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The Bald Hiker’s Unforgettable Experience on the Llangollen Canal

Last October, Paul Steele AKA The Bald Hiker, took a press trip on the Llangollen Canal, setting off from our base at Trevor.

In his blog, Paul describes his holiday as “an experience you shall never forget and will forever change your perception of people who live and work on the canals”.

Paul travelled aboard our 65ft Bond Class narrowboat ‘Anna’, with his friend and fellow author, Paul Taylor.  As all of our hire boats are pet friendly, his two dogs, Malc and Pete, were able to join in on the fun, too.

They cruised from the Anglo Welsh base at Trevor and crossed over the UNESCO World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.  Paul’s fantastic photos capture the breath-taking beauty of the aqueduct and surrounding scenery, and give an idea of the scale of this incredible feat of engineering, which dates back over 200 years.

They then travelled on to Chirk, navigating through Chirk Tunnel and over Chirk Aqueduct.  The next day, they went back to Trevor and then on to the delightful town of Llangollen.  At Llangollen, they moored up to explore the town, finding “plenty of places to find a bite to eat or get a drink or two.”

To read Paul’s full account of his canal boat holiday, and see all the beautiful images, go to https://www.baldhiker.com/2022/01/13/a-narrowboat-trip-on-the-llangollen-canal/

 

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Three new luxury boats are joining our fleet in 2022

Emma Lovell, reservations manager for Anglo Welsh, explains more about our luxury canal boats available to hire in 2022.

This winter we’re building three new luxury 65ft Admiral Class narrow boats, ready to join our top class fleet next Spring.

We are delighted to be launching: ‘Curzon’ at Great Haywood on 11 March; ‘Duncan’ at Wootton Wawen on 12 March; and ‘Codrington’ at Bath on 16 April.

These boats offer extra space and facilities, as well as exacting standards of craftsmanship, comfort and finish.  They will have accommodation for up to four people in two cabins (which can be made up as either doubles or singles), and two spacious bathrooms.  They will have a substantial saloon area with a large TV, WiFi, multi-fuel stove, full radiator central heating, and a spacious kitchen with modern fittings and LED lighting.

Their striking blue and gold livery has been designed with Admiral Nelson in mind, in memory of our late Director Tim Nelson Parker, an incredible character who was devoted to the canals.

We launched our first Admiral Class boats in 2020, building on the popularity of our Heritage, Constellation and Bond Class luxury canal boats.  All these boats offer increased space per person, and particularly high standards of comfort and finish.

2022 Admiral Class prices start at £875 for short break, £1,210 for a week.

Here’s a list of all our luxury narrow boats available to hire at our various bases in 2022:

·         Bath – Codrington (four berth Admiral Class), Pheonix (four berth Constellation Class), Gloria (four berth Bond Class), Silvia (six berth Bond Class), Bradbury (six berth Bond Class), Sagittarius (10 berth Constellation Class) and Langton (12-berth Bond Class).

·         Bunbury – Carina (four berth Constellation Class), Cassiopeia (six berth Constellation Class), Cygnus (six berth Constellation Class),

·         Great Haywood – Curzon (four berth Admiral Class), Leo II (four berth Bond Class) and Pegasus (six berth Constellation Class).

·         Oxford – Cunningham (four berth Admiral Class), Trossachs (four berth Bond Class), Duloe (six berth Bond Class), Orion (12 berth Constellation Class) and Delphinus (12 berth Constellation Class).

·         Stockton – Buckland (six berth Bond Class) and Lynx (12 berth Constellation Class).

·         Tardebigge – Hydra (four berth Constellation Class).

·         Trevor – Nelson (two berth Admiral Class), Fitzroy (four berth Admiral Class), Lily (four berth Heritage Class), Anna (four berth Bond Class), Aquarius (four berth Constellation Class), Blore (six berth Bond Class), Askrigg (six berth Bond Class) and Norton (12 berth Bond Class).

·         Whixall – Hawke (four berth Admiral Class), Centaurus (four berth Constellation Class), Aquila (four berth Constellation Class), Perseus (six berth Constellation Class), Braithwaite (six berth Bond Class), and Gemini (10 berth Constellation Class) and Andromeda (12 berth Constellation Class).

·         Wootton Wawen – Nelson (two berth Admiral Class), Duncan (four berth Admiral Class), Poppy (four berth Heritage Class), Aries (four berth Constellation Class), Summer (six berth Bond Class), and Scorpius (10 berth Constellation Class).

For more information about our luxury fleets, go to https://www.anglowelsh.co.uk/Our-Boats/luxury-canal-boat-hire

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A multi-generation narrowboat holiday on the River Avon

Bridget Harrison reviews her family holiday cruising through Shakespeare country.

When I was a teenager we once went on a family holiday to San Tropez and I remember looking with envy at the boat owners breakfasting on the decks of their motor yachts in the marina, while we mortals walked by on land. I was reminded of this when arriving at Stratford-upon- Avon’s bustling Bancroft Basin, to find my family who were waiting for me on a barge there, which we had hired for a week’s holiday in August.

Enterprise, a 70 foot long narrowboat, was in pole position, moored side to side with a row of other smartly painted craft. And there was my family, sitting cheerfully at the stern, in the sunshine, enjoying a feast bought from the basin’s street-food market. Hopping aboard it was hard not to feel just a little bit smug on our floating home in pride of place in the historic town while crowds of tourists wandered past.

The others had taken charge of the boat at Wootton Wawen marina in Warwickshire on the Stratford Canal two days before and then navigated down the 17 locks to Stratford. With me, the last member of the crew now on board, we cast off, taking the town lock down onto the broad River Avon that was buzzing with row boats, restaurant boats, flocks of well-fed swans and geese and offering a fine view of the imposing Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

My family and I have been going on canal holidays since I was eight years old. Now my brother and I each have two children (me, sons age 11 and 13, he, daughters age 11 and 15), and my sister has a frisky collie. We all join my parents for a week on the canals every year – nine of us in total.

This year we decided to focus our trip around Stratford-up-Avon, thinking it would add an extra ‘educational’ element for the children. Spending time on the river as well as the canal also appealed as my sister and I were keen to do some ‘wild swimming’ in a river.

The Avon winds from Stratford’s busy centre flowing southwest towards Evesham. As you leave the town, which makes way for stretches of parkland, and then the countryside beyond, the river is soon bordered on both sides by a jungle-like array of vegetation in a thousand greens. Weeping willows lean out and stroke the river’s smooth dark water. At Bidford-on-Avon we passed under a beautiful bridge of stone arches, learning that people have crossed the river there since medieval times.

The river, without the prerequisite canal towpath, felt a more lush and wild boating corridor than many canals. One disadvantage though was not being able to hop off at any point for a walk. And also mooring spots proved to be few and far between and were often already taken requiring us to head on wards. Luckily the evenings were long. Even if the moorings were often full, the river itself, even at the height of summer, was blissfully peaceful and quiet.

Even though we were nine, the 70 foot long Enterprise didn’t feel cramped. Its layout also had the advantage of two dining areas which meant we could gather for card games without having to set up a table specially.

We got as far as Evesham in two days, then turned around. As with all canals, retracing steps feels like a new journey with plenty to look at from the boat from elegant houses with gardens backing onto the river to completely wild stretches. We paused one early evening for dinner at the Four Alls pub beside the river, then had to cruise on until dark until we managed to find a free mooring just outside Stratford. Next morning we rose early to nab a prime spot opposite the theatre, making us perfectly placed for visiting the Shakespeare sites .

First on the list was The Birthplace, a crooked, half-timbered Tudor house on the High Street which had been owned by his glove- maker father, John. Creaky narrow stairs led up to the room where he was born. Having just read ‘Hamnet’, Maggie O’Farrell’s novel based around Shakespeare’s family, the visit was particularly enthralling for me and I was pleased that the children found it engrossing too. A seven minute walk away is the site of New Place, the larger and more splendid home which Shakespeare bought after he became a successful actor and writer in London. The original building no longer exists but you can wander around its garden and admire modern sculptures illustrating how The Bard’s global influence has put Stratford proudly at the centre of the world.

Then finally, the highlight for us, was our visit to Anne Hathaway’s cottage, a 12-room farmhouse, the family home of Shakespeare’s wife – located in once prosperous farm land just beyond the city (a £7 taxi ride). Inside we walked up tiny windy staircases to see bedrooms perfectly preserved as they would have looked in 1582 when 18-year-old Shakespeare was courting Anne, 26. The farmhouse had beautiful kitchen gardens  filled with sage mint and lavender, and an orchard.  So enthused had the children obviously been by the days’ three evocative Shakespeare venues that each even began quoting bits of Shakespeare they knew from school over the dinner table.

Too soon it was our last day. My sister, the children and I rose early to walk a little way upstream along the Avon to Stratford Beach, a swimming spot where Shakespeare himself was said to have taken dips. We plunged shrieking into the silky cool river as the morning sun cast dappled gold around us. Then it was back to Enterprise  for bacon sarnies before readying ourselves to return to the Stratford Canal and to  Wootton Wawen, back up 17 locks over 17 miles, requiring both teamwork and energy.

Luckily by now, we all know the drill.

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Welcoming the New Year with an Admiral Class cruise

As the Operations Director of Anglo Welsh, it’s always valuable to take one of our boats out on a family break, looking at it from a customer’s point of view.  So, with Christmas Day enjoyed, myself, my partner Claire, my two boys Jacob and Daniel, plus our two dogs George and Cooper, set off on one of the brand-new Admiral Class boats from Great Haywood the day after Boxing Day.

With the boat packed up with everything we needed for our planned three-day cruise to Wootton Wawen, we headed off at 8am.  All of us were excited to see what the next few days brought, although the weather forecast did not look like it was going to be kind to us.  I’d instructed all to pack warm clothes, waterproofs and suitable footwear.  It was only myself who didn’t listen, and I forgot my coat. As we were passing Tesco in Rugeley, we moored up and I made a dash to purchase an emergency coat – best £35 I’ve spent!

We headed down on the Trent & Mersey route, which took us up towards Fradley Junction to join the Coventry Canal as our plan of action was to moor in Fazeley for the night.  We arrived there at 5pm having had a great day cruising along, chatting, eating turkey sandwiches, Christmas cake and plenty of hot drinks along the way.  The boys and the dogs also love the quiet pace of life and it was great to see them all enjoying the fresh air.

Once moored at Fazeley, in the well-equipped kitchen Claire was able to make us all a lovely two-course dinner and a very enjoyable game of Monopoly was had.  The kitchen facilities on board are excellent and have all the items needed to cook throughout the trip, with Claire commenting that the only thing missing was a dishwasher!

After a great night’s sleep by all in the comfortable beds, we set off again at 7.30am and headed through Birmingham.  It’s fair to say that this part of Birmingham is not necessarily the prettiest, and Daniel hoped it would take us via the nicer side of Brindley Place, but that was unfortunately not possible on this route.  It was interesting to cruise under the M6 though, as you get to see a very different side to Birmingham by boat as opposed to by car. We cruised all day, enjoying the scenery and wildlife with Jacob fishing along the way, then we were able to moor at Catherine de Barnes when we arrived about 5pm.  Whilst I sorted out the boat and popped to the local shop, Claire and Daniel walked the dogs.  Then back to the boat for another hot meal and a second round of Monopoly and Jenga.  It was so warm on the boat during the evening with the central heating on board, we didn’t even need to light the multi-fuel stove during the trip!  The Admiral Class four-berths have two bathrooms and the hot showers are excellent, just what you need after a day of cruising along.

On our final day, we were all up early and headed off in the rain at 7.30am towards Knowle Locks.  Such a beautiful location which made for some great photos, it was a shame it was raining so hard and we did all get quite wet, but we just had to see the funny side of this! It’s definitely somewhere I’d like to visit again in the dry. The scenery on the third day was stunning as we joined the Stratford Canal, and with all the pretty locks, it made for a really special day. Jacob and Claire were mainly on lock duty, perfected after going through over 40 during the 3 days, whilst Daniel kept the dogs entertained on the boat.  We arrived at Wootton Wawen around 4pm and so were bang on our original plan.

After such a busy year, it was a brilliant way to unwind and relax before seeing the New Year in.  We had lots of fun, relaxation, games, ate very well and had all the fresh air that we needed.  Everyone, including the dogs, came away from this break feeling refreshed and ready to see what 2022 brings us all.

Our brand-new four-berth Admiral Class boats ‘Duncan’ and ‘Curzon’ are joining our fleet at Wootton Wawen and Great Haywood this March, and ‘Codrington’ will join the fleet at Bath in mid-April.  Our Reservations Team are taking bookings for these boats now, so if you’d like to come aboard, please give them a call on 0117 304 1122.

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We are taking steps to make our holidays more sustainable

By Matt Lucas Stern, our Operations Manager

More and more people and companies are taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint and change their consumption patterns.

Here at Anglo Welsh, we’ve been looking at ways to reduce our impact on the environment.

For the last six years, all our new boats have been fitted with LED lighting and the latest engines with lower emissions.  By 2022, we aim to have replaced all on board lights with LED bulbs and in 2023, we plan to introduce our first hybrid powered boat.

This year, we’ve introduced our first electric call out van here at Wootton Wawen, and by 2030 we’d like to have replaced all our company vans with electric vehicles.

During this winter we have fitted solar panels on the roof of one of our boats, to trial here at Wootton Wawen next March.  They will be on our two berth Admiral Class boat ‘Collingwood’ and will provide power for some of the on board facilities, including the lights, fridge and television.  By 2030, we aim to have solar panels on all our new boats.  We are also looking at opportunities to fit solar panels at some of our bases, to help power our laundries and electric vehicles.

From next Spring, all our boats will be stocked with natural, eco-friendly and cruelty-free washing up liquids and cleaning products on board.

There’s so much we can do to make our holidays more sustainable, and we look forward to bringing you news of our progress as we embark on our journey to reach net zero by 2050.

In the meantime, here are our Top 10 tips to help you make your holiday more sustainable:

1.    Use green cleaning products – be kinder to the environment and aquatic life by using the eco cleaning products provided on board, and bring along microbead free toiletries.

2.    Bring your own hot drinks cups – so if you stop off to buy a coffee somewhere on your narrow boat holiday you won’t need a ‘difficult to recycle’ disposable cup.

3.    Reduce your use of plastic bottles – you can use water from the boat’s tank to make a cup of tea, but you will need to stock up on fresh drinking water, so we suggest bringing one large bottle or canteen to top up at water points.

4.    Take part in the #PlasticsChallenge – each year an estimated 14 million pieces of plastic rubbish ends up in Britain’s canals and rivers, with around 500,000 pieces flowing out into our oceans.  The Canal & River Trust is asking everyone who visits its waterways to pledge to pick up at least at least one piece of plastic litter each time we visit the waterways.

5.    Bring your own shopping bags – ready for shop-stops en route and avoid buying products with excess packaging.

6.    Plan some vegan and vegetarian recipes afloat – it’s healthier for us and the planet to eat less meat, so when you are planning your pre-holiday shop, include some meat-free meals.

7.    Shop locally – look out for farm shops and local stores selling locally grown produce that are walking distance from your canal boat holiday route, as well as pubs with menus using locally sourced ingredients.

8.    Bag all rubbish – help keep rubbish and plastic out of the waterways by making sure all your bin bags are tied securely so they can’t spill open, and make use of canalside recycling facilities along the way.

9.    Burn greener fuels – if you book a boat with a multi fuel stove, burn the fire logs provided made from recycled sawdust and wax instead of coal.

10. Become a Friend of the Canal & River Trust – to help protect and care for the waterway environment and the wildlife that lives there.

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Stan Cullimore’s trip on the River Thames

One of my happiest places is when I’m standing on the back of a narrowboat, chugging along, drinking in the scenery, smiling as the world slides on by. All done at walking speed. Sometimes on a canal, sometimes on a river and always, just loving the thrill of it all.

The joy of booking a weeks holiday starting from Anglo Welsh’s Oxford base, is that you get to choose which ever watery adventure you want. You can either head up the Oxford canal, which is a thing of beauty in of itself, or you can drift on down The Thames. Which is rather sublime.

We arrived at the boatyard one early October afternoon, to find it bathed in beautiful autumnal sunshine. According to the forecast, there was a full weeks worth of sun ahead of us. Deciding we wanted to take advantage of the glorious weather to pootle through the wide open spaces of a river, we headed downstream, following The Thames. Wanting to see how far we could get before turning round in time to return the boat early the next Saturday morning.

The first afternoon we only managed a couple of hours gentle travel before tying up for the night next to the picturesque ruins of Godstow Priory, opposite The Trout Inn. Which meant we got to walk the dogs through pretty meadows before heading out for a welcome pint or two at the pub. After that we headed back onboard to enjoy a celebratory supper of carbonara and cava.

Next day started early as we let the dogs out and got chatting to a happy crowd of college friends who had moored nearby. We had all set off from the Oxford base at the same time and compared notes on just how fab the whole experience was. To make things even sweeter, they gave us a cup of sugar, because we mentioned in passing that we had forgotten to bring any along for the tea. Was a reminder of just how friendly and welcoming most people are when you enter the world of waterways. Smiling, waving and chatting is par for the course when you’re on a boat.

After a pretty perfect days cruising we reached Abingdon. A really nice market town nestled on the bank of the river, with a glorious golden stone bridge arching over our heads. Since the sun had been beaming down on us all day, I decided to have a nice cooling swim in the river, with one of the dogs to keep me company. Turned out to be a bit cooler than either of us expected. Definitely made me grateful for the hot showers, central heating and wood burning stove onboard our boat, the good ship, Trossachs. Bond Class. That evening, as the sun set, the moon came up and the bridge lights twinkled, it felt for all the world as if we had drifted into a Parisian scene.

By now we were all well into our stride when it came to cruising along, mooring up and working the locks. Actually, since nearly all the locks are operated by lock keepers, it didn’t take that much team work to make our way through them. We just turned up, smiled and held on to the rope whilst the lock was worked for us. Most marvellous.

Next day was another beauty, just right for being out and about on the water. We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast before setting off, slowly passing through miles of magnificent scenery. When the sun shines and the birds sing, it is easy to believe you are travelling through the prettier parts of France or Holland on this stretch of the river. Though some of the fabulous houses and gardens you drift past are very much English country living at it’s most luxurious.

Being keen on birdlife, the week was turning out to be bumper one. Every day brought plenty of sightings; Kingfishers by the dozen, Red Kites at almost every turn, an assortment of songbirds along with plenty of geese which ever way you looked.

Next day we moored up for the night at Wallingford. Another pretty market town with a square, a High Street full of fine shops and yet another glorious stone bridge soaring over the river. Since we were moored near the Boathouse Inn, we went for a stroll round town, then treated ourselves to a pub dinner of Beef and Ale pies with chips. Mmm. Delicious. Just what the doctor ordered. Next morning we woke to the sound of a gentle knock on the window as a friendly council lady came to collect our £11 mooring fee.

By now, it was Tuesday, so we set off downriver, heading for Goring. Arriving in time for lunch, tying up just a stones throw away from the cottage where George Michael used to live. After a delightful couple of hours pottering round yet another pretty waterside town, we got back onboard, turned the boat round and began the gentle trek back to base. Didn’t get very far, as we saw a couple of mooring pins stuck in the bank, in the middle of open greenery, so decided to “wild camp,” for the night.

Over the next couple of days we retraced our journey, revisiting Wallingford and Abingdon to pick up fresh food supplies. Another perk of a holiday afloat, is that you can eat out, on shore, or you can stay at home on the boat and treat yourself to whatever you want to cook. In our case, thanks to the sunshine, we enjoyed plenty of home made salads along with shop bought sausage rolls, scotch eggs and pork pies. Mmm. Just right for the life aquatic.

When we got back to the boatyard on Saturday morning, we were all sorry to say goodbye to our floating home from home. The good news is, I’m sure we won’t have to wait too long for our next trip with Anglo Welsh. Only question is, where to go next?

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Experience Christmas on the canals

Anglo Welsh’s reservations manager Emma Lovell offers a guide to the best winter cruising destinations this Christmas.

This winter, we are offering winter cruising* from eight of our narrowboat hire bases, giving you the chance to spend Christmas or New Year on the canals.

The canals are quieter during the winter months and people tend to make shorter journeys.  Winter canal boat hire is about enjoying being close to the water and visiting canalside pubs and attractions, rather than travelling lots of miles each day.

From a cosy narrowboat for two to a family canal boat for 12, all our boats have central heating, hot water, WiFi, TV and DVD players, so it’s always nice and warm on board.  Some of our boats also come with multi-fuel stoves for some extra special winter warmth, and there’s plenty of storage room on board, so you can bring lots of warm and wet weather clothing.

Some routes will be affected at times by the Canal & River Trust’s annual winter maintenance work, but we can provide information on any planned route closures at the time of booking.

Here’s our guide to our Top 8 narrowboat holidays for Christmas 2021:

1.    Float to through the Warwickshire countryside to Stratford upon Avon – from our narrowboat rental base on the Stratford Canal at Wootton Wawen in Warwickshire, it’s a six-hour cruise to Stratford upon Avon.  The journey takes you through the Warwickshire countryside, passing through 17 locks along the way. Once in Stratford, you can moor up in Bancroft Basin, just a short walk from this popular tourist town’s excellent choice of theatres, restaurants, markets and museums.

2.    Experience Christmas in the World Heritage City of Bath – on a short break from our canal boat hire base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Monkton Combe, you can reach moorings in Bath City Centre in around four cruising hours.  The route takes you along a section of the Avon Valley and up the Bath flight of six locks.  From moorings close to Pulteney Bridge, you can enjoy exploring this beautiful City, including the Roman Baths and medieval Bath Abbey.

3.    Cruise through the Staffordshire countryside to Fradley – heading south from our base at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal, you can reach Fradley Junction in around five hours.  The journey passes through five locks and 12 peaceful miles of Staffordshire countryside, including the Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  Places to enjoy along the way include The Wolseley Centre run by the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, the Wolseley Arms pub and the village of Handsacre with its ‘The Old Peculiar’ pub.  Once at Fradley, refreshments are available at the Canalside Café or The Swan Inn, and there are walking trails at the Fradley Pool Nature Reserve.

4.    Travel through the Shropshire Lake District to Ellesmere – from our base at Whixall on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire, it takes around four hours to reach the historic town of Ellesmere.  Along the way, the route passes Lyneal Moss and Colemere Country Park.  Once at Ellesmere, there’s a choice of independent shops and restaurants, as well as formal gardens, woods and castle grounds to explore.

5.    Navigate into the centre of Birmingham – from our base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, it takes around five hours to boat into the heart of Birmingham.  Boasting more canals than Venice and with preparations underway to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games, it’s a great time to visit Britain’s vibrant second city.  And there are no locks to pass through along the way, so this is also a good route for canal boat holiday beginners.

6.    Visit the ancient city of Chester afloat – from our base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal near Tarporley, it’s a seven-hour cruise through the Cheshire countryside to Chester.  Once there, you can visit the City’s famous 700-year old two-tired shopping galleries – the Rows.  And you can also take time to explore Chester’s Roman City Walls, Amphitheatre, riverside gardens and sparkling city centre Christmas lights.

7.    Cruise to the Eisteddfod town of Llangollen – from our base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, it takes around two hours to cruise to Llangollen.  There you can moor up in Llangollen Basin and enjoy visiting this beautiful town nestled in the Berwyn Mountains.  Things to visit include the Llangollen Steam Railway, Plas Newydd house and gardens and the Horseshoe Falls.  There’s a great choice of independent shops and places to eat, including the popular Corn Mill with stunning river and mountain views.

8.    Enjoy Christmas in historic Bradford on Avon – on a short break from our narrow boat hire base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Sydney Wharf, you can cruise to the historic market town of Bradford on Avon.  The journey takes around four hours and passes through just one lock.  Bradford on Avon, situated on the southern edge of the Cotswolds, has beautiful limestone buildings echoing those of nearby Bath.  It is packed with historic buildings, including the 14th century Tithe Barn and 15th century chapel of St Mary Tory, with amazing views across the town.  There’s a great choice of independent shops and places to eat to choose from.

*NB Winter maintenance work can affect some routes at certain times.  Customers are advised to check at the time of booking.

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Our Top 10 narrowboat holidays for 2022

Britain’s peaceful 3,000 mile network of inland waterways provides the perfect staycation destination for 2022.

Emma Lovell, reservations manager for Anglo Welsh, says:

“Pottering slowly through the countryside at just four miles per hour, watching out for wildlife, is a great way to relax.

“Narrow boat holidays offer a self-contained floating holiday home experience, and the chance for hirers to navigate their very own adventure afloat.  It’s free to moor up almost anywhere, so boaters can stop off at canalside pubs, villages and waterside destinations along the way.”

Here’s a guide to our Top 10 narrow boat holidays for 2022:

1.    Cruise to the World Heritage Site at Saltaire – from our narrowboat holiday base at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, you can reach Saltaire on a short break.  The journey to Sir Titus Salt’s famous Victorian industrial model town takes seven hours and passing through 11 locks.  Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Salt built the textile Mill and entire village for his mill workers, all in a beautiful Italianate style.  Places to visit at Saltaire include the magnificent Salt’s Mill, displaying many examples of the work of Bradford born artist David Hockney.

2.    Complete the Four Counties Ring – on a week’s break from our canal boat hire base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire, you can access the fabulous Four Counties Ring.  The journey takes you on a 58-hour waterway odyssey, passing through 96 locks.  The four counties travelled through are Staffordshire, the West Midlands, Cheshire and Shropshire.  Highlights include: the 2670-metre long Harecastle Tunnel on the Trent & Mersey Canal and views of the rolling Cheshire Plains on the Shropshire Union Canal.

3.    Step back in time at the Black Country Museum – on a short break from our Tardebigge base on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal you can reach the Black Country Museum.  It’s an eight-hour, three-lock journey to moorings outside the 26-acre open-air site.  Here you can meet costumed characters explaining what it was like to live and work in one of the world’s most heavily industrialised landscapes.  There are period shops and homes to explore, the ‘Bottle & Glass Inn’, a 1912 school lesson and traditionally cooked 1930’s-style fish and chips.  There are also vintage tram and bus rides and the chance to take a trip ‘into the thick’ to experience life in an 1850’s coal mine.

4.    Glide across ‘The Stream in the Sky’ – from our boat yard on the Llangollen Canal at Trevor in North Wales, you’ll soon encounter the incredible World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.  One of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’, this incredible structure transports canal boats 38 metres high across the Dee Valley.  On a short break from Trevor, you can travel cross the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Chirk Aqueduct, and on to Ellesmere, in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District.  The journey to Ellesmere and back takes around 14 hours, passing through two locks each way.

5.    Take a Thames cruise to Henley – on a week’s break from our canal boat hire base close to Oxford, you can enjoy a Thames boating holiday to the historic town of Henley and back.  The journey to Henley passes through 19 locks and takes around 16 cruising hours.  Places to stop off at along the way include: the City of Oxford, packed with architectural treasures, including the magnificent Bodleian Library.  You can also visit Abingdon with its popular riverside pub, the Nag’s Head.  And Wallingford with its Castle Gardens dating back to Saxon times, and Agatha Christie Trail.  Henley is home to the River & Rowing Museum and a choice of riverside pubs.

6.    Navigate to the Eisteddfod town of Llangollen – on a week’s break from Anglo Welsh’s canal boat rental base at Whixall Marina, you can cruise through the Shropshire Lake District and the Welsh mountains to Llangollen and back.  The journey to Llangollen takes around 12 hours and passes through just two locks.  It includes an 11-mile section of the Llangollen Canal, running from Gledrid Bridge to the Horseshoe Falls in Llangollen.  Here stand the incredible Pontcysyllte and Chirk aqueducts and the section was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2009.  Once in Llangollen, you can moor up to enjoy exploring this beautiful Eisteddfod town, nestled in the Berwyn Mountains.

7.    Float through the Avon Valley and up the Caen Hill Flight – from our base at Monkton Combe on the Kennet & Avon Canal near Bath, it takes around 19 hours to reach Pewsey Wharf.  The route, which is perfect for a week away, takes you through 37 locks each way, including the 29 locks of the Caen Hill Flight at Devizes.  This journey also takes you across two dramatic Bath stone aqueducts at Dundas and Avoncliff. And through the historic market town of Bradford on Avon and the beautiful Vale of Pewsey, part of the West Berkshire Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

8.    Travel through the Warwickshire countryside to Fenny Compton – on a short break from our base at Stockton, boaters can cruise through the countryside to the pretty canalside village of Fenny Compton.  The journey begins on the Grand Union Canal, soon transferring onto the Oxford Canal at Napton-on-the-Hill.  Here, there’s a good choice of pubs, including the Kings Head and Napton Village Stores selling produce from the nearby buffalo farm, including Buffalo burgers, sausages, meatballs, steaks and ice cream.  From there, the route winds gently on through the countryside, with a series of locks to negotiate along the way.  The journey to Fenny Compton and back takes around 20 hours, passing through 24 locks (12 each way).

9.    Cruise into the Peak District – on a week’s break from our base at Great Haywood near Stafford, you can travel into the Peak District.  It takes around 20 hours to reach Froghall Basin, passing through 35 locks.  The route takes you along the Trent & Mersey Canal to Stoke on Trent, where it transfers onto the Caldon Canal.  Beautiful stretches of unspoilt countryside soon open up as you chug gently out of Stoke, with moorlands, woodlands and an abundance of wildlife to enjoy.

10. Navigate the Avon Ring – on a two-week break from our base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal, you can navigate the Avon Ring.  This epic journey covers 108 miles and passes through 130 locks.  You will navigate sections of the River Avon, River Severn, Worcestershire & Birmingham Canal and the Stratford Canal.  Highlights along the way include: Stratford upon Avon, the birthplace of Shakespeare; Tewkesbury and its 12th-century abbey; and the 30 locks at Tardebigge.

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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?

More than 55 years providing unique canal boat holidays.
Modern & spacious narrowboat holiday fleet – from 2 to 12 berths.
Wide choice of narrowboat hire locations and canal.
Canal boat holiday routes for novices & experienced boaters.
Flexible holiday booking, no hidden costs.
Family friendly holidays, pets also welcome.

Anglo Welsh. So much more than narrowboats

...but don't just take our word for it

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