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Top 7 holidays for 2025

Visit Stratford upon Avon on a canal boat holiday

Top 7 canal boat and narrowboat holidays in England and Wales for 2025

Our 2025 holidays are now available to book at 2024 prices with an early booking discount*

1. Cruise through the countryside to Whitchurch and back

On a mid-week break from Bunbury, you can cruise to Whitchurch.  The journey there and back travels 35 miles, through 40 locks and takes around 20 hours. You’ll first head south through Bunbury Locks and on to Barbridge Junction, where the Middlewich Branch meets the Shropshire Union Canal. At Hurleston Junction you’ll transfer onto the Llangollen Canal. Cruise on through the countryside and stop at bridge 12 for a walk to the Farmers Arms in the village of Ravensmoor. Soon after you’ll reach Wrenbury, with the canalside Dusty Miller and Cotton Arms.  Continue on to Marbury, home to the Swan Inn. Then on to Grindley Brook Locks and historic Whitchurch, with independent shops and restaurants, way-marked walks and award-winning Black Bear pub.

2. See the spectacular flight of locks at Devizes

On a short break from Bradford on Avon you can cruise east along the Kennet & Avon Canal to the Caen Hill locks at Devizes. The journey there and back goes through 14 locks and takes around 15 hours.  You’ll pass the canalside King’s Arms pub at Hilperton Marina. The journey continues east through Semington and Seend, with its canalside Barge Inn.  Soon after you’ll reach the base of the Caen Hill flight of 29 locks at Devizes, one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’. From the canal it’s a short walk to the historic market town of Devizes, with places to visit including the Wadworth Brewery Visitor Centre, Bear Hotel, Peppermill Restaurant and Dolcipani Bakery.

3. Glide across ‘The Stream in the Sky’ to Ellesmere

From Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, the incredible Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is minutes away. This UNESCO World Heritage structure carries canal boat holiday-makers 38 metres high in the air above the River Dee. On a short break from Trevor you can cross the aqueduct and then continue east through Chirk, with a choice of canalside pubs.  Then on to the historic town of Ellesmere in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District. The journey to Ellesmere and back travels 28 miles, passes through four locks and takes around 14 hours.

4. Cruise along the River Thames to the Cotswolds

On a mid-week break from our Oxford base you can cruise along the River Thames to Lechlade on the edge of the Cotswolds.  The journey there and back takes 18 hours and passes through 14 locks.  Along the way, you’ll enjoy views of the peaceful Oxfordshire countryside.  You’ll pass through small villages along the way, including Radcot with its Swan Hotel. And Kelmscott with its picturesque Plough Inn and beautiful Grade I listed riverside Kelmscott Manor, once the inspirational Cotswold retreat of William Morris.

5. Travel round the Avon Ring

On a 10-day or two-week break from Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal you can travel round the epic Avon Ring. The journey takes around 58 hours and passes through 131 locks. Heading south from Wootton Wawen, you’ll connect with the River Avon at Shakespear’es Stratford-upon-Avon.  From there, you’ll cruise through the countryside to Evesham and then Tewkesbury, where the Avon joins the River Severn.  You’ll cruise for 16 miles along the River Severn before reaching Worcester. The route then travels up the Worcester & Birmingham Canal to its junction with the Stratford Canal at Kings Norton.  You’ll pass through the mighty Tardebigge flight of 30 locks along the way. At Kings Norton, head south along the Stratford Canal back to return to Wootton Wawen, passing through Lapworth and Lowsonford.

6. Boat to Fazeley and Drayton Manor Park

On a week’s holiday from Great Haywood you can cruise through the Staffordshire countryside to Fazeley and back.  The journey there and back travels 48 miles, passes through 10 locks and takes around 22 hours.  First head south along the Trent & Mersey Canal past Little Haywood, with Red Lion and Lamb & Flag pubs.  Cruise on past the Wolseley Bridge, with canalside Wolseley Arms pub and access to the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust’s Wolseley Centre.  Continue on, now passing through Cannock Chase, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Cross Brindley Bank Aqueduct and continue towards the historic town of Rugeley. At Fradley Junction transfer onto the Coventry Canal. Next you’ll pass through a series of villages, including Whittington, home of The Swan pub. At Fazeley Junction turn right and moor up between Tolson’s Footbridge and Coleshill Road Bridge.  From there you can walk to Drayton Manor Park.

7. Visit the World Heritage village at Saltaire

On a short break from Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal you can travel to Sir Titus Salt’s model town at Saltaire.  The journey to Saltaire and back travels 18 miles, takes 13.5 hours and passes through 22 locks. Along the way you’ll encounter the Bingley Five Rise locks, one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’. These cavernous chambers raise (or lower) boats 18 metres.  They open directly from one to another, with the top gate of one forming the bottom of the next. It takes around one-and-a-half hours to pass through and there are lock keepers on hand to help. Cruise on through Stockbridge and Riddlesden and then you’ll reach Saltaire, near Shipley.  Now a World Heritage site, Sir Titus Salt built the textile Mill and entire village for his mill workers at Saltaire. Today, Salt’s Mill is home to examples of the work of Bradford born artist David Hockney.

*If you book your 2025 canal holiday by 31 August 2024, you can book at 2024 prices with a 10% discount. T’s & C’s apply.

To check availability and book click here or call us on 0117 463 3419.

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Best narrowboat holiday getaways for couples

Canal boat holiday getaways for couples

A boating break on Britain’s beautiful inland waterways can be a perfect minibreak for couples wanting to experience life in the slow lane

Slow life down to a tranquil three miles per hour and drift along the historic waterways of England and Wales to admire beautiful countryside and fascinating historic towns and cities by narrowboat.

Bath to Bradford-on-Avon

Soak up all the history and culture of the stunning Georgian city of Bath at your own pace. With its famous Roman Baths, its close links with Jane Austen and museum honouring the author, its wonderful range of iconic Regency buildings and much more, Bath is a history lover’s dream. But it is also a lovely modern city to simply meander around, with great shops, restaurants and cafes at every turn, all surrounded by the lush green Somerset hills. It is an easy day cruise through a scenic Cotswold valley boasting some wonderful canalside pubs, to the equally picturesque medieval market town of Bradford-on-Avon with its tithe barn, 13th century bridge and impressive riverside former cloth mills.

Oxford to Lechlade

The ancient university city of Oxford is bursting with history, culture and stunning colleges to be explored. You can wander around the imposing and fascinating Ashmolean, the University of Oxford’s museum of art and archaeology, founded in 1683. Or the smaller Pitts Rivers Museum crammed with artefacts and oddities from all over the world. Take a walk around some of the 38 Oxford University colleges each with their own distinct character and beauty before escaping to the lush greenery of the Oxford botanic garden. It is a tranquil two day cruise along a stunning rural stretch of the River Thames to the glorious Gloucestershire village of Lechlade, in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the edge of the Cotswolds.

Wootton Wawen to Stratford-upon-Avon

Absorb yourself in Shakespeare’s historic hometown, which is a day’s cruise from our base at Wootton Wawen. Once in Stratford-upon-Avon, treat yourselves to a delicious dinner at one of the town’s many welcoming restaurants.  Followed by a production at one of the world renowned Royal Shakespeare Company theatres overlooking the canal basin. Spend a day exploring the medieval town with its Tudor timber-framed houses including Shakespeare’s birthplace and the 500-year-old thatched Anne Hathaway’s cottage.  As well as its many independent shops, pubs and cafes before enjoying a relaxed amble along the River Avon.

Trevor to the Montgomery Canal

If you are wildlife enthusiasts, this is the canal boat holiday route for you. Set out from our Trevor base and immediately cross the jewel of the canal network, the soaring Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, carryings the Llangollen canal 38 metres above the River Dee valley. Just a couple of kilometres later, you’ll pass through the Chirk Tunnel then over the Chirk Aqueduct and into England. Continue heading south among the dramatic Shropshire hills until you reach Frankton Locks where you can turn onto the Montgomery Canal. Affectionately known as the ‘Monty’, this canal snakes through wonderful unspoilt border country where you can truly escape the pressures of modern life. Much of the Monty has been designated a ‘Site of Special Scientific Interest’ due to its abundance of rare wildlife such as the floating water plantain, otters and water voles, so don’t forget to bring your binoculars.

Bunbury to Chester

Head north from Bunbury along the Shropshire Union Canal, crossing the open country of the Cheshire Plain and patchwork quilt fields. You’ll pass the looming ruins of Beeston Castle sitting atop its rocky crag and the delightful village of Christleton before reaching the medieval city walls of Chester. The canal takes you right into the heart of this historic jewel of a city, with its impressive collection of 700-year-old buildings the Rows, great shops, restaurants and cafes, and stunning sandstone cathedral all encircled by the imposing walls. The city is also host to the largest stone-built Roman Amphitheatre in Britain, scene of Britain’s largest archaeological excavation in 2005, the results of which can be seen at the Grosvenor Museum. During the summer months, you may be able to enjoy an outdoor theatre production in the atmospheric surroundings of the amphitheatre.

Silsden to Saltaire

Sitting on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, our narrowboat base at Silsden is a perfect starting point for a breathtakingly beautiful trip along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. Heading east, you’ll follow the River Aire valley through dramatic countryside with villages that still carry the hallmarks of their rich industrial past.  There are plenty of good pubs to enjoy along the way. Just outside Keighley, you’ll reach the magnificent Bingley Five-Rise Locks, the steepest flight of locks in the UK and one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’. This takes you into the perfectly preserved model village of Saltaire, built in 1853 by Sir Titus Salt for local mill workers and now a World Heritage Site. Admire the giant textile mill, the Salts Mill, which now houses an impressive collection of David Hockney paintings, wonder at this early example of town planning and perhaps even take a trip on the the Shipley Glen Tramway built in 1895 before heading for some refreshment at one of the many cafes and restaurants.

Whixall Marina to Chirk

Whixall marina is surrounded by miles of open countryside, making it a great starting point for a truly peaceful, rural canal boat holiday. Head west along the Llangollen Canal to admire several miles of uninterrupted pastoral beauty before you reach the market town of Ellesmere. This historic town in he heart of the Shropshire Lake District is surrounded by lakese formed by glacial compressions at the end of the last Ice Age. Beyond that, the canal meanders west through the increasingly dramatic hills of the border country that straddles England and Wales.  The 710-ft long and 70-ft high Chirk Aqueduct takes you across the River Ceiriog into North Wales. Admire Thomas Telford’s masterly construction before heading to one of the nearby pubs.

Click here to check availability and book, or call us on 0117 463 3419.

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Top 9 canal boat holiday staycations

Canal boat holidays on the Llangollen Canal

Britain’s beautiful canal network provides the perfect destination for a boating staycation experience

Whether it’s the appeal of pottering slowly through the countryside, watching out for wildlife and stopping off at canalside pubs. Or the lure of an exciting waterside attraction in a vibrant waterfront city destination, our canal boats provide the perfect floating holiday home adventure.

To help plan your next UK waterway-getaway, here are our top 9 narrowboat holidays for the year ahead:

  1. Take an Oxford ‘His Dark Materials’ mini-break – from our base on the River Thames near Oxford, you can enjoy a Thames boating holiday.  You can reach overnight moorings at Hythe Bridge in just three hours. From there, it’s just a short walk into Oxford’s city centre for the chance to explore dozens of historic sites.  These include the Bodleian Library, Lyra’s home in the BBC’s drama series ‘His Dark Materials’, based on Philip Pullman’s book ‘Northern Lights’.  Just seeing this incredible building from the outside is a bucket list experience, but adults and children aged 11 and over can also explore the museum, home to nine million books across over 100 miles of shelves.  The Museum also houses a number of fascinating maps, including the 14th century ‘The Bodleian Map’, the oldest surviving map of Great Britain.
  2. Watch out for wildlife on the Montgomery Canal – from Whixall Marina, on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire, it takes around six hours to reach Frankton Junction, where the Llangollen Canal meets the Montgomery Canal. This beautiful canal, which runs for 38 miles between England and Wales, is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) on both sides of the border.  The entire length in Wales is also recognised as a Special Area of Conservation, making it one of the most important sites for wildlife in Europe.  Currently only around half the Montgomery Canal is navigable, including an eight-mile section from Frankton Junction to Crickheath Basin.  From Whixall, the journey to Crickheath and back takes around 19 hours, travelling through 36 miles of beautiful countryside.  The route takes you through 16 locks (eight each way).  Along the way, you can enjoy looking out for many types of waterway birds, animals and insects. As well as the shy nocturnal otter and critically endangered water vole.
  3. Navigate the Four Counties Ring – on a week’s break from Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal in Staffordshire, you can travel round the ‘Four Counties Ring’. Cruising sections of the Trent & Mersey, Shropshire Union and Staffordshire & Worcestershire canals, this popular circuit takes boaters on a 110-mile, 60-hour, 94-lock canal boat holiday odyssey.  You’ll pass through some of the most beautiful landscapes in England, including the Peak District, the rolling Cheshire Plains and the Potteries.  Highlights along the way include Wedgewood Pottery in Stoke on Trent and the 1.5 mile long Harecastle Tunnel.  You’ll also encounter the flight of 31 locks between Middlewich and Kidsgrove known as ‘Heartbreak Hill’. You’ll visit the Roman town of Middlewich and the historic market town of Market Drayton, home of the gingerbread man.
  4. Climb aboard the SS Great Britain in Bristol’s Floating Harbour – from our base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Bath, it takes around eight hours, passing through 12 locks, to reach moorings in Bristol’s Floating Harbour. Once there you can moor up to explore the harbour and Brunel’s SS Great Britain, the ship that changed the world. *NB this route is recommended route for experienced boaters and overnight mooring fees will apply
  5. Visit the Orangutans at Chester Zoo – from Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire it takes around seven hours, passing through nine locks to reach the ancient City of Chester. Chester is home to the award-winning Chester Zoo, with over 20,000 animals from 500 species, including a family of Sumatran orangutans.  Sumatran orangutans are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature with fewer than 14,000 surviving in the wild.  At Chester Zoo, you can find out more about these fascinating animals and how to help to prevent their extinction.
  6. Glide across ‘The Stream in the Sky’ to the Shropshire Lake District – just 10 minutes from our base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, you’ll reach the incredible Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. One of The Seven Wonders of the Waterways, the aqueduct’s carries the canal 38 metres high above the Dee Valley on 19 stone pillars.  In 2009 the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct was added to the UNESCO World Heritage site list, putting it on a par with the Pyramids and Taj Mahal.  On a short break from Trevor, you can cross the aqueduct and then continue east to reach the Ellesmere, in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District.  The journey to Ellesmere and back takes around six hours and passes through just two locks.
  7. Travel round the Warwickshire Ring – on a 10-day or two week break from our base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal in Warwickshire, you can cruise the Warwickshire Ring. Travelling sections of the Grand Union, Oxford, Coventry and Birmingham & Fazeley canals, the Warwickshire Ring covers 104 miles, passes through 120 locks and takes around 60 hours to navigate.  You’ll pass through miles of countryside, with fields and ancient meadows and the occasional sleepy village. And you’ll also travel through the vibrant city centre waterfronts of Birmingham.  Destination highlights  include the pretty canal village of Braunston and the flight of 21 locks at Hatton. You can also visit Warwick Castle and Birmingham’s Brindleyplace. The whole trip from Wootton Wawen takes around 46 hours and passes through 118 locks.
  8. Cruise to the Yorkshire Dales National Park – on a short break from Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire, you can travel to Gargrave on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.  The journey there and back takes 13 hours and passes through six locks. This scenic route is perfect for beginners and you through the historic town of Skipton.  There you can explore the town’s medieval stone castle and extensive woodlands managed by the Woodland Trust.  Once at Gargrave, there are pubs to enjoy, including the popular Mason’s Arms.  And it’s easy to access to the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the Pennine Way walking trail.
  9. See a play in Shakespeare’s Stratford – from Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal, it’s a six-hour, 17-lock cruise journey through the Warwickshire countryside to reach moorings at Bancroft Basin.  This is in the heart of Stratford-upon-Avon, just a stone’s throw from the Royal Shakespeare and Swan theatres. As well as enjoying the town’s lively markets, shops, restaurants and museums, you can can take in a play at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.  2024’s programme includes ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’ and ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor’.

Click here to check availability and book, or call us on 0117 304 1122.

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Best pet friendly canal boat holidays

Best pet friendly canal boat holidays

Narrowboats provide a floating holiday home so it’s possible to take many types of pets on the canals

Canal boat holidays are especially great for dogs, with plenty of towpath walks and dog-friendly canalside pubs to visit. Over the years, we’ve accommodated many other kinds of pets, including rabbits, cats, hamsters, caged birds and goldfish.

First pets go for free on all our holidays, and we charge a £25 supplement for a second pet on a short break, £35 for a week.

Guide dogs go free of charge. We allow a maximum of two pets, plus a guide dog, but all bedding and pet facilities must be provided by the owner(s).

We recommend our cruiser stern boats for holidays with a dog, as there’s more room ‘on deck’ for the dog and the rest of the family to enjoy watching the world go by.

Now for some do’s and don’ts

Do bring your dog’s bed to help them feel at home and don’t leave your dog unattended on board.

Do pack your poo bags.

Don’t let your dog swim in the canals, especially when there are ducklings, signets, goslings and other water bird chicks about.

To celebrate, here’s a guide to our top 7 destinations for animal lovers:

  1. Cruise to Cannock Chase for acres of dog walking trails – on a short break from our base on the Trent & Mersey Canal at Great Haywood in Staffordshire, you can easily reach Cannock Chase Forest where there are miles of walking trails enjoy, as well as a dog activity trail. Once a Royal Forest, Cannock Chase is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with over 6,800 hectares of landscapes to explore.  There are mixed deciduous woodlands, coniferous plantations and healthlands.  These habitats are home to a wide variety of animals and insects, including a herd of fallow deer, a number of rare and endangered birds, including migrant nightjars, as well as butterflies, bats and reptiles.  The Wolseley Centre and Nature Reserve is next to Wolseley Bridge is just two miles and two locks from Great Haywood, and offers a great gateway to Cannock Chase.
  2. Cruise to the foot of the Caen Hill Flight – from our base at Monkton Combe on the Kennet & Avon Canal you can travel to Foxhangers Wharf, at the foot of the Caen Hill flight of locks in Devizes. Along the way, you’ll pass through miles of peaceful Wiltshire countryside, with a series of villages and dog-friendly country pubs to visit along the way.  These include The Cross Guns at Avoncliff, the Barge Inn at Bradford on Avon and the Barge Inn at Seend.  Once at Caen Hill, you can moor up and explore the flight and its large side ponds, which provide a fantastic haven for wildlife.  Full of fish, the side ponds provide an ideal habitat for dragonflies, butterflies and many types of water birds.  You can look out for swans, ducks, geese, coots, moorhens, herons and cormorants.  The journey to Foxhangers Wharf and back takes around 19 hours, passing through 16 locks (eight each way).
  3. Cruise to Ellesmere for some heron spotting – on a short break from our base on the Llangollen Canal at Trevor in North Wales, you can cruise to the Shropshire Lake District. The journey to the medieval market town of Ellesmere takes around seven hours, passing through just two locks.  You’ll also cross over the magnificent Pontcysyllte and Chirk aqueducts.  Moscow Island on The Mere in Ellesmere is home to the Heron Watch Scheme, where cameras allow visitors to watch the birds build nests and raise chicks.  And there are plenty of woodland walks and trails to follow with your dog.
  4. Explore the gardens and the ancient topiary at Packwood House – from Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal near Henley-in-Arden, it’s a seven-mile, 31-lock and 10-hour journey to Lapworth Lock No 6.  From there, it’s a half-mile walk to the National Trust’s Packwood House, where there are miles of woodland and countryside walks to enjoy. Dogs are welcome at Packwood on leads on public footpaths across the estate, on the café terrace and in the barnyard.  The house and formal gardens are only for humans.
  5. Boat to the historic village of Wrenbury and back – from our base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire it takes around six hours, passing through 11 locks, to reach Wrenbury Mill on the Llangollen Canal. The journey takes you along 10 miles of waterway through quintessential Cheshire farmland and countryside.  The historic village of Wrenbury, which is on the South Cheshire Way offers lots of countryside walks.  It’s also a registered conservation area with plenty of wildlife to watch out for, particularly in the gardens of the Grade II listed St Margaret’s Church. There’s a choice of dog friendly pubs to visit, including the canalside Dusty Miller, and the Cotton Arms in the village of Wrenbury.
  6. Cruise along the River Thames into the Cotswolds – from our Oxford base on the River Thames, on a four-night mid-week break you can take a tranquil nine-hour, seven-lock Thames boating holiday to the pretty market town of Lechlade on the edge of the Cotswolds. Along the way, you’ll travel through miles of peaceful Oxfordshire countryside, with plenty of dog walking opportunities.  Places to visit include the village of Radcot with its 800-year old bridge across the Thames and dog-friendly bar in the Ye Olde Swan Hotel. And Kelmscott with its Grade I listed Kelmscott Manor, once the Cotswold retreat of William Morris, and popular Plough Inn.
  7. Watch out for wildlife on the Montgomery Canal – from Whixall Marina in Shropshire, it takes around six hours to reach Frankton Junction, where the Llangollen Canal meets the Montgomery Canal. This beautiful canal runs for 38 miles between England and Wales.  It is recognised as a Special Area of Conservation, making it one of the most important sites for wildlife in Europe.  Currently only around half the Montgomery Canal is navigable, including a seven-mile section from Frankton Junction to Gronwyn Wharf.  From Whixall, the journey to Gronwyn Wharf and back takes around 20 hours. You’ll travel through 34 miles of beautiful countryside and passing through 16 locks (eight each way).  Along the way, you can look out for many types of waterway birds, animals and insects.  These include dragonflies, damselflies, otters, Daubenton’s bats skimming over the water at dusk, and the critically endangered water vole.

Click here to check availability and book, or call us on 0117 304 1122.

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Historic sites to visit on your canal boat holiday

Hatton locks on the Grand Union Canal

There’s a great choice of stately homes and historic sites to visit on a narrowboat holiday in England and Wales

One of the joys of a canal boat holiday is the feeling that you’ve escaped the rush of modern life and stepped back in time. The canals themselves and landscapes and cities they pass are all steeped in history and heritage, so offer the chance to immerse yourself in the past.

There is such a varied range of stunning manor houses, stately homes and other famous sights lining our inland waterways, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Here are just a few of our favourite historic properties, most of them within walking distance of the canals.

Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire

Nearest waterways: Oxford Canal and the River Thames

Nearest narrowboat hire base: Oxford

Arguably the most famous stately home in the UK after the royal residences, Blenheim Palace is worth a visit. The World Heritage property displays a level of grandeur that wows all 900,000 visitors that pass through its ornate rooms each year. Built between 1705 and 1722 in ‘English Baroque’ style, Blenheim remains the principle residence of the Dukes of Marlborough and was the birthplace and ancestral home of Winston Churchill. As well as housing incredible artworks, antiques and interiors, the palace sits at the centre of stunning Capability Brown gardens and 2,000 acres of beautiful park land criss-crossed by idyllic walks.

Prior Park landscape gardens, Bath, Somerset

Nearest waterways: Kennet & Avon Canal and the River Avon

Nearest narrowboat hire baseBath

While the stunning Grade I Palladian style property has now been converted into a school, its exterior and landscaped grounds can be still be admired by visitors. Built for Bath entrepreneur and philanthropist Ralph Allen in the 1730s and 40s, Prior Park sits at the top of a hill with sweeping views down over Bath’s beautiful city centre. Its Capability Brown gardens, bordered by woodland, feature one of only four Palladian bridges in the world. Now owned and run by the National Trust, take a short break from canal life to catch a bus up the hill to the entrance then enjoy a walk back down through the grounds to the city centre.

Westwood Manor, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire

Nearest waterways: Kennet & Avon Canal

Nearest narrowboat hire base: Bradford on Avon

This beautiful manor house was built over 300 years with the original property constructed in the 15th century then added to in the 16th and 17th centuries meaning it offers a unique combination of architectural and interior styles. There are late Gothic and Jacobean windows alongside decorative plasterwork, tapestries and antique furnishing. The former home of Edgar Lister, a diplomat at the Ottoman court in the early years of the 20th century, also boasts an impressive topiary garden. Walking distance from the canal, Westwood is worth a quick stop off during your canal boat holiday.

Adlington Hall, Adlington, Cheshire

Nearest waterwaysMacclesfield Canal

Nearest narrowboat hire baseBunbury

One of the most beautiful country houses in England, Adlington Hall has been home to the Legh family since 1315. The current property, built on the site of a Saxon hunting lodge, dates from 1480 when the Great Hall was erected using two great oak trees, still standing at one end of the room today. The building was expanded in the 1740s into a grander Georgian house. It still houses a 17th century organ played by Handel, alongside rich collection of antiques and artwork. The 60 acre gardens feature a yew maze, rose garden, Regency rockery and a Rococo styled landscape garden containing the T’Ing House, a Pagoda bridge and the Temple to Diana.

Little Moreton Hall, Congleton, Cheshire

Nearest waterwaysMacclesfield Canal and the Trent & Mersey Canal

Nearest narrowboat hire baseBunbury and Great Haywood

This iconic Tudor manor house looks like it has jumped straight out of a children’s fairy story. The higgledy piggledy timber framed building has been perched, defying gravity, next to its moat for more than 500 years. Now run by the National Trust, the earliest parts of the house were built for the prosperous Cheshire landowner William Moreton in about 1504-08, and the remainder was constructed in stages by successive generations of the family until about 1610. Nestled at the back of the building is a beautifully maintained knot garden and herbs and vegetables that would have been used in Tudor cooking. Visitors to the hall can learn about Tudor cuisine and other aspects of their everyday life and culture.

Shugborough Hall, Milford, Staffordshire

Nearest waterwayTrent & Mersey Canal

Nearest narrowboat hire baseGreat Haywood

Home to the Anson family since 1610, this beautiful colonnaded Georgian mansion, is surrounded by miles of undulating parkland and ancient woodland adorned with monuments. Visitors can admire the rich interiors and furnishings of the state rooms and living quarters of former owner of Patrick Anson, 5th Earl of Lichfield, then head ‘below stairs’ for a peek into the servants’ rooms. Explore the formal gardens and rambling parkland before popping along to Park Farm to meet the Tamworth pigs and other creatures great and small. You can cruise right past Shugborough’s grounds depending on your canal boat holiday route.

Wightwick Manor, Wightwick Bank, Staffordshire

Nearest waterway: Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal

Nearest narrowboat hire baseGreat Haywood

This Victorian timber framed manor is home to an impressive Pre-Raphaelite art collection, including works by Bryne-Jones, Rossetti and Everett Millais. Its former owner Theodore Mander decorated the interiors with the designs of William Morris and his Arts and Crafts contemporaries, so the house now stands as a perfectly preserved relic of this era of design and one family’s passion for art. Now run by the National Trust, visitors can also enjoy a ramble around the 17 acres of gardens and woodland that surrounds the house before heading to the tearoom or second hand bookshop.

East Riddlesden Hall, Keighley, West Yorkshire

Nearest waterway: Leeds & Liverpool Canal

Nearest canal boat hire base: Silsden

This 17th century manor house once sat at the heart of a thriving farming estate, and today tells the tale of the rise and fall of those who lived and worked there. Built in 1642 by James Murgatroyd, who made his fortune in the Halifax cloth industry, the impressive property sits on a plateau overlooking the River Aire and the canal.  It’s surrounded by stunning grounds, including a walled garden and medieval tithe barn. East Riddlesden Hall is a popular filming location having been used in Wuthering Heights and Sharpe. A perfect place to moor up during a narrowboat holiday from Silsden.

Brynkinalt, Chirk, Denbighshire

Nearest waterwayLlangollen Canal

Nearest narrowboat hire base: Trevor

The ancestral estate of the Trevor family since 942, the Brynkinalt estate sits amid the beautiful green hills on the Wales-Shropshire border. At the heart of the estate sites the Grade II* hall built in 1612 using red brick cut onsite.  It was extensively revamped with Gothic elements in the early 19th century, but still features the original Jacobean oak panelled Hall. The property is surrounded by stunning formal gardens including a walled garden, park and woodland with a number of gate lodges and follies. The family welcome visitors but this must be arranged by booking in advance. Tours are conducted by members of the family.

Charlecote Park, Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire

Nearest waterwayStratford upon Avon Canal and the River Avon

Nearest narrowboat hire baseWootton Wawen

This grand 16th century stately home sits surrounded by a stunning deer park on the banks of the River Avon. The estate has been home to the Lucy family for 900 years with the current property.  The house hosted Queen Elizabeth I and was built in 1558 by Sir Thomas Lucy. It has been filled with treasures from all over the world by each generation of the family, whose varied lifestyles and tastes have all left their mark. The stables even boast an impressive carriage collection. The house looks out upon Capability Brown landscaped gardens and hundreds of acres of parkland offering scenic walks and great picnic spots.

Powis Castle, Welshpool, Powys

Nearest waterwayMontgomery Canal

Nearest narrowboat hire baseWhixall Marina

Home to the Earls of Powis, this medieval castle which dates back to around 1200 overlooks extensive formal gardens and terraces laid out under the influence of Italian and French styles. Originally built as a fortress, the castle was revamped and embellished by successive generations of the Herbert family over the course of more than 400 years.  It now houses an impressive collection of paintings, sculpture, tapestries and period furniture and is renowned for housing the valuables that Robert Clive and his son Edward brought home from India. Now run by the National Trust, the house and garden is surrounded by rolling green acres that make up a stunning deer park.

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Best February half term canal boat holiday destinations

Best February half term canal boat holiday destinations

There’s a great choice of exciting family destinations to visit on a half term boating breaks on the canals

All our boats have central heating, and some also have multi-fuel stoves, so it’s always nice and cosy on board.

Here’s a guide to our top four destinations on a family canal boat holiday this February half term:

  1. Visit the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon – from our base at on the Stratford Canal at Wootton Wawen, near Henley-in-Arden in Warwickshire, it’s a picturesque six-hour cruise through the Warwickshire countryside to Shakespeare’s Stratford. Once there, you can moor up in Bancroft Basin and visit Stratford’s museums, theatres, restaurants and shops, including the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
  2. Swap the water for the Steam Railway at Llangollen – from Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, it takes just two hours to cruise to the beautiful town of Llangollen, on the edge of the Berwyn Mountains.  Once there, you can moor up and take time to explore this pretty town which offers plenty of places to eat and visit, including the Llangollen Steam Railway.
  3. Discover Britain’s Secret Nuclear Bunker – from Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire, it takes around three-and-a-half hours, travelling nine miles and passing through just two locks, to reach moorings close to the Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker Museum.  This fascinating blast-proof underground bunker was once one of the nation’s most secret defence sites.
  4. Cruise to Waterworld for Tropical Aqua Park – heading north from Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal near Stafford, you can reach the Festival Park in Stoke on Trent in around 13 hours. From there it’s a 10-minute walk to Waterworld, where you can enjoy 30 thrill seeking rides, including the legendary Thunderbolt.

Click here to book or call us on 0117 304 1122.

NB Winter maintence work on the canals can lead to route closures.

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Canal boat holidays on the Caldon Canal

Canal boat holidays on the Caldon Canal

Enjoy a rural retreat boating adventure on one of the finest canals in Britain

The peaceful 17-mile long Caldon Canal runs from the Trent & Mersey Canal at Etruria in Stoke-on-Trent, to Froghall Wharf in the Staffordshire Moorlands.

With 17 locks along its length, the canal passes through moorlands close to Denford, water meadows at Cheddleton and the beautiful wooded Churnet Valley with a restored steam railway running alongside.

In the middle of the Caldon Canal, there’s a 2¼-mile arm towards the historic market town of Leek, and the now derelict 13-mile Uttoxeter extension connects at Froghall.

Opened in 1779, the Caldon Canal was built to carry Peak District limestone for the iron industry and flints for the pottery industry. Freight traffic ceased on the Caldon soon after the railway was constructed alongside, and by the 1960s the canal was virtually unnavigable. But enthusiasts bought the canal back into use by 1974 and the Caldon and Uttoxeter Canals Trust is now working to restore the Uttoxeter branch of the waterway.

On a week’s break on the Caldon Canal

On a week’s break from our narrowboat hire base at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal, you can cruise to Froghall Basin and back.  Travelling a total of 72 miles through 72 locks,  the journey to Froghall and back takes around 42 hours

You’ll first head north along the Trent & Mersey Canal to Stoke-on-Trent, to connect onto the Caldon Canal at Etruria.

Along the way, the route passes the village of Weston, with its canalside Saracen’s Head and pub on the green, The Woolpack.

Next, you’ll enjoy views of the imposing Sandon Hall, its 400 acres of rolling parkland, and Grade II* listed Pitt’s Column.

The canal then passes along the outskirts of Burston, where the family-run micro-brewery Greyhound pub is well worth the short walk to.  Next you’ll reach the old market town of Stone, said to be the food and drink capital of Staffordshire. Here, there are visitor moorings at Westbridge Park, opposite the Swan pub, and a little further along past the Star pub on the left.

Next it’s Meaford Locks, and then the canalside Plume of Feathers pub at Barlaston, now run by the actor Neil Morrissey.

At Trentham Lock, you can stop-off to explore the World of Wedgwood, with a factory tour, afternoon tea in the Wedgewood tea room, woodland walks and award winning museum housing a UNESCO protected collection of huge historic and cultural significance.

Just under five miles later, after travelling through the Stoke flights of five locks, the canal reaches its junction with the Caldon Canal at Etruria. Here boaters can stop to visit the Etruria Industrial Museum, the last steam-powered potters’ mill in Britain, or the Spode Visitor Centre, the birthplace of bone china.

The Caldon Canal heads away from Stoke, through the two Bedford Street staircase locks, Planet Lock, Hanley Park and then the Ivy House Lift Bridge at Northwood, raised using a Canal & River Trust key.

By now, the canal is beginning to leave the city behind and at the suburban village of Milton there are two canalside pubs to enjoy, the Foxley and the Miners Arms.

Soon after, boaters encounter Engine Lock, one of the deepest on the canal at 12ft and then the Stockton Brook Flight of five locks, taking the canal up another 45ft to its summit level of 486ft. Views of woodlands can be enjoyed along the way, as well as the sight of the disused Stoke-to-Leek railway which crosses the canal above the second lock.

Next along the route, the canal passes through the village of Endon, with a couple of shops on the main road, with beautiful stretches of moorland scenery opening up.

At Hazelhurst Junction, where the Leek Branch connects, amid gently rolling hills, the mainline starts its descent via the three Hazelhurst Locks, before being crossed by the Leek Arm on a brick aqueduct overhead.

Soon after, the popular Hollybush Inn at Denford, housed in an old flour mill, offers visitors award winning ales, homemade food, log fires in the winter and a large canalside beer garden for warmer days.

The canal takes boaters past Deep Hayes Country Park, where three large scenic pools are surrounded by way-marked woodland walks. Moorings are provided for boaters who want to stop and explore this beautiful park.

Travelling alongside the River Churnet through beautiful countryside, look out for kingfishers, herons, jays and woodpeckers, as well as otters which have recently returned to the area.

At Cheddleton, there’s the little Flint Mill Museum to visit on selected weekends, a fish and chip shop, post office, supermarkets, Black Lion pub and Old School Tearooms and Craft Centre, as well as the headquarters of the Churnet Valley Railway. Services operate to Consall Forge and Frogall, on both steam and diesel trains.

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, you’ll find a peaceful village. Here the canal leaves the River Churnet, soon reaching Flint Mill Lock, the canal’s last. After, the channel narrows, woodlands close in and the canal’s sense of isolation grows.

You’ll pass beneath the distinctive Cherry Eye Bridge and soon after reach the 69-metre long Froghall Tunnel, which is unusually narrow and low so many craft are unable to pass through. A winding hole beforehand will accommodate 64ft boats and a loading gauge indicates whether or not you can get through.

If you can squeeze through, the picturesque Froghall Basin is beyond, where tramways once converged, bringing limestone from quarries high in the surrounding hills. Today there’s a café (Hetty’s Tearoom), picnic area, waymarked trails and services for boaters, as well as the restored top lock of the Uttoxeter Canal, with a mooring basin.

NB the Caldon Canal can also be reached from our Bunbury canal boat hire base, with the total journey to Froghall and back taking 48 hours, passing through 104 locks.

10-day or two week holidays from Great Haywood

On a 10-day or two-week break from Great Haywood, you can travel the Caldon Canal to Froghall and back, and then continue on round the Four Counties Ring, travelling through Cheshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire and the West Midlands, in around 73 hours and passing through 128 locks.

To travel the ring in an anti-clockwise direction, after returning along the Caldon Canal to Stoke-on-Trent, continue north along the Trent & Mersey Canal, passing through the mighty one-and-three-quarter-mile long Harecastle Tunnel, before emerging at Kidsgrove, and Harding’s Wood Junction, where the Macclesfield Canal meets the Trent & Mersey.

Here you’ll encounter the summit of ‘Heartbreak Hill’ – the series of 31 locks which between Middlewich and Kidsgrove, raise the canal 280ft up from the Cheshire Plains.

Setting off down the hill, the Red Bull flight of six locks are the first to be dealt with, followed by the two Church Locks, one Halls Lock and then three Lawton Locks at Lawton Gate.

The next village is Rode Heath with its Royal Oak pub and Rode Hall, one of Cheshire’s most exquisite country houses, which is open to the public on Wednesdays and bank holidays in the summer months.

The South Cheshire Way crosses the canal at Lower Thurlwood Lock, one of a flight of three, then it’s the two Pierpoint Locks, and then there are two more at Hassall Green, just before the canal passes beneath the M6 motorway.

At Wheelock, where there’s a choice of pubs, including the recently refurbished canalside Cheshire Cheese, there are eight locks to negotiate. It’s worth taking a break here, as from Wheelock, it’s a mile-long walk into the historic town of Sandbach, with regular markets, a Waitrose supermarket and plenty of places to eat and drink, including the Saxon Grill Restaurant at the Crown, next to the Saxon Crosses on the cobbled square in the town centre.

There’s a three-mile break from locks as the canal winds round Ettiley Heath and the Sandbach Flashes, a group of 14 wetlands designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Four miles and another four locks on, the canal reaches the historic market town Middlewich, famous for its salt industry which dates back to medieval times. Here the Four Counties Ring route leaves the Trent & Mersey Canal, heading to Barbridge along the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal.

At this point, on a 10-day or two-week holiday, you could take a 20-mile, eight-lock round-trip detour continuing north along the Trent & Mersey Canal, past the Lion Salt Work’s Museum at Marston, to visit the Anderton Boat Lift. This incredible feat of Victorian engineering designed by Edwin Clark, perches on the banks of the River Weaver Navigation like a giant three-story-high spider. Using two huge water tanks with watertight sealable doors, it raises boats 50ft between the Weaver Navigation and the Trent & Mersey Canal.

Click here to book a holiday from Great Haywood, or call our friendly booking team on 0117 304 1122.

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Best spring canal boat holidays

Best spring canal boat holiday breaks in 2024

Experience a spring break on Britain’s beautiful canal network and see the countryside bursting with new life

Spring is a glorious time to celebrate the rich and diverse wildlife living in Britain.

Kevin Yarwood, manager at our Great Haywood base, explains:

“Our beautiful inland waterways weave through the countryside taking in woodlands, farmland, nature reserves and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Travelling along at just four miles per hour on a canal boat holiday, there’s always something special to look out for.

“In spring, when the countryside is bursting with new life, there’s no better way to see waterside trees and hedges covered blossom, nest-building birds, ducklings bobbing on the water, spring lambs playing in the fields, and carpets of bluebells in waterside woodlands.”

To celebrate Britain’s natural environment, we’ve put together a guide to our best spring canal boat holiday destinations:

  1. Navigate through Shakespeare country and Warwickshire farmland 

    From our narrowboat hire base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal near Henley-in-Arden, it takes around six hours, travelling through 17 locks to reach Stratford-upon-Avon. Travelling over the Edstone Aqueduct and on through the pretty Warwickshire countryside, with spring lambs playing in the fields alongside the canal, boaters can stop off to visit Mary Arden’s Tudor Farm in the canalside village of Wilmcote, where Shakespeare’s mother grew up.  Once in Stratford, there are overnight moorings in Bancroft Basin, perfect for enjoying all that Shakespeare’s birthplace has to offer, including riverside parks, theatres, shops, restaurants and museums.

  2. Cruise into the Peak District spotting kingfishers along the way

    On a week’s break from our barge hire base on the Trent & Mersey Canal at Great Haywood in Staffordshire, you can easily reach the beautiful Caldon Canal and travel into the Peak District. The journey takes boaters up to Stoke on Trent, passing Wedgewood World along the way, and, once on the Caldon, through gently rolling hills and wooded areas alongside the beautiful River Churnet.  Here there’s the chance to spot kingfishers, herons, jays and woodpeckers, as well as otters which have recently returned to the area.  The return journey along the Caldon to Froghall takes around 43 hours, travelling a total of 72 miles and passing through 70 locks.

  3. Cruise to Ellesmere to catch a glimpse of a heron chick

    On a short break from our base on the Llangollen Canal at Trevor in North Wales, on a short break (three or four nights) you can cruise to the Shropshire Lake District, teeming with water birds. The journey to the medieval market town of Ellesmere, in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District, takes around seven hours, passing through just two locks and over the Pontcysyllte and Chirk aqueducts.  Formed thousands of years ago by the melting of the glaciers during the retreating ice age, the meres of the Shropshire Lake District, including The Mere at Ellesmere are particularly beautiful in Spring.  And every Spring, Moscow Island on The Mere is home to the Heron Watch Scheme, with cameras allow visitors to watch the birds build nests and raise chicks.

  4. Cruise to the gateway of the Yorkshire Dales and explore the ancient woods at Skipton Castle

    From Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire, it takes just over three hours to reach Skipton, the ‘Gateway to the Dales’, with its medieval fortress and acres of woodland trails to explore. For nearly 1,000 years Skipton Castle Woods provided fuel, food and building materials for castle inhabitants.  Today there are at least 18 species of trees flourishing there, and hundreds of flowering plants, including wild orchids and bluebells in the Spring.  The journey along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal to Silsden passes through the typical Yorkshire stone built villages of Kildwick and Farnhill and on into a dense wooded area famous for its bluebells and deer.

  5. Drift through the beautiful prehistoric Vale of Pewsey

    From our base at Monkton Combe on the Kennet & Avon Canal just outside Bath, it takes around 19 hours to reach Pewsey Wharf, perfect for a week afloat. Along the way, you’ll pass through miles of peaceful Wiltshire countryside, with a series of waterside villages and country pubs to visit along the way.  Highlights on this route include: the mighty Caen Hill Flight of 29 locks at Devizes; cruising along the edge of the ancient Savernake Forest; and the beautiful Vale of Pewsey, part of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and home to prehistoric Avebury.  The journey to Pewsey and back takes around 38 hours, passing through 74 locks (37 each way).

  6. Travel to Llangollen on the edge of the Berwyn Mountains

    From Whixall, on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire , it takes around 12 hours to reach the pretty town of Llangollen. Along the way, you’ll travel through the beautiful Shropshire Lake District and across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’ and now a UNESCO World Heritage site.  Once in Llangollen, you can moor up to enjoy exploring this pretty town nestled on the edge of the Berwyn Mountains, including its regular markets packed with local produce, choice of independent shops and restaurants, steam railway and famous Horseshoe Falls.  The journey to Llangollen and back passes through just four locks (two each way).

  7. Navigate the Four Counties Ring for stunning views of the Cheshire Plains  

    On a week’s break from Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire, you can travel round the popular Four Counties Ring. Travelling for around 58 hours and passing through 96 locks, this route takes you through the counties of Staffordshire, the West Midlands, Cheshire and Shropshire and travels sections of the Trent & Mersey, Staffordshire & Worcestershire and Shropshire Union canals.  Rural highlights include: panoramic views from the flight of 31 locks (also known as ‘Heartbreak Hill’) between Middlewich and Kidsgrove on the Trent & Mersey Canal; views of the rolling Cheshire Plains on the Shropshire Union Canal; acres of farmland on the Middlewich Branch; wildlife spotting at Tixall Wide on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal; and the National Trust’s Shugborough Hall with its extensive waterside gardens.

  8. Take a Thames boating holiday to Abingdon and listen out for cuckoos calling

    From our Oxford barge hire base on the River Thames, it takes around five hours, passing through six locks and travelling 15 miles to reach the historic riverside market town of Abingdon – perfect for a short break Thames boating holiday. As well as cruising through the outskirts of the ancient City of Oxford, you’ll pass through beautiful stretches of Oxfordshire countryside, with lush meadows, stretches of bluebells woodlands alongside the river and the chance to hear cuckoos calling.  Once moored up at Abingdon, you can enjoy exploring riverside walks, parks and eateries, including the popular waterside Nag’s Head.

Click here to check availability and book.

The Canal & River Trust as produced a Spotters Guide to Waterway Wildlife.

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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

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