey there and back travels nine miles and takes around four hours.  There’s just one lock to pass through each way.

5. Navigate through the Cheshire countryside to Nantwich

On a day out from Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal near Tarporley, you can cruise to Nantwich and back.  The lock-free journey takes you past the canalside Barbridge Inn. And across the impressive Nantwich Aqueduct, with panoramic views across the town.  The journey to Nantwich and back takes around six hours.

6. Travel slowly through the Shropshire countryside to historic Whitchurch

From Whixall on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal, you can reach the historic market town of Whitchurch.  You’ll pass the Hadley Farm Café along the way and there’s a good choice of places to eat in Whitchurch, including the Black Bear pub.  The journey to Whitchurch and back takes around five hours.

To find out more and to book one of our day boats, go to https://www.anglowelsh.co.uk/our-boats/our-dayboat-fleet/

Or call us on 0117 304 1122.

To find out more about visiting the canal network, go to https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/

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Top 6 summer canal boat holiday circuits

Best canal boat holiday circuits and rings

Canal circuits and rings take in a wide variety of landscapes and are popular routes for narrowboat holidays

Canal boat holiday circuits and cruising rings bring you back to your narrowboat hire base without having to travel the same way twice.

Some are seriously challenging, with steep flights of locks and long dark tunnels to negotiate.  Others are easier and more suitable for boating beginners.

All offer a wonderful summer holiday adventure and the chance to explore some of Britain’s best loved countryside, as well as vibrant city centres.  All from your very own floating holiday home.

Here’s a guide to our top six narrowboat holiday summer circuits to explore:

1. The Black Country Ring

Setting off from our canal boat rental base at Great Haywood, the Black Country Ring can be done in a week.  You’ll cruise sections of the Birmingham & Fazeley, Birmingham Main Line, Coventry, Staffordshire & Worcestershire and Trent & Mersey canals.  Highlights include: Birmingham’s Gas Street Basin; the 21 locks at Wolverhampton; and the peaceful waters at Tixall Wide.  To complete the Black Country Ring from Great Haywood you’ll travel 75 miles, through 79 locks in around 43 hours.

2. The Four Counties Ring

Departing from our bases at Great Haywood, Bunbury or Whixall, this popular circuit can be completed on a 10-day or two-week break.  It takes you through the counties of Staffordshire, the West Midlands, Cheshire and Shropshire. Highlights include: the 2670-metre long Harecastle Tunnel; the flight of 15 locks at Audlem; views of the rolling Cheshire Plains; and the Roman town of Middlewich.  To complete the Four Counties Ring from Great Haywood, you will travel 110 miles, pass through 94 locks, which will take around 55 hours.  From Bunbury, it will be 115 miles, 96 locks and 58 hours.  From Whixall, it’s 137 miles, 132 locks and 86 hours.

3. The Cheshire Ring

From our Bunbury base, you can complete the Cheshire Ring on a 10-day or two-week break.  The journey will take you right through the heart of Manchester and into the Peak District via the Ashton, Macclesfield, Peak Forest, Rochdale, Trent & Mersey and Bridgewater canals.  Highlights along the way include: the incredible Anderton Boat Lift; stunning views of the Peak District; and Manchester’s China Town.  To complete the Cheshire Ring from Bunbury, you will travel 122 miles and pass through 102 locks, which takes around 86 hours.

4. The Warwickshire Ring

Setting off from Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal, you can complete the Warwickshire Ring on a 10-day or two-week break. You’ll travel along sections of the Grand Union, Oxford, Coventry and Birmingham & Fazeley canals.  Highlights include: the flight of 11 locks into Atherstone; the pretty canal village of Braunston; the awesome flight of 21 locks at Hatton; and Warwick Castle.  To complete the Warwickshire Ring from Wootton Wawen, you’ll pass through 128 locks in around 59 hours.

5. The Birmingham Mini-Ring

With more canals than Venice, exploring the Birmingham area by boat is one of the best ways to experience Britain’s vibrant second city. You can complete the Birmingham Mini-Ring on a week’s break from Wootton Wawen.  The route takes in sections of the Worcester & Birmingham, Birmingham Main Line and Grand Union canals. Highlights include: the historic village of Bournville, home of Cadbury’s chocolate; Gas Street Basin in central Birmingham; and the flight of 13 locks at Farmers Bridge.  To complete the Birmingham Mini-Ring from Wootton Wawen it takes around 35 hours and you’ll pass through 83 locks.

6. The Avon Ring

You can complete this epic circuit on a two week break Wootton Wawen.  The journey navigates sections of the Stratford Canal, River Avon, River Severn and Worcester & Birmingham Canal. Highlights include: Shakespeare’s Stratford; the River Avon with its panoramic views; the charming historic town of Evesham; the Cotswold medieval town of Tewskesbury; the City of Worcester with its magnificent cathedral; and the flight of 30 locks at Tardebigge.  To complete the Avon Ring from Wootton Wawen, you’ll travel 109 miles and pass through 131 locks, which will take around 58 hours.

To check availability and book click here or call us on 0117 463 3419.

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Top canal boat holiday wildlife hotspots

Best canal boat holiday wildlife destinations

Narrowboat holidays are like floating safaris, giving you the chance to spot a wide range of wildlife

The nation’s network of inland waterways have become an important place for biodiversity.

On your narrowboat holiday ou can look out for ducks, swans, herons, moorhens, coots, dragonflies, damselflies, bats, kingfishers, otters, water voles and many types of woodland birds.

To celebrate the biodiversity of the waterways, we’ve put together a list of our top 8 places to spot wildlife on a canal boat holiday:

1. Cruise along the Llangollen Canal to see herons at the Mere

On a short break from Trevor, you can cruise to the medieval market town of Ellesmere, home to the Mere.  Formed thousands of years ago by the melting of the glaciers during the retreating ice age, the Mere is home to the Heron Watch Scheme, with cameras allowing visitors to watch the birds build nests and raise chicks.  The journey to Ellesmere takes around seven hours, passes through two locks and crosses the UNESCO World Heritage status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.

2. Go otter spotting on the Montgomery Canal

On a week’s break from Whixall Marina, you can cruise a seven-mile section of the Montgomery Canal to Gronwyn Wharf.  Stretching 38 miles between England and Wales, the Montgomery Canal is designated a SSSI on both sides of the border.  Look out for water birds, dragon flies, damselflies, green woodpeckers, peregrines, and if you are lucky you may spot an otter too.  Over recent years, thanks to dedicated conservation efforts, otter populations are showing healthy signs of growth.  They are timid and not often seen by humans, but they can be spotted hunting prey in quiet stretches of canal.  From Whixall, the journey to Gronwyn Wharf takes around 10 hours, passing through eight locks along the way.

3. Listen out for the sound of song thrushes on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Crofton

On a week’s holiday from Monkton Combe, you can cruise along the Kennet & Avon Canal to Crofton.  This beautiful stretch of waterway in Wiltshire, offers the chance to spot swans, ducks and moorhens on the water and to listen out for the sound of song thrushes.  Living up to its common name, the song thrush has a loud song with repeating phrases.  Crofton is also a place of history, as the Crofton Pumping Station there houses the world’s oldest working beam engines.  It takes around 20 hours to cruise to Crofton, passing through 41 locks along the way, including the Caen Hill flight of 29 locks at Devizes.

4. Hear cuckoos calling on the River Thames at Abingdon

On a short break from our Oxford base, you can take a Thames boating holiday to Abingdon and listen for cuckoos calling from riverside meadows and woods at Abingdon. Considered to be an early sign of spring, cuckoos arrive from Africa in late March and April to spend the summer here.  The song of the cuckoo sounds the same as its name: ‘cuck-oo’. The journey to Abingdon takes around five hours, passing through six locks.

5. See bats flying across the water at Fradley Pool Nature Reserve

On a short break from Great Haywood, you can cruise to Fradley Junction, home of the Fradley Pool Nature Reserve.  There are walking trails and sculpture trails at Fradley.  Look out for water birds, terrapins basking in the sunshine and bats flying across the water if you are there at dusk in the spring and summer time.  From Great Haywood, it takes around five hours to reach Fradley on the Trent & Mersey Canal, passing through five locks along the way.

6. See grey wagtails on the Grand Union Canal at Hatton

On a short break from Wootton Wawen, you can reach the bottom of flight of the 21 lock Hatton flight in the Warwickshire countryside.  As well as ducks, moorhens and swans, you might see house sparrows and grey wagtails at the water’s edge.  Grey wagtails have a long, black-and-white tail, a yellow rump and a yellow belly.  They eat ants and midges that they find beside rivers and canals, and snails and tadpoles they find in shallow water.  From Wootton Wawen, it takes around eight hours to reach the Hatton flight on the Grand Union Canal, passing through 17 locks along the way.

7. See and hear woodland birds on the Peak Forest Canal at Marple

On a 10-day or two-week break from Bunbury, you can complete the Cheshire Ring, which includes the flight of 16 locks on the Peak Forest Canal at Marple.  Here you’ll be surrounded by beautiful countryside and stretches of ancient woodland – home to many types of woodland bird, including robins, jays and great tits.  You can also enjoy fantastic views across the Peak District from here.  From Bunbury, the Cheshire Ring takes around 60 hours, passing through 102 locks.

8. Watch out for water voles on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Caen Hill

On a short break from Bradford on Avon, you can reach the base of the Caen Hill flight, where water voles have been spotted in the side pounds.  Best known as ‘Ratty’ from ‘Wind in the Willows’, sadly the water vole is now one of our most endangered speciesThey burrow into steep waterside banks to form a complicated system of tunnels.  Look out for closely grazed ‘lawn’ areas with neat piles of chopped grass, which are often seen around burrow entrances.  From Bradford on Avon, it takes around eight hours to reach Caen Hill, passing through seven locks along the way.

To check availability and book click here or call us on 0117 463 3419. 

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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