Spotlight on the Canals – The Llangollen Canal

Breathtaking views, historic market towns and havens for wildlife

The beautiful 41-mile long Llangollen Canal crosses the border between England and Wales, and links the Eisteddfod town of Llangollen in Denbighshire with the Shropshire Union Canal, just north of Nantwich in Cheshire.

The scenery varies from rural sheep pastures and ancient peat mosses, to tree-lined lakes and the dramatic foothills of Snowdonia.

In 2009, an 11-mile section of the waterway from Gledrid Bridge to the Horseshoe Falls in Llangollen – including the incredible Pontcysyllte and Chirk aqueducts – was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO.

Soaring 35 metres above the rushing waters of the River Dee, which tumble out of Snowdonia, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is truly one of the wonders of the waterways.

Built by the great canal engineers Thomas Telford and William Jessop, the aqueduct was completed in 1805. Supported by 18 giant pillars, it’s the longest and highest aqueduct in Britain, carrying a 307-metre long iron trough water passage for a single narrowboat and a towpath for pedestrians, with an exhilarating sheer drop on one side!

Best for beginners

Passing through just two locks, the 14-hour journey from our base at on the Llangollen Canal at Trevor to the Shropshire market town of Ellesmere and back, offers a fantastic short break holiday for beginners.

Setting off from Trevor Basin, holiday makers can get their first glimpse of Telford’s famous work, from the Telford Inn. The canalside pub & restaurant is where Thomas Telford himself once stayed to observe the progress of his dream. The spectacular Pontycysllte Aqueduct, with its jaw-dropping panoramic views of the Dee Valley below, is just 10 minutes away.

Next it’s a lift bridge and The Aqueduct Inn at Froncysyllte serving excellent food, then on through Whitehouse Tunnel followed by Chirk Tunnel, before crossing Chirk Aqueduct.

Soon after the aqueduct, boaters reach the Poachers Pocket pub at Gledrid, and the Lion Quays waterside restaurant at Moreton, both good places to moor up for the night.

Four miles later at Frankton Junction the Montgomery Canal meets the Llangollen Canal and after another three miles, the canal passes by the Canal & River Trust’s Ellesmere Canal Yard, which dates back to the early 1800s.

At Ellesmere there are plenty of visitor moorings, giving canal boat holiday-makers the chance to explore this pretty market town with a mix of Tudor, Georgian and Victorian buildings, as well as its series of mini lakes, teeming with wildlife.

There’s a range of places to eat and drink at Ellesmere, including The White Hart serving a variety of beers, and The Red Lion coaching inn serving ‘build your own’ burgers and ‘off the grill’ options.

Best for experienced boaters

On a week’s holiday from Trevor, narrowboat holiday-makers can travel on from Ellesmere to Wrenbury and back, cruising a total of 66 miles through 24 locks, and taking around 32 hours.

The route passes through Whixall Moss nature reserve then the historic market town of Whitchurch, known for its clock makers, including J B Joyce & Co, the oldest maker of tower clocks in the world, established there in 1782.

When in Whitchurch, look out for half-timbered buildings, fair trade independent shops and restaurants, way-marked circular walks, water voles at Staggs Brook, woodpeckers at Brown Moss nature reserve, a selection of Roman burial vases in the Civic Centre and a Joyce clock in the tower of St Alkmund’s Grade I Listed Georgian Church. And there are numerous pubs to choose from, including the award-winning Black Bear and friendly Bulls Head.

Six miles further east, having passed through the Grindley Brook Staircase of Locks with lockside café and stores, boaters reach Wrenbury. The centre of the village is a conservation area with a range of historic houses and the 16th century St Margaret’s Church overlooking the village green. There is a Post Office with general stores and two pubs, the canalside Dusty Miller in a converted corn mill, and The Cotton Arms serving home-cooked traditional British meals and a range of real ales.

On returning to Trevor, allow time to take the two-hour journey on to the ancient Welsh town of Llangollen and moor up in Llangollen Basin to explore the town. Things to see include the famous Dee Bridge built by Bishop Trevor in 1345, the Llangollen Steam Railway, Plas Newydd house and gardens, Horseshoe Falls, plus many independent shops and places to eat, including the popular Corn Mill with stunning river and mountain views.

On a two week break from Trevor, boaters can continue on from Wrenbury to Barbridge, where the Llangollen meets the Shropshire Union Canal, and then tackle the Four Counties Ring.

This epic canal journey, travelling through Cheshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire and the West Midlands, covers 110 miles and 94 locks, and takes around 55 cruising hours. The total cruising time from Trevor is 97 hours, passing through 136 locks.

Travelling anti-clockwise around the Ring, at Barbridge boaters head south down the Shropshire Union Canal to its junction with the Staffs & Worcs Canal at Aldersley. Along the way, the route passes through the historic market town of Market Drayton, home of the gingerbread man, and a series of villages with excellent pubs, including The Hartley Arms at Wheaton Ashton and the Royal Oak at Gnosnall.

At Aldersley, the route heads north east again along the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal to Great Haywood, where boaters then begin travelling up the Trent & Mersey Canal. Places of interest along this section include the National Trust’s Shugborough Estate with stunning riverside gardens, the 2,675-metre long Harecastle Tunnel and the Wedgewood Museum at Stoke on Trent.

At Middlewich, the ring turns west back towards Barbridge, travelling along the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal.

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


Spotlight on the Canals – The Kennet & Avon Canal

…soaring aqueducts, prehistoric landscapes and a World Heritage City.

One of our best-loved canals, the 87-mile long Kennet & Avon Canal links the Bristol Avon with the Thames at Reading, passing through spectacular landscapes and the World Heritage City of Bath.

From the foothills of the Cotswolds to the North West Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and Vale of Pewsey dotted with pre-historic features, this canal offers the chance to enjoy some of England’s most beautiful countryside.

Completed in 1810, the Kennet & Avon Canal is made up of two lengths of navigable rivers linked by a canal. From Bristol to Bath in the west the route follows the Bristol Avon, and at the eastern end, the River Kennet from Newbury to Reading.

The waterway has 105 locks along its length, including 29 at the dramatic Caen Hill locks in Devizes, as well two stunning Bath stone aqueducts at Avoncliff and Dundas, designed by the pioneering canal engineer John Rennie.

Best for beginners…

From our base at Bradford on Avon on the Kennet & Avon Canal in Wiltshire, Bath Top Lock is a lovely six-hour, one-lock cruise away – perfect for a short break for beginners.

Skirting the southern foothills of the Cotswolds and passing through the picturesque Avon Valley, the journey begins close to Bradford on Avon’s magnificent medieval Tithe Barn and the popular canalside ‘Barge Inn’.

From there, the route passes over Avoncliff and Dundas aqueducts, past Claverton Pumping Station with its 200-year water-driven pump lifting water 48ft from the River Avon to the canal above. There’s a series of historic pubs and waterside eateries to enjoy along the way, including ‘The Cross Guns’ at Avoncliff, ‘The George’ at Bathampton and ‘The Angelfish Restaurant’ at Monkton Combe, with panoramic views across the Limpley Stoke Valley.

Once moored at Bath Top Lock, boaters can walk into the centre of the City in just 15 minutes to enjoy all that the World Heritage Status City of Bath has to offer – the ancient Roman Baths, the sweeping line of 30 Grade I listed Georgian terrace houses that make up the Royal Crescent and medieval Bath Abbey with its fascinating ladders of angels climbing up the West front.

Recommended places to eat in Bath include the Italian ‘Sotto Sotto’ on North Parade and the ‘Green Park Brasserie & Bar’ at Green Park Station, which often hosts live music in the evenings.

Best for experienced boaters…

On a week’s break from Bath or Bradford on Avon, canal boat holiday-makers can travel east to the pretty village of Great Bedwyn and back, passing through tranquil Wiltshire countryside past sleepy villages, and tackling the magnificent Caen Hill flight of locks at Devizes along the way.

Once at Devizes, visitors to this historic market town can enjoy the Wadworth Brewery Visitor Centre with its famous shire horses making daily deliveries, and sample delicious food at some of the town’s independent shops and restaurants, including seasonal favourites at the AA 5* ‘Peppermill Restaurant’ and the famous Devizes Cheesecake at the ‘Dolcipani Bakery’.

Then it’s on through the Vale of Pewsey, passing close to the Avebury Stone Circle, looking out for a Wiltshire White Horse on the hillside and stopping to see the striking painting on the ceiling of ‘The Barge Inn’ at Honeystreet, with the subject matter reflecting the pub’s proximity to many crop-circles.

At the tiny hamlet of Wootton Rivers on the edge of the ancient Savernake Forest, boaters can stop for refreshment at the pretty thatched ‘Royal Oak’ pub, soon after reaching the Kennet & Avon’s only tunnel – the 459-metre long Bruce Tunnel.

Then it’s down the Crofton flight and on to Crofton Pumping Station, home to two of the World’s oldest working steam beam engines, and neighbouring Wilton Water, created to supply the pumping station and feed the canal summit, now a haven for wildlife.

On reaching Great Bedwyn, boaters can turn and enjoy a visit to the village’s intriguing Stone Museum and choice of historic local pubs, including ‘The Cross Keys’ with Saturday night live music.

On a two-week break, narrowboat holiday-makers can travel on to Reading, passing through Hungerford with antique shops dotted along its High Street, the village of Kintbury with its ‘Dundas Arms’ gastro pub and the historic market town of Newbury, with a variety of arts venues including The Corn Exchange and Watermill Theatre, and nearby Highclere Castle, home of Downton Abbey.

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


From Rio de Janeiro to Great Haywood – Olympian Nick Beighton’s canal adventures

What do you do after spending three years training six days a week in order to compete in the Paralympics? The answer, according to Nick Beighton, is “Go on a narrowboat holiday!!”

Former Royal Engineers captain Nick first took up rowing as part of his rehabilitation programme after losing both legs to a Taliban landmine in Afghanistan in 2009. He competed in the mixed scull at the 2012 Paralympics and won the bronze medal in the Men’s KL2 canoe sprint at the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro.

Back home after his Brazilian exploits, Nick decided it was time for some quality time with wife Alexis and son Jonah. “After Rio I was after a way to wind down with my family on a proper British holiday,” says the 35-year-old from Stockport. “Spending a week on a narrowboat seemed like the ideal solution! We were slightly apprehensive when we arrived at Great Haywood Marina, not really knowing what to expect as I’m a double above knee amputee and we have a 2-year-old son. What could go possibly wrong??!”

Happily, the answer to that latter question was ‘nothing at all’. “The Anglo Welsh staff were brilliant,” continues Nick. “After getting our kit on board and having a briefing it was straight off for a practice and a demo of how to navigate a lock. Having never helmed a narrowboat before it took a little getting used to, especially as we’d hired a 67ft barge called Oracle. Luckily, I’ve sailed a bit so it didn’t take too long to get familiar with the tiller. After being under way for about 20 minutes we were on our own!”

“Over the next five days we had a fabulous family holiday. First, we travelled down the Trent and Mersey Canal and a day-out at the National Memorial Arboretum. Then it was on to the Birmingham and Fazeley and a day at Drayton Manor Park to keep our son happy. We chose a route without too many locks to navigate and plenty of good canal side pubs to enjoy!”

“All in all it was a very enjoyable week,” concludes Nick. “We left relaxed and full of appreciation for the great service offered by everybody at Anglo Welsh.”

Our commitment… as a member of the Armed Forces you can benefit from 15% off an Anglo Welsh Holiday. Simply call 0117 3041122 and ask about our Armed Forces Discount.


End the canal season in perfect style with Anglo Welsh’s fantastic Autumn Sale

Book any Anglo Welsh canal holiday departing between 23rd September and 28th October 2016 and save 25%, a saving of up to £465.


The nights are drawing in, Strictly Come Dancing is on the telly, and the leaves are changing colour. It can only mean one thing; autumn is here! And to help you celebrate nature’s golden brown season in style, Anglo Welsh is slashing 25% off the price of holiday bookings* from its 11 narrowboat bases across England and Wales.

Autumn is the perfect season for cruising the waterways of England and Wales. As summer exits stage left, so do the masses. Tranquil, tree-lined canals are at their prettiest as leaves change from green, to yellow, to orange, to red. And even if leaf-crunching is not your thing, the sight of excited doggies battling with autumn leaves will bring a smile to your face (well-behaved pets are always welcome on Anglo Welsh holidays). Oh, and did we mention conkers?

Autumn also provides a great excuse to cook hearty stews and broths in one of Anglo Welsh’s fully-equipped narrowboat kitchens. Celebrate the game season with slow-cooked pheasant, wild mushrooms and root vegetables or grab a pumpkin before the Halloween rush.

Feeling bloated after all that stew? Fear not, as the days grow crisper wrap up in your favourite seasonal scarves, jumpers and beanies. Or get new ones?! Anglo Welsh pit stops at Birmingham, Oxford, Bath and Stratford-upon-Avon afford plenty of opportunities for retail therapy, not to mention pub lunches in cosy canal side pubs.

Tired from the exertions of towpath walks and shopping? No problem, autumn heralds the return of Strictly Come Dancing, Poldark and Match of The Day, all of which you can enjoy below deck on an Anglo Welsh flat-screen TV as the perfect autumn day comes to a relaxing end.

Whether it’s a week’s holiday in a 12-berth narrowboat, a romantic long weekend for two, or a day boat hire with the kids, treat yourself to an Anglo Welsh experience this autumn … and save up to £465 on your booking.

To save 25% in Anglo Welsh’s End of Season Sale, please call our Booking Team on 0117 304 1122 and quote ‘Autumn Sale’

*This offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other offers including Flotilla discount, Loyalty discount, and Multi-week discount. Only available on Anglo Welsh boats. Terms and conditions apply. 

Moor your Anglo Welsh narrowboat for bracing (or gentle?!) canal side walks

One of the joys of a canal boat journey is the relaxing sensation that comes from being on the water, but even canal-faring stalwarts have to occasionally venture on dry land if they want to stretch their legs.

“The unfolding scenery of a canal stroll really takes some beating and the waterways of England and Wales are full of picturesque and accessible walking routes,” says Kev Yarwood, Anglo Welsh base manager at Great Haywood“Whether it’s a gentle morning stroll or an energetic all-day hike, walking along a towpath is the perfect way to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.”

Where else can you experience such a timeless medley of pastoral views, indigenous wildlife and architectural heritage? Not to mention your vessel of choice, a handsome Anglo Welsh narrowboat. “As for people whose more energetic days are behind them,” notes Kev, “canal paths have the added bonus of being flat!”

A canal boat holiday certainly gives you the freedom to roam. Anglo Welsh narrowboats can be hired from eleven different bases in England and Wales, and every single circuit is blessed with walks galore.

From Wootton Wawenyou can moor on the River Avon beside the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and take a relaxing stroll around Stratford-upon-Avon. And for those who do enjoy steep walks, crossing the spectacular Pontcysyllte Aqueduct from Trevor to the pretty mountainside town of Llangollen is a memorable experience.

From Anglo Welsh’s base at Sydney Wharf in historic Bath there’s a lovely circular route along the Kennet and Avon Canal that takes walkers past the elaborately decorated pump house chimney on the towpath at Abbey View lock and across the world-famous Pulteney Bridge. Elsewhere on the Kennet and Avon, the flight of 16 locks at Devizes is the perfect starting point to discover the 87-mile canal’s industrial heritage.

On the Grand Union Canal near Stockton, the historic Hatton Lock Flight is known as the ‘Stairway to Heaven’ because of the stunning views across to Warwick Cathedral. Nearby, the Staffordshire & Worcester Canal around Great Haywood is a haven for wildlife where you can spot herons and kingfishers on your walk. There’s every chance you will also witness the hullabaloo of a mass flight of geese flapping and honking through the sky.

Anglo Welsh’s knowledgeable staff at our well-located eleven bases will be delighted to point you towards the best canal-hugging walks on their local patch. Watch this space in the coming months for some of their favourite itineraries!

To make a booking please call our friendly Booking Office on 0117 304 1122. They will be delighted to recommend some great canal walks.


Enjoy the Olympics on board a stylish canal boat

Balmy summer nights. Drama, passion, joy, tears. Sir Ben Ainslie, Hannah Mills & Saskia Clark, Sir Chris Hoy, Mo Farah, Victoria Pendleton. Is it really four years since Great Britain ruled the waves (or so it seemed) at the 2012 London Olympics?

Navigating through canal locks may not be an Olympic event (yet) but that won’t stop the Anglo Welsh team getting behind our sporting heroes at this summer’s games in Rio. “We all remember special moments from London 2102, like when Ben Ainslie took his fifth consecutive sailing medal, and his fourth consecutive gold. However there was a heavy battle with Jonas Høgh Christensen of Denmark that was only decided at the last mark of the medal race, nail biting times!” says Steve Harrison, who has worked for Anglo Welsh since early 2016.

“Whether it was cruising along the Llangollen canal watching the spectacular opening ceremony on TV or moored alongside a canal side pub to cheer Mo Farah across the finishing line on what has come to be know as ‘Super Saturday’, described by Sebastian Coe as sport’s greatest ever day.”

“We’ve all got high hopes for Team GB in Brazil,” continues Steve, “let’s just hope they do better than England’s footballers at the 2014 World Cup in the same country!

At the London Olympics, Great Britain won 65 medals, our biggest haul since 1908.

In 1976, the year Anglo Welsh was founded, Britain managed just 13 medals at the Olympics in Canada. Then again, we started with approximately 90 boats and now we’ve got 160. Everybody’s moved onwards and upwards in 40 years.”


Forty years ago, sports fans who took to the waterways during the Olympics had to make do with dodgy transistor radios to follow the action from their canal boats. Luckily, that’s another thing that has changed for the better. These days all Anglo Welsh narrowboats have an LCD television aboard, not to mention wi-fi connections*.

Some canal boaters will relax below deck and watch the Games on TV; others will follow the action on their laptops while lounging on deck. Those who enjoy a more boisterous atmosphere will join the crowds in the traditional pubs that line the waterways. Fresh air, beautiful canals, sporting heroics, a celebratory drink or two: unless you’ve bagged a ticket to Rio de Janeiro, a stylish narrowboat seems like the perfect Olympic venue.

Even better, Anglo Welsh’s exclusive summer 2016 promotion offers 20% off all Constellation and Bond class bookings for holidays taken before September 4th. The only thing you need to do to secure this Olympian class offer is to book your narrowboat hire before the end of July**. On your marks, get set, go!

To get your 20% discount, call the Booking Office now on 0117 304 1122 and quote ‘reach for the stars’.

*TV and wi-fi connections are subject to signal

**For new bookings only, subject to availability. This offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other offers. Only available on Anglo Welsh Boats until September 3rd.
Offer expires 31st July. Terms and conditions apply.


High-end boats at low-end prices: save 20% on Constellation & Bond Class holidays this summer

British summertime is often a rollercoaster of highs and lows and this year is proving no different. School holidays (hooray!), seaside showers (boo!), Andy Murray (hooray!), England’s football team (boo!), family picnics (hooray!), motorway traffic jams (boo!).

But one traffic-free tradition you can always rely on is the chance to cruise in style for less on Britain’s waterways courtesy of Anglo Welsh, Britain’s most trusted canal and narrowboat experts for 40 years. We pride ourselves on always offering our customers the summer’s most attractive narrowboat offers, and this year is no exception.

Our exclusive summer 2016 promotion offers 20% off all Constellation and Bond class bookings for holidays and cruises taken before September 4th. The only thing you need to do to secure this incredible offer is to book your narrowboat hire before the end of July**.

The prices are modest, but you will be travelling in handsome style. The customised Bond Class has been an incredibly popular Anglo Welsh hire over the years, while the brand-new Constellation Class combines the proven layout of the Bond with upgraded facilities and attractive new livery. Both classes are available for hire from our 11 bases in prime locations across the inland waterways of England and Welsh, so there’s an Anglo Welsh experience for everyone, whether a 4-berth, 6-berth or 12-berth suits your requirements.

A perfect summer’s day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing and the birds are singing; and naturally, it all feels even more idyllic when you are cruising along a canal with your family or friends. Throw in Anglo Welsh’s fabulous 20% discount on its premium class Constellations and Bond narrowboats, and we’re sure you’ll agree this could be the summer holiday of a lifetime. Hip hip hooray!

To get your 20% discount, call the Booking Office now on 0117 304 1122 and quote ‘reach for the stars’.

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Read all about it. Novels, narrowboats, canals and curries!

For book-loving narrowboat enthusiasts there is only one thing more enjoyable than a good book about canals, and that’s stretching out on deck while reading. So for those of you whose idea of heaven is a leisurely read on the waterways, here are a few canal-themed recommendations from Anglo Welsh’s own bookworms.

Canals hold a unique place in British hearts, with associations of languid summer days and stately journeys on charming narrowboats. But as Liz McIvor explains in Canals: The Making of a Nation, the story of our canals is also the story of how modern Britain was born. Canals drove trade expansion during the Industrial Revolution, furthered the science of geology, and ushered in new forms of architecture. As McIvor’s fascinating book and the accompanying BBC series demonstrate, the legacy of our canals is all around us.

In Barging Round Britain, the ebullient John Sergeant delivers potted histories of Britain’s eight major canal systems. We discover, for example, that the Caledonian Canal was a Keynesian project for employing men displaced by the Highland Clearances. Taking us back to an era when Britain still made things, Sergeant weaves tales around poignant relics on the Kennet and Avon Canal (Huntley & Palmers biscuits), Birmingham Canal (Borax soap) and Grand Union Canal (Ovaltine), all conveniently located along Anglo Welsh circuits.

Narrowboat Nomads is the latest in Steve Haywood’s series of light-hearted travelogues around English waterways. Haywood’s ability to capture an idyllic way of life practised by ardent disciples is reminiscent of Bill Bryson’s popular explorations of our national psyche. Also fresh of the press, Jim Batty’s Narrowboat Life is full of gorgeous photos of canals and every nook and cranny of some amazing narrowboats. In more comical vein, Michael I Rolfe’s Canals, Canines and Curry poses the question: “Two humans, a dog the size of a small horse, petrol, gas, and curry, all in a confined space on a floating vessel. What could possibly go wrong?”

Turning to fiction, Maureen Carter’s Grave Affairs is the latest in a gripping crime series that regularly uses urban canals as a dramatic backdrop. Tracking down the villains is feisty Detective Sergeant Bev Morris, a proud Brummie who used to fish with her dad on the Worcester and Birmingham canal. “Birmingham has more acres of parkland than any European city,” says Carter, whose gritty style has been compared to Ian Rankin, “and believe it or not, more miles of canals than Venice!”

Lee Rourke’s compelling debut novel The Canal boasts a host of brooding characters but at the same time depicts the UK’s waterways as a place of gentle wonder. His canal is a place where ducks and geese preen and clean each other and joyfully show their “arses to the world” when foraging for food; a place where time moves as slowly as the silty water.

Finally, younger bookworms can dive into the wonderful world of canals as lovingly portrayed in Cressida McLaughlin’s best-selling Canal Boat Café quartet: All Abroad, Casting Off, Cabin Fever, and Land Ahoy! Boats, canals, selfies, romance … teenage boys might turn up their noses, but their sisters will be hooked from the moment 18 year-old Summer Freeman returns home to rescue The Canal Boat Café, her late mother’s picturesque narrowboat.

What will you be reading on your Anglo Welsh narrowboat this summer?

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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