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Our Top 10 narrowboat holidays for 2022

Britain’s peaceful 3,000 mile network of inland waterways provides the perfect staycation destination for 2022.

Emma Lovell, reservations manager for Anglo Welsh, says:

“Pottering slowly through the countryside at just four miles per hour, watching out for wildlife, is a great way to relax.

“Narrow boat holidays offer a self-contained floating holiday home experience, and the chance for hirers to navigate their very own adventure afloat.  It’s free to moor up almost anywhere, so boaters can stop off at canalside pubs, villages and waterside destinations along the way.”

Here’s a guide to our Top 10 narrow boat holidays for 2022:

1.    Cruise to the World Heritage Site at Saltaire – from our narrowboat holiday base at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, you can reach Saltaire on a short break.  The journey to Sir Titus Salt’s famous Victorian industrial model town takes seven hours and passing through 11 locks.  Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Salt built the textile Mill and entire village for his mill workers, all in a beautiful Italianate style.  Places to visit at Saltaire include the magnificent Salt’s Mill, displaying many examples of the work of Bradford born artist David Hockney.

2.    Complete the Four Counties Ring – on a week’s break from our canal boat hire base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire, you can access the fabulous Four Counties Ring.  The journey takes you on a 58-hour waterway odyssey, passing through 96 locks.  The four counties travelled through are Staffordshire, the West Midlands, Cheshire and Shropshire.  Highlights include: the 2670-metre long Harecastle Tunnel on the Trent & Mersey Canal and views of the rolling Cheshire Plains on the Shropshire Union Canal.

3.    Step back in time at the Black Country Museum – on a short break from our Tardebigge base on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal you can reach the Black Country Museum.  It’s an eight-hour, three-lock journey to moorings outside the 26-acre open-air site.  Here you can meet costumed characters explaining what it was like to live and work in one of the world’s most heavily industrialised landscapes.  There are period shops and homes to explore, the ‘Bottle & Glass Inn’, a 1912 school lesson and traditionally cooked 1930’s-style fish and chips.  There are also vintage tram and bus rides and the chance to take a trip ‘into the thick’ to experience life in an 1850’s coal mine.

4.    Glide across ‘The Stream in the Sky’ – from our boat yard on the Llangollen Canal at Trevor in North Wales, you’ll soon encounter the incredible World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.  One of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’, this incredible structure transports canal boats 38 metres high across the Dee Valley.  On a short break from Trevor, you can travel cross the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Chirk Aqueduct, and on to Ellesmere, in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District.  The journey to Ellesmere and back takes around 14 hours, passing through two locks each way.

5.    Take a Thames cruise to Henley – on a week’s break from our canal boat hire base close to Oxford, you can enjoy a Thames boating holiday to the historic town of Henley and back.  The journey to Henley passes through 19 locks and takes around 16 cruising hours.  Places to stop off at along the way include: the City of Oxford, packed with architectural treasures, including the magnificent Bodleian Library.  You can also visit Abingdon with its popular riverside pub, the Nag’s Head.  And Wallingford with its Castle Gardens dating back to Saxon times, and Agatha Christie Trail.  Henley is home to the River & Rowing Museum and a choice of riverside pubs.

6.    Navigate to the Eisteddfod town of Llangollen – on a week’s break from Anglo Welsh’s canal boat rental base at Whixall Marina, you can cruise through the Shropshire Lake District and the Welsh mountains to Llangollen and back.  The journey to Llangollen takes around 12 hours and passes through just two locks.  It includes an 11-mile section of the Llangollen Canal, running from Gledrid Bridge to the Horseshoe Falls in Llangollen.  Here stand the incredible Pontcysyllte and Chirk aqueducts and the section was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2009.  Once in Llangollen, you can moor up to enjoy exploring this beautiful Eisteddfod town, nestled in the Berwyn Mountains.

7.    Float through the Avon Valley and up the Caen Hill Flight – from our base at Monkton Combe on the Kennet & Avon Canal near Bath, it takes around 19 hours to reach Pewsey Wharf.  The route, which is perfect for a week away, takes you through 37 locks each way, including the 29 locks of the Caen Hill Flight at Devizes.  This journey also takes you across two dramatic Bath stone aqueducts at Dundas and Avoncliff. And through the historic market town of Bradford on Avon and the beautiful Vale of Pewsey, part of the West Berkshire Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

8.    Travel through the Warwickshire countryside to Fenny Compton – on a short break from our base at Stockton, boaters can cruise through the countryside to the pretty canalside village of Fenny Compton.  The journey begins on the Grand Union Canal, soon transferring onto the Oxford Canal at Napton-on-the-Hill.  Here, there’s a good choice of pubs, including the Kings Head and Napton Village Stores selling produce from the nearby buffalo farm, including Buffalo burgers, sausages, meatballs, steaks and ice cream.  From there, the route winds gently on through the countryside, with a series of locks to negotiate along the way.  The journey to Fenny Compton and back takes around 20 hours, passing through 24 locks (12 each way).

9.    Cruise into the Peak District – on a week’s break from our base at Great Haywood near Stafford, you can travel into the Peak District.  It takes around 20 hours to reach Froghall Basin, passing through 35 locks.  The route takes you along the Trent & Mersey Canal to Stoke on Trent, where it transfers onto the Caldon Canal.  Beautiful stretches of unspoilt countryside soon open up as you chug gently out of Stoke, with moorlands, woodlands and an abundance of wildlife to enjoy.

10. Navigate the Avon Ring – on a two-week break from our base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal, you can navigate the Avon Ring.  This epic journey covers 108 miles and passes through 130 locks.  You will navigate sections of the River Avon, River Severn, Worcestershire & Birmingham Canal and the Stratford Canal.  Highlights along the way include: Stratford upon Avon, the birthplace of Shakespeare; Tewkesbury and its 12th-century abbey; and the 30 locks at Tardebigge.

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Top 10 cruises through the country side

By Emma Lovell, Anglo Welsh’s Reservations Manager

Britain’s 3,000-mile network of inland waterways, which winds its way through thousands of miles of beautiful countryside, offers a great way to relax and connect with nature.

Research shows people feel happier by water and towpaths provide great places to exercise, so a canal boat holiday can help boost your physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Whether it’s the rolling Cheshire Plains of the Shropshire Union, the dramatic Welsh mountains on the Llangollen or the prehistoric chalk landscapes of the Kennet & Avon Canal, from your floating holiday home you can enjoy cruising through a wide variety of landscapes.

Here are our top 10 Cruises through the countryside for 2020:

1. Navigate through the Forest of Arden to Hatton & back – from our narrowboat hire base at Wootton Wawen, on the Stratford Canal near Henley-in-Arden, it takes around eight hours, travelling through 17 locks to reach the base of the Hatton Flight of Locks. The journey takes you along the Stratford Canal through farmland and the remains of the Forest of Arden to Kingswood Junction. Once there, the route transfers onto the Grand Union Canal and passes through Shrewley Tunnel before reaching the base of the Flight of 21 locks at Hatton.

2. Cruise into the Peak District spotting kingfishers along the way – on a week’s break from our barge hire base on the Trent & Mersey Canal at Great Haywood in Staffordshire, you can reach the beautiful Caldon Canal and travel into the Peak District. The journey first takes you up to Stoke on Trent and, once on the Caldon, through gently rolling hills and wooded valley of the beautiful River Churnet, with the chance to spot kingfishers, herons, woodpeckers and otters. The journey from Great Haywood to Froghall and back takes around 43 hours, travelling a total of 72 miles and passing through 70 locks.

3. Take a Thames boating holiday to Lechlade, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – from our narrowboat rental base on the River Thames at Oxford, it’s a tranquil nine-hour, seven-lock cruise west to the pretty market town of Lechlade, situated in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the edge of the Cotswolds. Along the way, you’ll travel through miles of peaceful Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire countryside, passing the village of Radcot with its 800-year old bridge across the Thames, and Kelmscott Manor, once the Cotswold retreat of William Morris. This journey is perfect for a four night mid-week or seven day holiday.

4. Travel round the Stourport Ring through idyllic stretches of Worcestershire countryside – on a week’s break from our canal boat rental base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, you can travel round the Stourport Ring. This popular circuit takes boaters on an 84-mile, 114-lock journey, in around 44 cruising hours. Much of the route is rural, cruising sections of the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal, Worcester & Birmingham Canal Navigation, River Severn, Birmingham Canal Main Line and Stourbridge canals. Highlights include: Kinver Edge with its extensive woodlands and National Trust Holy Austin Rock Houses; idyllic stretches of Worcestershire countryside along the River Severn; and the dramatic flight of 30 locks at Tardebigge, climbing two-and-a-quarter miles with spectacular views of the open countryside all around.

5. Cruise to the gateway of the Yorkshire Dales and explore the ancient woods at Skipton Castle – from our canal boat hire base at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire, it takes just over three hours to reach Skipton, the ‘Gateway to the Dales’, with its medieval fortress and acres of woodland trails to explore. The journey along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal to Silsden passes through the typical Yorkshire stone built villages of Kildwick and Farnhill and on into a dense wooded area famous for its bluebells and deer.

6. Float through the Avon Valley to Caen Hill 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 short break. Along the way, you’ll pass through 16 locks (eight each way), over two dramatic Bath stone aqueducts at Dundas and Avoncliff, through Bradford on Avon with a good choice of shops, and miles of peaceful countryside.

7. Cruise through the Shropshire countryside to Nantwich and back – from our canal boat rental base at Whixall Marina, on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire, it takes around 13 hours, passing through 19 locks, to reach the historic town of Nantwich. Along the way, the route will transfer onto the Shropshire Union Canal at Barbridge, travelling through the Shropshire and Cheshire countryside. At Nantwich, you’ll travel across the impressive Grade II* listed Nantwich Aqueduct, designed by the famous canal engineer Thomas Telford, to enjoy panoramic views across the town.

8. Navigate the Four Counties Ring for stunning views of the Cheshire Plains – on a week’s break from our canal boat rental base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire, you can travel round the popular Four Counties Ring, one of the most rural canal cruising circuits. Travelling for around 58 hours and passing through 96 locks, this route takes canal boat holiday-makers through the counties of Staffordshire, the West Midlands, Cheshire and Shropshire and travels sections of the Trent & Mersey, Staffordshire & Worcestershire and Shropshire Union canals. Highlights include: panoramic views from the flight of 31 locks between Middlewich and Kidsgrove on the Trent & Mersey Canal; stunning views of the rolling Cheshire Plains on the Shropshire Union Canal; acres of farmland on the Middlewich Branch; and wildlife spotting at Tixall Wide on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal.

9. Cruise to the Shropshire Lake District – from our narrowboat hire base on the Llangollen Canal at Trevor in North Wales, on a short break (three or four nights) you can cruise to the Shropshire Lake District, teeming with water birds and other wildlife. The journey to the medieval market town of Ellesmere, in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District, takes around seven hours, passing through just two locks and over two magnificent aqueducts, including the famous UNESCO World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. This Wonder of the Waterways, carries the Llangollen Canal 38 metres high above the Dee valley, with magnificent views of the valley and Welsh Mountains beyond.

10. Travel through the Northamptonshire countryside to Stoke Bruerne – on a mid-week (four night) break from our canal boat hire base at Stockton, on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, narrowboat holiday-makers can cruise to the pretty Northamptonshire village of Stoke Bruerne and back. The journey takes around 12 hours, travelling 28 mostly rural miles and passes through 16 locks, as well as through the 2,813-metre long Blisworth Tunnel.

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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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