Take ‘Emma’ into Birmingham to enjoy Christmas shopping afloat
We are offering a special over-night hire package aboard our Tardebigge-based cosy narrowboat for two ‘Emma’ – providing the perfect opportunity to take some of the stress out of the festive season build-up and enjoy Christmas shopping in Birmingham afloat.
Setting off from our canal boat hire base at Tardebigge, on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal just outside Bromsgrove, the lock free journey to Birmingham’s City Centre takes approximately five hours*. Free over-night moorings are available at Gas Street Basin, offering easy access to Brindleyplace, The Mailbox and Bullring shopping centres.
Sarah Yates, our manager at Tardebigge, explains: “As well as world-class shopping centres, Birmingham famously boasts more canals than Venice, so we thought we’d bring the two together to help take some of the stress out of Christmas shopping.
“Couples can enjoy a peaceful lock free cruise along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, avoiding all the traffic and crowds travelling into Birmingham, and arriving just a short walk away from the City’s top shopping centres and a great choice of waterside eateries at Brindleyplace.
“On their Christmas mini-break, couples could perhaps also take in a show at one of Birmingham’s theatres or visit the City’s famous Frankfurt Christmas Market (7 November to 23 December) to enjoy some gluhwein, live music and romantic Christmas sparkle.”
With no locks, the journey from Tardebigge is perfect for narrowboat holiday beginners and we offer free tuition as part of our hire package.
‘Emma’ is available to hire any day of the week until 22 December (subject to availability). Hirers can pick her up at 9am and return her by 3pm the following day.
Over-night hire packages aboard ‘Emma’ start at £198, including gas and bed linen. Fuel is charged based on use, circa £10-15 per day. A £50 fuel deposit is taken at the time of booking.
Anglo Welsh also offers short breaks (three or four nights) and week-long holidays across the winter from our Tardebigge, Wootton Wawen, Bunbury, Trevor, Great Haywood and Whixall bases. Narrowboats range in size from cosy boats for two, up to boats for 12 people. Prices start at £495 for a short break on a boat for four, and £705 for a week.
*Winter maintenance work along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal may cause short delays between 9 October and 14 November inclusive.
Stately Homes and other historic places to visit whilst on your canal holiday
Stately homes and other historic properties to visit on your canal boat holiday
One of the joys of a canal boat holiday is the feeling that you have escaped the rush of modern life and stepped back in time to a calmer age. The canals themselves and landscapes and cities they pass are all steeped in history and heritage so offer ample opportunity to immerse yourself in the past.
If you enjoy exploring historic properties and gardens, your narrowboat holiday will not disappoint.
There is such a varied range of stunning manor houses, stately homes and other famous sights lining our inland waterways, you will be spoilt for choice.
Here are just a few of our favourite historic properties and stately homes, most of them located within walking distance of the canals, making them an idea day out during your narrowboat holiday.
Arguably the most famous stately home in the UK after the royal residences, Blenheim Palace is worth a small detour from your canal boat holiday. The World Heritage property displays a level of grandeur that wows all 900,000 visitors that pass through its ornate rooms each year. Built between 1705 and 1722 in ‘English Baroque’ style, Blenheim remains the principle residence of the Dukes of Marlborough and was the birthplace and ancestral home of Winston Churchill. As well as housing incredible artworks, antiques and interiors, the palace sits at the centre of stunning Capability Brown gardens and 2000 acres of beautiful parkland crisscrossed by idyllic walks.
While the stunning Grade I Palladian style property has now been converted into a school, its exterior and landscaped grounds can be still be admired by visitors. Built for Bath entrepreneur and philanthropist Ralph Allen in the 1730s and 40s, Prior Park sits at the top of a hill with sweeping views down over Bath’s beautiful city centre. Its Capability Brown gardens, bordered by woodland, feature one of only four Palladian bridges in the world. Now owned and run by the National Trust, take a short break from canal life to catch a bus up the hill to the entrance then enjoy a walk back down through the grounds to the city centre.
This beautiful manor house was built over 300 years with the original property constructed in the 15th century then added to in the 16th and 17th centuries meaning it offers a unique combination of architectural and interior styles. There are late Gothic and Jacobean windows alongside decorative plasterwork, tapestries and antique furnishing. The former home of Edgar Lister, a diplomat at the Ottoman court in the early years of the 20th century, also boasts an impressive topiary garden. Walking distance from the canal, Westwood is worth a quick stop off during your canal boat holiday.
One of the most beautiful country houses in England, Adlington Hall has been home to the Legh family since 1315. The current property, built on the site of a Saxon hunting lodge, dates from 1480 when the Great Hall was erected using two great oak trees which still stand at one end of the room today. The building was expanded in the 1740s into a grander Georgian house. It still houses a 17th century organ which was played by Handel alongside rich collection of antiques and artwork. The 60 acre gardens feature a yew maze, rose garden, Regency rockery and a Rococo styled landscape garden containing the T’Ing House, a Pagoda bridge and the Temple to Diana.
This iconic Tudor manor house looks like it has jumped straight out of a children’s fairy story. The higgledy piggledy timber framed building has been perched, defying gravity, next to its moat for more than 500 years. Now run by the National Trust, the earliest parts of the house were built for the prosperous Cheshire landowner William Moreton in about 1504 to 08, and the remainder was constructed in stages by successive generations of the family until about 1610. Nestled at the back of the building is a beautifully maintained knot garden and herbs and vegetables that would have been used in Tudor cooking. Visitors to the hall can learn about Tudor cuisine and other aspects of their everyday life and culture.
Home to the Anson family since 1610, this beautiful colonnaded Georgian mansion, is surrounded by miles of undulating parkland and ancient woodland adorned with monuments. Visitors can admire the rich interiors and furnishings of the state rooms and living quarters of former owner of Patrick Anson, 5th Earl of Lichfield, then head ‘below stairs’ for a peek into the servants’ rooms. Explore the formal gardens and rambling parkland before popping along to Park Farm to meet the Tamworth pigs and other creatures great and small. You can cruise right past Shugborough’s grounds depending on your canal boat holiday route.
This Victorian timber framed manor is home to an impressive Pre-Raphaelite art collection with works by Bryne-Jones, Rossetti and Everett Millais. Its former owner Theodore Mander decorated its interiors with the designs of William Morris and his Arts and Crafts contemporaries so the house now stands as a perfectly preserved relic of this era of design and one family’s passion for art. Now run by the National Trust, visitors can also enjoy a ramble around the 17 acres of gardens and woodland that surrounds the house before heading to the tearoom or second hand bookshop.
This stunning Georgian stately home, built from local honey coloured Hornton stone, is a delight for the eyes inside and out. Home to the Holbech family since 1684 but now run by the National Trust, Farnborough Hall is decorated with intricate 18th century plasterwork depicting landscapes and wildlife and antiques from all over the world alongside family photos and other personal treasures. The house is surrounded by formal and terraced gardens and parkland intersected by lakes, offering lovely tranquil walks.
This 17th century manor house once sat at the heart of a thriving farming estate and today tells the tale of the rise and fall of those who lived and worked there. Built in 1642 by James Murgatroyd, who made his fortune in the Halifax cloth industry, the impressive property sits on a plateau overlooking the River Aire and the canal, surrounded by stunning grounds including a walled garden and medieval tithe barn. East Riddlesden Hall is a popular filming location having been used in Wuthering Heights and Sharpe. A perfect place to moor up during a narrowboat holiday from Silsden.
This large stately home, dating from the early 18th century and built in red brick Queen Anne style, offers a unique insight into the life of this period. Built as a country retreat for wealthy chancery lawyer Thomas Vernon, the house houses impressive interiors including original wall paintings by Sir James Thornhill. Its formal gardens, designed by George London, have been lovingly restored alongside the orangery, orchards and walled gardens all of which sit surrounded by many acres of parkland with wonderful walks.
The ancestral estate of the Trevor family since 942, the Brynkinalt estate sits amid the beautiful green hills on the Wales-Shropshire border. At the heart of the estate sites the Grade II* hall built in 1612 using red brick cut onsite then extensively revamped with Gothic elements in the early 19th century but still featuring the original Jacobean oak panelled Hall. The property is surrounded by stunning formal gardens including a walled garden, park and woodland with a number of gate lodges and follies. The family welcome visitors but this must be arranged by booking in advance. Tours are conducted by members of the family.
This grand 16th century stately home sits surrounded by a stunning deer park on the banks of the River Avon. The estate has been home to the Lucy family for 900 years with the current property, which played host to Queen Elizabeth I, built in 1558 by Sir Thomas Lucy. The house has been slowly filled with treasures from all over the world by each generation of the family, whose varied lifestyles and tastes have all left their mark. The stables even boast an impressive carriage collection. The house looks out upon Capability Brown landscaped gardens and hundreds of acres of parkland offering scenic walks and great picnic spots.
Home to the Earls of Powis, this medieval castle which dates back to around 1200 overlooks extensive formal gardens and terraces laid out under the influence of Italian and French styles. Originally built as a fortress, the castle was revamped and embellished by successive generations of the Herbert family over the course of more than 400 years meaning it now houses an impressive collection of paintings, sculpture, tapestries and period furniture. It is renowned for housing the valuables that Robert Clive and his son Edward brought home from India. Now run by the National Trust, the house and garden is surrounded by rolling green acres that make up a stunning deer park.
Enjoy canal trips at the Stafford riverway link open day
On Sunday 8 September, staff from our Great Haywood canal boat hire base will be offering visitors the chance to take a free canal boat trip at the Stafford Riverway Link Open Day event.
Kevin Yarwood, our boat yard manager at Great Haywood, explains:
“We are looking forward to welcoming visitors to the annual Stafford Riverway Link event on Sunday 8 September to enjoy a short trip along the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal aboard our day boat ‘Abi’.
“Research that shows spending time by the waterways can make you happier and more relaxed, so this is a great opportunity for families to enjoy spending time by their local waterway, experience a canal boat trip and find out more about the progress made so far by the restorers of the Stafford Riverway Link. Once restored, the Stafford Riverway Link will reconnect the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal to the River Sow, enabling boats to once again travel into Stafford town centre.”
The Stafford Riverway Link Open Days take place on Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th September from 10am to 4pm, next to the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal just west of Bridge 101 at St Thomas Bridge, Baswich Lane, Stafford ST18 0YJ.
As well as boat trips on the Sunday, there will be stalls, games, a bar and light refreshments. Admission and car parking are both free.
Back to school: Canal getaways for parents to enjoy
The kids are going back at school meaning parents can finally get some rest after the fun but frantic six weeks that are the summer holidays.
We think that, come September, most parents deserve – and probably need – a well-earned minibreak away from their darling children.
So if you are a parent whose children are busy at school again, why not book a quick canal getaway by way of reward for your gallant efforts to juggle work and many other commitments with keeping the little ones entertained day in day out since mid-July.
A canal boat holiday can be a perfect minibreak for a couple wanting a bit of rest and relaxation. Slow life down to a tranquil three miles per hour and drift along the historic waterways of England and Wales to admire beautiful countryside and fascinating historic towns and cities by narrowboat.
Here are some of the best canal boat holiday journeys for a child-free break for parents:
The World Heritage City of Bath is a treat for visitors of all ages but going along without the kids will enable you to really soak up all the history and culture of this stunning Georgian city at your own pace. With its famous Roman Baths, its close links with Jane Austen and museum honouring the author, its wonderful range of iconic Regency buildings and much more, Bath is a history lover’s dream. But it is also a lovely modern city to simply meander around, with great shops, restaurants and cafes at every turn, all surrounded by the lush green Somerset hills. It is an easy day cruise through a scenic Cotswold valley boasting some wonderful canalside pubs, to the equally picturesque medieval market town of Bradford-upon-Avon with its tithe barn, 13th century bridge and impressive riverside former cloth mills.
The ancient university city of Oxford is bursting with history, culture and stunning colleges to be explored. You can wander around the imposing and fascinating Ashmolean – the University of Oxford’s museum of art and archaeology, founded in 1683 – or the smaller Pitts Rivers Museum crammed with artefacts and oddities from all over the world. Take a walk around some of the 38 Oxford University colleges each with their own distinct character and beauty before escaping to the lush greenery of the Oxford botanic garden. It is a tranquil two day cruise along a stunning rural stretch of the River Thames to the glorious Gloucestershire village of Lechlade, which sits in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the edge of the Cotswolds.
Absorb yourself in Shakespeare’s historic hometown which is just a day-long cruise from our canal boat base at Wootton Wawen. Once in Stratford-upon-Avon, treat yourselves to a delicious dinner at one of the town’s many welcoming restaurants followed by a production at one of the world renowned Royal Shakespeare Company theatres which overlook the canal basin. Spend a day exploring the medieval town with its Tudor timber-framed houses including Shakespeare’s birthplace and the 500-year-old thatched Anne Hathaway’s cottage as well as its many independent shops, pubs and cafes before enjoying a relaxed amble along the River Avon.
Opt for a scenic rural cruise through rolling green countryside at the heart of England, from Stockton in Warwickshire to Royal Leamington Spa. On leaving our narrowboat base, descend through Stockton Locks to the village of Long Itchington with its two canalside pubs, ideal for a lunch or supper stop. Cruise through more idyllic countryside, negotiating only the Bascote Staircase locks until you reach elegant Royal Leamington Spa, with its fine examples of Regency and Victorian architecture such as Lansdown Crescent and the Parade. Browse the town’s many boutiques and shops, stop for a bite to eat in one of its 60 pubs, restaurants and bars, meander through the ornate Jephson Gardens and admire an exhibition at the Royal Pump Rooms Art Gallery and Museum.
If you are wildlife enthusiasts, this is the canal boat holiday route for you. Set out from our narrowboat base at Trevor and immediately cross the jewel of the canal network, the soaring Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which carries the Llangollen canal 126ft above the River Dee valley. Just a couple of kilometres later you pass through the 459-yard Chirk Tunnel followed by the Chirk Aqueduct which takes you across the border into England. Continue heading south among the dramatic Shropshire hills until you reach Frankton Locks where you can turn onto the Montgomery Canal, affectionately known as the ‘Monty’ which snakes through wonderful unspoilt border country where you can truly escape the pressures of modern life. Much of the Monty has been designated a ‘Site of Special Scientific Interest’ due to its abundance of rare wildlife such as the floating water plantain, otters and water voles so don’t forget to bring your binoculars.
Set off north from our narrowboat base at Bunbury along the Shropshire Union Canal, crossing the open country of the Cheshire Plain and patchwork quilt fields. You will pass the looming ruins of Beeston Castle sitting atop its rocky crag and the delightful village of Christleton – winner of ‘best kept village in Cheshire’ – clustered around its green before reaching the medieval city walls of Chester. The canal takes you right into the heart of this historic jewel of a city, with its impressive collection of 700-year-old buildings the Rows, great shops, restaurants and cafes, and stunning sandstone cathedral all encircled by the imposing walls. The city is also host to the largest stone-built Roman Amphitheatre in Britain, scene of Britain’s largest archaeological excavation in 2005, the results of which can be seen at the Grosvenor Museum. During the summer months, you may well be able to enjoy an outdoor theatre production in the atmospheric surroundings of the amphitheatre.
Sitting on the edge of the wilderness that is the Yorkshire Dales, our narrowboat base at Silsden is a perfect starting point for a breathtakingly beautiful trip along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. Heading east, you follow the River Aire valley through dramatic hilly countryside with villages that still carry the hallmarks of their rich industrial past with good pub stop-offs. Just outside Keighley, you’ll reach the magnificent Bingley Five-Rise Locks, the steepest flight of locks in the UK honoured as one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’. This takes you into the perfectly preserved model village of Saltaire, built in 1853 by Sir Titus Salt for local mill workers and now a World Heritage Site. Admire the giant textile mill, the Salts Mill, which now houses an impressive collection of David Hockney paintings, wonder at this early example of town planning and perhaps even take a trip on the the Shipley Glen Tramway built in 1895 before heading for some refreshment at one of the many cafes and restaurants.
Set out north east from our narrowboat base in Tardebigge in rural Worcestershire, which sits at the top of the longest lock flight in Britain, consisting of 30 locks carrying narrowboats 220 feet up and downhill over 3.5 miles. Admire this feat of historic engineering on foot before indulging in a leisurely lock-free cruise in the other direction. You’ll float through stunning Shakespeare Country, with its blend of wild countryside and cultivated landscaped until you reach the outer reaches of Birmingham where you turn onto the picturesque North Stratford canal. This takes you back into rolling farmland and wooded valleys towards pretty village of Lapworth. Step back in time and enjoy a well earned pint at the traditional canalside Blue Bell Cider House enroute. Once you’ve reached your destination, you are just a stone’s throw from two amazing National Trust owned Tudor manor houses, Packwood House with its incredible tapestries and famous yew gardens and Baddesley Clinton with its moat and walled gardens. You can easily spend a happy day exploring these properties and their gardens and parkland.
Our new narrowboat base for 2019, Whixall marina is surrounded by miles of open countryside making it a great starting point for a truly peaceful, rural canal boat holiday. Head west along the Llangollen canal to admire several miles of uninterrupted pastoral beauty before you reach the market town of Ellesmere, named after the collection of unusual lakes which surround it, which were formed by glacial compressions at the end of the last Ice Age. Beyond that, the canal meanders west through the increasingly dramatic hills of the border country that straddles England and Wales, to reach the 710-ft long and 70-ft high Chirk Aqueduct which takes you across the River Ceiriog into north Wales. Admire Thomas Telford’s masterly construction before heading to one of the nearby pubs.
So, don’t be saddened by the prospect of summer coming to an end but celebrate everything that autumn has to offer and start planning your September canal holiday – our expert team are always on hand to help so get in touch!
Our beautiful network of inland waterways were once the transport arteries of the Industrial Revolution, but today they have become green corridors and provide homes for hundreds of species of animals.
When enjoying your canal boat holiday, whether you are cruising through the countryside or waterside towns and cities, you can spot anything from ducks, moorhens and dragonflies, to kingfishers, otters and water voles.
Many areas of our canals and rivers have been designated as important nature sites, recognising the valuable habitats they provide. To celebrate the wildlife of the waterways, we’ve put together a list of our Top 10 waterside wildlife hotspots:
Chimney Meadows, Oxfordshire – the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust’s largest nature reserve in Oxfordshire runs alongside the River Thames, close to Shifford Lock. This vital refuge for wading birds has walking trails, bird hides and a picnic area. Part of an ancient landscape created by the River Thames and shaped by centuries of farming, these remote and tranquil wildflower meadows have a remarkable diversity of plant-life and are home to nationally declining wading birds such as curlew. When visiting, you can also look and listen out for cuckoos, barn owls, lapwing, fieldfare, redwing, snipe, brown hares, water voles and otters. Travelling from our Oxford canal boat rental base on the River Thames at Eynsham, you can take a Thames boating holiday and reach Chimney Meadows in just under four hours, cruising for 10 miles and passing through two locks.
Hatton Locks, Warwickshire – this stunning flight of 21 locks in the Warwickshire countryside offers a great place to watch out for wildlife. As well as ducks, moorhens and swans, you might see house sparrows and grey wagtails at the water’s edge, and on a warm day, grass snakes and slow worms. Setting off from our canal boat rental base on the Stratford Canal at Wootton Wawen, you can reach the bottom of the Hatton Flight in around eight hours, passing through 17 locks along the way.
Fradley Pool Nature Reserve, Staffordshire – at Fradley Junction, where the Coventry Canal meets the Trent & Mersey Canal, the picturesque Fradley Pool Nature Reserve is a great place for a family day out. There are walking trails, sculpture trails, places to picnic, as well as a choice places to eat and drink. Look out for ducks and swans, as well as terrapins basking in the sunshine and bats if you are there at dusk. Heading south from our canal boat hire base at Great Haywood, you can reach Fradley Junction in around five hours, cruising along 12 peaceful miles of the Trent & Mersey Canal and passing through just five locks.
Ellesmere, Shropshire – the pretty market town of Ellesmere on the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire is located right next to The Mere, a large lake packed with wildlife. There are woodland walks, places to eat, drink and picnic, a sculpture trail and adventure playground. Keep an eye out for many of types of birds, including kingfishers, yellow hammers, tree sparrows, lapwing, sand martins and ringed plovers. Watch out for wading birds like curlew, greenshank, godwit and whimbrel, as well as herons using the heronry on Moscow Island. Setting off from our narrowboat hire base on the Llangollen Canal at Trevor, you can reach Ellesmere in around seven hours, passing through just two locks along the way. And from our new canal boat rental base at Whixall, Ellesmere is just three-and-a-half hours away by boat.
Caen Hill Locks, Wiltshire – the flight of 29 locks on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Devizes in Wiltshire, includes the spectacular run of 16 locks falling in a straight line up Caen Hill. Travelling from our canal boat hire base at Brassknocker Basin near Bath, it takes around 10 hours, passing through eight locks to reach the bottom of the Caen Hill flight. Along the way, look out for kingfishers, mute swans, coots, moorhens and herons. Once at Caen Hill, the newly planted Jubilee Woodland is already providing excellent habitat for birds, water voles have been spotted in the Caen Hill side pounds, along with otters and the rare chaser dragonfly.
Marple Locks, Derbyshire – the flight of 16 locks on the Peak Forest Canal at Marple are surrounded by beautiful countryside and stretches of ancient woodland – home to many types of woodland bird. You can also enjoy fantastic views across the Peak District from here. From our narrowboat hire base on the Shropshire Union Canal at Bunbury, boaters can reach the bottom of the Marple Flight in around four days, travelling 68 miles and passing through 36 locks. The Marple Flight is on the spectacular Four Counties Ring, which takes around 58 hours cruise if you set off from Bunbury, or 55 hours from Great Haywood.
Prees Branch Canal, Shropshire – This tranquil arm of the Llangollen Canal provides a haven for waterway wildlife, including water plants, dragonflies, damselflies, birds and water voles. Our new canal boat rental base at Whixall Marina is on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal and next to the Whixall Moss Nature Reserve, a large wetland site which is home to a range of wading birds, rare plants, butterflies and dragonflies. From Whixall, you can travel to Ellesmere on a short break (three or four nights) or Llangollen on a week’s narrowboat holiday, passing over the magnificent World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct along the way.
Consall Forge, Staffordshire – on the beautiful Caldon Canal in the Churnet Valley, next to Consall Nature Park, Consall Forge is a great place to spot wildlife, including water birds, woodland birds and birds of prey. You can moor up to explore the nature trails here and choose from a variety of places to eat, drink, including the popular canalside Black Lion Inn. From our canal boat rental base at Great Haywood, you can reach Consall Forge in around 20 hours, travelling 33 miles through beautiful countryside, and passing through 34 locks – perfect for a week’s holiday afloat.
Bittell Reservoir, Worcestershire – Built to supply water for the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, today Bittell Reservoir is a SSSI and is home to an abundance of wildlife. Over 200 species of water bird have been recorded here, including wintering wading birds and waterfowl, breeding birds such as the great crested grebe, little ringed-plover and grasshopper warbler. Rare silt shoreline plants such as slender spike rush and mudwort can be found here, along with the rare mud snail and five different species of dragonfly. The Bittell Arm and Lower Reservoir can be reached in just under two hours from our canal boat hire base on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal at Tardebigge.
Bingley, West Yorkshire – the fields either side of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal at Bingley are full of wildflowers, including Arum Lily, Yellow Flag Iris and Cuckooflower, and the canal itself is home to dragonflies, damselflies, and many water birds. Setting off from our narrowboat hire base on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal at Silsden, you can reach the Bingley Five Rise Lock Staircase, one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways, in just over three hours.
British summertime has a special kind of magic. When the sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, everything is luscious and green and happy punters sit smiling outside cafés and pubs watching the world drift past, there is quite literally nowhere we would rather be.
Travelling at a steady two to three miles an hour along our historic inland waterways, enables you to forget your worries and enjoy a more relaxed pace of life.
But choosing a staycation as your summer holiday also offers numerous other advantages. Here, we explore why holidaying on home ground can be such a great choice:
Green and pleasant land
Let’s face it, nowhere is more beautiful than the British countryside in summer. This is of course largely down to the large amount of rainfall we experience for most of the year which creates fertile verdant landscapes. The rolling green hills, patchwork quilt fields, oak woodland, river valleys and babbling streams offer a picturesque backdrop that is hard to beat. Of course, you can find grander and wilder scenery overseas, higher mountains, bigger rivers, enormous forests, but bigger does not always mean better. In fact, when travelling by narrowboat on a canal with limited time, shorter distances between destinations can be something of a relief. The small scale of England and Wales mean you enjoy incredible variety of landscapes in a very small area, travelling between mountains and sweeping flood plains in a couple of hours. The abundance of wild flowers, shrubs and trees which burst into life from spring onwards adorns our canal routes, adding to the picture postcard effect. Many of Anglo Welsh’s most popular canal boat holiday routes actually take you through areas of National Parks – such as the Leeds and Liverpool canal between Silsden and Burnley – or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty – the Kennet and Avon canal between Bath and Bradford on Avon, for instance.
Wealth of history and culture
There is a reason that Britain has a booming tourism industry with around 40 million people from all over the world flocking here every year – it is because the UK has an incredible array of historical and cultural wonders to visit and admire. Few nations can boast the rich concentration of castles, stately homes, heritage buildings, ancient monuments, museums, galleries, theatres – even the canals themselves are historic with some sections such as the majestic Pontcysyllte Aqueduct named as a World Heritage Site. You can hire our canal boats from cities such as Oxford and Bath, renowned for their breath-taking historic architecture, motor your way into the heart of medieval Chester and Stratford-upon-Avon or float up to the walls of Warwick or Skipton Castles. There is so much to see and do along the canal routes, we could spend a year listing the attractions and still have more to mention.
Staying in the UK means you cut out the most tiresome part of any holiday – the flights. No 3am alarm call, no hastily devoured overpriced coffee and croissant, no check-in queues, no airport security and lastly, no cramped airplane in which the seats appear to have been designed to fit a six-year-old. Instead, you can indulge in a relaxed start to your holidays. After a leisurely breakfast, jump in the car – or bus or train depending upon which canal boat base you are starting from – and make your way with no stress to your intended destination ready to collect the keys to your narrowboat at 3pm and run through your training and briefing, before you float away. You start your holiday feeling fresh and cheerful not sleep deprived, crabby and possibly even jet lagged.
Less travel time
Running on from the point above, by staying in the UK, it is likely you will significantly reduce your travel time. This is particularly helpful if you have limited holiday days and do not wish to devote at least two of them to simply getting to your destination and back. A staycation will at most require a car, bus or train journey of a few hours. With 11 Anglo Welsh canal boat bases to choose from as your starting point, all in wonderful locations scattered across England and Wales, you will always be able to select a route that minimises your travel time to no more than a couple of hours.
Easier with the kids
For all the reasons above and more, a staycation is a great option if you are bringing children along. Young kids do not respond well to long journeys cooped up in a car or airplane – especially if they have been woken up at 3am for it. It is often when you most need the little ones to behave themselves that they start acting up, creating a stressful and tiring journey for all involved. If you choose a narrowboat holiday for your staycation, the kids will love the novelty of life afloat and because you are constantly on the move, they’ll have far less chance to get bored and start misbehaving.
Take your pets along for the ride
If you are not crossing any international borders, there is no reason why your four legged friends shouldn’t join you on holiday. Dogs, cats and other animals are often much loved members of the family so it is unsurprising people do not like leaving them behind. As well as the guilt, made worse by their sad faces as the luggage is packed, there is also often a significant cost to having them well looked after in your absence. At Anglo Welsh we welcome pets on our narrowboats with the first pet travelling for free. Dogs in particular hate being separated from their owners – or pack – for even a short time so why not include them in the fun. With its focus on the great outdoors, a narrowboat holiday is perfect for dogs, with plenty of space and wonderful walks all along the canals. For more on why a canal boat makes a perfect pet friendly holiday and our top tips on bringing along your furry friend, read on here.
No language barrier
By staying in the UK you remove any potential for awkward misunderstandings or stress due to language barriers. While some people welcome the challenge of taking on a new language, most of us are left babbling incoherently while steadily reddening with embarrassment as we try and order a coffee in broken French or Spanish. The British are notoriously bad at foreign languages, let’s not deny it. So, holiday in the UK and unwind in your mother tongue. You’ll no longer have to worry about being served a completely different dish to the one you wanted or nodding at a series of instructions and hand gestures only to set off in completely the wrong direction. There’s no doubt, it is more relaxing when you actually understand what everyone is talking about.
Last but not least, by cutting out lengthy travel arrangements, currency exchange and possibly child or pet care, you could save yourself a lot of money by opting for a staycation in the UK. This will leave you with more funds to channel towards the important things such as sightseeing, fun activities, food and drink – all of which will really add to the overall holiday experience. If you choose an Anglo Welsh canal boat holiday, you will essentially be provided with a floating home and fully equipped kitchen so you can also save hard earned cash by preparing and enjoying meals onboard rather than relying on restaurant food. With so many wonderful things to see and do along the waterways you should be able to reach virtually everything you want on foot.
If all this hasn’t persuaded you that a holiday in the UK is the best option, then have a peruse of our website to look at the different canal boat bases and routes available which will take you through some of the most stunning countryside Britain has to offer.
If you want to discuss your preferences and requirements with one of our team to get some expert advice on which locations and boats would best suit you, please don’t hesitate to give us a ring.
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct celebrates 10 years of World Heritage Status
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct celebrates 10 years of World Heritage Status
This year, Britain’s highest and longest aqueduct, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and 11 miles of the Llangollen Canal, will celebrate 10 years of World Heritage Status designation, giving it membership of an elite club of sites, including the Taj Mahal and the Pyramids.
Since the designation, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct has become a ‘Must Do’ destination for thousands of international tourists and visitor numbers have quadrupled, with nearly half a million people viewing the ‘Stream in the Sky’ and the Trevor Basin Visitor Centre in 2018.
The aqueduct has also become a regular media star, hosting lots of TV programmes, including ‘Bargain Hunt’, ‘Antiques Road Trip’, ‘Lost Railway Walks’, ‘Escape to the Country’, CBBC and several news broadcasts.
To mark this important milestone, The Canal & River Trust charity in Wales, Glandwr Cymru, will be working with local partners to organise 12 months of celebrations, including a new photography competition, a specially-brewed beer, spectacular luminaire structure lighting, an ‘Under the Arches’ celebration and other community events.
Lynda Slater, Trevor Basin visitor centre manager with the Canal & River Trust, says: “The World Heritage Status has made a world of difference to this spectacular structure and the 11 miles of Llangollen Canal which surround it. The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct has gone from being a national treasure to a tourist destination of international significance.“
The Llangollen Canal is one of the most popular canals in the country with hire boaters. With the opportunity to cruise over two stunning aqueducts at Pontcysyllte and Chirk, and meander through the beautiful Welsh countryside, it is a hot favourite with people wanting to spend their holiday time on the waterways.
Our canal boat hire base at Trevor Basin has long been one of our most popular departure points, and from April this year, we will also be offering narrowboat hire from our new boat yard at Whixall Marina, on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire.
2019 Short breaks (three or four nights) from Trevor and Whixall start at £495 on a boat for four people, £705 for a week.
We also offer day boat hire from Trevor, just a five minutes by boat from the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. Prices start at £120 for a day boat for up to 10 people.
Pontcysyllte Fact File
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Llangollen Canal became a World Heritage Site on 27 June, 2009.
Pontcysyllte is pronounced – ‘pont-cuss-ull-teh’ meaning ‘the bridge that joins’
The Pontcysyllte is a Grade I listed building, a scheduled ancient monument and forms the centrepiece of the 11 mile World Heritage Site.
The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’, compiled over 60 years ago by Robert Aickman, co-founder of the Inland Waterways Association, and published in his book Know Your Waterways.
The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct was constructed by Thomas Telford and William Jessop between 1796 and 1805 during the Industrial Revolution to enable slate and limestone to be moved from quarries in North Wales to the Midlands and beyond.
The aqueduct measures a record-breaking 1,000 ft (307m) long and at its highest point it is 126 ft (38.4m) above the River Dee.
A cast iron trough, which holds 330,000 gallons (1.5 million litres) of water, is 11ft wide and 5ft 3ins deep. It is emptied by pulling out a giant plug in the centre and takes two hours to drain.
With not even a handrail on the north side, when travelling across by canal boat, it’s probably the most heart-stopping and exhilarating experience on the canal network!
There are 19 elegant arches and 18 slender sandstone piers, each with a 45ft span.
To keep the aqueduct as light as possible, the slender masonry piers are partly hollow and taper at their summit.
Incredibly, ox blood was added to the lime mortar which binds the structure’s masonry together, following an ancient superstition that the blood of a strong animal would strengthen a structure. And sugar was boiled with Welsh flannel then mixed with tar to seal the cast joints of the structure’s cast iron trough.
Visitors come from all over the world, with Australians and Japanese heading the international league table. Signing the centre’s visitor book last year were tourists from 52 countries from faraway places such as Zambia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and the Philippines, as well as most European nations.
Repairs to the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct handrail are among eight vital maintenance projects being undertaken by the Canal & River Trust along the Welsh Border canals this winter.
Britain’s 3,000-mile network of canals and navigable rivers provide canal boat holiday-makers fantastic waterway adventures, with access to hundreds of exciting destinations in waterside villages, towns and cities along the way.
To celebrate Armed Forces Day on Saturday 29 June, and the 15% discount we give to members of the Armed Forces, we’ve put together a list of our Top 6 canal boat holiday destinations with military links:
Discover the Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker – from our canal boat rental base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire, it takes around three-and-a-half hours, travelling nine miles and passing through just two locks, to reach moorings close to the Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker Museum. This fascinating blast-proof underground bunker was once of the nation’s most secret defence sites, and would have been the centre of Regional Government had nuclear war broken out. It was decommissioned in 1993, and today it offers visitors the chance to see the government’s preparations for nuclear war as well as the largest public display of nuclear weapons in Europe.
Browse the nine galleries of the Royal Armouries Museum – from our narrowboat hire base at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, it takes around 17 hours to cruise to Leeds City Centre, home of the Royal Armouries Museum, passing through 28 locks along the way. Home to the national collection of arms and armour, there are thousands of objects from across the world to admire displayed in nine galleries, including the ‘War Gallery’ which houses a longbow from the wreck of the Mary Rose, a Maxim Machine Gun, a model of the Battle of Agincourt and the oldest surviving European horse armour.
Explore over 900 years of history at Oxford Castle – from our canal boat hire base at Eynsham on the River Thames near Witney, it takes around three-and-a-half hours, passing through three locks, to reach moorings in the centre of Oxford, just a ten-minute walk from Oxford Castle. This imposing 11th century earthwork motte-and-bailey castle was founded by the Norman baron Robert D’Oilly the elder in 1071. Most of the fortress was destroyed in the English Civil War and by the 18th century, the remaining buildings had become Oxford’s local prison. Tours of the Castle are led by costumed character guides who lead guests up the Saxon St George’s Tower for panoramic views of the city, as well as deep underground to the 900-year old crypt, through the austere confines of the 18th century Debtor’s Tower and Prison D-Wing, and up the Mound of the castle.
Find out about the last cavalry charge at the Warwickshire Yeomanry Museum – from our narrowboat hire base at Stockton on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, it takes seven hours, passing through 20 locks to reach the county town of Warwick, home of the Yeomanry Museum. This small museum, based in The Court House, on Jury Street in Warwick, celebrates the history of the Warwickshire Yeomanry from 1794 to 1956, including the last classic unsupported Cavalry Charge of the Great War, with a collection of uniforms, weapons, medals and memorabilia.
Get close to medieval warfare at Chirk Castle – from our narrowboat hire base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, it takes just over an hour to reach Chirk, passing over the incredible Pontcysyllte Aqueduct along the way, which this year celebrates 10 years of World Heritage Status. The National Trust’s Chirk Castle, one of a chain of fortresses built on the Welsh-English border by Edward I, is a 30-minute walk up from the canal. Started in 1295, Chirk Castle features round ‘drum’ towers that allowed archers a wide firing field and created a ‘killing zone’ where the fields of fire overlapped. The towers are wider at ground level making it difficult for siege towers and battering rams to get close. Visitors today can explore lavishly furnished rooms, the Adam Tower – complete with its two-level dungeons, medieval toilets and murder holes – and enjoy walking through the Castle’s lovely gardens and parkland full of ancient trees, wildflowers and birds. Chirk can also be reached on a week’s holiday from our new canal boat hire base on the Llangollen Canal at Whixall.
Learn about the siege of Skipton Castle – from our canal boat rental base at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire, it takes just over three hours (travelling six miles with no locks) to reach Skipton with its 900-year old fortress, one of the most complete and best preserved medieval castles in England. Visitors to this impressive stone castle, which withstood a three-year siege during the Civil War, can climb from the depths of the Dungeon to the top of the Watch Tower, exploring the magnificent Banqueting Hall, Kitchen, Bedchamber and Privy in between. Skipton Castle also has some fabulous woodland walking trails to explore. For nearly a thousand years these woods provided fuel, food and building materials for the castle’s inhabitants. Today, there are at least 18 species of trees to admire there, as well as hundreds of flowering plants, including wild orchids and bluebells.
We offer a range of different types of holidays such as City Breaks, Relaxation Cruises and Popular Destinations
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