It has been a glorious Summer on the canals and Autumn 2017 promises even more narrowboat highlights
It is hard to beat languid summer days drifting along canals on a narrowboat, but as autumn leaves start to flutter to the ground along the nation’s towpaths, the Anglo Welsh team are busy preparing for an equally enjoyable Indian summer on the water.
An early highlight of 2017 were the annual Open Days held at six Anglo Welsh bases as part of Drifters’ National Open Day in April. The Canal & River Trust supported event gave narrowboat newcomers at Tardebigge, Wootton Wawen, Bunbury, Trevor and Great Haywood a unique opportunity to try canal boating for free.
Among the summer’s busiest events on the water were the Bristol Harbour Festival, the Crick Boat Show, and the River Festival at Stratford-upon-Avon. In Shakespeare’s hometown, delighted visitors were invited on board Anglo Welsh’s high spec ‘Summer’, rated among the finest narrowboat hires available anywhere on the UK’s waterways.
Anglo Welsh also launched several exciting additions to our top-of-the-range Constellation class this summer, beginning with the 67 ft 6-berth ‘Pegasus’ based at our Great Haywood base and the 65 ft 4-berth ‘Hydra’ in Tardebigge. Next up came the spectacular 69 ft 12-berth ‘Lynx’ and the 67 ft 6-berth ‘Perseus’, both now available to hire from Anglo Welsh’s base at Stockton on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire.
The latter county was in the news when Phil Seedhouse, an IT manager from Solihull, decided to raise much-needed funds for Cardiomyopathy UK. The Warwickshire Towpath Challenge normally involves walking a 100 mile stretch of the West Midlands Canal Ring in 5-7 days, but Phil decided to test his endurance by tackling the route in just 4 days. Anglo Welsh’s support for his charitable walk helped him raise over £2,000.
Somewhat less strenuous was Stan Cullimore’s family cruise along the River Thames from our base in Oxfordshire. As befits a man who enjoyed chart success with ‘80s pop band The Housemartins on songs like ‘Sheep’ and ‘Meet the Farmer’, Stan was captivated by the sights and sounds of rural England as seen from the water. “It’s a wonderful way to slow down, unwind and watch the world go by,” he wrote in his Bristol Post review.
Anglo Welsh has yet to ask people to capture their narrowboat adventures in a song, but 2017 did see hundreds of canal devotees record the visual charms of the waterways as part of our ‘Canal Adventures 2017’ Instagram Photo Challenge. Kick-started by an ‘Instameet’ organized by Igers Wiltshire in Lechlade-on-Thames, the nation’s snappers captured handsome narrowboats and panoramic landscapes in all their glory, not to mention smiling children and happy pets!
The nights may be drawing in, but there are still plenty of exciting events on the canals in 2017. On September 20th, Bend on the Bends is a free Yoga session taking place on the banks of the Llangollen Canal next to Anglo Welsh’s base at Trevor, in the shadows of the awesome World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, 126 ft (38 metres) above the River Dee. The session is being run by Be Balanced Yoga and is funded by the Canal & River Trust. Not recommended for wobbly-legged punters who suffer from vertigo!
Talking of funny walks, Standedge Tunnel on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal is the venue for the Monty Python & The Holy Grail film and medieval style feast on September 22nd. Visitors feeling sluggish after the medieval feast, could do worse than moor close by and then visit nearby Sheffield, where the following day marks the start of the Sheffield Waterfront Festival, two fun-packed days of family activities and heritage boat trips. The busy weekend of September 23rd/24th also stages the Hayes Canal Festival on the Grand Union Canal, Walsall Canal Open Day, and the Birmingham Floating Market for canal traders.
Looking ahead to October, the Stourbridge Navigation Trust Open Weekend takes place on the 21st and 22nd of that month, a family friendly event now in its thirty-second year. Activities include canal boat trips, rides on classic vehicles and traction engines and fairground amusements – and it’s all free.
Last but not least, the Anderton Firework Spectacular on October 28th in Northwich, Cheshire promises to be one of the autumn’s unmissable events. A fully choreographed firework display will illuminate the sky over the Anderton Boat Lift, the so-called ‘Cathedral of the Canals’. And yes, the world-famous lift does what it says on the tin – lifting narrowboats straight up the 50 ft from the River Weaver to the Trent & Mersey Canal.