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Top 10 Autumn canal boat holiday destinations

Autumn is a great time to take a narrowboat holiday and enjoy the beautiful colours in the trees and hedgerows along Britain’s beautiful inland waterways network.

All our boats are equipped with the key comforts of home – hot water, TV, Wi-Fi*, well-stocked kitchens, showers, flushing toilets and central heating, so it’s always nice and cosy on board.

Whether you are newcomer to narrowboat holidays looking for an easy route to test the waters, or a seasoned boater looking for a longer more challenging route, here’s a guide to our Top 10 destinations for autumn 2020:

1. Travel through the Shropshire Lake District to Llangollen and back – from our narrowboat rental base at Whixall Marina on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire, it takes around 12 hours to reach the pretty town of Llangollen, on the edge of the Berwyn Mountains. Along the way, you’ll pass through the Shropshire Lake District, across the border into Wales, and over the magnificent Chirk and Pontcysyllte Aqueducts, also known as ‘The Stream in the Sky’. With just two locks to pass through each way, this journey is perfect for beginners on a week away.

2. Journey round the Four Counties Ring – from our canal boat hire base at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal in Staffordshire, in the autumn when the days are shorter, you can complete the popular Four Counties Ring on a 10 day or two week holiday. The route, which takes around 55 cruising hours to complete, passes through 94 locks and takes you through the counties of Staffordshire, the West Midlands, Cheshire and Shropshire. Highlights include: the waters at Tixall Wide; the 2670-metre long Harecastle Tunnel; the flight of 15 locks at Audlem; views of the rolling Cheshire Plains; and the Roman town of Middlewich.

3. Cruise through the Worcestershire countryside to Lapworth – from our Tardebigge base on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, it’s a gentle seven-hour cruise through the countryside to the village of Lapworth. With two tunnels but no locks along the way, it’s a great short break for beginners. Once moored up in Lapworth, you can explore the village and visit the National Trust’s Packwood House, with magnificent gardens, including the iconic Yew Garden, where according to legend, the 350-year old trees represent the ‘Sermon on the Mount’.

4. Cruise along the Pennine summit – from our canal boat rental base at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, it takes 13 hours, travelling 22 miles and passing through 15 locks to reach Foulridge Wharf, perfect for a week afloat. The route takes boaters across the top of the Pennines, passing through remote and beautiful countryside, as well as the villages of Bank Newton, East Marton, Greenberfield and Salterforth along the way.

5. Float through the Avon Valley to Caen Hill Locks and back – on a short break from our canal boat rental base at Bath on the Kennet & Avon Canal, it takes around 10½ hours to reach Foxhangers Wharf, at the bottom of the Caen Hill Flight of Locks at Devizes, perfect for a three or four night active short break. Along the way, you’ll pass through 16 locks (eight each way), over two dramatic Bath stone aqueducts at Dundas and Avoncliff, the pretty town of Bradford on Avon with its magnificent 14th century Tithe Barn, and miles of peaceful countryside.

6. Enjoy a floating tour of the West Midlands – on 10 day or two week holiday from our Stockton canal boat rental base on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, narrowboat holiday-makers can tackle the 101-mile, 94-lock Warwickshire Ring, which takes around 53 hours to complete. The route takes boaters along sections of the Coventry, Oxford, Grand Union, Stratford and Birmingham & Fazeley canals. Highlights include historic Warwick with its jaw-dropping medieval castle on the banks of the River Avon, the magnificent Hatton Flight of 21 locks, the pretty canal village of Braunston and Gas Street Basin in the heart of Birmingham.

7. Take a Thames boating holiday to Lechlade – from our narrowboat hire base on the River Thames at Oxford, it’s a tranquil nine-hour, seven-lock cruise west to the pretty market town of Lechlade on the edge of the Cotswolds, perfect for a four-night break. Along the way, boaters travel through miles of peaceful Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire countryside, the village of Radcot with its 800-year old bridge across the Thames and Kelmscott Manor, once the Cotswold retreat of William Morris.

8. Navigate through the Cheshire plains to Chester – from our canal boat hire base on the Shropshire Union Canal at Bunbury, the Roman City of Chester is a delightful seven-hour, nine-lock cruise away, travelling through the rolling Cheshire landscape. Once there, you can moor up to explore this ancient city, home to the most complete City Walls in Britain which date back 2,000 years to the Roman occupation. There’s a two-mile wall walking trail, giving visitors the chance to follow in the footsteps of the Roman soldiers and enjoy panoramic views on both sides.

9. Glide across ‘The Stream in the Sky’ to Whitchurch – on a week’s holiday from our canal barge holiday hire centre at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, boaters can travel to Whitchurch and back, which takes a total of 24 hours, passing through just four locks (two each way). Along the way, you will travel across the incredible UNESCO World Heritage designated Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which carries the canal in a cast iron trough 38 metres high above the Dee Valley. And you’ll glide gently through the Shropshire Lake District, watching out for wildlife along the way. Once at Whitchurch, you can moor up to explore this pretty historic town with half-timbered buildings, independent shops and restaurants, and way-marked circular walks.

10. Visit Shakespeare’s Stratford – from our canal boat hire base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal near Henley-in-Arden, it’s a delightful six-hour, 17-lock cruise through the Warwickshire countryside to reach moorings at Bancroft Basin in Stratford-upon-Avon. Along the way, the route takes you across the Edstone Aqueduct and past the village of Wilmcote, with a choice of pubs. Once in Stratford, you can enjoy exploring the home of the Bard, with its many pubs, restaurants, museums, shops and regular markets.

On a week’s *NB Our Silsden boats don’t have Wi-Fi

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Autumn Canal Events

What to look forward to along the canals this autumn

As the leaves turn rust red and the sinking sun casts long shadows across golden fields, the steady slide towards winter is arguably the most beautiful time of year.

Autumn is also the season of Halloween and Bonfire Night before the festive march towards Christmas begins.

There are dozens of fun events to look forward to between now and Christmas along the inland waterways of England and Wales so with half term approaching, this is an ideal time of year to embark on a canal boat holiday

Dig out your scarf and gloves, wrap up warm and head off on a magical narrowboat cruise before winter fully closes in.

Here are some of the fun events to consider if you are planning an autumn canal boat holiday:

Birmingham canal 250th anniversary, Old Turn Junction in Birmingham

2nd and 3rd November

Birmingham canal network

Nearest Anglo Welsh narrowboat hire base: Tardebigge

Accessible during a longer canal boat holiday from Great Haywood and Wootton Wawen

It is 250 years since the first canal reached Birmingham, a city now celebrated as boasting more waterways than Venice. Commemorate this landmark birthday by joining in a cruise, organised by the Bimingham Canal Navigation (BCN) Society, from Windmill End into central Birmingham. After a midday celebration at Old Turn Junction, boats can parade around to Cambrian Wharf or through Gas St Basin. This will be a must see for any canal and boating enthusiasts.

Stoke Bruerne autumn floating market, Stoke Bruerne, Northamptonshire

16th and 17th November

The Grand Union canal

Nearest Anglo Welsh narrowboat hire base: Stockton

Accessible during a longer canal boat holiday from Wootton Wawen

The Roving Canal Traders Association (RCTA) will be hosting its floating market in the pretty village of Stoke Bruerne, also home to the Canal Museum, making it an ideal stop off on a narrowboat holiday. The RCTA brings together an eclectic group of craftsmen and traders who travel the inland waterways selling their wares. It is the perfect place pick up some quirky holiday souvenirs and unusual gifts.

Birmingham Christmas floating market, Brindley Place, Birmingham

5th to 8th December

Birmingham canal network

Nearest Anglo Welsh narrowboat hire base: Tardebigge

Accessible during a longer canal boat holiday from Great Haywood and Wootton Wawen

Early December will see the return of this wonderful festival floating market during which the RCTA boats will line both sides of the canal at Brindley Place, offering unique Christmas shopping opportunities not to be found on any high street. This is an ideal way to rouse those festive feelings as the Christmas season gets into full swing.

Santa Cruises at the Anderton boat lift in Northwich, Cheshire

30th November to 24th December

Trent and Mersey Canal and River Weaver

Nearest Anglo Welsh narrowboat hire base: Bunbury

Accessible during a longer canal boat holiday from Trevor and Whixall Marina

Join Father Christmas and his helpers aboard the Edwin Clark trip boat this December and enjoy a festive cruise on the River Weaver. The trip will include storytelling, festive songs and, of course, each child will be presented with their very own present from Santa.

Meet Father Christmas at the National Waterways Museum in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire

7th to 24th December

Shropshire Union Canal

Nearest Anglo Welsh narrowboat hire base: Bunbury

Accessible during a longer canal boat holiday from Trevor and Whixall Marina

The ultimate festive canal holiday stop off, young visitors can drop in on Father Christmas’s grotto, to meet the man himself and watch his elves in action. Santa will share some stories and present each young visitor with an early Christmas gift. There will be another chance to meet Santa while enjoying a bite to eat in his special Christmas café. The ticket will also give you access to the rest of the museum’s fascinating collection.

It is worth noting that the Anglo Welsh narrowboat hire bases at OxfordBathMonkton CombeSilsden and Stockton all close down for winter from the 1st November. This is so that our team can carry out vital maintenance on the boats to ensure they are in tip top condition for the next season.

If you want more information or advice on great canal boat holiday routes or how best to reach any of these events and locations on an Anglo Welsh narrowboat, please don’t hesitate to contact our team by phone or email – they will be happy to help.

 

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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:

Bath to Bradford-upon-Avon

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.

Oxford to Lechlade

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.

Wootton Wawen to Stratford-upon-Avon

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.

Stockton to Leamington Spa

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.

Trevor to the Montgomery Canal

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.

Bunbury to Chester

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.

Silsden to Saltaire

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.

Tardebigge to Lapworth

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.

Whixall Marina to Chirk

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!

 

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Top 9 Autumn Canal Boat Holiday Destinations

Autumn is a great time to get afloat and enjoy the beautiful colours in the trees and hedgerows along our amazing inland waterways network.

All our boats are equipped with the key comforts of home – central heating, hot water, TV, WiFi, well-stocked kitchens, showers and flushing toilets – and our Bond, Constellation and Heritage Class luxury canal boats all provide extra space and comfort. So whether you are beginner looking for a short break easy route to test the waters, or a seasoned canal boater looking for a longer more challenging route, why not book a narrowboat holiday break this autumn and choose from hundreds of fantastic waterside destinations.

Here are our Top 9 destinations to enjoy this autumn:

  1. Experience the acoustic delights of Birmingham’s Symphony Hall. From our canal boat hire base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, it’s a five-hour, lock-free journey to moorings at Gas Street Basin in Birmingham City Centre. From there, it’s a short walk to Birmingham’s Symphony Hall, one of the best concert halls in the world and home of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, offering audiences the best in classical music, jazz, world music, folk, rock, pop and stand-up comedy.
  2. Explore arms and armour from across the world at the Royal Armouries Museum. From our canal boat rental base at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, it takes 17 hours, passing through 28 locks to reach the Royal Armouries Museum at Leeds Dock – perfect for a week afloat. Home to the national collection of arms and armour, there are thousands of objects to admire across nine galleries, including the ‘Tula garniture’, an 18th century set of decorated hunting weapons that belonged to Elizabeth Petrovana the Empress of Russia in the Hunting Gallery, and a 15th century Ming dynasty sword from the workshop of the Yongle Ming Emperor in the Oriental Gallery.
  3. Take a floating tour of the West Midlands. On a week’s holiday from our Stockton canal boat rental base on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, narrowboat holiday-makers can tackle the 101-mile, 94-lock Warwickshire Ring, which takes around 53 hours. The route takes boaters along sections of the Coventry, Oxford, Grand Union, Stratford and Birmingham & Fazeley canals. Highlights include historic Warwick with its incredible medieval castle on the banks of the River Avon, the magnificent Hatton Flight of 21 locks, the pretty canal village of Braunston and vibrant Gas Street Basin in the heart of Birmingham.
  4. See the Tolkien exhibition at the Bodleian Library. Take a Thames boating holiday from our Oxford narrowboat hire base, and it takes just three hours to reach City Centre moorings at Hythe Bridge. From there, it’s a short walk to many of Oxford’s most famous attractions, including the magnificent Bodleian Library, one of the oldest libraries in Europe. Accessed through the Old Schools Quadrangle of the Divinity School, a breath taking masterpiece of English Gothic architecture, until 28 October 2018 the Bodleian Library is hosting an exhibition of over 200 items from the Library’s extensive Tolkien Archive.
  5. Enjoy panoramic views from Chester’s Roman walls. From our canal boat hire base on the Shropshire Union Canal at Bunbury, the Roman City of Chester is a delightful seven-hour, nine-lock cruise away, travelling through the rolling Cheshire landscape. Once there, boaters can take time to explore this great heritage city, home to the most complete City Walls in Britain which date back 2,000 years to the Roman occupation. There’s a two-mile wall-walking trail, giving visitors the chance to follow in the footsteps of Roman soldiers and enjoy panoramic views on both sides.
  6. Glide across the Stream in the Sky to Whitchurch. On a week’s holiday from our canal barge holiday hire centre at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, boaters can travel to Whitchurch and back, which takes a total of 44 hours, passing through just four locks (two on the way, two on the way back). Along the way, canal boat holiday-makers encounter the incredible UNESCO World Heritage designated Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which carries the canal in a cast iron trough 38 metres high above the Dee Valley. Once at Whitchurch, boaters can moor up to explore this pretty historic town with half-timbered buildings, independent shops and restaurants, way-marked circular walks, water voles at Staggs Brook, woodpeckers at Brown Moss nature reserve and the award-winning Black Bear pub.
  7. Travel the Birmingham Mini-Ring. On a week’s holiday from our narrowboat hire base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal, canal boat holiday-makers can travel the Birmingham Mini-Ring, cruising for 35 hours and passing through 83 locks. The route takes boaters through peaceful stretches of the Warwickshire countryside, with quiet villages and historic waterside pubs to enjoy, and then right into the heart of Britain’s Second City. Here there are moorings in Gas Street Basin, the perfect base from which to explore some of the City’s top attractions, including Brindleyplace, the Mailbox Shopping Centre and the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, home to the world’s largest collection of Pre-Raphaelite art.
  8. Visit No 1 Royal Crescent in fabulous Georgian Bath. From our barge holiday base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Brassknocker Basin, it’s a four-hour journey, passing through six locks to reach moorings in the centre of the UNESCO World Heritage City of Bath – perfect for a short break afloat. Once moored up, boaters can explore some of the City’s top attractions, including the Roman Baths, Bath Abbey and No 1 Royal Crescent where each room offers a fascinating example of Georgian interior design with authentic furniture, paintings, textiles and carpets.
  9. Cruise into the Peak District to enjoy magnificent scenery. On a week’s break from our narrowboat hire base at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal, canal boat holiday-makers can cruise into the beautiful Peak District. It’s a 43-hour return journey to Froghall and back, travelling a total of 72 miles (36 each way) through 70 locks (35 each way). The route first takes boaters north along the Trent & Mersey Canal to Stoke-on-Trent, where they can connect onto the peaceful 17-mile long Caldon Canal, which passes through some of the most magnificent scenery in Britain. As the Canal leaves Stoke, it begins to pass through gently rolling hills, wooded areas, past old mills and then alongside the beautiful River Churnet. The route takes boaters through Cheddleton, home to the headquarters of the Churnet Valley Railway, and the village of Consall Forge with the secluded Black Lion pub serving good food and real ales.

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

 

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Be Inspired

We offer a range of different types of holidays such as City Breaks, Relaxation Cruises and Popular Destinations

City Breaks
Rural retreats
Popular places

So why choose Anglo Welsh?

More than 55 years providing unique canal boat holidays.
Modern & spacious narrowboat holiday fleet – from 2 to 12 berths.
Wide choice of narrowboat hire locations and canal.
Canal boat holiday routes for novices & experienced boaters.
Flexible holiday booking, no hidden costs.
Family friendly holidays, pets also welcome.

Anglo Welsh. So much more than narrowboats

...but don't just take our word for it

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