Share your canal pics with Anglo Welsh and you could win great prizes in our ‘Canal Adventures 2017’ Instagram Photo Challenge.
The waterways of England and Wales are nothing if not a photographer’s dream. Picturesque canals, enchanting towpaths, handsome narrowboats and panoramic landscapes – we’re talking one great big visual adventure crying out to be captured on film.
Now Anglo Welsh is offering every canal lover the chance to share their own best photos of this unique natural world as we launch a visual gallery of the UK’s most stunning waterways. Best of all, by entering our ‘Canal Adventures 2017’ Challenge* you could win our outstanding first prize, a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera worth £300, or in the case of three lucky runners-up, an HP Sprocket Photo Printer worth £100.
Taking part in Anglo Welsh’s 2017 Instagram Photo Challenge couldn’t be easier! All you have to do is:
1) ‘follow’ Anglo Welsh on Instagram and Facebook.
2) upload your photos to these platforms using the hashtag #canaladventures2017.
To give yourself the best chance of winning a prize your photo should capture the essence of UK canals. We’re looking for stunning views from and of narrowboats, towpaths and waterways, not to mention canal-side landscapes, fauna and flora.
Before you grab your camera – or mobile phone – and set off on your great canal adventure, here are a few photographic tips from Anglo Welsh’s in-house snappers.
Lateral thinking. You’re not taking a posed picture in a portrait studio with a nondescript background behind your subject; you’re capturing the beauty of a natural setting. Whether it’s a canal detail, a narrowboat or the skipper, put the subject of your photo off-centre for dramatic effect.
Capture the moment. The latest mobile phone cameras are so good you can take spontaneous photos without sacrificing quality. Remember, that kingfisher or otter won’t wait for you to take light readings and set up your tripod!
Explore different angles. Photograph those water voles or water lilies down at eye level. Crouch down to get a new perspective on these little living things.
Shoot in the shade. Direct sunlight is harsh and makes your subject squint. When shooting in the shade, there are no more harsh shadows, only smooth patterns created by your subject’s natural features.
Take lots of photos. Here’s a secret that professional snappers prefer to keep to themselves – the best pictures are the select few that a photographer actually got right. For every perfect image of reflections in the water, sunset behind a canal lock or vintage narrowboats in harmony with their surroundings, there are dozens of blurry, dull photos that never made it off the cutting room floor.
Enjoy your canal adventures and remember, by sharing your photos on Instagram and Facebook using the hashtag #canaladventures2017 you could win a Canon EOS 1300D, a top-notch Digital SLR for anyone who loves taking photos of the UK’s beautiful waterways.
If you have any questions about Anglo Welsh’s ‘Canal Adventure 2017’ Challenge, please contact our friendly customer team on 0117 304 1122.
Terms and conditions. – Competition begins 1st May 2017 and closes on 31st August 2017.
– To enter the competition, you must be following Anglo Welsh on Instagram and Facebook and must upload photos to these platforms using the hashtag #canaladventures2017.
– Entrants can be all ages. Under 16s must seek permission from a parent or guardian.
– Entrants can submit as many photos as they like during the competition period.
– Photographs must show typical scenery of UK canals which can be seen whilst aboard a canal boat or on a towpath e.g waterways, canals, narrowboats, landscapes, wildlife, canal-side countryside, etc.
– Photos must be taken and uploaded in 2017, between the above dates.
– The winner will be selected by the judging panel. The judges’ decision is final.
– Prize winners will be announced via Instagram and Facebook on 8th September, 2017.
– First prize is a Canon EOS 1300D worth approx. £300. Three runners-up prizes are an HP Sprocket worth approx. £100 each. The prizes cannot be exchanged or returned. There is no cash equivalent.
– Winner(s) may be contacted by Anglo Welsh if they want to use the images for any advertisement or publication.
– The organiser reserves the right to change or cancel the competition at any time.
– By entering you agree by the rules and are happy for your imagery to be used for marketing purposes by Anglo Welsh Waterway Holidays and their associated companies.
– Members of Anglo Welsh staff plus staff of associated companies are not permitted to enter this competition.
Life after a stroke – Friends enjoy a canal boat trip
The Stroke Association’s ‘Positive Wednesday Group’, from the Life After Stroke Centre in Bromsgrove, recently enjoyed a day out travelling along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal aboard Anglo Welsh’s day boat ‘Emma’.
The trips, which are jointly hosted by Anglo Welsh’s Tardebigge team and Lions Club Bromsgrove, lasted for two hours each, with members travelling to Alvechurch and back.
Both groups of stroke survivors, their families and volunteers from the Life After Stroke Centre also enjoyed a picnic lunch at Tardebigge Wharf, courtesy of the Bromsgrove Lions Club and Morrisons Supermarket, at Great Park, Rubery.
Johanne Hughes, of the Life After Stroke Centre in Bromsgrove, explains: “Our Positive Wednesday Group were absolutely delighted to go on another canal boat trip this year, and thank Anglo Welsh and the Bromsgrove Lions for all their support.
“It’s such a lovely trip, cruising gently through the Worcestershire countryside and a wonderful opportunity for our fantastic volunteers, stroke survivors and families to relax and take time out.
“A stroke can have a huge impact on someone’s life, and our Positive Wednesday group really demonstrates the power of stroke survivors and their families supporting and inspiring one another, and we are so pleased they can share this great experience.”
Keith Godwin of the Bromsgrove Lions, adds: “Thanks to Anglo Welsh, this is the fourth year in a row we’ve been able to offer volunteers and stroke survivors from the Stroke Association’s Life After Stroke Centre a canal boat trip. It’s a fantastic opportunity to step away from the stresses of everyday life and relax, watching the world go by on the peaceful Worcester & Birmingham Canal, spotting kingfishers along the way!”
Tom Willson, manager of the Anglo Welsh Tardebigge base, adds: “Canals are great places to escape to – the slow pace of travel on a canal boat and the wildlife to watch out for along the way, really helps people to relax. We were delighted to offer our day boat ‘Emma’ to the Bromsgrove Lions so that they could take the Stroke Association’s Positive Wednesday Group out for a special day out together on the canal.”
‘Emma’ is available to hire for the day and can take up to 10 passengers. She is equipped with cutlery, crockery, a kettle, toilet, cooker and fridge, so hirers can prepare for a picnic afloat or stop-off at a waterside pub along the way. Day hire prices are £99 Monday to Friday, £140 for weekend days and bank holidays.
‘Emma’ can also be hired overnight, with accommodation for two adults, for £198, plus a fuel deposit during the week, £280 plus fuel deposit at weekends and bank holidays.
To book a canal holiday from any of Anglo Welsh’s 11 bases at prime waterway locations, please call our friendly booking team on 0117 304 1122.
Staycation, Staycation, Staycation. Why canal holidays offer a leisurely alternative to stressful foreign travel
Anglo Welsh have long believed there is ‘no place like home’ when it comes to relaxing holidays, and the evidence is that growing numbers of UK holidaymakers are now choosing to spend their vacations on the home front rather than travel abroad – a case of Staycation, Staycation, Staycation!
There may be a fleeting sense of excitement in stocking up on sunscreen, boarding a plane and updating your Facebook status to reveal a glamorous location, but a more leisurely staycation has the potential to offer more lasting pleasures.
England and Wales are full of truly unique places to visit, from gorgeous countryside and historic castles to traditional pubs and funky theme parks – and if one of the prime reasons for foregoing overseas travel is to avoid summer crowds, a narrowboat holiday on a peaceful canal is the perfect antidote.
Here are a few more reasons why Anglo Welsh believe a staycation on the water is the smart choice this summer.
Stunning scenery. Whether it is the picturesque canals themselves or spectacular views like the one from the World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct next to Anglo Welsh’s base at Trevor in North Wales, nothing beats the sheer range of views you get from a narrowboat.
History and Culture. There’s no need to travel to far-flung destinations in order to see historic landmarks. The World Heritage City of Bath, Shakespeare’s Stratford, the dreaming spires of Oxford, Warwick Castle and medieval Chester are all conveniently located on Anglo Welsh canal rings and circuits.
Summer refreshments. The waterways of England and Wales are lined with welcoming pubs, from the traditional to the trendy. Pilsner, Pimms or pink lemonade; whatever your favourite tipple there’s nothing quite like a refreshing drink on a leafy canal-side terrace after a day cruising along one of the UK’s historic canal routes.
Family friendly. Rare is the young child who takes long queues, stifling temperatures and unfamiliar food in their stride. By contrast, most youngsters relish a narrowboat adventure practically on their doorstep. Freedom and frolics on the canals, green spaces galore, their favourite snacks served on deck, Alton Towers and Drayton Manor Park theme parks close to moorings – what’s not to like?!
Floating hotel rooms. Not only do Anglo Welsh’s 160 narrowboats boast all the mod cons, but you can also choose a different mooring every night – most of them free. And with eleven conveniently located bases across England and Wales there will almost certainly be a starting point close to your home.
Wonderful Wildlife. Water voles, kingfishers, otters – the UK’s canals are home to an amazing range of birds and animals, many of them protected species. And unlike more exotic locations, there are no sharks or crocodiles to worry about!
Value for money. As well as the best quality, Anglo Welsh provides the best value. Why pay for an expensive foreign holiday when you can enjoy a fabulous staycation for a fraction of the price? Our modern fleet offers an affordable range of holidays for all tastes, from two-berths for romantic weekends to twelve-berths for large families and longer holidays.
Summer 2017 Bargains. Every day we have a selection of 20 last minute offers available for you to hire one of our modern narrowboats – call our friendly booking team on 0117 304 1122.
The incredible medieval castle at Warwick, mighty flight of locks at Hatton, quiet countryside and peaceful villages with traditional pubs
Built to transport goods between London and Birmingham, today the Grand Union Canal is alive with pleasure boats, walkers, cyclists and wildlife.
Stretching 137 miles through 166 locks, the Grand Union Canal emerged as a result of the amalgamation of several independent waterways.
It cuts across the country from the River Thames at Brentford in London to the Digbeth Branch canal in the heart of Birmingham, taking boaters up through the rolling Chiltern Hills, rural Northamptonshire and Warwickshire.
Along the way, it has a series of branches, including the Paddington, Slough, Wendover, Aylesbury, Leicester and Northampton arms.
Some of its most dramatic features include the magnificent Iron Trunk Aqueduct carrying the canal over the River Ouse in Buckinghamshire, the 2,795-metre long Blisworth Tunnel in Northamptonshire and the Hatton Flight of 21 Locks in Warwickshire.
Just some of the canal’s key destinations are the county town of Warwick with its jaw-dropping castle on the banks of the River Avon, and the charming canal villages of Braunston and Stoke Bruerne.
Best for beginners
On a short break (three or four nights) from our narrowboat hire base at Stockton in Warwickshire, canal boat holiday-makers can head west along the Grand Union to the county town of Warwick – a journey which takes seven hours and passes through 20 locks.
Not long after leaving Stockton Top Marina, boaters reach the peak of a flight of 13 locks taking the canal down to the village of Long Itchington, which has six pubs and hosts an annual beer festival. These pubs include the Cuttle Inn with extensive canalside gardens, and The Duck on the Pond in the village centre, serving top quality food.
The next four miles remain rural and just before reaching Royal Leamington Spa, the canal passes by the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust’s Lea Valley Nature Reserve, with family-friendly activity trails.
There are plenty of visitor moorings in Royal Leamington Spa, giving boaters the chance to enjoy some of this historic spa town’s attractions, including its Royal Pump Rooms Museum.
Three miles later, there’s a choice of moorings available for visiting Warwick and its magnificent medieval castle, which dates back to William the Conqueror. And the county town of Warwick itself has a vibrant market place hosting a variety of shops, pubs and cafes, as well as half a dozen museums, including the Yeomanry Museum.
Alternatively, on a midweek break (four nights) boaters can head east along the Grand Union Canal to the “chocolate box” pretty canal village of Stoke Bruerne, a journey which takes just under 13 hours, passing through 17 locks and two tunnels.
First turn right out of Stockton Top Marina and travel lock free for two miles before reaching the three locks at Calcutt. Half a mile later, Napton Junction is reached, where the Oxford Canal branches south off the Grand Union Canal.
Continue along the Grand Union Canal heading east, reaching the Braunston Turn in just under five miles. Branch right here to stay on the mainline, passing through the village of Braunston, with its marina, boatyard, fish and chip shop, and plenty of pubs, including the Old Plough in the village and the canalside Admiral Nelson.
Next it’s the flight of six Braunston locks and then the 1,867-metre long Braunston Tunnel. Soon after emerging from the tunnel, boaters pass the Daventry Arm, which the Daventry Canal Association is campaigning to restore.
One mile later at Norton Junction, the Leicester Line of the Grand Union Canal meets the mainline and then the Buckby flight of seven locks begins. Here the canalside New Inn above Buckby Top Lock is a popular refreshment point for boaters.
After Buckby Bottom Lock, there are three lock-free miles, before boaters reach the village of Weedon, with its Plume of Feathers and Maltsters Arms pubs in the village.
A further two miles on the canal passes the village of Nether Heyford with its Foresters Arms, and then it’s Bugbrooke with the canalside Old Wharf Inn, as well as pubs in the village.
Another lock-free three miles brings boaters to the next junction – Gayton, where the Northampton Arm branches off up the hill to Northampton.
Just over a mile later on the main line, boaters reach the village of Blisworth with its Royal Oak pub in a beautiful 15th century listed building, and soon after the North Entrance of the Blisworth Tunnel is reached. This 2,795-metre long tunnel, which opened in 1805, is the third longest on Britain’s inland waterways network, after Standedge Tunnel beneath the Pennines and Dudley Tunnel.
It takes around 20 to 30 minutes to travel through, and just outside the South portal there are towpath side moorings perfect for exploring the village of Stoke Bruerne.
As well as a choice of canalside pubs, walking trails, a nature reserve and the Rookery Open Farm, the village is home to the Canal & River Trust’s fascinating Canal Museum, housed in an old corn mill and packed full of canal memorabilia, films, displays and objects.
And there’s a footpath from the village to the hamlet of Shutlanger, home to the award-winning gastro pub, the Plough Inn.
Best for experienced boaters
On a seven-day, 10-day or two-week break from Stockton, boaters can tackle the Warwickshire Ring, travelling 101 miles, passing through 96 locks, and taking around 46 hours.
To travel the ring clockwise from Stockton, travel to Warwick as described above, then continue along the Grand Union Canal to Hatton Bottom Lock and the start of the epic Hatton Flight of 21 locks.
Along a two mile stretch, the Hatton Flight raises boats up by nearly 45 metres – so it’s not surprising to learn that the working boat people called it ‘The Stairway to Heaven’.
Today, just below the Top lock, boaters will find the Hatton Locks Café for very welcome refreshment.
It’s then four miles on to Lapworth, passing through the Shrewley and Rowington tunnels. At Lapworth’s Kingswood Bridge, the Navigation pub is a popular place to stop. Here the Heart of England Way connects to the canal and the National Trust’s stunning moated manor house Baddesley Clinton is just over a mile’s walk away.
Continuing north, soon after Lapworth the canal passes the Black Boy and King’s Arms pubs at Heronfield, and then reaches the Knowle flight of five wide locks, which raise the canal by 12.5 metres. The town of Knowle is a short walk away, with a supermarket and choice of pubs.
After passing beneath the M42 motorway, the route goes past the Boat Inn at Catherine de Barnes, before entering the urban outskirts of Birmingham at Solihull.
Six miles later, boaters reach the six locks at Camp Hill and then Bordesley Junction. From here it’s just half a mile to moorings at Typhoo Basin, close to Warwick Bar in the centre of Birmingham.
There’s so much to do in Birmingham – theatres, art galleries, museums, concert halls, restaurants and shops – but the award-winning Thinktank Science Museum is very close to the canal here and well worth a visit.
To continue on the Warwickshire Ring, boats must next turn back to Bordesley Junction and head up the Birmingham & Warwick Junction Canal, which then connects with the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal at Salford Junction.
From this junction, the route starts heading east, still in a very urban environment for another four miles until the Hare & Hounds pub at the bottom of the Minworth flight.
Now back in the countryside, the waterway passes the White Horse at Cudworth, where the Cudworth flight of 11 locks starts. The Dog & Doublet pub is next to Lock 9 of the flight and there are moorings soon after, with access to Kingsbury Water Park, offering 600 acres of country park to explore.
The Heart of England Way follows the line of the canal here for several miles and passes the RSPB’s Middleton Lakes Nature Reserve, great for a spot of birdwatching.
Fazeley is next with its choice of pubs – the Plough and Three Tuns, and from here it’s a short bus or taxi ride to Drayton Manor Theme Park if you fancy a change of pace!
The Coventry Canal meets the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal at Fazeley, taking boaters travelling the Warwickshire Ring east through Tamworth to Alvecote with its Samuel Barlow pub, the ruins of Alvecote Benedictine Priory and the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust’s Alvecote Pools nature reserve.
Now heading south, the canal passes beneath the M42 and past the Pooley Visitor & Heritage Centre, displaying mining memorabilia and offering waymarked paths around woodland and spoil heaps.
Then it’s on through the village of Polesworth, a good place to stop and re-stock with shops, and Bulls Head, Red Lion and Royal Oak pubs.
The canal becomes very rural for a while, passing Hoo Hill obelisk which marks the site of the Chapel of Leonard at Hoo, demolished in 1538 by Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries.
Atherstone is the next town, with a flight of six locks, choice of shops and pubs, including the Kings Head.
The canal continues south, lock-free for the next 11 miles. The Anchor at Hartsmill is the next canalside pub on route and soon after the canal becomes more urban again as it winds its way through Nuneaton, before meeting its junction with the Ashby-de-la-Zouch Canal at Bedworth.
Two miles later, the Coventry Canal meets the North Oxford Canal at Hawkesbury Junction, where Warwickshire Ring travellers begin heading south down the Oxford Canal. The route soon passes under the M69 motorway and through the pretty village of Ansty, with its Rose & Castle pub.
Three miles later, it’s worth stopping at Brinklow to visit the remains of Brinklow Castle, a Norman earthwork motte and bailey fortress, and Brinklow Arches to the south of the village, a canal aqueduct built during the Imperial Period. There are also a number of pubs in the village, including The Raven and White Lion.
The canal then passes through the 186-metre long Newbold Tunnel, past the Barley Mow and Boat pubs, becoming more urban again as it travels through the town of Rugby. Boaters soon reach the Bell & Barge pub and Tesco store at Brownsover, and then the village of Hillmorton, with its flight of three locks, plus Old Royal Oak and Stag & Pheasant pubs.
After Hillmorton, the canal cuts through open countryside again, and is lock-free to the Braunston Turn, where the Oxford Canal merges with the Grand Union Canal. The historic village of Braunston, in the heart of the canal network, is a great place to stop with a marina, boatyard, fish and chip shop, and plenty of pubs.
Eleven miles and nine locks later, the Grand Union Canal reaches Napton Junction, where the Oxford Canal splits off and heads south, while the Grand Union continues towards Birmingham. Passing Napton Reservoirs and through the three locks at Calcutt, two miles later boaters are back at Stockton Marina.
The Warwickshire Ring can also be travelled from our Wootton Wawen base in around 59 hours (128 locks), so a 10-day or two-week break works well from there. Or, to complete the ring from Tardebigge, allow 62 hours (125 locks), perfect again for a 10-day or two-week holiday.
On a week’s break from Wootton Wawen canal boat holiday-makers can travel to Warwick and back in 26 hours (80 locks), or in 38 hours (82 locks) from Tardebigge.
To book a holiday or break on any of Anglo Welsh’s fleet, call our friendly booking team on 0117 304 1122.
The ever-friendly staff at Anglo Welsh’s head office in Bristol are always keen to sing the praises of their vibrant home city, not least when summer comes around and it’s time for the annual Bristol Harbour Festival, often described by the locals as the mother of all maritime festivals.
This year’s event takes place from Friday July 21st to Sunday July 23rd and will once again celebrate Bristol’s proud maritime heritage as the city’s harbour and waterside fill with two miles of boats, food markets, circus acts, live music and performers.
Launching the Bristol Harbour Festival weekend, the 20-piece Outlook Orchestra will perform a 100-minute live mix celebrating some of the most popular dance tracks from all around the world, coupled with a live set by chart-topping UK artist Roots Manuva.
The weekend’s land-based events are free to all festival visitors while tickets are available granting exclusive access to the spectacular array of boats displayed on the pontoons. Also part of this year’s three-day event is the Western Boat Show, an exciting new consumer show that will feature canal boats, sailing boats, power boats, yachts, dinghies and even fishing boats, not to mention a wide range of marine products and services.
An idyllic starting point for narrowboats heading in the direction of Bristol Harbour* for the July festival is provided by Anglo Welsh’s base at Sydney Wharf in the Word Heritage City of Bath, though we should add that the journey itself is not for the faint-hearted!
Bristol is 7 hours cruising away from our base in the heart of Bath, but the route is only recommended for experienced narrowboat hirers due to the rise and fall in the tide on the River Avon – the highest in the world, falling and rising as much as 14 metres per day.
If you do decide to head along the River Avon from Bath towards Bristol, once there you could also take in Brunel’s masterpiece the SS Great Britain, explore Bristol Zoo, or visit the new Blue Reef Aquarium at the harbour side.
If like the Anglo Welsh team you are a fan of boats, arts, circus, music, nautical capers, and good food and drink by the waterside, make sure you pencil the Bristol Harbour Festival into your diary as an unmissable event this summer.
To book a canal holiday from Anglo Welsh’s base at Sydney Wharf in Bath or from any of our 11 prime waterway locations, please call our friendly booking team on 0117 304 1122.
*Access to Bristol is restricted and must be granted by the lock keeper. There is a £35 per night mooring fee for boaters wishing to moor in the Harbour. During the festival, only boats that have pre-booked will be granted access into the Harbour. Boaters can cruise towards Bristol from Bath and moor up approximately 2 hours away, before accessing the festival via road.
Stan Cullimore recently reviewed his holiday from our Oxford base in the Bristol Post, and found the pace of life to be good for the soul…
There’s a lot to be said for messing around on boats. Living life beyond the river banks. It’s a wonderful way to slow down, unwind and watch the world go by.
Over the past few years I’ve had a lot of fun exploring the canals of Britain, so thought it was time to take a walk on the wild side and try the river. A week of peaceful cruising up and down the River Thames was just what the doctor ordered.
Arriving at the Anglo Welsh boatyard just outside Oxford in the early afternoon, we were shown our home for the duration – a four-berth 58ft-narrowboat called ‘Knighton’.
It had everything needed to keep the smiles coming. A solid double bed at one end, a delightful living room at the other and a bijou galley in the middle. It also had a snug bathroom and central heating. Perfect for seven days of relaxing adventures.
Once we had our things on board, we moved off down river and found ourselves deep in the heart of countryside, the hills gently rolling away as far as the eye could see.
Up ahead there were tantalising glimpses of the slender spires of Oxford. But before getting there, we had to put our minds to the serious business of mooring up for the night. Luckily Nick from Anglo Welsh had suggested Godstow Abbey. It’s a sweet spot to stop and has a picturesque pub just over the bridge. The Trout delivered everything we needed. Great views, great beer and free WiFi. On our way home we went for a stroll and found a sign “Be Your Beautiful Best”. Decided to make it our motto for the week ahead.
The next day we headed on down to Oxford. After a gentle morning mooching along the water, we moored up and went into the city centre to explore.
It’s very cute, obviously. If Willy Wonka did architecture, this is the sort of place he’d come up with. As if to prove it, when we strolled along in search of coffee and cake we found a four-piece string quartet playing next to an outdoor café. It really was the cherry on the cake.
As you drift through Oxford by boat, you can’t help but notice swarms of rowers out on the water. They’re lovely to watch but prone to get up to mischief. They splash and twirl their way around the river like crazy boat-borne ballerinas. Think watching Formula 1, but with less revving, more rowing and much slower bumps.
We thought the university town would be the cutest place on offer during our holiday, but we were wrong. Approaching Abingdon by water the next afternoon was like watching a picture postcard come to life.
Luckily, even though the river runs right through the middle of town, we were still able to find a quiet spot in a delightful meadow just moments from the action.
By now, we were getting into the swing of life on board. It’s very restful. You steer the boat, drink tea and watch the countryside glide past at walking speed. Then you moor up and go in search of pleasure and pubs. Very easy on the soul.
As was the procession of bridges that we passed under. Whether they were built for trains, cars, people or bikes, made of stone, steel or wood, there’s something lovely about all of them. Who needs the crumbling spires of town and gown, when you’ve got the beautiful bridges of Oxford county soaring over head?
By early evening the next day, we had arrived in Wallingford. Another glorious little town, with another glorious golden bridge spanning the river.
We turned around and got ready for the return leg of our journey. But first, Mrs Cullimore decided it was time to do some holiday shopping. Somehow I persuaded her to pick up a garden sprinkler, which must be the oddest souvenir we’ve ever brought home.
As we made our way back up river over the next few days, I tried to work out my favourite thing about a being on a boat. It could have been the ever present wildlife, the fabulous scenery or the sheer joy of having a rock’n’rolling home. But it wasn’t. It was something even better than any of those. It was the passers-by. Whether they’re on another boat, on the towpath or just enjoying the view, their waving, smiling and chatting makes your day.
To book a canal holiday from any of Anglo Welsh’s 11 bases at prime waterway locations, please call our friendly booking team on 0117 304 1122.
Sailing on a cloud with Matthew Gravelle and Family
Broadchurch star Matthew Gravelle was at the centre of the biggest TV whodunnit since ‘who shot JR?’ Last summer, the Welsh actor took his wife, Hinterland star Mali Harries, and kids on an Anglo Welsh canal boat holiday, setting off from our Trevor base in North Wales on a true-life family adventure. Here’s his narrowboat holiday review, published in Wales View 2015:
We’re heading for the Llangollen Canal, built as part of a network of waterways to connect the coalfields and limestone quarries of Denbighshire to the Midlands.
Its most notable feature is Thomas Telford’s Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, the highest and longest in Britain, 984 feet (300m) in length and soaring 98 feet (40 m) above the River Dee.
We arrive at Trevor Basin to collect our boat, a traditional barge called Brenig, which appears to be painted in British Racing Green (odd, since the speed limit is 4 mph (6.4kph).
The children scramble on and explore, while I get an hour of instruction from the nice man from Anglo Welsh on how to skipper the thing. By the time we push off from our mooring, I know the theory, but actually steering this immense beast – it’s got an old-fashioned tiller, rather than a wheel – takes some getting used to.
Crossing the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is the easy bit. Telford thoughtfully built it in an arrow-straight line, and the cast iron walls are only just wide enough to pass through, so steering isn’t an issue. Instead I can take in the exhilarating views as we float serenely in mid-air.
I was enjoying the ride so much I didn’t really think about how it was coming to an end. There are two barges coming in the opposite direction and I seem to have forgotten everything I learnt about steering. I bump into a poor unsuspecting barge owner, causing him to throw his supper into his lap. Oops. Sorry.
Back at our mooring, we feast on Llandegla smoked trout, with broad beans and new potatoes from my dad’s garden. After supper we do old-fashioned family stuff – play cards, draw pictures.
As night falls, the children settle into their cabin and enjoy the best night’s sleep of the trip. It’s a really cosy and comfortable place to sleep, like a stretched caravan, except better insulated, with its own wood-burner.
A new day dawns and this driving lark seems much easier today. It gives us the opportunity to relax and spot nooks and corners that you don’t see from any road.
“It’s like sailing on a cloud,” observes Ela.
To book a canal holiday or break aboard any of Anglo Welsh’s narrowboat fleet, call our friendly booking team on 0117 304 1122.
A family narrowboat odyssey to Birmingham and back
Departing from our Tardebigge base, on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, the Daily Mail’s Guy Adams recently took his family on a canal boat holiday for the first time:
‘The weekend plans — to chug serenely through the Black Country, stopping at a few waterside pubs and overnighting in central Birmingham…
Canal trips create all sorts of happy memories, and this one would bring plenty: the kids (William, six, Megan, four, and Henry, one) hooting with excitement as we chugged into a series of long, pitch-dark tunnels; and the fisherman guffawing into his pot of maggots as yours truly managed to get stuck (yet again!) in a smelly reed bed.
The Worcester & Birmingham Canal, built at the end of the 18th century, was one of the great motorways of the Industrial Revolution. Today, it’s altogether more tranquil, meandering through 30 mostly-picturesque miles of town, suburb, and countryside.
It’s said that Birmingham has more miles of canal than Venice. But the rest of the UK is hardly short of them, either: by Victorian times, there were almost 5,000 miles of waterways, of which about 2,200 remain today.
At the helm of a narrowboat, everything moves at its own pace. Once you master the controls, everyday cares recede. It’s really quite blissful.
We arrive at Gas Street Basin, a bustling marina slap bang in the city centre, in the middle of Saturday afternoon, and tie our 70ft narrowboat ‘The Derwent’ up for the night.
Our mooring is right next to the National Sea Life Centre, a large, state-of-the-art aquarium that might have been custom designed for entertaining excitable kids who needed to let off steam.
After dark, Gas Street Basin is the centre of Birmingham’s vibrant nightlife scene, so bedtime is jollified by the succession of stag and hen parties sailing past our mooring on ‘disco boats’, several equipped with karaoke machines. Our kids think it quite the spectacle.
Fortunately, the council requires them to disappear at 9pm, at which point the mooring becomes an oasis of calm once more.
We sleep like logs, before chugging slowly home the next day, thankful that, even in the vibrant centre of Britain’s second largest metropolis, a canal is its own, peaceful world.’
To book a holiday or break on any of Anglo Welsh’s fleet, call our friendly booking team on 0117 304 1122.
We offer a range of different types of holidays such as City Breaks, Relaxation Cruises and Popular Destinations
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.