Spotlight on Great Haywood

Canal Boat Hire on Trent & Mersey and Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canals Near Stafford

Anglo Welsh’s canal boat hire base at Great Haywood, on the junction of the Trent & Mersey and Staffordshire & Worcestershire canals near Stafford, offers narrowboat holiday-makers the chance to explore the Potteries, the Peak District and the Black Country by boat.

Kevin Yarwood, Anglo Welsh’s manager at Great Haywood, says, “Situated at the junction of two key arteries of the canal network, our canal boat rental base at Great Haywood offers boaters a huge variety of route options. From easy short breaks, passing through peaceful canalside villages with cosy historic pubs, to epic journeys around some of the most popular cruising rings on the waterways.

“Perhaps the most popular route for beginners from Great Haywood is to take a short break (three or four nights) and cruise north along the Trent & Mersey Canal to the historic market town of Stone and back – a journey that takes 10 hours (five each way) and passes through just eight locks (four each way). Stone is renowned as the food and drink capital of Staffordshire, with regular markets, a good choice of restaurants and the annual Food & Drink Festival in October.

“Another great short break route is to head south along the Trent & Mersey to Fradley Junction and back – which takes around 12 hours, travelling a total of 24 miles and passing through five locks each way. The Coventry Canal meets the Trent & Mersey Canal at Fradley where visitors can enjoy refreshments at the Canalside Café or The Swan Inn and a wander around the Fradley Pool Nature Reserve, where a woodland trail and boardwalk take visitors on a tour of the reserve. Along the way to Fradley Junction, the route passes the magnificent Shugborough Estate with its stunning Georgian Mansion House and a number of family-friendly pubs, including the Wolseley Arms at Wolseley Bridge.

“The beautiful Caldon Canal, which takes boaters into the Peak District, is perhaps our most popular destination for those taking a week’s holiday afloat. It’s a 43-hour return journey to Froghall Basin and back, travelling a total of 72 miles (36 each way) through 70 locks (35 each way). To make this journey, boaters first head north along the Trent & Mersey Canal to Stoke-on-Trent, to connect onto the Caldon Canal at Etruria.

“As the Caldon Canal leaves Stoke, it begins to pass through gently rolling hills, wooded areas and past old mills and then alongside the beautiful River Churnet, where boaters can look out for kingfishers, herons, jays and woodpeckers, as well as otters which have recently returned to the area.

“For those looking for an active week’s break from Great Haywood we recommend travelling the Black Country Ring, which takes narrowboat holiday-makers on a 45-hour waterway odyssey, cruising a total of 75 miles and passing through 79 locks. Highlights of the route, which travels along sections of six different canals, include Cannock Chase, once a medieval royal hunting forest where deer still roam, and the Black Country Museum where visitors can step back in time and meet costumed characters, explore period shops and houses, take a 1912 school lesson and eat traditional fish & chips.

“On this route, boaters will also see the beautiful Tixal Wide – an amazing expanse of water home to many birds and animals, plus the historic market town of Penkridge with its striking church tower dominating the skyline, and Birmingham’s Gas Street Basin in the heart of the City, with easy access to Brindleyplace and a host of attractions.

“On a 10-day or two-week break from Great Haywood, we recommend tackling the Four Counties Ring – travelling through Cheshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire and the West Midlands, covering 110 miles and 94 locks, and taking around 55 cruising hours. Highlights along this scenic, largely rural journey include the Wedgewood Museum at Etruria, the 2,670-metre long Harecastle Tunnel at Kidsgrove and historic Market Drayton, home of the Gingerbread Man.

“We are particularly proud of the Luxury canal boat hire options available here at Great Haywood, including our 65ft long boat for four people ‘Centaurus’ and the 67ft six-berth ‘Pegasus’. They are both Constellation Class boats with semi-traditional sterns, two shower rooms with toilets, and two cabins which can be configured as a double bed or two single beds. In its spacious saloon, ‘Pegasus’ also has a bench seat and table that can be converted into either a double or two singles in the evening.”

If you would like to book a short break or holiday from Great Haywood, or any of our bases, simply call our friendly booking team on 0117 304 1122.


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Celebrate National Parks Week Afloat (22 – 29 July)

Canal boat holidays offer the chance to explore some of Britain’s most beautiful countryside, including several of our wonderful National Parks. Cruising gently along at just four miles per hour is the perfect way to relax, unwind and take in the scenery.

To celebrate National Parks Week this week (22-29 July), we’ve put together our ‘Top 3 National Park Canal Boat Holidays’:

  1. Potter through the Peak District to Froghall and back. On a week’s break from our narrowboat hire base at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal, it’s a 43-hour return journey to Froghall Basin and back, travelling a total of 72 miles through 72 locks. To make this journey, boaters first head north along the Trent & Mersey Canal to Stoke-on-Trent, to connect onto the Caldon Canal at Etruria. As the Caldon Canal leaves Stoke, it begins to pass through gently rolling hills, wooded areas and past old mills and then alongside the beautiful River Churnet, where boaters can look out for kingfishers, herons, jays and woodpeckers, as well as otters which have recently returned to the area. At Cheddleton, the Flint Mill Museum is open on selected weekends and the Black Lion pub offers refreshment. After Cheddleton, the canal enters ever more remote countryside and merges with the River Churnet at Oakmeadow Ford Lock, where the valley becomes too narrow for both. At Consall Forge, once home to forges, furnaces and slitting mills, boaters will find the secluded Black Lion pub, said to be one of the waterway network’s most iconic pubs. From Consall, the canal leaves the River Churnet, soon reaching Flint Mill Lock, where the channel narrows, woodlands close in and the canal’s sense of isolation grows, before reaching the 69-metre long Froghall Tunnel.
  2. Travel along the edge of the Yorkshire Dales to Gargrave. From our canal boat hire base at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire, it takes around seven hours, passing through three locks and travelling 12 miles to reach Gargrave on the River Aire – perfect for a short break. The journey takes canal boat holiday-makers through the typical Yorkshire stone built villages of Kildwick and Farnhill, as well as Skipton with its fascinating medieval castle. From Gargrave, visitors can access the Yorkshire Dales National Park where 680 square miles of some of England’s finest walking country can be explored, including deep valleys, open moorland and rugged hills with very little habitation. On a week’s break, canal boat holiday-makers can travel on to Foulridge, winding along the contours of the side of Airedale, with breath-taking views of the Yorkshire Dales.
  3. Cruise along the Peak Forest Canal to Whaley Bridge. From our canal boat rental base at Great Haywood, it takes around 30 hours, travelling 57 miles and passing through 31 locks to reach Whaley Bridge at the head of the beautiful Peak Forest Canal – perfect for a 10-day or two-week break. The route begins by heading north along the Trent & Mersey Canal, passing through the pretty market town of Stone, Stoke on Trent with its Potteries Museum and the 2675-metre long Harecastle Tunnel, before joining the Macclesfield Canal at Hardings Wood. From there, the journey takes boaters along the full 28 miles of the beautiful Macclesfield Canal with spectacular views over the Cheshire Plain, and passes through Congleton and Macclesfield, before reaching Marple. From here, boaters can connect onto the Peak Forest Canal and travel on to historic Whaley Bridge and Bugsworth Basin, once one of the largest inland ports on the English canal network.

To book a holiday or break on any of Anglo Welsh’s fleet, call our friendly booking team on 0117 304 1122.


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Come Along to One of Our Open Days

On Sunday 15 April 2018 we’re offering free canal boat holiday taster sessions at five of our canal boat hire bases, giving visitors the chance to find out more about what it’s like to enjoy a narrowboat holiday on Britain’s wonderful inland waterway network.

Our events are being held as part of Drifters’ National Open Day, which is supported by the Canal & River Trust. The taster sessions will include free trips on skippered narrowboats, as well as narrowboat tours, holiday discounts and the chance to find out more about our luxury canal boat hire opportunities. No advance booking is required. The events will open at 11am and close at 4pm.

Here’s a list of our narrowboat hire bases hosting events:

Tardebigge, Worcester & Birmingham Canal
Tardebigge Wharf, Old Wharf
Worcester, B60 1LR
Tel: 01527 873898

Wootton Wawen, Stratford Canal
Canal Wharf, Wootton Wawen
Henley in Arden
West Midlands, B95 6BZ
Tel: 01564 793427

Bunbury, Shropshire Union Canal
Bunbury Lock, Bunbury
Cheshire, CW6 9QB
Tel: 01829 260957

Trevor, Llangollen Canal
Canal Wharf, Trevor
Llangollen LL20 7TT
Tel: 01978 821749

Great Haywood, Staffs & Worcs Canal
Mill Lane, Great Haywood
Stafford, ST18 0RJ
Tel: 01889 881711

For information about all the other canal barge holiday open day events taking place across the country, go to

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Anglo Welsh’s Top 7 canal boat holidays for beginners

Every year more and more people are discovering the delights of holidaying on Britain’s beautiful inland waterways network

You don’t have to be an expert and you don’t need a licence to steer a canal boat. It’s easy for first-timers to learn to operate our boats and as part of our holiday package, we provide hirers with expert boat steering tuition.

With our nationally accredited handover, we’ll make sure you’re comfortable and in control before you set off. There is a manual on board every boat if you need to check on anything and our engineering teams are always 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 our top seven short break narrowboat holidays for newcomers to get you started:

  1. Head to Birmingham lock-free – with no locks between our base at Tardebigge and Birmingham City Centre, this five-hour cruise is perfect for first-time canal boat holiday-makers. The first half of the journey passes through fields, woodlands and sleepy villages before the route becomes more urbanised. Once in the centre of Birmingham, narrowboat holiday-makers can find over-night moorings at Gas Street Basin, with easy access to Brindley Place, the Mailbox and Bullring shopping centres, theatres, museums and restaurants.
  2. 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 our base at Trevor to Ellesmere and back offers a fantastic short break holiday for beginners. And the route includes the experience of travelling across the incredible World Heritage status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, with jaw-dropping panoramic views of the Dee Valley below.
  3. Dip your toe in the water at Bath – from our base at Bradford on Avon on the Kennet & Avon Canal in Wiltshire, Bath Top Lock is a lovely six-hour, one-lock cruise away. Skirting the southern foothills of the Cotswolds, the route passes over two stunning Bath stone aqueducts and past a series of popular canalside pubs, including the George at Bathampton. From Bath Top Lock, canal boat holiday makers can walk into the centre of Bath in just 15 minutes to enjoy all that the World Heritage Status City of Bath has to offer, such as the Roman Baths, Royal Crescent, Bath Abbey and an excellent range of independent shops and restaurants.
  4. Take to the tiller along the Thames – from our base on the River Thames at Eynsham near Witney, it takes just 3½ hours, passing through four locks to reach City centre moorings in Oxford. All the locks are manned along the Thames so there’s help on hand for newcomers. Once in Oxford, boaters can use their vessel as a base to explore all that this fascinating city has to offer, including the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, the Carfax Tower and pubs like the Lamb & Flag, steeped in literary and film history.
  5. Steer gently along to Stone – from our base at Great Haywood it takes just five hours of gentle cruising along the Trent & Mersey Canal to reach the historic Shropshire market town of Stone. There are just four locks to pass through and plenty of pubs to take refreshment at along the way, including the ‘Woolpack’ and ‘Saracen’s Head’ at Weston, the ‘Holly Bush Inn’ at Salt, the ‘Dog & Doublet’ at Sandon and the ‘Greyhound’ at Burston.
  6. Chug up the Shroppie to historic Chester – it’s a seven-hour, nine-lock journey to Chester from our Bunbury base on the Shropshire Union Canal. The route passes through glorious English countryside and villages with historic local pubs, including the ‘Ring O’Bells’ at Christleton and the ‘Shady Oak’ at Bates Mill Bridge. Once in Chester, canal boat holiday-makers can explore this wonderfully cosmopolitan ancient City, including its Roman Amphitheatre, city walls, Chester’s Rows shops, 1,000-year old cathedral, racecourse and zoo.
  7. Test the waters on the Leeds & Liverpool – from our Silsden base on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire, it’s a great short break route for beginners to travel west to Gargrave and back. Travelling 12 miles through just three locks, the journey takes around 6½ hours and passes through the historic town of Skipton, with its fascinating medieval castle, one of the most complete and best preserved in England.


To make a booking or to get friendly advice on canal holidays, please call our Booking Office on 0117 304 1122.

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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