What’s on in May: Canalside events to look forward to
Who doesn’t love May? It’s the month when summer finally starts to show its fair face, when blossom coats the hedgerows, when the sun shines late into the evening, when wearing shorts and flipflops becomes a reality, rather than a distant dream.
It is the month when the British countryside blooms, literally, bathing passersby in the sweet honeyed scents.
It is also the month when villages, towns and cities burst into life with the first of the summer’s fetes, festivals, carnivals and other colourful events all making May a busy few weeks.
In short, it is the perfect month to plan a canal boat holiday and explore some of the beautiful historic waterways which crisscross much of the UK.
To help you in planning your narrowboat break, here is a selection of just some of wonderful things taking place along the canals of England and Wales this May:
The best talent from the UK’s folk music scene serenade audiences across Bristol over the May bank holiday weekend. This year’s line up includes Cara Dillon, Sam Kelly & the Lost Boys and Lady Maisery with gigs held at St Stephen’s Church, Bristol Folk House and the beautiful St George’s. There will also be workshops and after hours sessions at other venues across the city.
The newly revamped Royal Pump Rooms offer a spectacular setting for this festival of chamber music which attracts fans from all over the UK and beyond. Violinist Tamsin Little and Russian pianist Andrey Gugnin will launch a stellar festival line up which will see exquisite music provided by organist Jonathan Cunliffe, the Aronowitz Ensemble, Roderick Williams and many more.
Taking place in Little Venice since 1983, the Inland Waterway Association’s Canalway Calvacade is one of the biggest and best canal festivals in the UK. Hundreds of narrowboats and other canal craft decorated with bunting line up along the Grand Union and Regents Canal providing the backdrop to a weekend of live music, dancing and fabulous food and drink. A highlight is the boat ‘pageant’ which sees boats competing for the best décor with a different theme each year.
Thousands of visitors descend upon Skipton over the May Bank Holiday to see dozens of decorated narrowboats line the canal basin and surrounding towpaths. There will be a full programme of entertainment over three days with children’s activites and rides, as well as craft stalls and delicious food and drink.
Launched in 2007, this family festival which takes place across Vines Park in Droitwich and the historic town centre, has grown to include street markets and exhibitions, live entertainment and a vintage car rally alongside the canal boat gathering. The festival culminates with ‘The Great Droitwich Duck Race’ at 4.30pm on the Monday afternoon.
The 2019 Chester racing season starts with the prestigious Boodles May Festival which takes place over three days and kick-starts the racing calendar in style. It starts with City Day on the Wednesday followed by the hats, frocks and thrills of Ladies Day and finishing with Chester Cup Day on the friday.
Step back in time to a wartime era of with a weekend of stories, music and vintage fun. This is a great excuse to dig out that retro or fancy dress, get dancing to some swing music and admire some classic cars and more. Entertainment will be provided by Kevin Mack, George Formby Experience and the Bluebird Belles while re-enactors from the Home Front include Peggy Skivvy, Victory Belles WI and the Bevan Boys and reminders of the fighting forces will be provided by Pathfinders, Red Caps and more. Tickets are £5 and can be bought on the door.
Running over 11 days in May, this annual celebration of music, literature and spoken word brings Bath to life with a rich array of concerns and performances. Traditionally the festival opens with the ‘Party in the City’ when dozens of parks and venues across the city host live bands and solo artists throughout the evening for everyone to enjoy. The programme then showcases an amazingly rich array of world famous musicians, writers and cultural figures. This year will see stars including Sir Michael Parkinson, Dame Darcey Bussell and Jo Brand entertaining audiences across Bath.
This celebration of canals, community and the environment brings together hundreds of traditional narrowboats and other craft from different eras together from across the country. At least 20,000 visitors come to Rickmansworth to enjoy the boats, music, performances, displays and colourful range of traders.
Birmingham’s best independent local food traders gather to tickle the tastebudes of all visitors to this two day culinary celebration, organised by Independent Birmingham and Birmingham Seasonal Markets. Visitors can enjoy a spectacular line up of pop up restaurants, cocktail bars, street food, craft beer, fine wine all to a backdrop of great music. For those arriving via narrowboat the Bond sits conveniently right on the canalside.
Britain’s biggest inland waterways festival with more than 27,000 visitors last year, the Crick Boat Show bring together over 280 exhibitors, dozens of boats of all ages, dimensions and styles, talks by boating experts, boat trips and boat handling taster sessions all topped off with great live music and food and drink to get everyone in a celebratory mood. Now in its 20th year, this boat show is a great day out for all the family.
The biggest two-day LGBT party in the UK, Birmingham Pride is a weekend of flamboyant fun with colourful Carnival Parade through the city centre and live music from a fantastic line up including Years & Years, Lady Leshurr and Mabel. Alongside the main stage, the ‘Gay Village’ also features a dance arena, cabaret marquee, funfair, community village green, central market street, and the friendliest street party for all.
A fantastic boutique, family friendly music festival with more than 33 bands over three days showcasing the best in new talent and established acts. Last year saw around 5000 people soak up the sun and music and this year promises to get even bigger. The line up so far includes top tribute acts from The Stones, Re-Take That and Queen tribute, Mercury.
A celebration of all things delicious, independent food producers and street food traders will ply their wares at the World of Wedgewood over two days. Foodies can combine tasting wonderful local food and enjoying live music with exploring the historic pottery centre which provides a fascinating insight into what was once the region’s key industry and remains a famous English brand to this day.
Travel back to 1455 when the House of Lancaster’s hold on the English throne under King Henry VI is challenged by the House of York. The rival houses clash in battle leading to a war that lasted more than 30 years. The legendary Wars of the Roses is played out before audiences during an epic live action show at Warwick Castle. Experience a spectacle never seen before in the UK, complete with perilous stunt riders, fearless jousting and state of the art special effects. The show takes place every day throughout half term.
This is a must visit for anyone who loves boats in all their forms, with three days of ‘simply messing about in boats’ in this beautiful lake next to the River Thames. Visitors can admire classic boats, wooden boats, fibre glass boats, motor boats, sailing boats and much more with boat trips and rides. For any members of the family less keen on boats, there is also a vintage vehicle rally and many more land-based activities to enjoy.
Canal revamp! New and improved canals ready for your 2019 narrowboat holidays
While we’ve all been hibernating through the chilly winter months, the Canal and River Trust and its army of passionate volunteers have been hard at work restoring our historic waterways. Most of the canals of England and Wales were built more than two centuries ago as industrial transport routes and it is testament to the incredible engineering of Thomas Telford and others that they have so successfully stood the test of time. But as with any historic structure, they do require constant upkeep and this is where the Canal and River Trust steps up. This charity keeps 2000 miles of canals and rivers open and accessible so they can be enjoyed by boaters, cyclists and walkers alike, more than 200 years after their construction. At Anglo Welsh we work closely with the Canal and River Trust which does amazing work to protect the canals, enabling the rest of us to enjoy these magical waterways which form such an important part of our country’s industrial heritage.
A huge amount of renovation work has been going on over the quiet winter period, so here is our round up of routes reopened or improved for your canal boating pleasure this year:
1) Repairs to the Middlewich branch of Shropshire Union
This beautiful offshoot of the Shropshire Union Canal has reopened following £3million repairs to a major breach of the embankment. Just a year after a section of the 200-year-old embankment collapsed into the River Wheelock below, canal boats can once again explore this lovely 10-mile long waterway which connects the Shropshire Union Canal at Barbridge Junction to the Trent & Mersey Canal at Middlewich. Coordinated by the Canal and River Trust, the repair work involved 4,000 tonnes of stone, hundreds of volunteers and two major civil engineering companies. Narrowboat holidaymakers who want to explore the nearly revamped Middlewich branch can reach it most easily from our Bunbury base but it can also be accessed from Trevor and Great Haywood.
2)The Marple Flight reopens on Peak Forest Canal
The stunning Marple flight and aqueduct – the highest canal aqueduct in England – have been closed to narrowboats, walkers and cyclists on and off since September 2017. More than 90 pieces of restoration work have been carried out over the famous Marple flight of 16 locks over the last 18 months but it is now accessible to canal barges once again. There are few routes more beautiful for a canal boat holiday than crossing the incredible triple arched aqueduct that carries the Peak Forest Canal 90-feet above the River Goyt near Marple. Designed by Benjamin Outram and opened in 1800, the Grade I listed construction and ancient monument sits at the bottom of one of the steepest lock flights in Britain. Since 2015, this part of the Peak Forest Canal has been a Green Flag Award winner, the Marple Aqueduct itself winning a Heritage Green Award in 2017. The nearest Anglo Welsh canal boat base is Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal.
3)Caldon Canal from Stoke on Trent to Froghall
The Caldon Canal has undergone a £157,000 winter makeover during which vital maintenance and repair work has been completed. This 240-year-old canal, which runs from the urban surroundings of Stoke on Trent into the idyllic countryside of the Churnet Valley to Froghall, has had three lock gates replaced and repairs to several bridges, lock chambers and walkways. Thousands of fish and other wildlife had to be rescued and transported to other section of the canal before the areas under repair were drained. Thanks to the repair works, some of which are ongoing, narrowboats, cyclists and walkers can continue to enjoy the tranquillity of the Caldon Canal for many years to come. For those planning a narrowboat holiday who wish to take in this route, the nearest Anglo Welsh base Great Haywood.
4) Macclesfield Canal
The Macclesfield Canal in Cheshire has undergone a £1.4million makeover this winter. The project involved extensive dredging to deepen the canal channel between Macclesfield and the canal’s junction with the Trent & Mersey Canal, near Kidsgrove. There was also work to repair leaks, masonry, gates, sluices and washwalls. Dedicated volunteers from the Macclesfield Canal Society and other voluntary groups saved the Canal and River Trust more than £80,000 by giving up their free time to clear away unwanted vegetation and repair the towpaths. Originally built to transport coal during the Industrial Revolution, the 200-year-old waterway was the first canal in the country to gain a coveted Green Flag Award, acknowledging it as a quality green space. The 28 mile Macclesfield Canal is part of the popular 100 mile Cheshire canal cruising ring, which offers boaters a wonderful combination of rural Cheshire scenery and the urban waterways of Greater Manchester. If you wish to visit during your next narrowboat holiday, the nearest Anglo Welsh base is Bunbury.
5) Llangollen and Montgomery Canals restoration work
The stunning Welsh border canals of Llangollen and Montgomery are undergoing £300,000 of restoration work, due for completion at the end of March. The crowning jewel of Britain’s canals, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which soars a jaw-dropping 126-ft above the River Dee, is having its handrails repaired while several sections of the lock will be drained for new lock gates to be installed and walls fixed. The 200-year-old Llangollen Canal, with its 11 mile stretch of World Heritage Site winding through picture perfect countryside, is one of the most popular canals in the country, so it is vital to the Canal and River Trust to keep it in a good state. Anyone planning a canal barge holiday this year who wants to explore the Llangollen can start out from Anglo Welsh’s Trevor base right next to the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.
6) Shropshire Union Canal repairs
The stunning Shropshire Union Canal – affectionately known as the Shroppie – is benefitting from more than £600,000 of repairs which started last November and are likely to last until the end of March. The work on the 66-mile canal which snakes through unspoilt Shropshire, Cheshire and Staffordshire countryside will see 11 lock gates replaced and brickwork, masonry, lock ladder and culvert repairs. Due to its overwhelmingly rural setting, the Shroppie is one of the most popular canals with narrowboaters up and down the country as well as cyclists, walkers, canoes, fishing enthusiasts and more, so it gets a lot of use making the repairs all the more important. For anyone planning their canal holiday who wants to experience the loveliness of the Shropshire Union, setting off from the Anglo Welsh bases at Bunbury or Great Haywood will get you there.
7) Kennet and Avon Canal work
Nearly £450,000 was invested into repairs to the Kennet and Avon Canal this winter with work due to completion in April. Projects at half a dozen locations along the 87-mile waterway will see giant lock gates replaced, historic canal walls rebuilt and other elements of the engineering restored. The 200-year-old canal which twists and turns through Berkshire, Wiltshire and Somerset until it reaches the beautiful city of Bath is a favourite for canal boat holidays. Anglo Welsh has two bases along this wonderful waterway, in Bath itself and a few miles up the canal nestled among the Cotswold Hills in Monkton Combe from where you can easily reach other picturesque towns such as Bradford upon Avon and Devizes.
If you want to stay up to date with all the latest canal restoration works or check that the journey you are planning has no stoppages or closures, go to www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/notices.
Take to the water this Easter, and cruise through the beautiful Spring countryside, adorned with new leaves, fragrant blossom, delightful daffodils, playful spring lambs and chirping birds.
You can cruise gently along aboard your own floating holiday home to enjoy an outdoor family adventure, stopping-off along the way to visit waterside destinations hosting special Easter holiday activities.
From medieval fortresses, battles and jousting, to Easter egg decorating, hunting and (of course) eating, here are our Top 10 Easter canal boat holiday family destinations:
Visit the World’s biggest Cadbury shop at Cadbury World – apparently, if you placed all the Cadbury Creme Eggs made in a year from end to end, they would stretch from Bournville to Sydney, Australia! This Easter, you can discover more amazing chocolate facts, and buy some Creme Eggs at the World’s biggest Cadbury shop, at Cadbury World at Bournville, right next to the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. From our canal boat hire base at Tardebigge, near Bromsgrove in Worcestershire, it takes just two hours to reach moorings outside Cadbury World, and three more lock-free hours to reach Birmingham City Centre.
Have an ‘Eggstraordinary Easter Eggventure’ at the University of Oxford’s Natural History Museum – from our Oxford base, it’s a tranquil three-hour cruise along the River Thames to moorings at Hythe Bridge, perfect for exploring Oxford’s city centre, including the University of Oxford Natural History Museum, which is hosting an Easter egg hunting trail, 6-22 April. Housed in a stunning Victorian neo-Gothic building, Oxford’s Natural History Museum is home to an internationally significant collection of natural history specimens, including T-rex skeletons, the Oxford Dodo, whale skeletons, British bird displays, dinosaur fossils and the 4.5 billion-year-old Nantan meteorite.
Enjoy a Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt 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, which this year celebrates 10 years of World Heritage Status. Once moored-up, it’s a half-hour walk up to the National Trust’s stunning medieval fortress, Chirk Castle, where over the Easter Weekend (19-22 April), children can follow the Easter Trail, solve the clues and win a Cadbury chocolate prize.
Watch medieval jousting at the Royal Armouries Museum – from our base at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, on a week’s holiday, canal boat holiday-makers can travel to Leeds and back, cruising for a total of 34 hours and passing through 56 locks. Over the Easter weekend (19-22 April) the waterside Royal Armouries Museum will be hosting its spectacular International Jousting event, where four teams of knights from the UK, Poland, the USA and Canada will battle for honour and trophies.
Tour the Roman Baths by Torchlight – from our canal boat rental base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Brassknocker Basin just outside Bath it takes around four hours, passing through six locks to reach Bath City Centre, just a short walk away from the Roman Baths Museum. Over the Easter Weekend (19-22 April), the Museum will be hosting torchlit evening openings (6pm-8pm), giving visitors the chance to see the remarkably preserved remains of one of the greatest religious spas of the ancient world in a different light. Easter evening visitors can also enjoy live music, impromptu performances from the Natural Theatre Company and a drink in a pop-up Prosecco Bar.
See the World’s oldest working steam engines – on a week’s holiday from our narrowboat hire base at Sydney Wharf, you can travel along the beautiful Kennet & Avon Canal to Crofton, near Marlborough, to visit the Crofton Pumping Station. Over the Easter Weekend (20-22 April), the Easter Steam Event allows visitors to witness the work of the oldest working steam engines in the world, still performing the job they were built to do. The two beam engines, one of which is an original 200-year old Boulton & Watt, are both fed by a hand-stoked, coal fired Lancashire boiler. The journey to Crofton takes around 23 hours, cruising 40 miles and passing through 47 locks.
Join the annual Easter Boat Gathering at Ellesmere Port – over the Easter Weekend (19-22 April), the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire celebrates the start of the Summer boating season with a large boat gathering, live music and the Shropshire Boatmen telling waterway stories in song. From our canal boat hire base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire, it takes 10 hours to reach Ellesmere Port, travelling 21 miles through 12 locks, and passing through the ancient City of Chester along the way.
Do some Easter egg decorating at Mary Arden’s Farm – from our base at Wootton Wawen on the pretty Stratford Canal, it takes around an hour-and-a-half to reach the village of Wilmcote, home to Mary Arden’s Farm, where Shakespeare’s mother grew up. Over the Easter holidays, as well as experiencing the sights, sounds and smells of a Tudor farm, visitors can enjoy decorating eggs with traditional Tudor designs at Mary Arden’s Farm. On a short break, you can continue on to Bancroft Basin in the Centre of Stratford to visit waterside eateries, Shakespeare’s Birthplace and the famous Swan Theatre.
Explore the Eggcellent Easter Trail at Trentham Monkey Forest – during the Easter holidays (15-26 April), visitors to Trentham Monkey Forest, where monkeys live in total freedom, can walk amongst the monkeys and follow the Easter Woodland Trail to find a hidden word to gain entry to a prize draw. From our boatyard at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal near Stafford, it takes approximately 10 hours to reach Stoke bottom lock No. 36, a short walk away from Trentham Monkey Forest. The journey cruises 13 miles and passes through 13 locks.
Take a Guided Walk at the Battle of Bosworth Museum – from our canal boat hire base at Stockton on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, it takes around 18 hours, travelling 44 miles and passing through seven locks, to reach Sutton Cheney, close to the Bosworth Heritage Centre & Country Park. Here, where King Richard III famously lost his crown to Henry Tudor in 1485, visitors to the multi-award-winning Bosworth Battlefield Experience can enjoy hands-on displays and guided walks to find out more about medieval warfare, how the battle unfolded and the impact of the powerful Tudor dynasty.
On Sunday 7 April 2019 we’re offering free canal boat holiday taster sessions at five of our canal boat hire bases, giving visitors the chance to find out more about what it’s like to enjoy a narrowboat holiday on Britain’s wonderful inland waterway network.
Our events are being held as part of Drifters’ National Open Day, which is supported by the Canal & River Trust.
The taster sessions will include free trips on skippered narrowboats, as well as narrowboat tours, holiday discounts and the chance to find out more about our luxury canal boat hire opportunities.
No advance booking is required. The events will open at 11am and close at 4pm.
Here’s a list of our narrowboat hire bases hosting events:
All aboard! New narrowboats being introduced for 2019 canal holidays
Winter is behind us and that means the new canal boat holiday season is finally here! We’ve been hard at work over winter to ensure the best possible choice of narrowboats for your 2019 canal adventures. So, we are excited to announce the launch of a series of new canal barges this season which will ensure we continue to offer an unbeatable range of narrowboat holidays for all our guests.
Here’s an introduction to the beautiful new narrowboats that will be gracing our historic waterways in coming months:
Heritage Class expands with Poppy at Wootton Wawen
After the huge success of our first ‘Heritage Class’ canal barge Lily which was launched last year, we are thrilled to be expanding the fleet with Poppy. The Heritage Class boats are designed and built in the style of the narrowboats of the past, with traditional livery, round portholes, wooden interiors with brass fittings and a fuel fire. However, don’t be fooled by the boats’ old-fashioned appearance, they are still fitted out with all the modern features needed to ensure your comfort and convenience from central heating to full size shower rooms, TV, DVD and WiFi. The Heritage Class boats offer the best of both worlds.
With two bedrooms offering four berths, a fully equipped galley – or kitchen in landlubber speak – dining area and lounge, Poppy is perfect for families and groups of friends wanting to drift back in time to a bygone era along the canals of England and Wales.
Constellation Class welcomes three news boats, Gemini, Scorpius and Sagittarius
This Constellation class has proven so popular since its creation in 2016, it has expanded very year and 2019 is now exception. This year will see the introduction of three new canal barges that each sleep up to 10 guests across four bedrooms so are idea for larger group holidays.
The Constellation Class narrowboats boast light modern interiors, comfy leather seats in the lounge and fully equipped galley kitchens with a cooker and hobs, fridge-freezer and microwave. With so much space for sleeping and storage, the large Constellation Class boats are popular for longer canal boat trips of a week or more.
Weir Class grows with Grafton at Whixall Marina
The smaller Weir Class boats which sleep just two to four people have been a big hit with couples wanting a relaxing, romantic break. Grafton will be launched at Whixall Marina on the lovely Shropshire Union Canal on Friday, 5th April. With its one double bedroom, bathroom and kitchen-living space, measuring just 48-ft in length, Grafton, like the other Weir class narrowboats are much easier to handle and maneouvre than some of their larger counterparts making them great starter boats. They are also a good choice in peak season when the canals get very busy and space is at a premium.
All the Anglo Welsh narrowboats are designed to provide a perfect floating holiday home for families, couples and friends who want to explore the canals of England and Wales without compromising on comfort and convenience. The holiday hire narrowboats have gas ovens, bridges, TV, DVD players, central heating and kitchens equipped with everything needed to cook and enjoy a meal for everyone onboard. Bedding, towels, tea towels and bottled gas is provided. Some boats have additional features such as microwaves, sofas, dressing tables so always check the layout and specifications of the vessel before booking to ensure it has everything you need.
Saints days and national holidays are a great excuse to get together with friends and family to enjoy some quality time out.
What better way to celebrate than to take a holiday on Britain’s beautiful canal network, enjoying a peaceful rural escape or visiting an exciting waterside town or city.
Here at Anglo Welsh we love to celebrate feast days and national holidays, so we’ve put together some ideas for the best celebratory destinations afloat.
St David’s Day(1 March) – the feast day of St David, the patron saint of Wales falls on 1 March, the date of St David’s death in 589 AD, and it’s a public holiday in Wales. Saint David was a Celtic monk and the Archbishop of Wales. He spread the word of Christianity across Wales. The feast has been celebrated since the canonisation of David in the 12th century, by the wearing of leeks (Saint David’s symbol) and daffodils (the symbol of Wales). Traditional Welsh food is eaten, including cawl (a traditional Welsh soup made with lamb or beef and potatoes, swedes, carrots – and of course leeks) and Welsh rarebit (cheese sauce on toast).
To celebrate afloat, take a trip from our canal boat holiday base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, and glide across the towering Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which this year celebrates 10 years of World Heritage Status.
Or you could travel along the Leek Branch of the Caldon Canal to Leek in Staffordshire. Departing from our canal boat hire base at Great Heywood, you’d reach Leek in around 18 hours, travelling just over 30 miles and passing through 27 locks.
St Patrick’s Day (17 March) – Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was actually born in Roman Britain, sometime in the late 300s AD. Saint Patrick’s Day started as a religious celebration in the 17th century to commemorate the life of Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. This ‘Feast Day’ always took place on the anniversary of Patrick’s death, which was believed to be March 17, 461 AD. In 1903, the Feast Day became a national holiday in Ireland. These days, Saint Patrick’s Day is so popular it’s thought to be celebrated in more countries than any other national festival. Festivities include boisterous parades, Gaelic marching bands, Irish jigs, dressing up as leprechauns in shamrock hats and drinking lots of Guinness.
As we can’t ship you out to the Emerald Isle on board one of our boats, instead we are celebrating St Patrick’s Day by offering savings of £100 on all new bookings made and paid for by 17 March, regardless of the actual dates you choose for your holiday. And for extra touch of Irish-themed hospitality, we’ll welcome you on board with eight complimentary cans of Guinness.
St George’s Day (23 April 2019) – St George, the patron Saint of England, has captivated the imaginations of the British since the Crusades and the Hundred Years’ War. He was born sometime around the year 280 in what is now Turkey and became a Roman soldier famous for slaying a dragon. According to legend, the only well in the town of Silene (in modern day Libya) was guarded by a dragon, who demanded a human to be sacrificed in exchange for water. On the day St George visited, a princess had been chosen for the sacrifice, so to save her he slayed the dragon and gave the people access to water. St George’s Day falls on the anniversary of his death on 23 April 303, when he was executed for being a Christian. The flag of England with a red cross over a white background represents the St George’s Cross. Although it’s no longer a national holiday, people still like to celebrate the day with parades, Morris Dancers, flag flying, Punch and Judy shows and by eating fish and chips!
To celebrate St George’s Day afloat, take to the water with St George’s Cross flags flying and head to Oxford Castle to climb the Saxon St George’s Tower and enjoy amazing panoramic views over the historic City of Oxford. From our canal boat holiday rental base on the River Thames at Oxford, it takes just three-and-a-half hours, passing through four locks to reach moorings in Oxford City Centre, just a ten-minute walk from Oxford Castle & Prison.
Or book a break from our Tardebigge base on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove and head to the Black Country Museum to enjoy some traditional 1930s cooked fish and chips. The journey to the Black Country Museum takes around eight hours and passes through three locks.
Easter (Good Friday 19 April 2019, Easter Monday 22 April 2019) – On Easter Sunday, Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead after his crucifixion and burial, usually by going to Church. Easter is always celebrated on the Sunday immediately following the Paschal Full Moon, which can fall anywhere between 22 March and 25 April. Easter eggs symbolise new life and the resurrection of Christ.
Easter is a great time to get afloat and explore the countryside as it bursts into life with new leaves, daffodils, bluebells, spring lambs and nesting birds and waterside attractions host special Easter holiday activities. For example, the canalside Cadbury World, home to the World’s biggest chocolate shop, will host an ‘Easter Eggstavaganza’ with a stage show starring Mr Cadbury’s Parrot, as well as an Easter Egg Trail. Cadbury World is just two hours away from our canal boat hire base at Tardebigge.
Or visit Bath Theatre Royal’s famous Egg Theatre. Setting off from our canal boat hire base at Brassknocker Basin just outside Bath, you can reach Bath City Centre in just four hours, passing through six locks.
May Day (6 May 2019) – the roots of May Day (1 May) can be traced back to the Dark Ages when the ancient Celts divided their year by four major festivals, including ‘Beltane’ or ‘the fire of Bel’, representing the first day of summer. May Day is associated with fun, revelry and fertility. The day would be marked with maypole dancing, the selection of the May Queen and the dancing figure of the Jack-in-the-Green at the head of a procession, a relic from when our ancestors worshipped trees. In the 16th century, the pagan May Day celebrations were banned by Church and State and Oliver Cromwell later passed legislation which saw the end of village maypoles. Dancing did not return to village greens until the restoration of Charles II. Today, some of the old customs have survived, including Morris dancing, maypole dancing and the crowning of a May queen.
The first May Bank Holiday is a great time to take to the water and enjoy Spring sunshine and verdant green trees, fields and hedgerows. May Day celebrations take place each year at Bancroft Basin in Stratford upon Avon, which can be reached in six hours from our canal boat hire base at Wootton Wawen. And the St Richard’s Canal Festival takes place the first May bank holiday each year at Vines Park, alongside the Droitwich Barge Canal. Droitwich can be reached from our canal boat holiday base at Tardebigge in 11 hours.
Whitsun Late May Bank Holiday (27 May 2019) – in the past Whit Monday was a day off after Whit Sunday (which falls seven Sundays after Easter), commemorating the gift of the Holy Spirit to the followers of Jesus on the Day of Pentecost. After the disciples received the Holy Spirit in the form of flames, they began to out and preach about Jesus. In 1971 the Banking and Financial Dealings Act changed the date of the holiday to make it fall on the last Monday of May, rather than on the day after Whit Sunday.
Christians have traditionally taken part in Whit walks at Whitsun. Hundreds of footpaths and walking routes intersect with the canals, for example in Cheshire, the 16.5 mile long Eddisbury Way meets the Shropshire Union Canal close to Williamsons Bridge, four-and-a-half miles from our canal boat rental base at Bunbury. And the Shropshire Way meets the Llangollen Canal at Spark’s Bridge, close to the historic town of Whitchurch, six miles from our canal boat hire base at Whixall.
August Bank Holiday (26 August 2019) – also known as the Summer Bank Holiday, this falls on the last Monday of August, except in Scotland when it falls on the first Monday in August. In 1871, Sir John Lubbock introduced the Bank Holidays Act, starting the concept of holidays with pay. He designated four in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and five in Scotland, including a Summer Bank Holiday.
Escape crowded airports, congested roads and engineering works on the railways with a holiday afloat on the canals. Pottering along at just four miles an hour, soaking up the last of the summer sun, a holiday on Britain’s beautiful waterways is a great way to relax and see the countryside, as well as visit waterside attractions hosting special bank holiday events. For example, setting off from our canal boat hire base at Stockton on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, you can reach moorings close to Warwick Castle in around seven hours, travelling through 20 locks. Over the August bank holiday weekend, Warwick Castle will be hosting its spectacular Dragon Slayer event, with fearless fire jousting, perilous stunt riding and epic battles with live actors, pyrotechnics and fireworks.
St. Andrews Day (30 November) – St Andrew’s Day is a public holiday in Scotland. St Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland, is considered to be Jesus’ first disciple. He was crucified on 30 November 60AD by order of the Roman governor Aegeas. He was tied to an X-shaped cross, represented by the white cross on the Scottish flag, the Saltire. St Andrews Day celebrations have been taking place in Scotland for over a thousand years. Today people celebrate by attending a ceilidh, by eating Cullen skink or lamb and by displaying the flag of St Andrew.
Christmas & New Year – Christmas is both a sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon. Christians celebrate 25 December as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus, but celebrating the middle of winter has long been a celebration around the world. For example, in Scandinavia, the Norse celebrated Yule from 21 December, the winter solstice, through January.
Festivals and celebrations marking the beginning of the calendar have been around for thousands of years. Some are linked to agricultural or astronomical events. In Egypt for example, the year began with the annual flooding of the Nile, which coincided with the rising of the star Sirius.
Britain’s canals can offer a great antidote to the hustle and bustle of Christmas. We offer winter cruising* from four of our bases, giving you the chance to enjoy cosy evenings afloat, visit waterside pubs with roaring log fires, and wake-up to frosty towpaths and crisp clean air.
Whether it’s a snug boat for two or a family break for ten, celebrating Christmas or New Year afloat offers a great getaway. It’s free to moor almost anywhere on the network, so a narrowboat could provide the perfect base to enjoy new year celebrations in waterside towns and cities like Birmingham or Stratford upon Avon.
All our boats have central heating, hot water, televisions and DVD players. Some also have multi-fuel stoves. So, whatever the weather, it’s always nice and cosy on board.
*Winter cruising routes can be affected by stoppages and closures as a result of winter maintenance work
We feel better by the water – Since ancient times, people have assigned healing properties to water and today we still turn to water for a sense of calm. With hundreds of miles of tranquil unspoilt countryside to cruise gently through, a canal boat holiday is an excellent way to unwind.
Our canals are in great shape – With over £1billion invested since the turn of the Millennium, Britain’s beautiful canal network is in better shape than ever so it’s the perfect time to dip your toe in the water.
You don’t need to be an expert – A licence isn’t required to steer a narrowboat and boat steering tuition is provided as part of our holiday packages, so it couldn’t be easier to get afloat.
Ditch those tablets – Boating offers plenty of activities to keep idle hands busy – steering the boat, working the locks and planning the route, so iPad addicts are happy to take a break from their screens.
Pop into a pub – There are hundreds of waterside pubs to enjoy along our canals and rivers, many of them historic inns, welcoming families with traditional pub grub.
It’s like a floating safari – Our inland waterways are havens for wildlife providing homes for many types of birds, plants, animals and insects, so narrowboat holiday-makers can enjoy watching out for wildlife along the way.
Enjoy an outdoor workout – Working the locks, exploring local attractions, walking the towpaths and being out in the fresh air make a narrowboat holiday great for keeping fit.
You can take your dog – We welcome dogs on all our boats so you don’t have to leave your furry friend behind and rack-up doggy care bills.
Go for the greener way – As soon as you swap your car for a boat, you’ll be using a third of the fuel and emitting a sixth of the pollution so as well as enjoying the environment, you’ll be kinder to it.
Take a floating history lesson – Britain’s canal network is a ‘working heritage’ made up of thousands of historic structures, which were often world-firsts on the global civil engineering stage – like the incredible Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in North Wales, now a World Heritage site.
To book a holiday or break on any of Anglo Welsh’s fleet, call our friendly booking team on 0117 304 1122.
This Mother’s Day (11 March 2018), why not spoil your Mum with a relaxing day on the water, enjoying a picnic afloat or pub lunch along the way.
Anglo Welsh offers day boat hire from five of its bases, from just under £10 per person. Full tuition is included, so if you’re new to canal boating, you can get the hang of steering, mooring up and working the locks.
All our day boats are equipped with cutlery, crockery and a kettle and most also have a toilet, cooker and fridge.
Here are our Top 5 day boat destinations to visit afloat for 2018:
Glide across ‘The Stream in the Sky’ – From our canal boat hire base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, it’s less than 10 minutes by water to the incredible World Heritage status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, also known as “The Stream in the Sky”. At over 38 metres high and 305 metres long, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is truly one of the wonders of the waterways, offering stunning views of the Dee Valley below. After travelling across the Aqueduct, boaters can continue on to Glendrid to enjoy lunch at the canalside Poacher’s Inn. This gentle five-mile journey with no locks, also takes canal boat hirers across Chirk Aqueduct and through Whitehouses and Chirk tunnels. Day boat hire from Trevor starts at £120 for up to 10 people, £160 on weekends and bank holidays.
Potter along the Stratford Canal to Wilmcote – From our boat yard at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal near Henley-in-Arden, boaters can head south, crossing the impressive Edstone Aqueduct and passing through one lock, to reach the historic village of Wilmcote – a journey which takes around two hours. Here, day-boaters can moor up above Wilmcote Top Lock and take a short walk into the village to enjoy lunch at The Mary Arden Inn or the Masons Arms, or visit the childhood home of Shakespeare’s mother, Mary Arden’s Farm. Day boat hire from Wootton Wawen starts at £99 for up to 10 people, £140 on weekends and bank holidays.
Travel the Trent & Mersey to Rugeley – From our narrowboat hire base at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal near Stafford, day boaters can cruise four miles, passing through two locks to reach the historic market town of Rugeley. Along the way, day boat hirers pass the National Trust’s stunning Shugborough Estate, and the popular Wolseley Arms pub at Wolseley Bridge. The journey to Rugeley takes around two hours and once there, boaters can moor up to explore the town or turn at bridge 68 and head back to Wolseley to visit the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust’s Wolseley Centre and have lunch at the pub. Day boat hire from Great Haywood starts at £99 for up to 10 people, £140 on weekends and bank holidays.
Cruise ‘The Shroppie’ to Nantwich Aqueduct – From our base at Bunbury Wharf on the Shropshire Union Canal near Tarporley, canal boat hirers can cruise south for six sedate miles, and travel across the impressive Grade II* listed Nantwich Aqueduct with panoramic views across the town. Dating back to 1826, Nantwich Aqueduct, which carries the canal over the A534 Chester Road, was designed by the famous canal engineer Thomas Telford. With no locks along the way, the journey to Nantwich takes around two hours. There are moorings next to the aqueduct and choice of places to eat close to the canal, including Street Nantwich and Firenze Bar & Restaurant on Welsh Row. Day boat hire from Bunbury starts at £99 for up to 10 people, £140 on weekends and bank holidays.
Travel through rural Worcestershire – From our canal boat hire base at Tardebigge near Bromsgrove, day boaters can cruise north along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal to Kings Norton Junction, passing through fields, woods and two tunnels, including one of the longest canal tunnels in the country – Wast Hills. The route, which covers a total of 16 miles there and back, takes boaters past a choice of waterside pubs, including the Weighbridge at Alvechurch and the Hopwood House at Hopwood. There are no locks on this journey and it takes around three hours each way. Day boat hire from Tardebigge starts at £99 for up to 10 people, £140 on weekends and bank holidays.
To book a holiday or break on any of Anglo Welsh’s fleet, call our friendly booking team on 0117 304 1122.
We offer a range of different types of holidays such as City Breaks, Relaxation Cruises and Popular Destinations
So why choose Anglo Welsh?
More than 55 years providing unique canal boat holidays.
Modern & spacious narrowboat holiday fleet – from 2 to 12 berths.
Wide choice of narrowboat hire locations and canal.
Canal boat holiday routes for novices & experienced boaters.
Flexible holiday booking, no hidden costs.
Family friendly holidays, pets also welcome.