Escape into the countryside afloat 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.