The canals are much quieter in the winter months and there are lots of historic canalside pubs with roaring log fires to enjoy along the way.
Popular canal barge holiday destinations from Great Haywood
The most popular winter cruise destination from Great Haywood is to travel south along the Trent & Mersey Canal to Fradley Junction. This peaceful 12-mile cruise through the Staffordshire countryside takes around five hours, passing through five locks.
Pubs to visit along the way the Wolseley Arms at Wolseley Bridge and The Old Peculiar in the village of Handsacre.
Once at Fradley, you can find refreshments at the Canalside Café or The Swan Inn.
Alternatively you can travel north along the Trent & Mersey Canal to the market town of Stone. Along the way you’ll pass The Saracens Head at Weston and The Greyhound at Burston.
Local attractions to visit
We are lucky to have a number of great attractions close to us at Great Haywood.
For example the National Trust’s Shugborough Estate, where the gardens lead right down to the canal, has some lovely Christmas events. Their Winter Light Trail takes visitors through the historic grounds with light displays set to music.
Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, once a royal hunting forest is also nearby. As well as the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust’s Wolseley Centre.
Both are wonderful havens for wildlife, with lots to see and do even in the winter months.
Winter wildlife on the waterways
We also still see plenty of wildlife on the canal here over the winter, especially woodland and hedgerow birds such as chaffinch, robins, blue and coal tits, jays, nuthatch, woodpeckers and our resident pair of swans. We feed the birds all year round, but of course it’s over the winter months that it’s most vital to do so. We provide nutritious wild bird seed, peanuts, fat balls and sesame seeds.
We are sometimes lucky enough to see otters from the River Trent coming up onto the canal to feed at night.
Canal boats available to hire this Christmas
We offer a range of canal boats for hire over the winter, from a cosy narrowboat for two to a family canal boat for 12. They all have central heating, hot water showers, comfortable beds, fully equipped kitchens, WiFi, TV and DVD players, so it’s always nice and warm on board. Our luxury boats ‘Curzon’ for four people and ‘Pegasus’ for six, also have multi-fuel stoves.
Over the Christmas week, we have an 11-night break starting on 22 December and a three-week hire starting on 16 December. And we have another week hire over New Year, starting on 27 December.
Cooking Christmas lunch on board a narrowboat
This year my wife and I will be cooking Christmas lunch aboard our narrowboat for our two children and two Staffordshire Bull Terriers.
Cooking Christmas dinner on a canal boat isn’t that different to a normal kitchen, except you don’t have a huge amount of worktop space. And you need to be careful not to buy too big a turkey, as most ovens are slightly smaller on boats.
We offer winter cruising from six of our narrowboat hire bases, giving you the chance to experience cruising gently through the countryside this winter when the canals are quieter*.
People tend to make shorter journeys during the winter. It’s more about enjoying being out in the countryside close to the water than travelling lots of miles each day.
You can stop off to visit historic canalside pubs with roaring log fires along the way. And you can visit some of Britain’s most popular towns and cities, including Stratford-upon-Avon and Chester.
Our winter narrowboats for hire range from cosy boats for two, to a family canal boat for 10.
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.
Our winter cruising bases also offer canal boat hire over Christmas and New Year.
Our winter canal boat holidays prices start at £680 for a short break, and £940 for a week on a boat for up to four people.
Here’s a guide to our Top 6 winter narrowboat holidays for 2023:
1. Boat to historic Bradford on Avon and back
From our canal barge hire base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Bath, it takes around three-and-a-half hours to reach the historic Wiltshire town of Bradford on Avon. Along the way, you’ll cross over the magnificent Bath stone aqueducts at Dundas and Avoncliff. And you’ll cruise past the popular canalside pubs The George at Bathampton and the The Cross Guns at Avoncliff. Once at Bradford on Avon, you can moor up to explore this historic market town on the edge of the Cotswolds with independent shops and a great choice of places to eat.
2. Cruise through the Staffordshire countryside to Fradley
Heading south from our narrowboat holiday hire base at Great Haywood you’ll reach Fradley Junction in around five hours. The journey cruises 12 miles of the Trent & Mersey Canal and passes through five lock. You’ll pass through the Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Places to visit along the way include the National Trust’s Shugborough Estate the Wildlife Trust’s Wolseley Centre. Pubs to visit include The Wolseley Arms at Wolseley and The Old Peculiar at Handsacre. At Fradley you can visit the Canalside Café or The Swan Inn, and enjoy walking trails at the Fradley Pool Nature Reserve.
3. Travel gently through the Shropshire countryside to historic Whitchurch
From our canal barge holiday rental base at Whixall it takes around four hours to reach the pretty historic town of Whitchurch. You’ll cruise along the Llangollen Canal, passing Whixall Moss along the way – a great place for spotting wildlife. Once at Whitchurch, you can enjoy way-marked walks, Brown Moss nature reserve and a choice of pubs, including the award-winning Black Bear.
4. Float through the Warwickshire countryside to Shakespeare’s Stratford
From our narrowboat rental base at Wootton Wawen in Warwickshire, you can reach Stratford-upon-Avon in six hours. You can stop-off along the way at the village of Wilmcote to visit the Mary Arden Inn. In Shakespeare’s Stratford, you can moor up in the centre of town at Bancroft Basin to enjoy exploring this popular historic town.
5. Cruise through the Cheshire countryside to the ancient City of Chester
From our narrowboat hire base at Bunbury near Tarporley it takes seven hours to reach Chester. You’ll cruise along the Shropshire Union Canal passing through nine locks, and a series of village pubs, including The Cheshire Cat at Christleton. Once moored up at Northgate visitor moorings, you can take time to explore this ancient Cathedral City with Roman City Walls and Chester Rows shops.
6. Cross ‘The Stream in the Sky’ to the Shropshire Lake District
Our canal boat rental base at Trevor in North Wales, is a ten minute cruise from the incredible World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. This magnificent feat of Victorian engineering carries the Llangollen Canal 126ft high above the Dee Valley, with amazing views to enjoy. On a short break, you can cruise to Ellesmere, in the centre of the Shropshire Lake District. At Ellesmere, you can visit the famous Mere, a haven for wildlife, and find a great choice of places to eat and drink.
*Some of our routes will be affected at times by the Canal & River Trust’s annual winter maintenance work.
If you are looking for a great day out this Autumn, why not hire a canal boat for the day and enjoy the changing colours in the trees along our canals.
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.
Here’s a guide to our top six day boat hire destinations this Autumn:
1. See the Autumn colours of the Dee Valley
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 126ft high above the Dee Valley with fantastic views of the changing colours of the trees below. 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 in Warwickshire, 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 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. Travel through the Worcestershire countryside to Kings Norton
From Tardebigge near Bromsgrove you can cruise along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal to Kings Norton. You’ll pass through two tunnels and the remains of the Forest of Arden. You can stop off to enjoy a drink or a meal at the Crown at Alvechurch. The journey to Kings Norton and back takes around six hours.
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.
Top 8 places to celebrate Halloween on a canal boat holiday
Canal boat holidays offer the chance to enjoy a family staycation afloat this October Half Term, spending time together and visiting waterside destinations hosting spooky Halloween events.
Your floating holiday cottage will be equipped with the key comforts of home, including central heating and hot water, so it’s always nice and cosy on board.
All our boats also have fully equipped kitchens, so you can enjoy a self-catering holiday afloat.
To celebrate the October Half Term holiday, we’ve put together a guide to our top 8 narrowboat holiday destinations hosting Halloween events*:
1. Take The Sinister Side of Shakespeare Walking Tour’ in Stratford-upon-Avon
From our basw on the Stratford Canal at Wootton Wawen, it takes around six hours to reach moorings in the centre of Shakespeare’s Stratford. You can book online to experience ‘The Sinister Side of Shakespeare’s Stratford Walking Tour’ where you’ll learn about the town’s infamous witches, and discover the real-life tragedies that inspired Shakespeare. The journey to Stratford and back takes around 12 hours and passes through 24 locks (12 each way).
2. Explore the ‘Half Term Halloween Trail’ at Chirk Castle
From Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, you can reach Chirk Bank in around one-and-a-half hours. From there it takes around 30 minutes to walk up to the National Trust’s Chirk Castle, where you can take part in a ‘Half Term Halloween Trail’, 21-31 October 2023. The event sends you on a quest to protect the castle from the evil spirits, elves and goblins that lurk around. The journey from Trevor to Chirk and back takes around three hours, and passes over the UNESCO World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct along the way.
3. Get spooked at a ‘Halloween Night’ at the Black Country Living Museum
On a short break from Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal you can reach the Black Country Living Museum. On Saturday 23, Friday 29 and Saturday 30 October, the Museum will host special ‘Halloween Nights’, giving you the chance to trick-or-treat your way round spooky streets, spot fantastical characters and dress-up to go to the monster’s ball. The journey from Tardebigge to the Black Country Living Museum and back takes 16 hours and passes through six locks (three each way).
4. Follow the Halloween Trail at Chester Zoo
On a short break from Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal, you can reach Chester, home of the award-winning Chester Zoo. This October, Chester Zoo which is home to over 27,000 animals, will be hosting an interactive Halloween Trail across its 128 acres of zoological gardens. The journey from Bunbury to Chester and back takes around 14 hours and passes through 18 locks (nine each way).
5. See ‘The Lost Boys’ at the Shugborough Estate outdoor cinema event
Our base on the Trent & Mersey Canal at Great Haywood is less than an hour’s cruise away from the National Trust’s Shugborough Estate. At 7.30pm on Tuesday 31 October, the Estate is hosting an outdoor screening of the vampire classic ‘The Lost Boys’, starring Kiefer Sutherland.
On a short break from Stockton on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, you can reach moorings close to Warwick Castle. From 21 October to 5 November, the Castle’s ‘Haunted Castle’ event features a series of spooky experiences, including the Castle Dungeon and the Horrible Histories Maze. The journey from Stockton takes seven hours and passes through 20 locks.
7. Go on a Spooky Tour at Oxford Castle
On a short break from our Oxford base on the River Thames at Eynsham you can reach overnight moorings in Oxford City Centre. From there, it’s a short walk to Oxford Castle where from 16-31 October 2023 you can experience an evening Spooky guided tour of the 1,000 year-old haunted castle. From our Oxford base, it takes three-and a-half-hours, passing through three locks to reach moorings in Oxford city centre.
8. Visit Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein in Bath ‘After Dark’
On a short break from Monkton Combe, you can reach moorings in Bath City Centre. There you can visit Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein to experience its ‘After Dark – nights to die for’ Halloween event, on from 20-31 October 2023. The experience offers the chance to venture through rooms cloaked in darkness and features live actors, games and special effects. From our Monkton Combe base it takes four hours, passing through six locks, to reach moorings in Bath City Centre.
*NB Most of the events listed need to be booked in advance via the venue’s website
Take a boat trip across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct this Autumn
In September and October, our ‘Little Star’ trip boat will be operating five trips a day across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.
The trips offer passengers panoramic views of the beautiful Autumn colours across the Dee Valley.
Experience this World Heritage site afloat
The UNESCO World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct carries boats 126 feet high across the Dee Valley.
Our daily skippered boat trips aboard ‘Little Star’ offer the chance to cruise along the Llangollen Canal and across this incredible structure.
This Autumn, passengers can enjoy amazing views across the Dee Valley, seeing the changing colours in the trees.
Onboard commentary is provided
Our knowledgeable team provides commentary on board about the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and the Llangollen Canal.
It’s a great way to learn more about the fascinating history of this UNESCO World Heritage site as you cruise gently along.
Trip times and access
In September and October, trips depart daily at 11am, 12 noon, 1.30pm, 2.30pm and 3.30pm from Canal Wharf, Trevor, Llangollen LL20 7TT.
There’s a public car park nearby at LL14 3SG.
Ticket prices and booking
‘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.
Top 7 week-long canal boat cruises through the countryside this Autumn
This Autumn adventure afloat on a canal cruise through the countryside, enjoying the beautiful colours in the trees and hedgerows that line our canals and rivers.
Canal boat holidays are a great way to connect with nature. You can watch-out for plant, animal and bird life along the way, including the hedgerow fruits and berries enjoyed by birds and small mammals.
To celebrate the Autumn colours along the canals, we’ve put together a guide to our top seven week-long cruises through the countryside:
1. Cruise through the Shropshire countryside to Whitchurch
On a week’s break from our canal boat hire centre at Trevor in North Wales, you can travel along the Llangollen Canal to Whitchurch and back. Along the way, you’ll cross the UNESCO World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, with amazing views of the Dee Valley. Then it’s on through the Shropshire countryside, passing through Ellesmere, in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District. Once at Whitchurch, you can moor up to explore the Shropshire Wildlife Trust’s Greenfields Nature Reserve, with woodland walks and the chance to spot water voles. The journey from Trevor to Whitchurch and back takes 24 hours and passes through four locks (two each way).
2. Navigate through the Yorkshire countryside to Foulridge Tunnel
On a week’s break from Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire, you can cruise through the Yorkshire countryside to Foulridge Tunnel. The journey takes you through a series of historic towns and villages, including Skipton, with its medieval castle and acres of woodland trails to explore. And East Marton with access to the Pennine Way National Trail. The journey from Silsden to Foulridge and back takes 26 hours and passes through 30 locks (15 each way).
3. Boat through the Cheshire countryside to Red Bull Wharf
On a week’s break from Bunbury, you can cruise through the Cheshire countryside to Red Bull Wharf and back. The route will take you along the rural Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal, which runs from Barbridge Junction to Middlewich. This peaceful 10-mile long waterways passing through the pretty village of Church Minshull, with its popular Badger Inn gastro pub. The journey from Bunbury to Red Bull Wharf and back travels 53 miles and passes through 70 locks (35 each way).
4. Meander through the Oxfordshire countryside to Wallingford
On a week’s break from our Oxford canal boat hire base, you can cruise along the River Thames to the historic market town of Wallingford. The journey passes through miles of peaceful Oxfordshire countryside, waterside meadows and woodlands. As well as the City of Oxford, there’s a series of riverside towns and villages to visit along the way, including the historic market town of Abingdon. It takes around 18 hours to cruise from our Oxford base at Eynsham to Wallingford and back, passing through 22 locks (11 each way).
5. Wend your way through the Wiltshire countryside to the Vale of Pewsey
On a week’s break from Monkton Combe on the Kennet & Avon Canal near Bath you can reach Pewsey Wharf. The journey takes you up the 29 locks of the Caen Hill Flight, one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways. And through the beautiful Vale of Pewsey, part of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Places to visit along the way include the historic market towns of Bradford on Avon and Devizes. It takes around 38 hours to cruise from Monkton Combe to Pewsey and back, passing through 74 locks (37 each way).
6. Journey to Llangollen North Wales and visit the Horsehoe Falls
On a week’s break from Whixall Marina, on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire, you can reach the historic town of Llangollen on the edge of the Berwyn Mountains. Along the way, you’ll travel through the Shropshire countryside to Ellesmere, with its beautiful Mere and woodland walks. You’ll cruise across the magnificent Pontcysyllte and Chirk aqueducts, enjoying incredible views of the Welsh Mountains. At Llangollen, nestled in the Berwyn Mountains, you can visit the famous Horseshoe Falls. The journey from Whixall to Llangollen and back takes around 24 hours and passes through four locks (two each way).
7. Meander along the Ashby Canal SSSI
From our Stockton base on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, you can travel up the North Oxford Canal and transfer onto the tranquil Ashby Canal. This 22-mile long lock-free waterway meanders through the Leicestershire countryside from Marston Junction to Snarestone. The six miles from Carlton Bridge 44 to Snarestone are designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for their aquatic plans. The journey from Stockton to Snarestone and back takes 44 hours and passes through 14 locks (seven each way).
Seven reasons to take a boating holiday on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal
At 127 miles, the Leeds & Liverpool Canal is the longest single canal in the country. Opened in 1816, it crosses the Pennines and links the wide waterways of Yorkshire with those of Lancashire and the River Mersey.
From Silsden, on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire, Anglo Welsh offers the choice of 18 narrowboats and six wide beam boats for hire.
To celebrate canal boat holidays in the area, we’ve listed our top 7 reasons to take a boating holiday on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal:
1. It’s good for your wellbeing
Research by the Canal & River Trust shows spending time by the waterways can make you happier and reduce anxiety. Cruising through the countryside, canal boat holiday-makers on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal can relax and unwind aboard their floating holiday home.
2. It’s the perfect way to enjoy stunning scenery
Travelling at just four-miles-an-hour means boaters get the chance to soak up the stunning scenery, including the rugged hills of the Yorkshire Dales and the woodlands of the Aire Valley.
3. It’s like a floating safari
Canals are havens for wildlife, so there’s always something special to see. As well as water birds such as moorhens, coots, swans and ducks, boaters can look out for kingfishers, damselflies, dragonflies, woodland birds and bats skimming the water at dusk.
4. There are plenty of pubs!
There are dozens of canalside pubs to enjoy along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, including the Narrow Boat at Skipton and the Bay Horse at Snaygill. Many date back to the days when canals were the transport arteries of the Industrial Revolution, providing hospitality for the working boat men and women, and their horses.
5. You can bring your pets
Anglo Welsh welcomes a wide variety of pets on board, so it’s a staycation that all the family can enjoy. As well as dogs, rabbits, hamsters, tortoises, lizards and goldfish have also enjoyed canal boat holidays on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal.
6. History is all around you
Britain’s canal network is a working heritage made up of thousands of historic structures, including the Bingley Five Rise staircase of locks on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal near Bradford. Listed as one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’, these cavernous locks raise (or lower) boats by 18 metres.
7. You don’t need to be an expert
A licence isn’t required to steer a canal boat, and tuition is provided as part of Anglo Welsh’s holiday hire. There’s a choice of short break holidays for beginners to enjoy on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal.
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
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