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Christmas canal boat holidays

Christmas canal boat holidays
Kevin Yarwood, Anglo Welsh’s canal boat hire base manager at Great Haywood in Staffordshire, describes the winter wildlife he sees on the canals and Christmas canal boat holiday options. 

Here at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal, we offer canal boat hire all year round, including Christmas and New Year.

Anglo Welsh also offers Christmas and New Year narrowboat holidays from Trevor, Whixall, Bath, Tardebigge, Bunbury, Wootton Wawen and Silsden.

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.

The event is on from 1-24 December and tickets have to be booked in advance via their website Luminate Shugborough Light Trail at Shugborough Estate, Staffordshire

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.

Happy Christmas from the Great Haywood team!

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