Top 10 National Trust properties to visit afloat
With historic houses, classy cafes and stunning gardens, National Trust properties are great places to stop-off along the way on a narrowboat holiday.
There are dozens of National Trust properties within easy reach of our canals and rivers and to celebrate, we’ve put together our Top 10 National Trust destinations afloat for 2017:
- Hear about the Holy Grail connections at Shugborough Hall on the Staffs & Worcester Canal. The beautiful Shugborough Estate in Staffordshire is a rare survival of a complete estate, with all major buildings including the fine Georgian Mansion House, servants’ quarters, model farm and walled garden. Rumored to have connections to the Holy Grail, the Estate also offers visitors 900 acres of stunning parkland and riverside gardens to explore. Our boat yard at Great Haywood is just five minutes away from Shugborough.
- Travel to Farnborough Hall on the Oxford Canal. This 18th century family home with honey-stoned walls has landscaped parkland and formal gardens full of surprises, includes cascades, a yew canopy and rose garden. Inside the house, the Holbech family’s personal collection includes exquisite sculptures, porcelain and artwork by Panini and Canaletto. From our canal boat hire base at Stockton on the Grand Union Canal, it’s a 17-mile, 12-lock, 8-hour journey along the Grand Union Canal and down the Oxford Canal to Claydon Top Lock. From there it’s a two-mile walk to Farnborough Hall.
- Discover over 700 years of history at Chirk Castle on the Llangollen Canal. This magnificent medieval fortress at Chirk was completed in 1310 and is the last Welsh castle from the reign of Edward I still lived in today. Its many fascinating historic features include the medieval tower and dungeon, 17th century Long Gallery, grand 18th century state apartments, servants’ hall and laundry. It also boasts award-winning gardens and incredible views over the Cheshire and Salop plains. From our base at Trevor, it’s a four-mile, two aqueduct journey to Chirk and it takes around half an hour to walk up to Chirk Castle from there.
- Hanbury Hall & Gardes near Droitwich Spa on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. Built in 1701 by Thomas Vernon, a lawyer and whig MP for Worcester, Hanbury Hall is a Grade I Listed stately home built of red brick in the Queen Anne style. It also offers visitors 20 acres of re-created early 18th century gardens with Parterre and formal fruit and vegetable gardens, as well as 400 acres of parkland to explore. From our base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal it’s a five-mile, 36-lock, 10-hour journey to Astwood Top Lock, and from there Hanbury Hall is a 2-mile walk away.
- Take a tour of the topiary at Packwood House on the Stratford Canal. Originally built in the 16th century, the interiors of this timber-framed Tudor house at Lapworth were extensively restored between the First and Second World Wars by Graham Baron Ash to create a fascinating 20th century evocation of domestic Tudor architecture. The Packwood House gardens have fine herbaceous borders and a famous collection of yews. Our nearest canal boat hire base is at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal near Henley-in-Arden. From here, it’s a 7-mile, 31-lock, 10-hour journey to Lapworth Lock No 6, and half a mile’s walk to Packwood.
- Wonder at the beauty of the Palladian Bridge at Prior Park Landscape Garden near Bath. Built in 1755, the elegant Palladian Bridge at Prior Park was created by local entrepreneur Ralph Allen, with advice from ‘Capability’ Brown and the poet Alexander Pope. The stunning garden in which it sits was influential in defining the style known as “the English landscape garden”. Other fascinating architectural gems in this beautiful parkland, include the bath stone ice house built at the same time as the mansion in the mid-18th century, from which ice was transferred to the house using the park’s own railway. From our base at Bath, it’s a two-hour journey down the Bath flight of locks on the Kennet & Avon Canal to moorings close to the White Hart pub at Widcombe Hill, where a footpath takes you to Prior Park, ¾ of a mile away.
- Gaze at the Grade II listed Courts Garden close to Bradford on Avon on the Kennet & Avon Canal. This delightful English country garden dotted with beautiful garden rooms has impressive sculptured yew trees, colorful and fragrant borders, beautifully manicured lawns, an arboretum, peaceful water gardens with lily pond and dye pool, a classical stone temple, tea room and garden shop. From our base at Bradford on Avon, it’s a three-mile lock-free cruise to Hilperton, and from there it’s just over a mile’s walk to Courts Garden.
- Enjoy a visit to East Riddlesden Hall on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. Built on a plateau overlooking the River Aire, this 17th century manor house at Keighley with large mullioned windows, stone floors, paneled walls and intricate plaster work ceilings, was a hive of farming activity for generations. The house is home to a wonderful collection of 17th & 19th century needlework, furniture and ceramics and in the grounds, visitors can admire the impressive oak beams of the estate’s 400-year old Grade I Listed Great Barn. Our nearest boatyard is just four miles away at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal.
- Find out about life in the early 20th century at Nuffield Place in Oxfordshire. From our Oxford base on the River Thames at Eynsham, it’s a nine-hour and 11 lock cruise the ancient market town of Wallingford, and a seven-mile bus or taxi ride to Nuffield Place country house. Typifying early 20th-century taste and thrift, the home life of owners Lord and Lady Nuffield is vividly bought to life with their personal possessions on display just as they left them. Philanthropist Lord Nuffield built his Morris Minor company from the ground up and Nuffield House was his home from 1933 until his death in 1963. The house also has a delightful garden and woods and meadow to explore. Produce grown in the vegetable garden can be bought in the shop and cream teas and light lunches are served in the tea room.
- Take a step back to Tudor times at Little Moreton Hall on the Macclesfield Canal. This iconic moated Tudor Manor House in Congleton offers an amazing insight into life in the 1600s, with costumed interpreters, guides and regular festivals helping to bring Tudor times back to life. In the Hall’s manicured knot garden, herbs and vegetables used by the Tudors for their cooking and medicines are still grown, as well as fruit in the orchard. From our Bunbury base on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire, it’s a 30-mile, 38-lock and 17-hour journey to Congleton, and Little Morton Hall is a 20-minute walk from bridge 86 the Macclesfield Canal.