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Wildlife watching at Great Haywood

By Kevin Yarwood, manager of Anglo Welsh’s Great Haywood canal boat rental base

Our narrowboat hire base, at the junction of the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal and the Trent & Mersey Canal at Great Haywood in Staffordshire, is surrounded by countryside, trees and hedgerows, and consequently lots of wildlife too.

This year we took part in the RSPB’s annual Bird Garden Watch and spotted so many species of bird that the charity got in touch with us to check our findings.

From water birds like swans, ducks, coots, moorhens, cormorants, geese and kingfishers, to woodland and hedgerow birds like jays, sparrows, blue tits, great tits, bull finches, green finches, dunnocks and tree creepers, every day we see busy birds visiting the canal and our bird feeders.

We’ve also seen otters close by at the aqueduct, where the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal crosses the River Trent, hedgehogs and at dusk over the summer months we see bats whizzing across the water collecting their insect prey.

As well as working in this special place, I live here on a narrowboat with my family, so I’m passionate about protecting the waterway and the animals that rely on it.

For nearly two years, we’ve been selling aquatic-friendly ‘Poddy’ cleaning products, including a washing up liquid and multi-surface cleaner, in our boat yard shop.  Feedback from our customers is consistently excellent, with some asking if they can buy extra supplies to use every day at home, as well as on their narrowboat holiday.

The Canal & River Trust’s Plastics Challenge launched last May is something close to my heart and everyone here at Great Haywood is committed to keeping our own stretch of canal plastic free.  It really does make a difference if everyone works together to both litter pick any stray plastic on the towpath or in the water, and to reduce the amount of plastic we use in our everyday lives by making some simple switches like investing in re-useable drinks bottles and coffee cups.

We also have recycling facilities here at the boat yard and so canal boat holiday-makers who are keen to (and most are), can recycle at the end of their holiday.

This month we are delighted to be hosting a visit from our local primary school, so we are looking forward to passing on our love of the canal environment and all the animals and birds that depend upon it.

 

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May canal events

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:

 

3rd to 5th May

Bristol Folk Festival, Bristol: River Avon

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.

Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Bath

 

May 3rd to 9th

Leamington Music Festival, Leamington Spa: Grand Union Canal

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.

Nearest Anglo Welsh bases: Wootton Wawen and Stockton

 

4th May to 6th May

Canalway Cavalcade, Little Venice, London: Regent’s Canal

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.

Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Oxford

 

4th May to 6th May

Skipton Waterway Festival, Skipton: Leeds & Liverpool Canal

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.

Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Silsden

 

4th to 7th May

St Richard’s Canal Festival, Droitwich: Droitwich Canal

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.

Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Tardebigge

 

8th to 10th May

The Boodles May Festival at Chester Racecourse, Chester: Shropshire Union Canal

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.

Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Bunbury

 

11th to 12th May

40s Weekend at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens, Castle Bromwich: Birmingham & Fazeley Canal

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.

Nearest Anglo Welsh bases: Tardebigge or Great Haywood

 

17th to 26th May

The Bath Festival, Bath: The Kennet and Avon Canal

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.

Nearest Anglo Welsh bases: Bath or Monkton Combe

 

18th May to 19th May

Rickmansworth Canal Festival: Grand Union Canal

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.

Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Oxford

 

18th to 19th May

The Independent Birmingham Festival at the Bond, Birmingham: Grand Union Canal

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.

Nearest Anglo Welsh bases: TardebiggeGreat Haywood and Wootton Wawen

 

25th May to 27th May

The Crick Boat Show: Grand Union Canal

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.

Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Stockton

 

25th May to 26th May

Birmingham Pride, Hurst Street, Birmingham: Grand Union Canal and many others

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.

Nearest Anglo Welsh bases: TardebiggeGreat Haywood and Wootton Wawen

 

25th to 27th May

The Rock and Bowl Music Festival, Market Drayton: Shropshire Union Canal

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.

Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Bunbury

 

26 to 27th May

World of Wedgewood Food and Drink Festival, Barlaston, Stoke on Trent: Trent & Mersey Canal

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.

Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Great Haywood

 

25th May to 2nd June

Wars of the Roses Live at Warwick Castle, Warwick: Grand Union Canal

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.

Nearest Anglo Welsh bases: Wootton Wawen and Stockton

 

31st May to 2nd June

Beale Park Boat & Outdoor Show: River Thames

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.

Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Oxford

 

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Canal restorations updates for 2019

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.

 

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Celebrate a National Holiday with Anglo Welsh

Celebrate a National Holiday with Anglo Welsh

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

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Beautiful Spring Cruising Routes

Plan your canal boat holiday for 2019: Beautiful spring cruising routes

 

There is no prettier time of year in Britain than the spring. As the crocuses, primroses and daffodils start to flower and lambs gambol through green fields, this is the perfect time to hop aboard a narrowboat for a relaxing canal holiday.

The best spring canal routes are the ones which showcase the loveliness of the British countryside.

The canals of England and Wales are at their most scenic and serene at this magical time of year when there is far less traffic on our historic waterways than in the peak summer holiday season. Those who opt for a spring narrowboat holiday will face far less queuing at locks or waiting patiently at one-way stretches and enjoy the ultimate escape.

So, take advantage of the lengthening days and warmer weather during this tranquil season to plan your perfect narrowboat holiday.

To help, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most beautiful spring cruising routes on the canals of England and Wales:

 

 

Bath to Devizes

From our canal boat base in the stunning city of Bath, with its famous Roman Baths and breathtaking Georgian architecture, you will travel through the green and luscious River Avon valley making the tail end of the Cotswold Hills.

Water meadows are bordered by sloping green fields and woodland, which start to come alive with wild flowers, buds and birdsong in the spring.

The scenic journey between Bath and the lovely riverside town of Bradford on Avon takes canal trippers over two impressive limestone aqueducts at Dundas and Avoncliffe as well as some postcard worthy waterside pubs such as the Cross Guns at Avoncliffe.

The canal continues towards Devizes on the edge of the rolling Wiltshire Downs where you must ascend the dramatic Caen Hill Locks, a flight of 16 locks offering great views from the top. The market town of Devizes boasts more than 500 listed buildings as well as some independent shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs.

 

Whixall to Llangollen

new base for Anglo Welsh this year, located on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in the heart of the Shropshire countryside, bordered by mighty oak trees, Whixall is Britain’s most rural marina.

From the newly revamped marina, you can travel easily onto the Llangollen Canal which snakes through the gorgeous border country that straddles England and Wales.

You first pass through the market town of Ellesmere, aptly named for the series of lakes which surround it which were formed by glacial compression at the end of the last Ice Age.

Beyond that, the canal meanders west through luscious surroundings, to reach the Chirk Aqueduct which takes you across the border into north Wales and is quickly followed by the atmospheric 459-yard single width Chirk Tunnel.

Next is arguably the most spectacular sight of all the canals of England and Wales, Thomas Telford’s masterpiece, the soaring Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. This crowning jewel of historic waterway engineering completed in 1805, spans more than 1000 feet at a tremulous height of 126-ft above the River Dee, offering passing boats sweeping views of the river valley in each direction. It is the highest canal aqueduct in the world.

After this the canal twists and turns clinging to the edge of the dramatic Welsh hills, with far reaching views across the valley, until it reaches the pretty town of Llangollen, steeped in myth and legend overlooked by hilltop ruins of Dinas Bran Castle.

 

Stratford-on-Avon to Warwick

Step back in time and cruise through Shakespeare’s England, taking in the unspoilt Warwickshire countryside and its array of wonderful waterside pubs. From our base at Wootton Wawen you can reach the birthplace of the famed playwright in just a day or two, wander its cobbled streets and admire the cluster of Tudor buildings.

Travel back past the canal base through bucolic farmland, copses of oak and sycamore, quaint villages and past idyllic country pubs. Heading north the Stratford Canal takes boats over the longest aqueduct in England, the Edstone Aqueduct.

You can moor up at the rustic Fleur-de-Lys at Lowsonford which offers passersby a great selection of real ales and pub grub to be enjoyed in its large canalside garden.

Continue through open countryside to join the Grand Union Canal which leads past more idyllic villages and pubs with a ye olde world charm including the Tom O’ The Wood in Rowington. It is then just five miles through the famous ‘Hatton Flight’ of 21 locks on to the centre of Warwick itself, built around its formidable medieval castle.

 

Bunbury to Market Drayton and beyond

The Shropshire Union canal takes narrowboats across miles of quintessentially English countryside, dotted with dozens of isolated canalside pubs which once served the commercial traffic that used this main route between the midlands and north west.

This makes it a particularly scenic and tranquil route to cruise, starting at the Anglo Welsh base in Bunbury and heading south towards Market Drayton.

Due to its rural loveliness ‘the Shroppie’, as it is affectionately known, is a favourite with narrowboaters up and down the country so can get very crowded in the summer making spring the perfect time to explore it.

From Bunbury, you cross the Cheshire Plain, thronging with dairy cattle and sheep enjoying its rich pastures, past historic Nantwich, before ascending the Audlem Flight of locks towards pretty Market Drayton.

Shortly after leaving the town and passing through the deep cutting at Woodseaves, you’ll be treated to a great view of The Wrekin, a huge hill more than 15 miles away.

The canal then proceeds south east through the unspoilt undulating Shropshire countryside of fields, hills and wooded valleys with stretches where there are no towns for miles, towards Wolverhampton.

 

Silsden to Skipton and beyond

One of England’s last surviving wildernesses, the Yorkshire Dales are a treat at any time of year but in the spring their looming hills and river valleys are at their most beautiful.

Heading west out of Silsden, a town dating back to Saxon times, the canal passes through enchanting Yorkshire stone-built villages of Kildwick and Farnhill into a densely wooded area famous for its bluebells which carpet the area in late April. If you’re lucky you may even spot a deer.

Motor on through Bradley, a typical ‘mill village’ with a cricket field and a country pub then to Skipton, known as the ‘Gateway to the Dales’ which boasts a market four days a week. You could then choose to continue through classic Dales countryside, above the River Aire, to reach more delightful villages such as Gargrave and the flight of locks at Bank Newton which are lauded as the most beautiful locks on the whole canal system.

 

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Waterway events to look forward to in 2019

What’s on in 2019: key events to look forward to on Britain’s canals

 

If you are planning a canal boat holiday in 2019 it might be worth having a look at what wonderful events are taking place along Britain’s historic waterways over the next 12 months.

Perhaps you can arrange your next Anglo Welsh narrowboat holiday to coincide with one of the colourful canal festivals taking place this year.

You’ll find everything from narrowboat rallies to waterside food, folk and music festivals with fun for all the family.

We will try to keep you updated on any highlights throughout the year. As a starting point, here are just some of the best events taking place along the canals of England and Wales in 2019.

 

7th April

Drifters’ National Open Day 2019: Bases across England and Wales

Get a first-hand insight into why canal boat holidays are such an enjoyable way to slow down and unwind when 20 canal bases across England and Wales offer visitors the chance to jump aboard for free. Narrowboat hire companies including Anglo Welsh will be hosting short boat trips from 11am to 4pm. We will be running boat rides from our bases in Trevor, Bunbury, Great Haywood, Wootton Wawen and Tardebigge. No booking is required.

 

4th May to 6th May

Canalway Cavalcade, Little Venice, London : Regent’s Canal

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.

Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Oxford

 

4th May to 6th May

Skipton Waterway Festival: Leeds & Liverpool Canal

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.

Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Silsden

 

4th to 7th May

St Richard’s Canal Festival, Droitwich

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.

Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Tardebigge

 

18th May to 19th May

Rickmansworth Canal Festival: Grand Union Canal

This celebration of canals, community and the environment brings 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.

Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Oxford

 

25th May to 27th May

The Crick Boat Show: Grand Union Canal

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.

Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Stockton

 

31st May to 2nd June

Beale Park Boat & Outdoor Show: River Thames

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.

Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Oxford

 

13th June to 16thJune

Middlewich Folk & Boat Festival: Trent & Mersey Canal

Enjoy live music on the canalside main stage to the backdrop of hundreds of narrowboats. Fringe music events can also be enjoyed in up to 15 venues dotted across the town over three days as well as Morris dancing performances, a Celidh night, craft workshops and a rich variety of stalls celebrating Middlewich’s heritage.

Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Bunbury

 

6th July to 7th July

Stratford-upon-Avon River Festival: River Avon

Narrow boats, including one of our own from Anglo Welsh, congregate from far and wide to enjoy the live music, craft stalls, market traders and food and drink sellers which bring the banks of the River Avon to life over two fun-filled days. The live music and street performances are topped off by a spectacular illuminated boat parade and firework display on the Saturday night.

Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Wootton Wawen

 

24th August to 25th August

Burnley Canal Festival: Leeds & Liverpool Canal

Live music, arts and crafts, fairground rides and of course boat trips are just some of the reasons to visit the Burnley Canal Festival. The town’s historic waterside blossoms with a busy programme of performances and workshops for all ages from puppet making to circus skills, alongside a tempting array of food and drink stalls.

Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Silsden

 

Further events with no fixed date yet for 2019

June

Leicester Riverside Festival: River Soar

This festival sees a whole host of family friendly activities line the banks of the River Soar. A narrowboat rally provides a colourful backdrop to the event where visitors can enjoy boat trips, live music and attractions such as a petting zoo, as well as a bustling street food market.

Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Stockton

 

July

Linslade Canal Festival: Grand Union Canal

Usually at the end of July, this one-day festival celebrates canal life, conservation, the countryside and the traditional rural crafts. Along the canal an eclectic mix of working, historical and trade boats display their wares alongside the colourful pleasure boats which visit to soak up the festival atmosphere. Old English crafts can be admired alongside food and drink stalls all to a backdrop of live folk and country music and performance.

Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Oxford

 

September

Oxford Canal Festival: Oxford

This canalside festival brings together live music, art and crafts, a dog show, boat rides, walks, talks, films, fairground rides and some healthy competition in the form of the ‘canal Olympics’. Canal boats line up to sell their wares or simply look decorative. All the money raised at the event will towards a community narrowboat restoration project.

Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Oxford

 

If you would like further advice on getting to any of these, or other, events, please don’t hesitate to contact our team on 0117 304 1122 or via our website: www.anglowelsh.co.uk/Contact-Us.

 

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Top 12 Canal Boating Tips for Novices

You don’t need to be an expert to hire a canal boat and each year around one fifth of narrowboat hirers are new to the waterways. To help make your first canal boat holiday smoother, we’ve put together our top 12 canal boating tips for beginners:

  1. Keep to the right. Unlike cars on our roads, canal boats travel on the right side of our canals and rivers, so when you meet another boat, keep to the right.
  2. You don’t need a licence to steer a canal boat. And boat steering tuition is provided as part of our holiday packages, but if you’d like to get ahead of the game, take a look at the Canal & River Trust’s Boaters Handbook Video for some sound advice https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXn47JYXs44 
  3. Steering basics. Push the tiller right to go left, and left to go right and put the engine in reverse to stop.
  4. Use your horn. To warn canal boats coming towards you when approaching sharp bends and as you enter a tunnel.
  1. Lock logistics. Always have a steerer on the boat when in a lock and make sure the boat is kept forward of the cill (step).
  1. Close the gates behind you.  Check all paddles and gates are shut after you’ve used a lock, unless you see another boat approaching.
  2. Sharing is caring. Always share a lock with other boats if possible to save water and it means you can share the lock operation too.
  3. Tunnel tricks. Switch on your headlight before entering a tunnel, and if it’s a one-way tunnel, first make sure there’s no boat inside.
  4. Slow down to walking pace. There’s a 4mph speed limit on the inland waterways but basically you’re going too fast if you’re creating too much wash which disturbs wildlife and erodes the banks.
  5. Reduce your speed even further. When you are approaching bridges, locks, bends or junctions, and when passing other canal boats or anglers.
  6. Mooring musts. When mooring up at busy spots, make sure you don’t leave a big gap and never moor opposite winding holes, on bends, near to bridges, on lock landings (unless waiting to lock through) or at water points (unless filling up).
  7. Tying up. To keep your boat secure, you need to tie it to the bank with a rope from both the front and the back, and on rivers you should fix your upstream rope first.But above all relax & enjoy your trip!

 

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Sailing on a cloud with Matthew Gravelle and Family

Broadchurch star Matthew Gravelle was at the centre of the biggest TV whodunnit since ‘who shot JR?’ Last summer, the Welsh actor took his wife, Hinterland star Mali Harries, and kids on an Anglo Welsh canal boat holiday, setting off from our Trevor base in North Wales on a true-life family adventure. Here’s his narrowboat holiday review, published in Wales View 2015:

We’re heading for the Llangollen Canal, built as part of a network of waterways to connect the coalfields and limestone quarries of Denbighshire to the Midlands.

Its most notable feature is Thomas Telford’s Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, the highest and longest in Britain, 984 feet (300m) in length and soaring 98 feet (40 m) above the River Dee.

We arrive at Trevor Basin to collect our boat, a traditional barge called Brenig, which appears to be painted in British Racing Green (odd, since the speed limit is 4 mph (6.4kph).

The children scramble on and explore, while I get an hour of instruction from the nice man from Anglo Welsh on how to skipper the thing. By the time we push off from our mooring, I know the theory, but actually steering this immense beast – it’s got an old-fashioned tiller, rather than a wheel – takes some getting used to.

Crossing the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is the easy bit. Telford thoughtfully built it in an arrow-straight line, and the cast iron walls are only just wide enough to pass through, so steering isn’t an issue. Instead I can take in the exhilarating views as we float serenely in mid-air.

I was enjoying the ride so much I didn’t really think about how it was coming to an end. There are two barges coming in the opposite direction and I seem to have forgotten everything I learnt about steering. I bump into a poor unsuspecting barge owner, causing him to throw his supper into his lap. Oops. Sorry.

Back at our mooring, we feast on Llandegla smoked trout, with broad beans and new potatoes from my dad’s garden. After supper we do old-fashioned family stuff – play cards, draw pictures.

As night falls, the children settle into their cabin and enjoy the best night’s sleep of the trip. It’s a really cosy and comfortable place to sleep, like a stretched caravan, except better insulated, with its own wood-burner.

A new day dawns and this driving lark seems much easier today. It gives us the opportunity to relax and spot nooks and corners that you don’t see from any road.

“It’s like sailing on a cloud,” observes Ela.

To book a canal holiday or break aboard any of Anglo Welsh’s narrowboat 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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