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Anglo Welsh support for charitable walk on the Warwickshire Canal Ring helps raise over £2,000

Phil Seedhouse is a 61-year-old IT manager from Solihull with a passion for keeping fit and music. A 100 mile canal walk to raise money for Cardiomyopathy UK certainly put his fitness to the test, and when Anglo Welsh stepped in to provide a much needed ‘support boat’ at the eleventh hour it was music to his ears!

The Warwickshire Towpath Challenge normally involves walking a 100 mile stretch of the West Midlands Canal Ring in 5-7 days, but Phil decided to really test his own endurance by tackling the route in just 4 days, with friends and family joining him on different stretches along the way: on the towpath, at locks, or on the water.

Unfortunately, Phil’s best-laid plans were nearly scuppered two weeks before the challenge when a water pipe burst on his crucial ‘support boat’. Rather than cancel, Phil sent out an SOS to old friend, Tom Willson, Anglo Welsh’s joint base manager at Tardebigge on the Worcester and Birmingham Canal. As a business with a long track record of supporting charitable causes, Anglo Welsh responded to the mayday with the 65ft ‘Silver Spirit’, a 6-berth Estuary Class narrowboat.

“I have done plenty of sailing in my time,” says Phil, “but this was my first time on a narrowboat and I couldn’t get over how comfortable it was. Having a luxury canal boat along for support and knowing I would have a great place to put my feet up at the end of the day was a real bonus.”

“I really enjoyed the variety of landscapes along the towpaths, from picturesque waterways on the stretch between Atherstone and Polesworth, to places like Birmingham and Tamworth where you see the industrial heritage. Not to mention the great pubs at Hatton Lock and Hartshill! But I really looked forward to my relaxing evenings on the ‘Silver Spirit’.”

Enjoyable though it was, the raison d’être for Phil’s towpath challenge was raising funds for a good cause. “Our aim was to raise as much money as possible through sponsorship for Cardiomyopathy UK,” he says. “Our initial target was to raise £1,000 but thanks to the support of Anglo Welsh and others we have already raised well over £2,000 and the donations are still coming in. That money goes directly to Cardiomyopathy UK to help them improve the lives of those that suffer from this disease and to improve diagnosis by increasing genetic testing for those who may be inheritors of the gene.”

To make a donation to Cardiomyopathy UK go to www.virginmoneygiving.com/philseedhouse

Phil himself was diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) several years ago. Like most people, he had never heard of the condition before. “Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle and can take several forms but can cause death if severe enough,” he explains. “You may remember the sudden death of David Frost’s son who died when out jogging at the age of 31 from heart failure caused by HCM.”

“There are often no symptoms associated with the condition which means that it can often go undiagnosed until it’s too late. I certainly had no idea I was suffering from HCM until I was diagnosed. Fortunately, I only have a mild case and it doesn’t stop me keeping fit and active, but one of the things I hope to do is raise awareness of the condition. So a very big thank-you to Anglo Welsh for stepping into the breach at the last minute and making my Towpath Challenge such a successful one.” 

At least one in 500 British people has a type of cardiomyopathy and it affects people of all ages. Find out more about the heart muscle condition at cardiomyopathy.org

To book a canal holiday from Tardebigge or any of Anglo Welsh’s 11 bases at prime waterway locations, please call our friendly booking team on 0117 304 1122.

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Spring time on the River – perfect for a family micro-adventure afloat

Spring is a great time to go canal boating. The countryside is alive with new life – spring lambs, ducklings and goslings, hawthorn in the hedgerows and bluebells in the woods.

At 3pm on Friday afternoon, we – my nine-year old son Archie, husband Jonathan and fox terrier Patchey – picked up our four-berth boat ‘Romney’ from Anglo Welsh’s Oxford narrowboat hire base on the River Thames near Witney.

Nick showed us everything we needed to know about handling and maintaining the boat, and gave us a tour of its facilities.

The 48ft long ‘Romney’ has a double cabin and two single beds in the saloon. She has central heating, a hot shower, flushing toilet, bedding, towels, and a well-equipped kitchen with an oven, microwave, fridge, plus plenty of pots, pans, crockery, cutlery, glasses and mugs. There’s also WiFi and a TV/DVD player.

Nick also gave us some advice on where to moor and, most importantly, the best pubs.

We decided to head east up the River towards Oxford. The river was calm and quiet, winding through meadows and farmland.

The first lock at Eynsham was unmanned, but as part of their handover and tuition, novices are taken through the first lock.

Three miles on we reached King’s Lock just after 5pm so the lock keeper had gone off duty – at this time of year, they start at 9am and finish at 5pm. But we shared the lock with another Anglo Welsh boat, crewed by a couple who were on their first canal boat holiday.

A mile later, we found moorings alongside the ruins of Godstow Abbey, just above Godstow lock and walked across the bridge to the Trout Inn.

This hugely popular 17th century gastropub, which appeared in many episodes of TV’s ‘Inspector Morse’, has masses of indoor tables, as well as a pretty riverside terrace for outdoor dining with a friendly resident peacock. The food and service were very good, so it’s definitely worth booking-ahead.

The next morning, after being greeted by cows checking us out from the field alongside the boat, and the sounds of a large gaggle of geese, we set off and made our way through Godstow Lock.

We travelled on a further two miles, taking turns to steer the boat. Archie loved learning how to navigate and work the locks, and wanted to be involved in every aspect of looking after our narrowboat, including greasing the rudder and filling up with water.

Soon after passing the River’s junction with the Oxford Canal, we moored-up just above Osney Lock and set off to explore Oxford on foot.

We reached the main shopping area in just 10 minutes and continued on to Broad Street to take a look at the beautiful Bodleian Library buildings, including its stunning 17th century Schools Quadrangle.

On the walk back, we stopped to pick up some lunch from a café and walked to the top of the mound of Oxford Castle – an 11th century motte-and-bailey castle built by the Norman baron Robert D’Oyly the elder.

Back on the boat, we set off for Abingdon, passing along the edge of Oxford and sharing the river with lots of rowers.

After four miles and three locks we were back out in open countryside. At Radley, we spotted a kingfisher darting across the river and passed a beautiful bluebell wood.

All along the way we saw herons fishing, swans, families of ducks and ducklings, and geese and their goslings swimming along in the Spring sunshine. And cruising alongside the meadows at Abingdon, we heard the beautiful sound of a cuckoo.

From Osney to Abingdon Lock, it’s a nine-mile, three-lock journey, which takes around three hours. At Abingdon, we moored alongside the parkland just below the lock and took a stroll around the town. This charming market town really makes the most of its Thames setting with riverside walks, parks and eateries, including the popular Nag’s Head, where we ate on Saturday evening.

Sunday morning we woke to bright sunny weather and noticed a series of very tired looking people walking along the towpath. We soon found out they were tackling the final stages of the Thames Path 100 mile trail race from London to Oxford, which had started in Richmond the morning before – a very different way to enjoy the river!

We turned the boat and headed west back to Eynsham, sharing all the locks with another Anglo Welsh boat, skippered and crewed by eight women enjoying a hen-do narrowboat holiday.

For our last night, we moored up close to Eynsham Lock and took a 10-minute stroll up to the Talbot Inn in the village.

The next morning, we completed the last mile of our journey to return the boat by 9am, and spent the car journey home reviewing the highlights of our trip and planning our next micro-adventure afloat.

To book a holiday or break on any of Anglo Welsh’s fleet, call our friendly booking team on 0117 304 1122.

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Spotlight on the Canals – The Stratford Canal

Shakespeare, barrel roof lock cottages, iron aqueducts and gourmet pubs

The 25-mile long narrow and mostly rural Stratford-upon-Avon Canal links Shakespeare’s Stratford and the River Avon in the south, with the Worcester & Birmingham Canal close to Birmingham in the north, passing through the Forest of Arden along the way.

The southern section of the canal, running from Bancroft Basin in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon up to Lapworth, is characterised by barrel roofed lock cottages and a series of split bridges with gaps for the tow ropes of boat horses.

The northern section has 19 locks running up from Lapworth, and then a 10-mile lock-free level stretch to the canal’s guillotine-gated stop-lock at Kings Norton Junction.

Completed in 1816 at a cost of £297,000, the canal has 54 locks, a 322-metre long tunnel, three high embankments, a reservoir, a large single span brick aqueduct and three cast iron trough aqueducts, all unusually with towpaths at the level of the bottom of the canal.

Best for beginners

From our base at Wootton Wawen, a pretty hamlet set within a conservation area, it’s a six-hour, 16-lock journey through the beautiful Warwickshire countryside to Shakespeare’s Stratford – perfect for a short break.

Canal boat holiday-makers head south, first crossing the Grade II* listed Wootton Wawen aqueduct over the A3400 and a few miles later the longer 105-metre long Edstone Aqueduct – which crosses a minor road, the Birmingham and North Warwickshire railway and the track bed of the former Alcester Railway and provides boaters with excellent views of the surrounding countryside.

Next the canal passes the picturesque village of Wilmcote. Canal boat holiday-makers can moor-up above Wilmcote Top Lock and walk into the village to explore Mary Arden’s Farm, the childhood home of Shakespeare’s mother to experience the sights, smells and sounds of a working Tudor farm. Wilmcote also has two pubs – the gourmet Mary Arden Inn which dates back to the 1700s, and The Masons Arms, a traditional pub with flagstone floors and real fires.

Continuing south, boaters next negotiate the Wilmcote Flight of 11 locks, taking the canal down the hill into Stratford. Expect “gongoozlers” as you pass through the last two locks and arrive at Bancroft Basin, the perfect place to moor up and enjoy the delights of Stratford-upon-Avon.

Just some of the highlights of this world-famous home of the Bard include the Royal Shakespeare Company’s magnificent Royal Shakespeare Theatre with over 1,000 seats. In 2017 performances of Anthony & Cleopatra, Julius Caesar and Titus Andronicus are scheduled.

There are regular markets, plenty of eateries including Carluccio’s and the Giggling Squid, and a number of museums, including the bizarre MAD Museum of Mechanical Art & Design (described as a mixture of Wallis & Gromit, Heath Robinson and Scrapheap Challenge) and Shakespeare’s Birthplace.

Best for experienced boaters

The mighty Warwickshire Ring is perfect for more experienced boaters on a 10-day or two-week break. From Wootton Wawen, the journey time is 59 hours, travelling through 128 locks.

First head north up the Stratford Canal, passing through two locks at Preston Bagot, with a barrel roof cottage at lock number 37.

Next the canal passes close to the tiny hamlet of Yarningdale Common, with another barrel roof cottage at lock 34 and the Grade II* listed Yarningdale Aqueduct.

At the village of Lowsonford, the canalside Fleur de Lys pub is well worth a visit, renowned for its home-made pies.

Several locks, barrel roofed cottages and miles later, the canal passes beneath the noisy M40 motorway. After another five locks, and boaters reach Lapworth junction where they can take the Lapworth link to connect onto the broad Grand Union Canal at Kingswood Junction.

To travel clockwise around the ring, boaters turn left and head north. The Heart of England Way meets the canal here at Kingswood Bridge, and it’s just over a miles walk to the National Trust’s Baddesley Clinton stunning moated manor house in the heart of the Forest of Arden from here.

Soon after, 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.

Soon after, the canal passes beneath the M42 motorway, and continues north 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 City’s award-winning Thinktank Science Museum, with its exciting Spitfire and Marine Worlds galleries, is close by.

Next turn back to Bordesley Junction and head up the Birmingham & Warwick Junction Canal, which connects with the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal at Salford Junction. From there begin heading east, still in a very urban environment for another four miles until the Hare & Hounds pub at the bottom of the Minworth flight of three locks.

Now back in the countryside, the route 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, plus 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 here, 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 being 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 including the Wheatsheaf and Old Plough

Eleven miles and nine locks later, the canal reaches Napton Junction where the Oxford Canal splits off and heads south.

The Warwick Ring continues along the Grand Union Canal towards Birmingham, soon reaching the three locks at Calcutt. The next two miles are on one level until the route reaches Stockton Top Lock, the peak of a flight of 13 locks taking the canal to the village of Long Itchington, who’s six pubs host a popular annual beer festival.

The next four miles remain rural and just before Leamington Spa is reached, 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 impressive Georgian and Edwardian architecture, Royal Pump Rooms Museum, Loft Theatre, Welches Meadow Nature Reserve, and excellent choice of shops and restaurants.

Next it’s the beautiful country town of Warwick, with its jaw-dropping medieval castle on the banks of the River Avon, dating back to William the Conqueror. Warwick Castle offers a fantastic day out with ramparts to climb, birds of prey and trebuchet firing displays, Horrible Histories Maze, landscaped gardens, Castle Dungeon and daily history team tours.

Warwick itself has a vibrant market place hosting a variety of shops, pubs and cafes and a thriving Saturday market, as well as a popular racecourse, Yeomanry Museum, Lord Leycester Hospital Museum, Queen’s Own Hussars Museum & Master’s Garden, St John’s House Museum and Warwickshire Museum.

Heading out of Warwick, boaters soon encounter Hatton Bottom Lock and the start of the epic Hatton Flight of 21 locks, traditionally known as the ‘Stairway to Heaven’, which raises boats up by nearly 45 metres along a two mile stretch of the canal. Just below the Top lock, boaters will find the Hatton Locks Café for welcome refreshment!

It’s another four miles back to Lapworth from Hatton, passing through the Shrewley and Rowington tunnels, before heading back down the Stratford Canal to Wootton Wawen.

To book a holiday or break on any of Anglo Welsh’s fleet, call our friendly booking team on 0117 304 1122.

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Booking now! Brand-new additions to Anglo Welsh’s high-spec Constellation fleet

Anglo Welsh’s top-of-the-range Constellation Class was launched in 2016 to rave reviews and tremendous feedback from narrowboat experts and holidaymakers alike. The great news for 2017 is that our high spec fleet is doubling in size, with five brand-new Constellation boats poised to grace canals across England and Wales.

First out of the dry dock are the 67 ft, 6-berth ‘Pegasus’ at our Great Haywood base in Stafford and the 65 ft, 4-berth ‘Hydra’ at Tardebigge in Worcester. Both are available for hire from 14th April, just in time for some luxury Easter cruising.

As the latest evolution of Anglo Welsh’s customised fleet, the Constellation Class narrowboats boast upgraded facilities and beautifully finished livery. ‘Pegasus’ and ‘Hydra’ join the 12-berth ‘Andromeda’ based at Bath, the 12-berth ‘Delphinus’ at Oxford, the double act, 6-berth ‘Cassiopeia’ and 4 berth ‘Carina’ at Bunbury, ‘Aquarius’ at Trevor and ‘Aquila’ at Wootton Wawen.

Like the rest of the Constellation fleet, the handsome blue ‘Pegasus’ and ‘Hydra’ were built by one of Britain’s oldest established boat builders following Anglo Welsh’s own bespoke specs. The popular consensus is that they are among the finest narrowboat hires available anywhere on the UK’s waterways.

Below deck, high spec light ash interiors and reflective white ceilings create a spacious feel, and as an added bonus, the Constellation Class is highly adaptable, with double beds easily converting into singles and vice-versa. All Constellation boats have two bathrooms with full-size showers.

Watch this space for news of four more Constellation Class Boats coming to Anglo Welsh’s strategically located canal bases in 2017.

Anglo Welsh’s high-end Constellation Fleet is very popular! To book one of these brand-new narrowboats, contact our friendly Booking Team on 0117 304 1122.

 

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We’re welcoming ‘Eynsham’ back with a discount & bubbles!

Our 61ft narrowboat ‘Eynsham’ has been refurbished over the winter and will be returning to action on the Stratford Canal next week (7 April 2017), with hire prices starting at less than £22 pppn.

‘Eynsham’ has been transformed from a boat for eight people, into a spacious six-berth, with a generous front cabin, one bathroom and two cabins, making her the perfect family boat.

Her accommodation can be configured as one dinette double, with one fixed double and two fixed singles, or one dinette double with four fixed single beds.

First introduced to the Anglo Welsh fleet in 2004, ‘Eynsham’ has spent 12 years taking canal boat holiday-makers on adventures along the Kennet & Avon Canal.

To celebrate her return, we are offering her for hire throughout 2017 at price band 5/E, rather than 6/F, saving up to £150. And every new booking for holidays on ‘Eynsham’ in 2017 will receive a complimentary bottle of Bubbly on board.

In 2017, short break narrowboat holidays aboard ‘Eynsham’ start at £640, weekly breaks from £915. These prices include cancellation protection.*

On a short break (three or four nights) from our canal boat hire base on the Stratford Canal at Wootton Wawen, narrowboat holiday-makers can travel through the beautiful Warwickshire countryside to visit the historic market town of Stratford-upon-Avon, birthplace of Shakespeare.

The journey passes over two aqueducts, through 17 locks and takes around six hours. Along the way, boaters can stop off at the pretty village of Wilmcote and step back in time to experience the sights, smells and sounds of a Tudor farm at Mary Arden’s Farm, the house where Shakespeare’s mother grew up.

Once in Stratford itself, there are town centre moorings at Bancroft Basin, close to the Swan Theatre, Shakespeare’s Birthplace, and a choice of pubs, restaurants and cafes, including the One Elm pub, Hathaway Tea Rooms, Carluccio’s and the Giggling Squid.

On a week’s break from Wootton Wawen, boaters can reach the historic county town of Warwick to visit its jaw-dropping medieval castle, tackling the infamous flight of locks at Hatton along the way.

Or head to Birmingham and moor up in Gas Street Basin to explore our exciting second city, boasting more canals than Venice and award-winning attractions like the Thinktank Science Museum.

On a 10 night to two-week holiday from Wootton Wawen, the Warwickshire or Avon rings can be completed.

Go to our bookings page to check availability or call us on 0117 304 1122 to find out more.

*A compulsory Damage Waiver of £50 is required. Fuel deposits are £50 for short breaks and £90 for week long holidays.

To book a holiday or break on the Eynsham or any of the Anglo Welsh fleet, call our friendly booking team on 0117 304 1122.

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Anglo Welsh’s Top 10 Easter Holidays Afloat

Narrowboat holidays offer the chance to enjoy a fantastic family adventure holiday afloat. So why not ship out this Easter to explore the Great British countryside as it bursts into life with spring lambs, busy birds, blossom and new leaves.

And stop-off along the way to visit exciting waterside visitor attractions hosting special Easter activities.

Here are our Top 10 family destinations this Easter to help you plan ahead:

  1. Check out the new arrivals at Chester Zoo. From our canal boat hire base on the Shropshire Union Canal at Bunbury, the Roman City of Chester is a delightful seven-hour, nine-lock cruise away, travelling through the rolling Cheshire landscape. Once there, canal boat holiday-makers can visit Chester Zoo, home to over 15,000 animals, living in 125 acres of award-winning zoological gardens. New arrivals include a rare baby Sulawesi crested macaque monkey, ‘Diego Junior’ an endangered giant otter, ‘Murchison’ the baby giraffe and two baby elephants.
  2. Glide across ‘The Stream in the Sky’. Just five minutes by boat from our base on the Llangollen Canal at Trevor, boaters encounter the incredible World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, truly one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’. Its cast iron trough, along which boats travel, is supported on iron arched ribs and carried 38 metres high above the Dee Valley on 19 hollow pillars. On a short break from Trevor, boaters can cross the aqueduct and then continue east to reach the Ellesmere Lakes, teaming with wildlife. On a week’s break, boaters can cruise on to the historic market town of Whitchurch, with its striking half-timbered buildings, independent shops and restaurants, way-marked circular walks, and numerous pubs, including the award-winning Black Bear.
  3. Enjoy Egg-citing Easter activities at the Black Country Living Museum. From our Tardebigge base on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, it’s an eight-hour, three-lock journey to moorings outside the Black Country Living Museum. From 8-23 April the Museum will be hosting an array of family activities, including a ‘m-egg-a hunt across the 26-acre site, exploring shops and houses to solve clues, egg rolling competitions, eggy craft activities, traditional street games, Victorian school lessons, a trip into an 1850s coal mine and the chance to enjoy freshly baked hot cross buns from their bakery and traditionally cooked fish & chips.
  4. Get brainy at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. From our Oxford base, it’s a tranquil three-hour cruise along the River Thames to moorings at Hythe Bridge, perfect for exploring Oxford’s city centre, including the awesome Oxford University Museum of Natural History, home to the University’s internationally significant collections of geological and zoological specimens, including the Oxfordshire dinosaurs, the Dodo and the swifts in the Tower. This Easter, visitors can enjoy their special ‘Brain Diaries’ exhibition (10 March 2017 to 1 January 2018), which chronicles the fascinating physical developments our brains undergo as we grow from babies to children, teenagers and then adults.
  5. Join the Medieval Easter activities at the Royal Armouries Museum. From our base at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, on a week’s holiday, canal boat holiday-makers can travel to Leeds and back, cruising for a total of 34 hours and passing through 56 locks. Here, boaters can moor up and explore the Royal Armouries Museum at Leeds Dock, home of the national collection of arms and armour. From Saturday 8 to Sunday 23 April, the Museum will be hosting a range of medieval-themed events and activities, with an exciting gallery programme of live interpretations, dramatic performances, and combat demonstrations, plus the Knight’s Apprentice Horse Show, Knight School, Falconry Flying Displays and medieval dance workshops.
  6. Meet a Roman soldier at the Roman Baths. From our base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at the historic town of Bradford on Avon in Wiltshire, boaters can reach Bath Top Lock, in just six hours, travelling through one lock and over two beautiful Bath stone aqueducts. From there, it’s a 15-minute walk into Bath City Centre and the Roman Baths, where visitors can see the remarkably preserved remains of one of the greatest religious spas of the ancient world and meet costumed characters, including a Roman soldier, stonemason, slave girl and priest, bringing to life the people who lived and worked at Aquae Sulis 2,000 years ago.
  7. Find a tropical butterfly paradise at the Stratford-upon-Avon Butterfly Farm. From our base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal, it’s a delightful six-hour, 17-lock cruise journey through the Warwickshire countryside to moorings in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon. From here, it’s a short walk to the town’s theatres, shops, restaurants and museums, as well as the Stratford-upon-Avon Butterfly Farm, where visitors can see some of the world’s largest and most camouflaged caterpillars on show, find out about the amazing lifecycle of a butterfly within the Farm’s Emerging Cage and observe the fascinating Mini-Beast Metropolis, inhabited by stick insects, beetles, leafcutter ants and some of the world’s largest tarantula spiders.
  8. Step back in time at Fradley Junction. From our base at Great Haywood, near Stafford, it’s a peaceful six-hour journey along the Trent & Mersey Canal to Fradley Junction, near Burton-on-Trent, where the Trent & Mersey Canal meets the Coventry Canal. Here visitors can find out about the people who once lived at Fradley Junction, repairing boats and locks, the cottages they lived in, the maintenance yard where they worked and the pub where they swapped gossip after a hard day’s work. There’s an audio trail to follow and wildlife to spot at the Fradley Pool Nature Reserve, with a bird hide and pond dipping platform.
  9. Wonder at Warwick Castle. From our Stockton base on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, it’s a seven-hour journey, passing through 20 locks, to reach the beautiful country town of Warwick with its jaw-dropping medieval castle on the banks of the River Avon. Dating back to William the Conqueror, Warwick Castle offers a fantastic day out with ramparts to climb, the Castle Dungeon, Great Hall and Staterooms to explore, the sights, sounds and smells of the medieval period to experience in the Kingmaker exhibition, soaring birds of prey and trebuchet firing displays to watch, the Horrible Histories Maze to navigate and landscaped gardens to tour.
  10. Explore Brunel’s SS Great Britain in Bristol’s Floating Harbour*. From our base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Sydney Wharf in Bath, Bristol’s Floating Harbour is an eight-hour cruise away, travelling through 13 locks. Once there, narrowboat holiday-makers can moor-up and take time to explore Brunel’s awesome SS Great Britain, one of the most important historic ships in the world. Special activities planned this Easter include an Easter Animal Trail for families to follow clues in search of creatures that traditionally travelled on board the ship, and volunteer-led talks about the ship’s first voyage to Australia, with tales of murder, mystery, life changing success and spectacular failure. *NB this route is recommended route for experienced boaters.

To book a holiday or break on any of Anglo Welsh’s fleet, call our friendly booking team on 0117 304 1122.

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Spotlight on the Canals – the Trent & Mersey Canal

Stunning views over the Cheshire Plain, mighty canal structures, the charming Potteries and mile-upon-mile of peaceful countryside.

The 90-mile long Trent & Mersey Canal, begins close to the River Mersey near Runcorn and finishes at its junction with the River Trent in Derbyshire.

It evolved as a direct result of the development of the pottery industry in North Staffordshire, where the local clay had enabled pottery to be manufactured since Elizabethan times.

In 1765 Josiah Wedgewood, the top producer of pottery, put forward the idea of building a canal to link the Potteries with the River Mersey. Engineered by the canal-building genius James Brindley, it was the country’s first long distance canal.

Opening in 1777, the effect of the canal was instant and phenomenal – transport costs were quartered and the whole area expanded. As well as pottery, industries prospering from it included the brewing industry at Burton on Trent, salt at Middlewich, Northwich and Sandbach, and coal mining in North Staffordshire.

Today the canal takes narrowboat holiday-makers through some of the best scenes that our waterways have to offer, using mighty feats of canal engineering, including the Anderton Boat Lift, the 2,647-metre long Harecastle Tunnel and the flight of 31 locks between Middlewich and Kidsgrove known as ‘Heartbreak Hill’, which raise the canal up from the Cheshire Plains.

Best for beginners

On a short break from our canal boat hire base at Great Haywood near Stafford in Staffordshire, boaters can head north along the Trent & Mersey Canal to the old market town of Stone, travelling for five hours and passing through four locks.

Once home to the headquarters of the canal company, Stone is now the food and drink capital of Staffordshire, with regular markets, a diverse choice of cuisine and an exciting calendar of events, including the Stone Festival held in June and the Food & Drink Festival in October.

Along the way, the route passes the village of Weston, with its beautiful village pub on the green, The Woolpack run by Marston’s.

Next, canal boat holiday-makers can enjoy views of the imposing Sandon Hall, its 400 acres of rolling parkland, and Grade II* listed Pitt’s Column, erected in 1806 by the first Earl of Harrowby in memory of the great Prime Minister Pitt the Younger.

The canal then passes along the outskirts of Burston, where the family-run micro-brewery Greyhound pub is well worth the short walk to.

On arriving in Stone, there are visitor moorings at Westbridge Park, opposite the Swan pub, and a little further along past the Star pub on the left.

On a week’s break, canal boat holiday-makers can continue north from Stone along the Trent & Mersey Canal to Stoke-on-Trent, first travelling through Meaford Locks, and past the canalside ‘Plume of Feathers’ pub at Barlaston, which the actor Neil Morrissey re-opened two years.

Another good place to stop along the way is just before Trentham Lock to explore the World of Wedgwood, with a factory tour, afternoon tea in the Wedgewood tea room, woodland walks and award winning museum housing a UNESCO protected collection of huge historic and cultural significance.

Just under five miles later, after travelling through the Stoke flights of five locks, the canal reaches its junction with the Caldon Canal at Etruria, in Stoke-on-Trent. Here boaters can stop to visit the Etruria Industrial Museum, Spode Visitor Centre, Ski Centre and the Waterworld indoor aqua park, before turning to travel back to Great Haywood.

This journey to Stoke and back travels a total of 36 miles, passing through 36 locks, and takes around 18 hours of cruising time.

Best for experienced boaters

On a week, 10-day or two-week break from Great Haywood, more experience boaters can tackle the stunning Four Counties Ring – travelling through Cheshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire and the West Midlands, covering 114 miles and 94 locks, and taking around 55 cruising hours.

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

And it’s here that boaters travelling north meet the summit of ‘Heartbreak Hill’ – the series of 31 locks which between Middlewich and Kidsgrove, raise the canal 280ft up from the Cheshire Plains.

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

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

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

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

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

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

At this point, boaters on a 10-day or two-week holiday, could take a 20-mile, eight-lock round-trip detour continuing north along the Trent & Mersey Canal, past the Lion Salt Work’s Museum at Marston, to visit the Anderton Boat Lift.

This incredible feat of Victorian engineering designed by Edwin Clark, perches on the banks of the River Weaver Navigation like a giant three-story-high spider. Using two huge water tanks with watertight sealable doors, it raises boats 50ft between the Weaver Navigation and the Trent & Mersey Canal.

Once back at Middlewich and onto the Middlewich Branch, this quiet waterway travels peacefully through the Cheshire countryside, with just four locks along its 10-mile length. Along the way, the Badger Inn at Church Minshull, a short walk from the canal, is a popular place to stop for refreshment.

After travelling for a further two miles to Barbridge Junction, with its marina and Olde Barbridge Inn, to continue travelling anti-clockwise around the Ring, boaters next head south down the Shropshire Union Canal to its junction with the Staffs & Worcs Canal at Autherley.

It’s worth noting that our Bunbury base is just three miles away from Barbridge, with boating facilities and the friendly Dysart Arms at Tarporley nearby for refreshment. So canal boat holiday-makers hiring from our Bunbury base can pick up the Four Counties Ring here, a journey which would involve a total of 56 locks and could be completed in 58 hours.

Along the way, heading south down the Shroppie, the route passes over the Nantwich Aqueduct on the outskirts of Nantwich, home to the stunning timber framed Elizabethan mansion house, Churche’s Mansion.

Two rural miles later, there are two locks at Hack Green, close to the Secret Hack Green Nuclear Bunker, once one of the nation’s most secret defence sites, and now a fascinating museum.

Three miles on at Audlem, boaters pass the Shroppie Fly pub and Audlem Mill, selling canal gifts, crafts and the locally made Snugbury’s Jersey Ice Cream.

Then the Audlem flight of 15 locks takes the canal 93ft downhill to a lock-free mile, before another flight of five locks at Adderley.

Boaters next travel through Betton Cutting, past Brownhills Wood before reaching the historic market town of Market Drayton, home of the gingerbread man.

Next there are five locks at Tyrley, then the canal is lock free for 17 miles, passing through a series of cuttings, embankments and villages with excellent pubs.

Places of note along this 17-mile level stretch include Goldstone Wharf with its Wharf Tavern pub, Staffordshire Wildlife Trust’s Loynton Moss Nature Reserve at Grub Street, the Old Wharf Tearoom at Norbury Junction, the Royal Oak at Gnosnall, and the Hartley Arms and Mottey Meadows Nature Reserve at Wheaton Ashton.

There’s just one lock at Wheaton, then the route is lock-free again for eight miles, passing the Bridge pub at Brewood, going under the M54 motorway and running close to Pendeford Mill Nature Reserve, before meeting Autherley Junction Stop Lock and the southern end of the Shroppie.

To complete the Four Counties Ring, boaters then travel north up the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal back to Great Haywood, passing the National Trust’s magnificent Shugborough Estate, with riverside gardens dotted with fascinating monuments and follies, one rumoured to offer a clue to finding the Holy Grail.

To make a booking or to get friendly advice on canal holidays, please call our Booking Office on 0117 304 1122.

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Spotlight on the Canals – the Shropshire Union Canal

Stunning views of the rolling Cheshire landscape, sleepy villages, atmospheric cuttings & an abundance of wildlife.

Stretching from Autherley Junction near Wolverhampton in the South, to Ellesmere Port in the North, the charmingly rural Shropshire Union Canal, affectionately referred to as “The Shroppie”, covers 77 miles, including its 10-mile Middlewich Branch and quarter-of-a-mile long River Dee Branch.

There are 47 locks along the main line, four along the Middlewich Branch and three on the River Dee Branch. With long stretches with no towns for miles, the Shropshire Union Canal is great for getting close to nature.

The northern section is a wide waterway, running through the gently rolling Cheshire landscape, while the arrow-straight southern section features long embankments, cuttings and grand bridges, and fewer locks.

These deep mossy cuttings are atmospheric and full of wildlife, giving keen-eyed boaters the chance to spot the flashing blue of a kingfisher in flight, and other waterway wildlife.

Best for beginners

On a short break from our canal boat hire base at Bunbury near Tarporley in Cheshire, narrowboat holiday-makers can head north along the Shropshire Union to the historic City of Chester. The 12-mile journey through the rolling Cheshire countryside takes seven hours, passing through 18 locks.

After leaving the base and going through Tilstone Lock, and two more locks at Beeston (Beeston Stone & Beeston Iron), boaters can moor-up just below Wharton’s Lock and walk half-a-mile to English Heritage’s Beeston Castle & Woodland Park, one of the most dramatic ruins in the English landscape.

Continuing along, soon after Wharton’s Lock, boaters come across the canalside Shady Oak pub and two miles later, the Famous Cheshire Ice Cream Farm at Tattenhall is a short walk from the canal.

Soon after the canal becomes less rural, passing through Waverton, and the site of the Battle of Rowton Moor (one of the last major battles of the English Civil War), and then into Christleton with its Cheshire Cat canalside pub and the Ring ‘o’ Bells pub in the village.

Climbing up five more locks along the way (Christleton, Greenfield, Tarvin, Chemistry, and Hoole Lane), the canal passes the Lead Shot Tower site, where during the Napoleonic Wars musket shot was produced by dropping molten lead balls from height, which formed spheres as they fell into a vat of water at the bottom.

Now in the ancient City of Chester, there’s so much to explore, including the City’s Roman Amphitheatre, Museum, City walls, River Dee, Chester Rows, Shops, Chester Cathedral built in 1541, St Johns’, Chester Castle, and racecourse.

For canal boat holiday-makers heading back to Bunbury, there’s a winding hole close to Chester Cathedral at Cow Lane Bridge 123E.

Boaters on a four-night or week-long break can continue down the staircase locks and into Telford’s Basin, then on lock-free for a further eight miles to the end of the Shropshire Union Canal at Ellesmere Port, where the canal meets the Manchester Ship Canal. Alternatively, at the four-mile marker there’s the option to moor-up at Caughall Bridge, and walk half a mile to the award-winning Chester Zoo, with 15,000 animals living in 125 acres of gardens.

At the canal’s terminus, boaters can visit the National Waterways Museum, with its historic boat collection, docks, warehouses, forge, stables and workers cottages, recreates homes from the 1830s, 1900s, 1930s and 1950s and brings the past vividly to life with costumed characters and guided tours.

Best for experienced boaters

On a week, 10-day or two-week break from Bunbury, boaters can tackle the Four Counties Ring, travelling through Cheshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire and the West Midlands, covering 114 miles and 96 locks, and taking around 58 cruising hours.

After travelling south two miles to Barbridge Junction, with its marina and Olde Barbridge Inn, to travel anti-clockwise around the Ring, boaters should continue to head south down the Shropshire Union Canal to its junction with the Staffs & Worcs Canal at Autherley.

Along the way, the route passes over the Nantwich Aqueduct on the outskirts of Nantwich, home to the stunning timber framed Elizabethan mansion house, Churche’s Mansion.

Two rural miles later, there are two locks at Hack Green, close to the Secret Hack Green Nuclear Bunker, once one of the nation’s most secret defence sites, and now a fascinating museum.

Three miles on at Audlem, boaters pass the Shroppie Fly pub and Audlem Mill, selling canal gifts, crafts and the locally made Snugbury’s Jersey Ice Cream.

Then the Audlem flight of 15 locks takes boaters 93ft downhill to a lock-free mile, and then another flight of five locks at Adderley.

Boaters next travel through Betton Cutting, passing by Brownills Wood before reaching the historic market town of Market Drayton, home of the gingerbread man.

Next there are five locks at Tyrley, then the canal is lock free for 17 miles, passing through a series of cuttings, embankments and villages with excellent pubs.

Places of note along this 17-mile level stretch include Goldstone Wharf with its Wharf Tavern pub, Staffordshire Wildlife Trust’s Loynton Moss Nature Reserve at Grub Street, the Old Wharf Tearoom at Norbury Junction, the Royal Oak at Gnosnall, and the Hartley Arms and Mottey Meadows Nature Reserve at Wheaton Ashton.

There’s just one lock at Wheaton, then the route is lock-free again for eight miles, passing the Bridge pub at Brewood, going under the M54 motorway and running close to Pendeford Mill Nature Reserve, before meeting Autherley Junction Stop Lock and the southern end of the Shroppie.

To continue the Four Counties Ring, boaters then travel north up the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal to Great Haywood, before transferring onto the Trent & Mersey Canal.

Places of interest along this section include the National Trust’s Shugborough Estate with beautiful riverside gardens, the 2,675-metre long Harecastle Tunnel and the Wedgewood Museum at Stoke on Trent.

At Middlewich, the ring route leaves the Trent & Mersey Canal to head west back to Barbridge, travelling along the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal.

This quiet waterway, which travels peacefully through the Cheshire countryside, has just four locks along its 10-mile length. For refreshments, as well as a choice of canalside pubs at the historic market town of Middlewich, the Badger Inn at Church Minshull, just a short walk from the canal, it’s a popular place to stop.

To make a booking or to get friendly advice on canal holidays, please call our Booking Office on 0117 304 1122.

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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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