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Summer days out boating on the canals

Day boat hire on the canals

If you are looking for a great day out this Summer, why not hire a canal boat for the day. You can cruise gently through the countryside with family and friends, spotting wildlife along the way.

We offer canal boat day boat hire from six of our bases, from just £99 per day for up to 10 people.

Tuition is included and our day boats are equipped with the things you need for a day afloat, including a kettle, cooker, fridge and toilet.

Here’s a guide to our top five day boat hire destinations this Summer:

1. Glide across The Stream in the Sky

On a day afloat from Trevor on the Llangollen Canal, you can cruise across to the World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct to Chirk and back.  As you cross, you’ll be 126ft high above the Dee Valley with fantastic views! You can stop to enjoy a drink or a meal at the Bridge Inn at Chirk Bank or the Poacher’s Pocket at Gledrid.  The journey to Chirk and back takes five hours.

2. Potter through the Warwickshire countryside to Wilmcote

From Wootton Wawen in Warwickshire, you can cruise south along the Stratford Canal to the village of Wilmcote and back.  The journey will take you across the Edstone Aqueduct, the longest aqueduct in England, with views across the Warwickshire countryside.  From moorings at the top of the Wilmcote flight, it’s a short walk into the village to the Mary Arden Inn.  The journey to Wilmcote and back takes five hours.

3. Cruise through the Staffordshire countryside to Rugeley

From Great Haywood, near Stafford, you can cruise to the historic market town of Rugeley and back.  You’ll pass through the Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Along the way, you can stop for a drink or a meal at the Wolseley Arms at Wolseley Bridge.  The journey to Rugeley and back takes six hours.

4. Navigate through the Cheshire countryside to Nantwich

On a day out from Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal near Tarporley, you can cruise to Nantwich and back.  The lock-free journey takes you past the canalside Barbridge Inn. And across the impressive Nantwich Aqueduct, with panoramic views across the town.  The journey to Nantwich and back takes around six hours.

5. Travel slowly through the Shropshire countryside to historic Whitchurch

From Whixall on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal, you can reach the historic market town of Whitchurch.  You’ll pass the Hadley Farm Café along the way and there’s a good choice of places to eat in Whitchurch, including the Black Bear pub.  The journey to Whitchurch and back takes around five hours.

To find out more about our day boat hire, go to https://www.anglowelsh.co.uk/our-boats/our-dayboat-fleet/

To find out more about visiting the canal network, go to https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/

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Best August bank holiday boating breaks

Top 10 short break canal boat holidays

Canals and rivers take narrowboat holiday-makers through some of Britain’s best-loved countryside, and into the heart of some our most famous waterside towns and cities.

Canal boat holidays are great for families, bringing everyone together for an adventure afloat.  From steering the boat and working the locks, to planning the route and watching out for wildlife, there’s plenty to get involved in.

Pets are welcome aboard all our boats, so all the family can enjoy a relaxing staycation together.  And there’s everything you need on board for a self-catering holiday afloat if you want to keep your costs down.

There are hundreds of waterside destinations in England and Wales to choose from.  To celebrate the upcoming August bank holiday, we’ve put together a guide to our top 10 weekend boating breaks.

1. Cruise along the Llangollen Canal to Ellesmere

On a weekend away from Trevor in North Wales, you can cruise to Ellesmere, in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District.  The journey takes you across the UNESCO World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, 39 metres high above the Dee valley. At Ellesmere, you can moor up to explore this historic market town and its ancient mere, with woodland walks and places to eat.  The journey to Ellesmere takes around seven hours, crosses two aqueducts, and passes through two locks and two tunnels.

2. Navigate the Stratford Canal to Stratford-upon-Avon

From Wootton Wawen it takes around six hours to cruise along the Stratford Canal to Shakespeare’s Stratford.  The route takes you through the Warwickshire countryside to reach overnight moorings in Bancroft Basin in the heart of Stratford upon Avon.  Once there, you can walk to top attractions, including the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and Shakespeare’s Birthplace.  There are 17 locks to pass through along the way, and you’ll cross the impressive Edstone Aqueduct, the longest aqueduct in England.

3. Take a Thames boating holiday to Oxford

From our Oxford base on the River Thames at Eynsham, it takes just over three hours to reach Oxford City centre.  There are just four locks to pass through along the way and some are manned, offering help to newcomers.  Along the way, you’ll pass through Wolvercote, home of the popular riverside Trout Inn.  Once in Oxford, you take time to explore the city, including the Bodleian Library, Carfax Tower and Oxford Castle.

4. Travel along the Trent & Mersey Canal to Fradley

From Great Haywood, you can head south along the Trent & Mersey Canal to Fradley Junction.  The journey takes around five hours, travelling 12 miles through the Staffordshire countryside.  There are just five locks to pass through, and you’ll pass canalside pubs at Wolseley and Rugeley.  At Fradley, you can enjoy refreshments at the Canalside Café or The Swan Inn. And you can take a wildlife-spotting walk along the woodland trail and boardwalk at Fradley Pool Nature Reserve.

5. Cruise along the Shropshire Union Canal to Chester

On a weekend away, from Bunbury you can navigate to the ancient city of Chester.  Cruising along the Shropshire Union Canal, the route passes through beautiful Cheshire countryside and a series of canalside villages.  There are historic local pubs along the way, including The Ring O’Bells at Christleton and The Shady Oak at Bates Mill Bridge.  Once in Chester, you can to explore some of the City’s attractions, including the Roman Amphitheatre, city walls and Chester Rows shops. The journey to Chester takes around seven hours and passes through nine locks.

6. Float along the Kennet & Avon Canal to Bradford on Avon

From our base at Sydney Wharf near Bath, it takes just four hours to reach the lovely market town of Bradford on Avon. There’s just one lock to pass through and stunning Bath stone aqueducts to glide across at Dundas and Avoncliff.  You’ll pass a series of canalside pubs along the way, including The George at Bathampton and Cross Guns at Avoncliff.  Once in Bradford on Avon, you can moor up to visit Historic England’s medieval Tithe Barn.  And there’s a great choice of places to eat, including the riverside Timbrell’s Yard.

7. Cruise along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal to Gargrave

From Silsden, you can cruise through the Yorkshire countryside to Gargrave on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.  The route travels 12 miles and passes through Skipton, home to the medieval Skipton Castle and Woods.  At Gargrave, there are plenty of pubs to enjoy, including The Mason’s Arms and Cross Keys Inn.  The route to Gargrave passes through three locks, and takes around 6½ hours.

8. Glide along the Llangollen Canal to Chirk

On a weekend break from Whixall Marina in Shropshire, you can cruise through the countryside to Chirk, on the border between England and Wales.  The journey takes around eight hours and passes through just two locks.  Along the way, you’ll pass Whixall Moss nature reserve and the historic market town of Ellesmere. At Chirk, there’s a choice of canalside pubs and the National Trust’s medieval Chirk Castle to visit.

Click here to book a holiday, or call our friendly booking team on 0117 304 1122.

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Best February half term canal boat holiday destinations

Best February half term canal boat holiday destinations

Travelling at an environmentally-friendly, four-miles-an-hour, a narrowboat journey can take you to a great choice of exciting waterside destinations this February half term.

All our boats have central heating, and some also have multi-fuel stoves, so it’s always nice and cosy on board.

Here’s a guide to our top five destinations on a family canal boat holiday this February half term:

  1. Travel into Birmingham to visit the Sea Life Centre – from our canal boat holiday hire base at Tardebigge it takes five hours to cruise along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal into the centre of Birmingham. With no locks to pass through along the way, it’s a great route for narrowboat holiday novices.  You can moor up in Gas Street Basin to enjoy the City’s many shops, galleries, museums and attractions, including the National Sea Life Centre in Brindleyplace.
  2. Visit the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon – from our base at on the Stratford Canal at Wootton Wawen, near Henley-in-Arden in Warwickshire, it’s a picturesque six-hour cruise through the Warwickshire countryside to Shakespeare’s Stratford. Once there, you can moor up in Bancroft Basin and visit Stratford’s museums, theatres, restaurants and shops, including the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
  3. Swap the water for the Steam Railway at Llangollen – from Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, it takes just two hours to cruise to the beautiful town of Llangollen, on the edge of the Berwyn Mountains.  Once there, you can moor up and take time to explore this pretty town which offers plenty of places to eat and visit, including the Llangollen Steam Railway.
  4. Discover Britain’s Secret Nuclear Bunker – from Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire, it takes around three-and-a-half hours, travelling nine miles and passing through just two locks, to reach moorings close to the Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker Museum.  This fascinating blast-proof underground bunker was once one of the nation’s most secret defence sites.
  5. Cruise to Waterworld for Tropical Aqua Park – heading north from Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal near Stafford, you can reach the Festival Park in Stoke on Trent in around 13 hours. From there it’s a 10-minute walk to Waterworld, where you can enjoy 30 thrill seeking rides, including the legendary Thunderbolt.

Click here to book or call us on 0117 304 1122.

NB Winter maintence work on the canals can lead to route closures.

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Canal boat holidays on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal

The Bingley Five Rise Locks on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal

Enjoy stunning scenery, the Yorkshire Dales, Pennine Way, industrial history, remote beauty, rugged hills, wooded valleys, mills and moors.

At 127 miles, the Leeds & Liverpool Canal is the longest single canal in the country. Completed in 1816, this mighty waterway crosses the Pennines and links the wide waterways of Yorkshire with those of Lancashire and the River Mersey.

From the vibrant centres of Leeds, Liverpool, Wigan and Burnley, to the awe-inspiring vast areas of open space of the moorlands at the canal’s summit and the peace of the wooded Aire Valley, the scenery of this canal varies dramatically.

The Leeds & Liverpool main line has 93 locks and two tunnels, there are two more locks on the seven-mile long Leigh Branch and eight on the seven-mile Rufford Branch. The waterway was recently extended by the construction of the Liverpool Link, taking boaters right into the heart of the city, passing in front of the Three Graces to moor in Salthouse Dock.

And it boasts two of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’ – the famous Bingley Five Rise Locks near Bradford and the awesome Burnley Embankment, carrying the canal high above the town.

Weekend/3-night breaks from Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal

Skipton, Gargrave & the Yorkshire Dales and back (23 Miles, 6 locks, 12.5 hours)

Travelling in the direction of Liverpool along the canal from Silsden, you’ll first pass canalside warehouses, enjoying views of Airedale’s steep green hills.  There’s a series of historic swing bridges along this section of the canal, each needing to be unlocked and lifted.  Within two miles, the canal passes through the village of Kildwick, with its 17th century coaching inn, The White Lion.

Next you’ll continue along the valley of the River Aire, with stunning views of the surrounding countryside.  Two miles later the village of Bradley has an excellent pub – the Slaters Arms, serving homemade food and real ale. A mile later, the route passes the Bay Horse pub at Snaygill, before reaching the outskirts of Skipton.  Here a little arm (the Springs Branch) branches off the canal to moorings outside Skipton Castle.  Dating back to 1090, this motte and bailey castle is one of the best preserved medieval castles in England, and is well worth a visit. Skipton also offers visitors a range of places to eat, including The Yorkshire Rose pub, Royal Shepherd, French Bistro des Amis, Bean Loved coffee bar and Cock & Bottle pub. Heading west out of Skipton, you’ll travel a further three miles through the hills to Gargrave.  There are three locks to pass through before reaching moorings and a winding hole in the centre of the village. Gargrave is on the River Aire on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, where you can access 680 square miles of some of England’s finest walking country.  In Gargrave there are plenty of pubs, including The Mason’s Arms.  There are also shops and a post office.

Bingley, Saltaire and back (18 Miles, 22 locks, 13.5 hours)

It takes around 3.5 hours to reach the top of the Bingley Five Rise locks, one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways.  These cavernous chambers raise (or lower) boats 18 metres.  They open directly from one to another, with the top gate of one forming the bottom of the next. It takes around one-and-a-half hours to pass through and there are lock keepers on hand to help.  On the way to Bingley from Silsden, you’ll pass through a series of swing bridges, Stockbridge and Riddlesden, with the National Trust’s East Riddlesden Hall not far from the canal.  A few miles after Bingley, you’ll reach the UNESCO World Heritage town Saltaire, near Shipley.  It was founded in 1851 by Sir Titus Salt, a leading industrialist in the woollen industry.  Salt wanted his workforce to be healthier, happier and more productive, so he moved his five mills to a new green site away from the overcrowded town centre of Bradford.  The mills were housed in beautiful Italianate buildings. And he built stone houses for his workers with community facilities, including a hospital, library, school and park.  Today, Saltaire is a popular tourist destination with shops, restaurants, cafes and galleries, including the wonderful David Hockney Gallery.

Mid-week/4-night breaks from Silsden

East Marton and back (32 miles, 24 locks, 19 hours)

Follow the weekend route to Skipton and Gargrave then continue west to the historic market town of Barnoldswick.  This beautiful rural stretch along the Yorkshire Dales has mountain views in the distance.  At Bank Newton there are seven locks to travel through which take you up on to the Pennines.  Two-and-a-half miles later you’ll reach East Marton you’ll find the Abbot’s Harbour Restaurant and a medieval church. Continue on to turn soon after South Field Bridge no.159.

Week-long/7-day holidays from Silsden

Barnoldswick and back (38 miles, 30 locks, 22 hours)

Travelling in the direction of Liverpool along the canal from Silsden, you’ll first pass canalside warehouses, enjoying views of Airedale’s steep green hills.  There’s a series of historic swing bridges along this section of the canal, each needing to be unlocked and lifted.  Within two miles, the canal passes through the village of Kildwick, with its 17th century coaching inn, The White Lion.

Next you’ll continue along the valley of the River Aire, with stunning views of the surrounding countryside.  Two miles later the village of Bradley has an excellent pub – the Slaters Arms, serving homemade food and real ale. A mile later, the route passes the Bay Horse pub at Snaygill, before reaching the outskirts of Skipton.  Here a little arm (the Springs Branch) branches off the canal to moorings outside Skipton Castle.  Dating back to 1090, this motte and bailey castle is one of the best preserved medieval castles in England, and is well worth a visit. Skipton also offers visitors a range of places to eat, including The Yorkshire Rose pub, Royal Shepherd, French Bistro des Amis, Bean Loved coffee bar and Cock & Bottle pub. Heading west out of Skipton, you’ll travel a further three miles through the hills to Gargrave.  There are three locks to pass through before reaching moorings and a winding hole in the centre of the village. Gargrave is on the River Aire on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, where you can access 680 square miles of some of England’s finest walking country.  In Gargrave there are plenty of pubs, including The Mason’s Arms.  There are also shops and a post office.

After Gargrave you’ll cruise alongside the Yorkshire Dales with mountain views in the distance. At Bank Newton there are seven locks to travel through which take you up on to the Pennines.  Two-and-a-half miles later you’ll reach East Marton you’ll find the Abbot’s Harbour Restaurant and a medieval church. After the three locks at Greenberfield you’ll reach Barnoldswick with a couple of large supermarkets within walking distance.  There’s a choice of places to eat, including The Fountain Inn. The Pendle Way connects to the canal at Cockshott Bridge no. 152.  Turn your boat at the winding hole just before Long Ing Bridge no.153.

Foulridge Tunnel & back (48 miles, 30 locks, 24 hours)

Follow the route above to Barnoldswick and continue on, soon reaching the canalside Anchor Inn at Salterforth.  Next it’s Foulridge Wharf before the entrance to the 1.49km long Foulridge Tunnel. Passage through the tunnel works on a traffic light system which allows each boat 20 minutes to get to the other end. After the tunnel, you can turn around just after Wanless Bridge no.145 to head back to Silsden.

Apperley Bridge and back (27 miles, 32 locks, 20.5 hours)

It takes around 3.5 hours to reach the top of the Bingley Five Rise locks, one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways.  These cavernous chambers raise (or lower) boats 18 metres.  They open directly from one to another, with the top gate of one forming the bottom of the next. It takes around one-and-a-half hours to pass through and there are lock keepers on hand to help.  On the way to Bingley from Silsden, you’ll pass through a series of swing bridges, Stockbridge and Riddlesden, with the National Trust’s East Riddlesden Hall not far from the canal.  A few miles after Bingley, you’ll reach the UNESCO World Heritage town Saltaire, near Shipley.  It was founded in 1851 by Sir Titus Salt, a leading industrialist in the woollen industry.  Salt wanted his workforce to be healthier, happier and more productive, so he moved his five mills to a new green site away from the overcrowded town centre of Bradford.  The mills were housed in beautiful Italianate buildings. And he built stone houses for his workers with community facilities, including a hospital, library, school and park.  Today, Saltaire is a popular tourist destination with shops, restaurants, cafes and galleries, including the wonderful David Hockney Gallery. After Saltaire, you’ll go through Shipley with Ring O ’Bells pub and Waterside Restaurant & Bar.  Five miles later you’ll reach Apperley Bridge, with a fish and chip shop and choice of pubs including The Stansfield and Dog & Gun.  There’s also at café at the marina.

Leeds and back (44 miles, 54 locks, 32 hours)

Follow the route to Apperley Bridge and continue following the Aire Valley to Leeds.  You’ll pass through Rodley, home to the Canalside Rodley Barge pub, The Railway Inn and The Owl Inn. Soon after you’ll reach the canalside Abbey Inn and the three locks at Newlay.  Less than a mile later you’ll go through Forge three locks and then you’ll reach Kirkstall with Cistercian Abbey ruins and Abbey House Museum. The canalside West End House pub is next to Wyther Bridge no.223.  Cruise on into the vibrant waterside city of Leeds, and moor up in Leeds Dock.  From there you can visit the waterside Royal Armouries Museum and walk to visit the Victorian shopping arcades and many great places to eat out.

10-day route from Silsden

Burnley and back (63 miles, 44 locks, 32 hours)

Follow the week-long route to Foulridge Tunnel. Passage through the tunnel works on a traffic light system which allows each boat 20 minutes to get to the other end. A mile after the Foulridge Tunnel, you’ll encounter Barrowford Top Lock – a flight of seven – and begin your descent from the summit level, with views of old stone farms and distant mountains to enjoy. Soon after, Barrowford offers shops, fish & chips, restaurants and pubs, including The White Bear Inn.  At the Pendle Heritage Centre you’ll find an exhibition on the famous Pendle Witches.  There’s also a tea room overlooking the beautifully restored 18th century walled garden, the Pendle Art Gallery, and access to the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Pendle Hill. Continuing along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, you’ll enter the outskirts of the large industrial town of Burnley. The waterway was once the main artery for Burnley and its industries and the area around Bridge 130, known as the Weaver’s Triangle, is one of the best preserved 19th century industrial districts in the country.  The three-quarters of a mile long Burnley Embankment, considered to be one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’, carries the canal 60 feet high across part of the town, offering boaters panoramic views. There are plenty of pubs in Burnley, including The Inn on the Wharf in a weaver’s warehouse, several art centres and the Queen Street Mill Textile Museum, now Britain’s only working 19th century weaving mill. Turn at Burnley Wharf.

Two-week routes from Silsden

Wigan and back (135 miles, 72 locks, 60 hours)

Follow the route to Burnley.  After passing through Gannow Tunnel (559 yards long), the canal travels on through the Calder Valley and alongside the M65 motorway for a time. Hapton is the next village after Burnley, with its popular Hapton Inn.  Then you’ll go through three swing bridges as the canal travels through neat green fields bordered by drystone walls, before reaching Clayton-le-Moors (a suburb of Accrington) three miles later. The canal now twists and turns on through Church, with the parish church of St James right on the banks of the canal, marking the central point of the canal. Just over a mile later, after more dramatic bends, the canal passes over the M65 using a concrete aqueduct, before arriving at Rishton, a small town that grew up around the cotton mills in the 19th century. There’s a choice of places to eat here, including Indian restaurants, fish & chips, The Rishton Arms and The Walmsley Arms.

Two miles on and the canal enters the outskirts of Blackburn, passing canopied wharves at Eanam, now converted for businesses and a pub. There’s plenty to do in Blackburn, including a visit to the cathedral with its striking 13ft sculpture of ‘Christ the Worker’ by John Hayward. The Museum & Art Gallery has a series of rooms demonstrating the development of the textile industry using full size working models. And there’s a choice of curry houses, including Thira Restaurant. It takes several hours to pass through Blackburn, but there are distant views of Darwen Hill and Witton Country Park to enjoy along the way. And everywhere there are mills, mainly redundant but a reminder of the town’s cotton history. A flight of six locks (the Blackburn locks) carry the canal nearly 55ft up on the western edge of town to 400ft above sea level with excellent views. The suburb of Cherry Tree is next, with a good range of shops and take-aways.

As the canal leaves Blackburn, it crosses a high embankment and then curls round a steep and thickly wooded valley. A mile later, the canal passes through the village of Riley Green with its excellent Royal Oak pub providing award-winning cask ales and a large menu of British pub food. Hoghton Tower is close by, a 16th century fortified hilltop mansion, noted for its dungeons, doll’s houses, picturesque gardens and magnificent banqueting hall. Just over a mile and a half later, now in a secluded wooded valley, the canal passes through Withnell Fold, a small estate village built to house workers at the canalside paper mills which once functioned there. On the opposite side of the canal is a nature reserve which has developed in the old filter beds and now provides habitats for waterlilies, dragonflies, newts and frogs. Just over a mile of beautiful scenery later, you’ll reach the top of the Johnson’s Hill flight of seven locks.  The Top Lock pub is here and a boatyard with boaters’ facilities.

Soon after the canal travels under the M61 motorway and along the edge of Chorley, passing some large textile mills. The Prince of Wales pub is a short walk from Bridge 75A and The Lock & Quay. It’s also well worth visiting a bakery to try a Chorley cake, similar to the Eccles cake but sweeter and fruitier. Close to three wooded miles further, the canal reaches Adlington with a good range of shops, pubs, including The (Bottom) Spinners Arms, and a popular café at the White Bear Marina, Rivington. Here you can turn and head back to Silsden.

Sowerby Bridge & back (123 miles, 132 locks, 75 hours)

Cruise along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal to Leeds and transfer onto the Aire & Calder Navigation to continue on to Sowerby Bridge in Calderdale, passing through Wakefield and Brighouse along the way.

Follow the week long route to Leeds. Then continue heading east along the Aire & Calder Navigation to Castleford Junction. There are lots of pubs in Castleford, including The Boat Inn, The Anchor and The Junction. Continue on, passing the Canal & River Trust’s Stanley Ferry Workshops where they make locks gates.  The Stanley Ferry pub is canalside here. At Fall Ing Junction you’ll transfer onto the Calder & Hebble Navigation. You’ll go through Wakefield with its canalside Ruddy Duck and Navigation Inn and the waterside Hepworth Wakefield Gallery. The journey will take you on through Horbury, Shepley Bridge (The Ship Inn), Mirfield (The Navigation Tavern), Cooper Bridge, Brighouse (Jeremy’s at The Boat House and The Richard Oastler on Bethel Street), Elland (The Barge & Barrell), and Salterhebble (The Watermill).  At Sowerby Bridge you can turn and then moor up to visit The Moorings pub and explore this historic market town in Calderdale.

Click here to book a canal boat holiday on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal from Silsden, or call us on 0117 304 1122.

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Christmas canal boat holidays

Christmas canal boat holidays
Kevin Yarwood, Anglo Welsh’s canal boat hire base manager at Great Haywood in Staffordshire, describes the winter wildlife he sees on the canals and Christmas canal boat holiday options. 

Here at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal, we offer canal boat hire all year round, including Christmas and New Year.

Anglo Welsh also offers Christmas and New Year narrowboat holidays from Trevor, Whixall, Bath, Tardebigge, Bunbury, Wootton Wawen and Silsden.

The canals are much quieter in the winter months and there are lots of historic canalside pubs with roaring log fires to enjoy along the way.

Popular canal barge holiday destinations from Great Haywood

The most popular winter cruise destination from Great Haywood is to travel south along the Trent & Mersey Canal to Fradley Junction. This peaceful 12-mile cruise through the Staffordshire countryside takes around five hours, passing through five locks.

Pubs to visit along the way the Wolseley Arms at Wolseley Bridge and The Old Peculiar in the village of Handsacre.

Once at Fradley, you can find refreshments at the Canalside Café or The Swan Inn.

Alternatively you can travel north along the Trent & Mersey Canal to the market town of Stone. Along the way you’ll pass The Saracens Head at Weston and The Greyhound at Burston.

Local attractions to visit

We are lucky to have a number of great attractions close to us at Great Haywood.

For example the National Trust’s Shugborough Estate, where the gardens lead right down to the canal, has some lovely Christmas events.  Their Winter Light Trail takes visitors through the historic grounds with light displays set to music.

The event is on from 1-24 December and tickets have to be booked in advance via their website Luminate Shugborough Light Trail at Shugborough Estate, Staffordshire

Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, once a royal hunting forest is also nearby.  As well as the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust’s Wolseley Centre.

Both are wonderful havens for wildlife, with lots to see and do even in the winter months.

Winter wildlife on the waterways

We also still see plenty of wildlife on the canal here over the winter, especially woodland and hedgerow birds such as chaffinch, robins, blue and coal tits, jays, nuthatch, woodpeckers and our resident pair of swans. We feed the birds all year round, but of course it’s over the winter months that it’s most vital to do so. We provide nutritious wild bird seed, peanuts, fat balls and sesame seeds.

We are sometimes lucky enough to see otters from the River Trent coming up onto the canal to feed at night.

Canal boats available to hire this Christmas

We offer a range of canal boats for hire over the winter, from a cosy narrowboat for two to a family canal boat for 12.  They all have central heating, hot water showers, comfortable beds, fully equipped kitchens, WiFi, TV and DVD players, so it’s always nice and warm on board.  Our luxury boats ‘Curzon’ for four people and ‘Pegasus’ for six, also have multi-fuel stoves.

Over the Christmas week, we have an 11-night break starting on 22 December and a three-week hire starting on 16 December. And we have another week hire over New Year, starting on 27 December.

Cooking Christmas lunch on board a narrowboat

This year my wife and I will be cooking Christmas lunch aboard our narrowboat for our two children and two Staffordshire Bull Terriers.

Cooking Christmas dinner on a canal boat isn’t that different to a normal kitchen, except you don’t have a huge amount of worktop space.  And you need to be careful not to buy too big a turkey, as most ovens are slightly smaller on boats.

Happy Christmas from the Great Haywood team!

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Top 8 gardens to visit on a canal boat holiday

Best gardens to visit on a canal boat holiday

Gardens are great places to visit on a canal boat holiday, offering beautiful vistas, cafes serving dishes made with produce grown on site, and places for quiet contemplation and inspiration.

There are dozens of beautiful gardens to visit within easy reach of our canals and rivers, so we’ve put together our top 9 gardens to enjoy on a canal boat holiday in 2024:

  1. Enjoy spectacular views of Snowdonia from the gardens of Plas Newydd, close to the Llangollen Canal in North Wales

    The gardens at Plas Newydd House in Llangollen are set within 169 acres of woodland and parkland, where the setting, geology and climate allow extraordinary plants to flourish. Tender exotics grow in the Menai Courtyard, alpines and dwarf shrubs in the sun room terrace, dahlias and agapanthas in the Italianate Terrace, magnolia in the Rhododendron Garden, aromatic eucalypts in the Australasian arboretum and spring flowers alongside the cascades of Rill Garden. From our narrowboat hire base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal, it takes just two hours to reach Llangollen.

  2. Find the oldest botanic garden in Britain, close to the Oxford Canal in Oxford

    Founded in 1621 as a garden growing plants for medicinal research, the University of Oxford Botanic Garden now contains over 8,000 plant species in a 1.8 hectare site at Rose Lane, close to the City Centre. The Garden offers family friendly trails and ‘Botanic Backpacks’ full of activities and equipment to help visitors get more from their walk around the Garden and its Glasshouses. From our Oxford boat yard on the River Thames at Eynsham, Oxford can be reached in three-and-a-half hours, travelling through four locks.

  3. See the ancient topiary at Packwood House, close to the Stratford Canal at Lapworth

    According to legend, the 350-year old trees in Packwood’s iconic Yew Garden represent the ‘Sermon on the Mount’. Packwood’s beautiful gardens also boast stunning herbaceous borders, with a wide variety of colourful plants, including its unusual North African Cabbage Trees, as well as a bountiful Kitchen Garden, wildflower meadows, an orchard and a gorgeous rose walk leading to the cafe. From our canal boat hire base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal near Henley-in-Arden, it’s a 7-mile, 31-lock and 10-hour journey to Lapworth Lock No 6, half-a-mile’s walk from Packwood.

  4. Stroll around the award-winning Trentham Gardens, close to the Trent & Mersey Canal at Stoke on Trent

    The make-over of the Italian Gardens at Trentham was led by renowned garden designer Tom Stuart-Smith.  And the Rivers of Grass and Floral Labyrinth gardens were designed by the eminent Dutch plantsman, Piet Oudolf. As well as a series of themed gardens, visitors to Trentham can enjoy a walk around the Capability Brown designed central mile-long lake and the vast new wildflower meadows, as well as taking the Fairy Trail through woodland, a maze and gardens where the fairies live. There’s also an adventure playground, trip boat and miniature train. From our boatyard at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal near Stafford, it takes approximately 10 hours to reach Stoke bottom lock No. 36, travelling 13 miles, through 13 locks.

  5. Relax in the Walled Garden at Churches Mansion, close to the Shropshire Union Canal at Nantwich

    The immaculately maintained Walled Garden at the stunning Elizabethan timber-framed Churches Mansion is mainly laid to lawn. It has well stocked borders of cottage garden flowers and shrubs, as well as specimen fruit trees, including mulberry, walnut, pear, cherry and plum. There is also an oak tree, magnificent magnolia tree and trailing wisteria wrapped around a first floor balcony. From our boatyard at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal, Nantwich is just six miles away.

  6. Explore the Grade I listed Italianate garden at Iford Manor, close to the Kennet & Avon Canal at Bradford on Avon

    The romantic terraced hillside garden at Iford Manor, with stunning views across the Iford valley, was designed by architect and landscape gardener Harold Ainsworth Peto, who lived there from 1899 to 1933.   Peto was particularly attracted to the charm of old Italian gardens, characterized by cypresses, broad walks, statues and pools. The garden’s striking features include a Loggia, Great Terrace, Casita and Cloisters. Our canal boat hire base at Monkton Combe is three miles from Avoncliff, where footpaths lead to Iford Manor.

  7. Visit the Rose Garden at Rode Hall, near the Macclesfield Canal at Hall Green

    Set in a beautiful landscape designed by Humphry Repton in 1790, Rode Hall’s extensive grounds include a formal rose garden designed by Nesfield in 1860, terraced rock garden, woodland garden and a two-acre walled kitchen garden. Drifts of snowdrops grace the estate at the beginning of the year and spring boasts a large variety of rhododendrons and azaleas, followed by a stunning display of ancient bluebells. From our canal boat hire base on at Great Haywood near Stafford, it’s a two-day journey, cruising 25 miles, through 18 locks to reach Hall Green Lock on the Macclesfield Canal, where a footpath leads to Rode Hall & Garden.

  8. Visit the magnificent Walled Kitchen Garden at RHS Bridgewater, close to the Bridgewater Canal near Worsley

    The Royal Horticultural Society’s 154-acre garden at the Worsley New Hall estate in Salford, Greater Manchester, opened in May 2021. Said to be the biggest hands-on agricultural project undertaken in Europe since planning permission was granted in 2017, highlights include the restored Walled Kitchen Garden, with forest, herbal and formal vegetable gardens all linked by wall-trained fruit trees which wrap around the walls. From our base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire it takes around 23 hours, travelling 56 miles and passing through 9 locks to reach moorings on the Bridgewater Canal, close to RHS Garden Bridgewater.  It’s less than a mile’s walk from the canal to the garden, and you can claim a 30% discount on the entry price for not using a car to get there.

To book one of Anglo Welsh’s superbly equipped canal boats, click here or call our Booking Team on 0117 304 1122.

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Best winter canal boat holidays

Winter canal boat holidays in England and Wales

We offer winter cruising from six of our narrowboat hire bases, giving you the chance to experience cruising gently through the countryside this winter when the canals are quieter*.

People tend to make shorter journeys during the winter.  It’s more about enjoying being out in the countryside close to the water than travelling lots of miles each day.

You can stop off to visit historic canalside pubs with roaring log fires along the way. And you can visit some of Britain’s most popular towns and cities, including Stratford-upon-Avon and Chester.

Our winter narrowboats for hire range from cosy boats for two, to a family canal boat for 10.

All our boats have central heating, hot water, WiFi, TV and DVD players, so it’s always nice and warm on board.

Some of our boats also come with multi-fuel stoves for some extra special winter warmth.

Our winter cruising bases also offer canal boat hire over Christmas and New Year.

Our winter canal boat holidays prices start at £680 for a short break, and £940 for a week on a boat for up to four people.

Here’s a guide to our Top 6 winter narrowboat holidays for 2023:

1. Boat to historic Bradford on Avon and back

From our canal barge hire base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Bath, it takes around three-and-a-half hours to reach the historic Wiltshire town of Bradford on Avon.  Along the way, you’ll cross over the magnificent Bath stone aqueducts at Dundas and Avoncliff.  And you’ll cruise past the popular canalside pubs The George at Bathampton and the The Cross Guns at Avoncliff.  Once at Bradford on Avon, you can moor up to explore this historic market town on the edge of the Cotswolds with independent shops and a great choice of places to eat.

2. Cruise through the Staffordshire countryside to Fradley

Heading south from our narrowboat holiday hire base at Great Haywood you’ll reach Fradley Junction in around five hours.  The journey cruises 12 miles of the Trent & Mersey Canal and passes through five lock.  You’ll pass through the Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  Places to visit along the way include the National Trust’s Shugborough Estate the Wildlife Trust’s Wolseley Centre.  Pubs to visit include The Wolseley Arms at Wolseley and The Old Peculiar at Handsacre.  At Fradley you can visit the Canalside Café or The Swan Inn, and enjoy walking trails at the Fradley Pool Nature Reserve.

3. Travel gently through the Shropshire countryside to historic Whitchurch

From our canal barge holiday rental base at Whixall it takes around four hours to reach the pretty historic town of Whitchurch.  You’ll cruise along the Llangollen Canal, passing Whixall Moss along the way – a great place for spotting wildlife.  Once at Whitchurch, you can enjoy way-marked walks, Brown Moss nature reserve and a choice of pubs, including the award-winning Black Bear.

4. Float through the Warwickshire countryside to Shakespeare’s Stratford

From our narrowboat rental base at Wootton Wawen in Warwickshire, you can reach Stratford-upon-Avon in six hours. You can stop-off along the way at the village of Wilmcote to visit the Mary Arden Inn.  In Shakespeare’s Stratford, you can moor up in the centre of town at Bancroft Basin to enjoy exploring this popular historic town.

5. Cruise through the Cheshire countryside to the ancient City of Chester

From our narrowboat hire base at Bunbury near Tarporley it takes seven hours to reach Chester.  You’ll cruise along the Shropshire Union Canal passing through nine locks, and a series of village pubs, including The Cheshire Cat at Christleton. Once moored up at Northgate visitor moorings, you can take time to explore this ancient Cathedral City with Roman City Walls and Chester Rows shops.

6. Cross ‘The Stream in the Sky’ to the Shropshire Lake District

Our canal boat rental base at Trevor in North Wales, is a ten minute cruise from the incredible World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. This magnificent feat of Victorian engineering carries the Llangollen Canal 126ft high above the Dee Valley, with amazing views to enjoy.  On a short break, you can cruise to Ellesmere, in the centre of the Shropshire Lake District.  At Ellesmere, you can visit the famous Mere, a haven for wildlife, and find a great choice of places to eat and drink.

*Some of our routes will be affected at times by the Canal & River Trust’s annual winter maintenance work. 

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Top 8 places to celebrate Halloween on a canal boat holiday

Best destinations to celebrate Halloween on a barge holiday

Canal boat holidays offer the chance to enjoy a family staycation afloat this October Half Term, spending time together and visiting waterside destinations hosting spooky Halloween events.

Your floating holiday cottage will be equipped with the key comforts of home, including central heating and hot water, so it’s always nice and cosy on board.

All our boats also have fully equipped kitchens, so you can enjoy a self-catering holiday afloat.

To celebrate the October Half Term holiday, we’ve put together a guide to our top 8 narrowboat holiday destinations hosting Halloween events*:

1. Take The Sinister Side of Shakespeare Walking Tour’ in Stratford-upon-Avon

From our basw on the Stratford Canal at Wootton Wawen, it takes around six hours to reach moorings in the centre of Shakespeare’s Stratford.  You can book online to experience ‘The Sinister Side of Shakespeare’s Stratford Walking Tour’ where you’ll learn about the town’s infamous witches, and discover the real-life tragedies that inspired Shakespeare.  The journey to Stratford and back takes around 12 hours and passes through 24 locks (12 each way).

2. Explore the ‘Half Term Halloween Trail’ at Chirk Castle

From Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, you can reach Chirk Bank in around one-and-a-half hours.  From there it takes around 30 minutes to walk up to the National Trust’s Chirk Castle, where you can take part in a ‘Half Term Halloween Trail’, 21-31 October 2023.  The event sends you on a quest to protect the castle from the evil spirits, elves and goblins that lurk around. The journey from Trevor to Chirk and back takes around three hours, and passes over the UNESCO World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct along the way.

3. Get spooked at a ‘Halloween Night’ at the Black Country Living Museum

On a short break from Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal you can reach the Black Country Living Museum.  On Saturday 23, Friday 29 and Saturday 30 October, the Museum will host special ‘Halloween Nights’, giving you the chance to trick-or-treat your way round spooky streets, spot fantastical characters and dress-up to go to the monster’s ball.  The journey from Tardebigge to the Black Country Living Museum and back takes 16 hours and passes through six locks (three each way).

4. Follow the Halloween Trail at Chester Zoo

On a short break from Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal, you can reach Chester, home of the award-winning Chester Zoo.  This October, Chester Zoo which is home to over 27,000 animals, will be hosting an interactive Halloween Trail across its 128 acres of zoological gardens.  The journey from Bunbury to Chester and back takes around 14 hours and passes through 18 locks (nine each way).

5. See ‘The Lost Boys’ at the Shugborough Estate outdoor cinema event

Our base on the Trent & Mersey Canal at Great Haywood is less than an hour’s cruise away from the National Trust’s Shugborough Estate.  At 7.30pm on Tuesday 31 October, the Estate is hosting an outdoor screening of the vampire classic ‘The Lost Boys’, starring Kiefer Sutherland.

6. Experience Warwick Castle’s ‘Haunted Castle’ event

On a short break from Stockton on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, you can reach moorings close to Warwick Castle.  From 21 October to 5 November, the Castle’s ‘Haunted Castle’ event features a series of spooky experiences, including the Castle Dungeon and the Horrible Histories Maze.  The journey from Stockton takes seven hours and passes through 20 locks.

7. Go on a Spooky Tour at Oxford Castle

On a short break from our Oxford base on the River Thames at Eynsham you can reach overnight moorings in Oxford City Centre.  From there, it’s a short walk to Oxford Castle where from 16-31 October 2023 you can experience an evening Spooky guided tour of the 1,000 year-old haunted castle.  From our Oxford base, it takes three-and a-half-hours, passing through three locks to reach moorings in Oxford city centre.

8. Visit Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein in Bath ‘After Dark’

On a short break from Monkton Combe, you can reach moorings in Bath City Centre. There you can visit Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein to experience its ‘After Dark – nights to die for’ Halloween event, on from 20-31 October 2023. The experience offers the chance to venture through rooms cloaked in darkness and features live actors, games and special effects.  From our Monkton Combe base it takes four hours, passing through six locks, to reach moorings in Bath City Centre.

*NB Most of the events listed need to be booked in advance via the venue’s website

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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?

Over 55 years providing unique canal boat holidays in England and Wales.
Modern and spacious narrowboat and wide beam barge hire – from 2 to 12 berths.
Wide choice of narrowboat hire locations and canal boat holiday destinations.
Canal boat holiday routes for novices & experienced boaters.
Flexible holiday booking, no hidden costs.
Family friendly and pet friendly holidays.
Great days out on the water.
Luxury canal boat hire and Thames boating holidays.

Anglo Welsh. So much more than narrowboats

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

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