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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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How narrowboat holidays have changed

As part of our 55 year anniversary celebrations, we’ve been speaking to long term narrowboat holiday-maker Howard Fisher.

How many canal boat holidays have you been on?

At least one almost every year since 1971, including around 15 with Anglo Welsh.

Where did you go on your first narrowboat holiday?

My first inland waterways holiday was in 1971 with three school friends.  We hired a small river cruiser from Barbridge, and we travelled to Llangollen and back.  We quickly realised a narrowboat would be a much better way of travelling the canals.  So, in March 1973 we hired a 56ft narrowboat ‘Stirling’ from Anglo Welsh’s Great Haywood base. That time I was with seven friends and we travelled anti-clockwise round the Four Counties Ring.

What do you like most about narrowboat holidays?

It’s a great way to see the bits of towns and cities that you’d otherwise miss. I much prefer the urban stretches to countryside – though on a fine evening, a quiet and secluded country mooring is hard to beat.  I also find the structures you encounter fascinating, and marvel at the ingenuity of the original builders.  In 2004 we travelled through the incredible 5km long Standedge Tunnel on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, which takes you deep beneath the Pennines.

What was your most memorable journey?

Back in the summer of 1975, when I was involved with the canal club at university, we hired two 50ft eight berth boats from Middlewich. The crew changed each week, with a core of us staying all three weeks. We travelled a large circle, including the tidal section of the River Trent, then right across the North Eastern canals to Leeds.  Then we went along the Leeds & Liverpool and Bridgewater Canal to Anderton. We went down the Anderton Lift (where the lift operator was surprised we only wanted single tickets), along the River Weaver and out onto the Manchester Ship Canal to Ellesmere Port. Then back to Middlewich via Chester.

That trip took a fair bit of organising. For example, we had to arrange for a British Waterways crew to rendezvous with us to reconstruct the lock gear at Ellesmere Port, as it was semi-derelict back then. Also, things didn’t go according to plan when we misunderstood the lock keeper’s instructions regarding the channel out to the deeper water of the Manchester Ship Canal.  On exiting the lock in the wake of a passing ship, we managed to get marooned on a mud bank. A tug had to pull us off.

The trip up the Trent required a ludicrously early start, motoring solidly for eight hours to get to Keadby at the right point of the tide. One of the boat’s engines overheated, and we spent some time travelling tied together with just a single engine.

What was your favourite narrowboat holiday?

In 1978 we completed the London Ring, cruising through central London on the Regent’s Canal, going around the East End canals, and returning along the tidal Thames. They didn’t need to raise Tower Bridge for us, but it’s fantastic to drive a narrowboat along the Thames past all the landmarks.  This was before the London docks were redeveloped, so the east End was nothing like the posh area it is now.

How have canal boat holidays changed over the years?

The thing that hits you is just how many boats there are these days, including so many houseboats. Back in the 70’s you could cruise for most of a day only meeting a handful of other boats.  The canals are kept better maintained than they used to be, but water levels can still be a problem. For example, it took us several attempts over a few years before we finally succeeded in navigating the Cheshire Ring.

What were the reasons for moving from being a hirer to an owner?

As retirement beckoned, the freedom of going as and when, and knowing that once the fixed costs were paid, staying longer didn’t cost extra, pushed four of us (two couples) to jointly buy a boat.  The boat is fitted out exactly as we want it, including an expresso machine, bread-maker, food mixer and washing machine!

Any tips for newcomers to canal boat holidays ahead of their first trip?

Listen to the instructions on how to operate the boat, and ask the hire company to take you through a lock and show how it works. After packing, throw out half what you packed as you won’t need it. Enjoy yourselves!

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Cream teas, bluebells, bats and swallows on the Shropshire Union Canal

We spoke to Stan Cullimore about his latest Anglo Welsh narrowboat holiday

Where did you go this time Stan?

We set off from Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire.  We travelled south to Nantwich, and then we went up the Middlewich Arm.  We were really lucky with the weather.  It was great to enjoy the sunshine in pub gardens, as well as on deck and at the tiller.

What appeals to you most about canal boat holidays?

I love being on the water, and I think it’s the perfect antidote to the stress we’ve all experienced over the last year.  Canals are green corridors and when you are on a boat, you are right there at water level with the wildlife.  We sat out on deck each evening enjoying a sundowner and watched bats swooping around us.  We also saw the first swallows of the spring dipping to drink from the canal and lots of baby ducklings.  The sound of birdsong all around you is really lovely.

Where did you stop along the way?

On our first night, we moored up just south of Nantwich Aqueduct and walked to the town square.  There’s a good choice of cafes and restaurants there, and it’s a great place to watch the world go by.  Nantwich is a lovely old town, with lots of historic buildings, including a really pretty row of alms houses.

We also moored between bridges 12 and 13 on the Middlewich Arm, close to Church Minshull.  On the recommendation of a local boater, we took a stroll through a wood full of bluebells and walked on up to a hill beyond with some fantastic views. And we stopped for a drink in the garden of the Badger Inn at Church Minshull.

What were the highlights of this holiday?

One of things I love about canal boat holidays are the unexpected things you find, and people you meet along the way.  On the Middlewich Arm, we spotted a small shelter next to the canal with homemade cakes and cream teas for sale with an honesty box.  And close to Nantwich Aqueduct, we met The Doggie Boat selling all sorts of doggie treats, toys, collars and leads.

Any tips for first narrowboat hirers?

Pack a disposable BBQ – we found a picnic bench and BBQ stand close to one of the locks on the Middlewich Arm.  And make sure you’ve got some cash for any canalside ‘honesty box’ purchase opportunities.  As well as cream teas, we’ve found eggs, vegetables and honey for sale in the past.  Frozen sweetcorn and peas are good for feeding ducks and swans along the way.  Defrosted first! Also, I’m thinking about investing in a bat detector for next time.  It would be great to hear the bat echolocation sound waves, and find out which type of bats they are.

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We’ve launched a new trip boat at Trevor!

Carl Cowlishaw, Anglo Welsh’s operations manager, announces the arrival of Anglo Welsh’s new trip boat service on the Llangollen Canal from Trevor Basin, in North Wales, offering visitors the chance to cruise across The Stream in the Sky.

We are thrilled to announce the latest addition to our narrowboat fleet at Trevor – our newly refurbished trip boat ‘Seren Fach’, or ‘Little Star’ in English.

We’ve been operating self-drive holiday narrowboats and day boats from Trevor for many years, and now we can also offer visitors to Trevor the chance to enjoy a skippered boat trip on the Llangollen Canal.

The 45-minute return trips take people across the incredible World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, towering 126 feet high with amazing views across the Dee Valley, making it an exciting and unforgettable experience.

Our knowledgeable team provide commentary on board, so passengers can learn more about the historical significance of the Llangollen Canal as they cruise gently along.

Departure times

Seren Fach’ is now operating at weekends and on selected weekdays in the season, with the first trip departing at 11am, and the last at 3.30pm, seating up to 48 passengers.

Tickets prices

Adult tickets are priced at £10 each, children (aged under 16) are priced at £6.  Family tickets for two adults and two children are priced at £25 each.  Cash or card payments are accepted.

Refreshments are available to purchase on board, so visitors can relax with a hot or cold drink, or an ice-cream while enjoying stunning views across the Dee Valley.

No booking is required and the trips are subject to availability.  ‘Seren Fach’ is operating from Canal Wharf, Trevor, Llangollen LL20 7TT. Tel. 01978 821749.

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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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