Instagram
YouTube

‘Messing about in boats’ – there’s really nothing better!

“Believe me my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” So says Ratty to Mole in Kenneth Grahame’s classic novel ‘The Wind in the Willows’. To which the 150,000 people who take a canal holiday in the UK every year can only respond: “And so say all of us!”

Everyone who hires a narrowboat will have their own passions when it comes to messing about on the water, but with Ratty otherwise engaged, here are a few reasons why the Anglo Welsh team believe waterway holidays are an incomparable experience.

Relaxation. No traffic jams, no customs, no connecting flights, no noisy neighbours. Above all, no stress. Is there any better way to unwind on holiday than to meander along a canal surrounded by England’s green and pleasant land (not forgetting some wonderful Welsh landscapes)?

All the mod cons. The days when canal jaunts meant sleepless nights in uncomfortable cabins are long gone. Anglo Welsh’s fleet of 160 modern narrowboats offer all the creature comforts: fully-equipped kitchens, gas central heating, high spec showers, TVs, bedding, towels, even free wi-fi*.

Kids love canals. A family adventure on a narrowboat is an experience your children, or grandchildren, will cherish for the rest of their lives. Younger kids love pottering about on boats; even teenagers have been known to surrender their mobiles and muck in at the locks. And eating together as a family means leisurely meals on board, not fast food at McDonald’s (though ‘big kids’ often prefer traditional pub lunches in canal-side pubs!).

Doggy heaven. Dogs like canal holidays even more than us humans. Fresh air, new smells, plenty of countryside stops for bracing walks, maybe even the odd swim. Up to two well-behaved dogs are welcome on all of Anglo Welsh boats. Just keep Fido away from the swans!

It’s better than the zoo. Britain’s canals boast a staggering range of habitats and wildlife. Swans, mallard ducks, moorhens, coots, herons, kingfishers; water voles (like the slightly confused ‘Ratty’), otters, frogs; dragonflies, butterflies. No tigers, but no cages either.

No experience, no problem. One of Anglo Welsh’s experienced instructors will show you how to start the engine, fill up with water, steer, slow down, moor up and navigate locks. You’ll be amazed how straightforward it all is.

Location, Location, Location. Anglo Welsh has 11 bases in prime locations across the inland waterways of England and Wales. Our routes pass through rural idylls galore and historical towns and cities like Bath, Oxford, Birmingham and Stratford-upon-Avon.

Something for every budget. Long holidays, 3-day weekends, midweek getaways; 2-4-berths, 5-8 berths, 9-12 berths; there is a narrowboat experience for every type of holidaymaker and for every budget, including money-saving offers for under 12s and over 60s bookings for next season (until the end of Jan 2017), and flotilla discounts, loyalty discounts and armed forces discounts all year round.

And finally, to pinch another quote from ‘The Wind in the Willows’: “Here today, up and off to somewhere else tomorrow! Travel, interest, excitement! The whole world before you, and a horizon that’s always changing!”

*Wi-fi is free up to 1GB per week and subject to the signal.

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Anglo Welsh’s Class of 2016 oozes ‘Star’ Quality

Many canal devotees love to enthuse about vintage narrowboats, and understandably so, but here at Anglo Welsh few things get our pulses racing more than a spanking new hire boat, especially when it’s suited and booted to our very own specifications.

In recent years, we’ve grown accustomed to narrowboat connoisseurs waxing lyrical about our Bond Class boats. But to paraphrase a 007 movie trailer, ‘Bond is back, and it’s better than ever’. In fact, it even has a new name! Ladies and gentleman, we proudly present the Anglo Welsh Constellation Class – six brand-new narrowboats that are all set to make a big splash in 2016 and beyond.

As the latest evolution of our customised fleet, the Constellation Class combines the proven layout of the Bond Class with upgraded facilities and striking new livery. And we’ve tried to spread the joy around! The 12-berth ‘Andromeda’ is based at our Bradford on Avon base, the 12-berth ‘Delphinus’ at Oxford, the 6-berth ‘Cassiopeia’ at Bunbury, and the 4-berth trio ‘Aquarius’, ‘Aquila’ and ‘Carina’ at Trevor, Wootton Wawen and Bunbury respectively.

“The Bond Class has been an incredibly popular hire over the years,” says Wootton Wawen base manager Alistair King, but we’ve really pushed the boat out … excuse the pun … with the Constellation. Built by one of Britain’s oldest established boat builders using Anglo Welsh’s own bespoke specs, they’re among the finest narrowboats you’ll see anywhere on the UK’s waterways.”

 

“Below deck, light ash interiors and reflective white ceilings create a really spacious feel, and as an added bonus, the Constellation Class is highly adaptable, with double beds easily converting into singles and vice-versa. ‘Aquila’ enjoyed its maiden voyage in March and we’ve already received great feedback. The only thing we can’t agree on is the pronunciation, though for now we’re going for ‘Aquila’ rhyming with ‘Tequila’!”

As well as being built to order, the Constellation Class was also ‘christened’ by the Anglo Welsh team. So why Constellation? “Despite the fact our narrowboat fleet already includes a boat called ‘Enterprise’ the name has nothing to do with ‘Star Trek,” confesses Alistair with a smile. In fact, stargazers will have already spotted that Aquarius, Aquila, Carina, Cassiopeia, Andromeda and Delphinus are all named after constellations. “Apparently Aquarius even means water-carrier in Latin,” adds Alistair, “though I prefer to think of it as an amphibious people carrier!”

To which we can only add, the Constellation Class is undoubtedly the new ‘star turn’ on the UK’s waterways and we’re confident that these magnificent boats will carry people on some memorable canal journeys!

To book one of the new Constellation Class narrowboats, please contact our dedicated Booking Team on 0117 304 1122.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Army & You Review: Beautiful Boating Break

Andrew and Kirsten King reviewed their recent holiday from our Wootton Wawen base for www.armyandyou.co.uk

It was quite a test to get the hang of manoeuvring our 62ft-long boat, called Marlow, but by the second day we had it down. You get a run through at the beginning and an instructional DVD, which helped clear up a few things that we were a little unsure about.  

We started in Wotton Wawen and made our way to Stratford upon Avon, spending the night in the Stratford Basin which was a great spot to tour the heart of “Shakespeare Country”.

The boat is fairly modern compared to what we expected for this “old timey” experience. There are good heaters throughout and on a four-berth boat you can request two double beds or a double and two singles. Having two toilets was handy and in the kitchen we had all the utensils you need, a foldable table and chairs, some loungers and a TV – liveable and comfortable for a week’s stay.

Finley and Addison really enjoyed the whole experience. Locks can be a lot of work, especially when there are several in a row, but everyone was put to work when it came to operating them. The kids helped look out for particular lock or bridge numbers, pushed the lock gates open and shut and helped tie up the boat for the night.

They loved feeding the ducks along the canal at many points. Finley even had a go at steering. It’s worth considering bringing an extra pair of adult hands to share the workload if you have young children that need attention.

Part of the attraction is spending a bit of time off the boat. The highlights were tackling new challenges together and meeting new people, like the volunteers who help you through the locks and other friendly boat owners. One of the stops we made was to Mary Arden’s farm house (Shakespeare’s mother) where we learnt about what life was like when Shakespeare was alive.

We would definitely recommend this sort of holiday to Army families. It’s a history-rich and cultural experience that gets you up and about seeing some picturesque parts of the countryside.

Anglo Welsh offers all British Service personnel up to 15 per cent off. Our team of helpful canal holiday experts are available to take your booking! Please call us 0117 304 1122

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

National Geographic’s ‘Journey of a Lifetime’ on the Shropshire Union Canal

Is there any better way to discover the natural beauty of England and Wales than drifting along a picturesque canal on a narrowboat? Well, if you’re one of those savvy customers who never books a holiday without first securing references from impeccable sources, how about a canal trip recommended by the world’s most prestigious travel magazine?

National Geographic’s ‘Journeys of a Lifetime’ presents a mouth-watering range of destinations, adventures and modes of transport, and taking centre stage alongside Trans-Siberian railways journeys, treks to Mount Kilimanjaro and horse-riding in the Andes is a long-time Anglo Welsh favourite. A narrowboat journey along the Shropshire Union Canal in the West Midlands is selected as one of the world’s ‘Top 1o canal trips’, rivalling prestigious names like Panama, Amsterdam and the Baltic Sea Canal in the waterway stakes.

As lovingly described by National Geographic, “The Shropshire Union Canal meanders through gently rolling landscape and hills, and across valleys via deep cuttings and magnificent bridges. The canal is a monument to the early days of the industrial revolution; the brightly painted narrowboats also seem to come from another era. Boats go at walking speed so that their wakes don’t erode the banks.”

In reality, the plaudits from National Geographic’s travel experts merely confirm what Anglo Welsh insiders have known for years. As part of the ‘Four Counties Ring’, the Shropshire Union Canal – or as locals call it, the ‘Shroppie’ – is at the heart of the Inland Waterways’ most popular circuit, and to ease a narrowboat along its 66 miles (106 km) and through 47 locks is to embark on a non-stop voyage of discovery.

Anglo Welsh’s base at Bunbury in Cheshire is the perfect starting point for a cruise along a peaceful stretch of the Shropshire Union Canal before taking the Middlewich branch to the world famous Anderton Boat Lift. Further south, our base at Great Haywood in Staffordshire provides easy access to all four ‘Rings’ and the opportunity to explore a region that is rich in history, from stately homes and gardens to picturesque villages and welcoming pubs.

Stretching across the border into Wales, the Llangollen and Montgomery canals are the modern names of branches of the Shropshire Union network. Hiring a narrowboat from Anglo Welsh’s Trevor base on the Llangollen canal, you can immediately navigate over the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, 126ft (38 metres) above the River Dee. The legendary ‘Stream in the Sky’ was granted World Heritage status in 2009 and if National Geographic ever decides to list the world’s top 10 aqueducts it’s a racing certainty to join the Shropshire Union Canal as a journey of a lifetime.

For more information on Anglo Welsh’s ‘Four Counties Ring’ circuit and the Shropshire Union Canal, please call our Booking Team on 0117 304 1122.

Tags:

Retiring at Twenty Five!

One of Anglo Welsh’s most valued and loyal customers has left the world of school trips after his 25th booking.

Headmaster, Peter Cook, of Wellow House School, Newark, and formerly Kimbolton School in Cambridge is hanging up his gown and mortar at the end of this year for a well earned retirement. Or, in Sir’s case his rugby shirt and shorts!

Peter has introduced children to the wonderful experience of narrowboating for 19 years, combining educational, fitness recreation and the fun activities that canal cruising has to offer.

An avid Rugby Union devotee, Peter still strikes an imposing figure on and off the pitch and the disciplines of the sport are reflected in the behaviour of the pupils in his charge.

In recognition of his quarter century of bookings Base Manager, Kevin Yarwood presented Mr Cook with a brass compass and sundial on his final visit to Great Haywood base. Kevin thanked him for his custom over the years and on behalf of Anglo Welsh wished him a long and happy retirement and hoped to welcome him back, in the future, with his family.

Commenting on his presentation, Peter said “I never expected anything like this but it is typical of the team at Great Haywood. Over the years I have had nothing but praise for the Booking Team, the base managers and staff for their consideration and helpfulness.”

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

‘Barging Round Britain’ with canal lover John Sergeant

Narrowboat enthusiasts and John Sergeant fans alike will soon be celebrating as the man who shimmied his way into the nation’s hearts on ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ returns to our screens in April with a new series of ‘Barging Round Britain’. And as anyone who watched the first series will testify, Sergeant moves rather more gracefully on waterways than he ever did on the ballroom floor!

“Canal boating is a classic holiday,” says the former political correspondent, who traces the fascinating history of canals, meeting lock builders and families living on houseboats, and witnessing stunning architectural feats. “The British canal network is romantic and quite mysterious. You don’t know where these things are going and then you suddenly come across a tunnel that can go on for a mile – it’s pretty incredible.”

In his most spectacular journey in series one Sergeant cruised over the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, a thin bridge of water that carries the Llangollen Canal 126 feet over the River Dee in north-east Wales. “Going over the Aqueduct was a highlight. Amazing!” Sergeant recalls. Completed in 1805, this skinny passage is the longest and highest aqueduct in Britain, and took ten years to build. “It’s like a pencil,” he continues. “You look at it and you think, ‘This isn’t going to work,’ because there are no rails or anything. It’s magic.”

‘Barging Round Britain’ isn’t Sergeant’s first go at being a helmsman, but the joys of dawn on a narrowboat are new territory. “I’m overnighting at least once on every trip,” he says, remembering a scene where he appears in his dressing gown on an empty canal. “There’s something amazing about waking up to complete silence. In one place there was nothing – nothing that way and nothing the other way. Just total peace and calm.”

“I’m very interested in history and there are moments when you get a real feel for the past on a narrowboat. It’s astonishing to have the canals still there and be able to use them. There’s no real equivalent. If all the steam trains were still working and you could go by steam all over Britain then that would be. But we can actually do that with canals. OK, they’re not horse-drawn, but the sensation and sights are exactly the same as when they were built. That is really something.”

Why not hire a narrowboat from Anglo Welsh’s base at Trevor on the Llangollen canal and follow John Sergeant’s “amazing journey” over the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct? Our team of friendly canal holiday experts are available to take your booking. Please call us on 0117 304 1122.

Series two of ‘Barging Round Britain’ is on ITV from April 22. The first series is now available on DVD and the accompanying book, ‘Barging Round Britain: Exploring the History of our Nation’s Canals and Waterways’ has recently been published in paperback.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Behind the scenes at Anglo Welsh. The family that plays together stays together.

Listening carefully to our loyal customers tells us that people keep coming back to Anglo Welsh because of our fantastic range of narrowboats located at convenient bases on the most picturesque waterways in England and Wales. It also tells us that people value our customer service very highly. In particular, they appreciate the unwavering passion of our canal-loving team.

“People really appreciate being greeted by a familiar smiling face when they hire a boat,” says Carl Cowlishaw, Anglo Welsh’s Operations Manager, “and we do have an uncommonly large number of long-serving staff at our bases. There must be something in the water at Anglo Welsh – excuse the pun – but once people join us, they never want to leave!”

Carl himself soon qualifies for a gold watch, despite still being a youthful 42. “I am now in my 28th year on the canals,” he says, almost wistfully. “I first started working at Anglo Welsh in Great Haywood as a Saturday lad when I was 14. The plan was to earn enough money to catch the bus to Woolworths in Stafford and buy the latest chart singles. If memory serves me right, one of them was ‘I Should Be So Lucky’ by Kylie Minogue!”

“My musical taste has changed a bit since then,” he continues, “but my love of narrowboats and the sheer pleasure of being around canals hasn’t, and I think that applies to many Anglo Welsh stalwarts. Yes, we take our work seriously, but being around boats and on the canals also gives us enormous pleasure. They say ‘the family that plays together stays together’ and that definitely applies to the enjoyment you get as part of the Anglo Welsh family.”

Carl has been Operations Manager at Anglo Welsh since 2005, but before that he’d occupied just about every role going: apprentice, engineer, boat painter, hire fleet manager, base manager. Much to his chagrin, he now spends as much time on the road as on the water. “I visit all ten Anglo Welsh bases at least once a month and also spend time at our Bristol head office where bookings and customer enquiries are handled. But it’s not all admin, I get to monitor the winter maintenance and our boatbuilding programme, and I still try to get out on one of our boats at least once a week.”

So how has the narrowboat sector changed in Carl’s three decades at Anglo Welsh? “People definitely expect a lot more these days,” he says. “To give you one example, we’ve installed wi-fi on the entire Anglo Welsh fleet for 2016. But in 40 years as a leading hire boat operator some things have hardly changed at all. People still come to us because they value the UK’s waterway heritage and enjoy the gentle pace of canal holidays. And they appreciate Anglo Welsh because we offer a large choice of boats and locations but still maintain the personal touch people expect from a great holiday. Early bookings are at a record-breaking high this year, so we’re busy preparing the fleet for an exciting summer season. And hopefully, our customers are looking forward to renewing acquaintances with some familiar faces!”

Our team of experienced and friendly canal holiday experts are available to take your booking.

Please call us 0117 304 1122

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

No Experience? No Problem! Narrowboat holidays for novices.

They say you never forget how to ride a bicycle, and the same applies to canal boats. Once you’ve learned how to manoeuvre a narrowboat – and with help from Anglo Welsh’s experienced instructors, learning is a surprisingly straightforward procedure – you’ll never forget how. But be warned, once you’ve experienced a magical journey at the helm of a canal boat you’ll be hooked for life!

Over the last 40 years Anglo Welsh has taught more people to handle a narrowboat than you can shake a canal rope at, and we still love welcoming excited first-timers to Britain’s growing family of canal enthusiasts. In fact, one of the attractions of waterway holidays is that anyone can hire a canal boat with no licence or prior training**.

“If you’re 18 or over and willing to learn, we’d love to teach you,” says seasoned Anglo Welsh instructor Rod Bright, a popular figure on the canal boat scene who has been showing narrowboat novices the tricks of the trade for three decades. “We get people of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities coming to us as beginners, but believe me, they all get the same thrill when they first take control of the tiller.”

So how does ‘day one’ on an Anglo Welsh narrowboat work? “First of all, we sit down over a cuppa and talk about which routes are most suitable for beginners,” says Rod. “Then we board the hire boat and show people where everything is: from the tiller, controls and engine to the heating and fuse boxes. Next we focus on safety procedures and canal etiquette. No Anglo Welsh instructor ever leaves a customer alone on a narrowboat without being 100% sure they’re capable of handling things on the canal without any risks.”

Next comes the practical instruction. “We set off along the canal and demonstrate how to steer the narrowboat, how to line up for bridges and navigate locks, and how to tie ropes for mooring,” explains Rod. “You move the tiller left to go right and right to go left which can throw people! When that’s all sunk in, we’ll set the boat up in a nice straight line and hand over the tiller. Once we can see the hirer feels confident and is in control we’ll wave them off on their first solo adventure.”

“Some people are off and running after 45 minutes’ instruction, others take longer; the key thing is we never rush people. And one advantage nowadays is that people often do advance research online which helps them to grasps things more quickly. Common sense and care is the main thing we impress on our customers; narrowboats may trundle along the canal at 4mph, but we’re talking 18-ton vessels, so some caution is required. Things happen more slowly on the water, but unlike driving a car you need to think ahead. Luckily, most canal boats are steered using a tiller at the rear of the boat. That may sound strange but it means that you can see ahead and also see what your boat is doing!”

“It is 30 years since I first steered a friend’s narrowboat and I’ve been hooked on the canal life ever since,” concludes Rod, who is now based at Anglo Welsh’s Wootton Wawen base near Stratford-upon-Avon. “It’s such an exhilarating way of spending your free time it gives me real pleasure helping people discover how easy it is to get started.”

 

Our team of helpful canal holiday experts are available to take your booking – whether it’s your hundredth time on a narrowboat or your very first go!
Please call us 0117 304 1122

**The Hirer must be aged 18 years or older. There must be two able-bodied people aged 18 years or over to take responsibility of the boat and crew at all times. Whenever the boat is driven by a person aged under 18, they must be under close supervision of a competent person aged 18 years or older.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
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

media-quote-trimmed-1
media-quote-trimmed-2
media-quote-trimmed-3
media-quote-trimmed-4

Twitter

Instagram

Facebook

Trip Advisor