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Easy recipes to cook on a canal boat holiday

Easy recipes to cook on a canal boat holiday

Our modern narrowboats are like floating holiday cottages with well equipped kitchens so you can prepare tasty meals on board

In our galley kitchens, you’ll find a sink with hot and cold running water, a cooker with four gas hobs, and an oven/grill beneath.  There’s a fridge with a small freezer compartment, a larder, work tops, pots, pans, kettle, cutlery and crockery.  Many of our canal boats also have a microwave. So, while the space is relatively small, it’s easy to cook simple and healthy meals on board.

You can find out more about our floating kitchens, by watching our short video guide ‘What is a kitchen is like on board an Anglo Welsh narrowboat’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=669cd3r1GOQ

To provide inspiration for your next holiday afloat, we asked some of our experienced narrowboat holiday-makers and colleagues who live on board their own boats, for their favourite recipes afloat.

Stan Cullimore’s Venison Ragu with Tagliatelle

Stan Cullimore was a member of the 80’s band The Housemartins. Now a journalist and children’s author, Stan has been enjoying regular narrow boat holidays for years.

Serves 2-3

Cooking time: around 1 hr

Ingredients

  • 500g venison mince*
  • 400g chopped tomatoes (tinned)
  • 2 x medium carrots
  • 1 x large onion
  • 1 x bulb of fennel
  • handful of fresh tarragon (or a large pinch if dried)
  • 200ml beef stock
  • 200 ml red wine
  • dollop of tomato puree
  • garlic
  • chilli
  • 75g of Tagliatelle per person

*If you prefer, you can replace the venison with pork, beef or Quorn mince.  And use vegetable stock instead of beef stock.

Preparation

  1. Put the venison mince into a frying pan with some olive oil and brown for a few minutes. Whilst it is sizzling away, chop the carrots, onion and fennel.
  2. Remove the mince from the pan, leaving the juices behind. Place the meat to one side in a bowl. Place the chopped vegetables in the pan with the meat juices. Heat and allow to soften for a few minutes.
  3. Return the meat to the pan, with the vegetables, and allow this marvellous mixture to bubble away gently. Add the chopped tomatoes. Stir in the stock, red wine and tomato puree. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
  4. Finely chop the tarragon (if fresh), the chilli and the garlic. Add to the pan. Place a lid on the pan, turn down the heat and leave to simmer for at least 40 minutes. By now, you should have an open bottle of red wine to hand which is still quite full. Pour yourself a glass, sit back and relax. The hard work is over, it’s time to kick back, chill out and enjoy the smells wafting from the cooker. Mmm. Should be good.
  5. Twelve minutes before the ragu is due to be ready, fill the kettle, boil it, then put the pasta on to cook. Should take around ten minutes, but read the pasta packet for details.
  6. Finally, plate up the pasta, spoon a large portion of ragu on top and munch away. With that and another glass of red in hand, you are definitely living your best boat life.

Buon appetito!

Kevin Yarwood’s Cauliflower, Broccoli & Tomato Gratin

Kevin is our base manager at Great Haywood.  He lives aboard his own narrowboat with his wife and two children.

Serves 4

Cooking time: around 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 head each of broccoli and cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 4 large tomatoes sliced
  • 6 tablespoons grated Parmesan

Toppings

  • 180g of cream cheese
  • 150ml tub of sour cream
  • 200ml tub crème fraiche
  • 2 teaspoons of English mustard
  • 2 handfuls of grated cheese
  • bunch of finely chopped spring onions
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preparation

  1. Pre heat oven at gas mark 6
  2. Put florets into a pan of boiling water and simmer for 5 minutes
  3. Drain and put into a roasting tin
  4. Mix all topping ingredients together season with salt and black pepper
  5. Spread the mix over the florets
  6. Top with sliced tomatoes and sprinkle over the Parmesan
  7. Bake for 30 minutes, until bubbling and browned on top
  8. Serve with a crisp mixed salad and garlic bread

*This recipe is vegetarian but can be made vegan by exchanging the cheese and dairy products to vegan alternatives.

Matt Lucas Stern’s Scotch Egg Recipe

Matt is our operations manager, and he lives on board his own narrowboat at Wootton Wawen.

“Scotch eggs are great for a cruise on the boat, as you can have them hot in the evening with a salad, and any left-over eggs can be eaten cold the next day, when you are on the move. These home-made scotch eggs are soft boiled, making them far better than the dry ones you buy.”

Serves 4

Cooking time: around 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 5 eggs
  • 70g pack of Panko breadcrumbs
  • 720g sausage meat
  • salt & pepper
  • thyme
  • fresh parsley
  • dijon mustard

To soft boil the eggs

  1. Boil a pan of water with a small amount of vinegar.
  2. When on a rolling boil, lower your free range eggs in to the water making sure they are covered by the water.
  3. Time for 6 minutes for soft boiled, longer for harder centres. When time is up, cool immediately in a bowl of cold water and peel and set aside.

To make the outer casing

  1. Mix 180g of sausage meat per egg with pinch of salt, a generous amount of cracked pepper, a pinch of thyme, a tablespoon roughly chopped parsley and a teaspoon of Dijon mustard.
  2. Flatten out the mix and wrap each egg in the sausage meat mixture.

To finish the egg

  1. Preheat oven at gas mark 6.
  2. Make an egg wash dip by whisking an egg and preparing a Panko breadcrumb bath.
  3. Dip the egg and sausage meat ball in the egg first, then the breadcrumbs. Do this twice for an extra crispy outer crust.
  4. Put eggs on a non-stick baking sheet and spray with a small mist of light oil. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, or until crispy and golden brown.

Bridget Harrison’s Mars Bar Crunch

Bridget writes for The Times and has been going on regular family holidays on board boats for over 30 years.

“This is an easy recipe that kids can do alone, and makes delicious snacks that you can hand out at tea time, or as rewards to any crew driving or doing locks. But be warned, they are very moreish!”

Ingredients

  • 6 Mars bars
  • 200g butter
  • 200g Rice Crispies

Preparation

  1. Cut the butter and Mars bars into chunks and melt in a saucepan over a low heat until liquid.
  2. Put the Rice Crispies in a bowl and add the Mars bar /butter mixture.
  3. Stir well until they are combined. Tip into a baking dish and press down until firm.
  4. Pop in the fridge if you have room, but you may not on the boat, so it’s fine to leave on top also.
  5. When the mixture is set, turn out and cut into squares and store in a Tupperware box.

Howard Fisher’s Bread & Butter Pudding

Howard Fisher has been on a canal boat holiday almost every year for the last 50 years, including around 15 with Anglo Welsh.

“This is for a pudding I’ve made for years. It has been modified over the years, but it always disappears, no matter how much I make!”

Ingredients

  • 600ml milk
  • 30g sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 30g currants
  • 6 small slices bread and butter
  • nutmeg
  • and optionally 2 tablespoons marmalade

Preparation

  1. Heat oven to 175°C (Gas mark 6)
  2. Grease dish and line with 3 slices of bread and butter.
  3. Sprinkle with currants, sugar and grated nutmeg. Spoon over marmalade if using.
  4. Cover with remaining bread and butter.
  5. Beat eggs and milk. Pour over the pudding.
  6. Sprinkle pudding with grated nutmeg.
  7. Leave to stand 30 minutes before cooking.
  8. Bake for 1 hour.

Enjoy!

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Top 6 week-long canal boat cruises through the countryside this Autumn

Best Autumn canal boat holidays

This Autumn adventure afloat on a canal cruise through the countryside, enjoying the beautiful colours in the trees and hedgerows that line our canals and rivers.

Canal boat holidays are a great way to connect with nature.  You can watch-out for plant, animal and bird life along the way, including the hedgerow fruits and berries enjoyed by birds and small mammals.

To celebrate the Autumn colours along the canals, we’ve put together a guide to our top six week-long cruises through the countryside:

1. Cruise through the Shropshire countryside to Whitchurch

On a week’s break from our canal boat hire centre at Trevor in North Wales, you can travel along the Llangollen Canal to Whitchurch and back.  Along the way, you’ll cross the UNESCO World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, with amazing views of the Dee Valley.  Then it’s on through the Shropshire countryside, passing through Ellesmere, in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District.  Once at Whitchurch, you can moor up to explore the Shropshire Wildlife Trust’s Greenfields Nature Reserve, with woodland walks and the chance to spot water voles. The journey from Trevor to Whitchurch and back takes 24 hours and passes through four locks (two each way).

2. Navigate through the Yorkshire countryside to Foulridge Tunnel

On a week’s break from Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire, you can cruise through the Yorkshire countryside to Foulridge Tunnel.  The journey takes you through a series of historic towns and villages, including Skipton, with its medieval castle and acres of woodland trails to explore. And East Marton with access to the Pennine Way National Trail. The journey from Silsden to Foulridge and back takes 26 hours and passes through 30 locks (15 each way).

3. Boat through the Cheshire countryside to Red Bull Wharf

On a week’s break from Bunbury, you can cruise through the Cheshire countryside to Red Bull Wharf and back.  The route will take you along the rural Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal, which runs from Barbridge Junction to Middlewich.  This peaceful 10-mile long waterways passing through the pretty village of Church Minshull, with its popular Badger Inn gastro pub. The journey from Bunbury to Red Bull Wharf and back travels 53 miles and passes through 70 locks (35 each way).

4. Meander through the Oxfordshire countryside to Wallingford

On a week’s break from our Oxford canal boat hire base, you can cruise along the River Thames to the historic market town of Wallingford. The journey passes through miles of peaceful Oxfordshire countryside, waterside meadows and woodlands.  As well as the City of Oxford, there’s a series of riverside towns and villages to visit along the way, including the historic market town of Abingdon. It takes around 18 hours to cruise from our Oxford base at Eynsham to Wallingford and back, passing through 22 locks (11 each way).

5. Wend your way through the Wiltshire countryside to the Vale of Pewsey

On a week’s break from Monkton Combe on the Kennet & Avon Canal near Bath you can reach Pewsey Wharf.  The journey takes you up the 29 locks of the Caen Hill Flight, one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways. And through the beautiful Vale of Pewsey, part of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  Places to visit along the way include the historic market towns of Bradford on Avon and Devizes. It takes around 38 hours to cruise from Monkton Combe to Pewsey and back, passing through 74 locks (37 each way).

6. Journey to Llangollen North Wales and visit the Horsehoe Falls

On a week’s break from Whixall Marina, on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire, you can reach the historic town of Llangollen on the edge of the Berwyn Mountains.  Along the way, you’ll travel through the Shropshire countryside to Ellesmere, with its beautiful Mere and woodland walks. You’ll cruise across the magnificent Pontcysyllte and Chirk aqueducts, enjoying incredible views of the Welsh Mountains. At Llangollen, nestled in the Berwyn Mountains, you can visit the famous Horseshoe Falls. The journey from Whixall to Llangollen and back takes around 24 hours and passes through four locks (two each way).

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Magnificent castles to visit over the Coronation Weekend

Best castles to visit on a canal boat holiday

The coronation weekend provides the perfect opportunity to visit and explore some rich history and whilst the royal residence of Windsor Castle is reachable in a 2-week cruise from our base in Oxford, England and Wales are home to more castles than just the few our new King will reside in; there’s more than 1500! They vary greatly from crumbling stone ruins to perfectly preserved buildings some of which are open to the public.

Castles were usually built overlooking and guarding key trade routes which frequently followed the path of rivers. Since many of the canals were later built along these same river valleys, they now pass many of the country’s most impressive castles – making these historic properties an ideal stop off.

From moated keeps and fairytale turrets to imposing defensive walls, every castle has its own unique story to tell, offering us a link with our often-turbulent past. So whatever style or state of repair, exploring a historic castle is a great day out for all ages.

Here are some of the magnificent castles you could visit during your coronation canal boat holiday with Anglo Welsh…

 

Experience Stunning Castle views on a break from Whixall or Bunbury

Sitting atop its rocky crag and boasting spectacular views across the Cheshire Plain, Beeston is one of the most dramatically sited medieval castles in England. On a clear day visitors can see all the way from the Pennines to the Welsh mountains. Built in 1220 by Ranulf de Blundeville, Earl of Chester, the castle shares the site with earlier Bronze Age and Iron Age defences which are incorporated into its structure. The castle was seized by Henry III in 1237 and remained in royal ownership until the 16th century. It came under siege during the Civil War in 1644-5 and was partially destroyed after being surrendered by the Royalists. Now run by English Heritage, the walk uphill from the canal is worth the effort for the views alone but the castle ruins are fascinating with a 360ft deep well and there is now a replica Bronze Age roundhouse on the site.

 

Travel back in time to a Tudor Manor House from Oxford

Dating from the turn of the 14th century, this moated fortified Tudor manor house was built by Sir John de Broughton. It passed into ownership of Lord Saye and Sele, in 1448 and has remained in the same family ever since. It is now home to the 21st Lord and Lady Saye and Sele who open the property to visitors on selected days throughout the year. Moor up during your narrowboat holiday to take a tour of the house and admire a family collection amassed over more than 550 years. Enjoy a stroll around the beautiful formal gardens before sitting down to a well-earned cuppa in the tea rooms. Broughton was awarded five stars by author and broadcaster Simon Jenkins in his book England’s Thousand Best Houses.

 

Cruise from Tardebigge to take in some History

Home to the Bishops of Worcester for more than 1000 years and now home to the Worcestershire County Museum, this castle is worth stepping ashore from your canal boat holiday cruise. The older 15th century castle was rebuilt in the 18th century and boasts the bishops Palace with impressive state rooms and antiques while the museum has a fine collection of costumes, carriages and toys. Visitors can also enjoy a walk around the extensive grounds with stunning views of the palace. Hartlebury Castle won the Visit England Hidden Gem award for the second year in a row in 2019 in recognition of its great visitor experience.

 

Visit Warwick Castle from Wootton Wawen or Stockton

One of the best-preserved medieval castles in the UK, Warwick Castle looms over the town and River Avon and offers a full day of entertainment during a narrowboat holiday. Originally built by William the Conqueror in 1068 to secure his dominance over England and protect supply routes, the castle has since been rebuilt and remodeled several times. Much of the remaining edifice dates from the 14th century when the castle was refortified by Thomas Beauchamp after the outbreak of the 100 Year’s War. Since being bought by Tussauds Group in 1978, the castle has undergone millions of pounds worth of restoration so visitors can explore the towers and ramparts, Great Hall and state rooms before delving into the gruesome dungeon and testing themselves in the Horrible Histories maze. There are also daily live shows including falconry, the Wars of the Roses live and the Dragon Slayer which should have the kids entranced.

 

Step into some Medieval History from Silsden

Over 900 years old, Skipton Castle is one of the most complete and best-preserved medieval castles in England and is open to visitors throughout the year. A wooden motte and bailey were constructed on the site in 1090 but quickly replaced by a more robust stone fortress to withstand the marauding Scots. In 1310 Edward II granted the castle to Robert Clifford and the history of the castle was inseparable from that of the Clifford family for the next three centuries and was the last Royalist bastion of the north during the Civil War, yielding only after a three-year siege in 1645. A short walk from the canal, visitors can explore every corner of this impressive castle, from the Banqueting Hall through to the kitchen, the bedchamber and privy. You can climb from the depths of the dungeon to the top story of the watch tower for great views over the Yorkshire countryside.

 

Explore Chirk Castle from Trevor

Built in 1310 during Edward I’s campaign to bring Wales under his control, Chirk Castle was designed to be a bold symbol of power. Built on a steep hill high above the meeting point of the rivers Dee and Ceiriog, the silhouette of the castle still looms over the surrounding countryside of Wales and England. In 1595 the fortress was bought by Sir Thomas Myddleton who made his fortune investing in the East India Company and transformed Chirk Castle into an elegant family home. Now run by the National Trust, visitors can admire the lavish furnishings reflecting four centuries of changing tastes and styles within the castle as well as the 5.5 acres of ornamental gardens and 480 acres of rolling parkland, making it a perfect family day out for your canal boat holiday.

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Try canal boating at one of our free open day events

Try canal boating for free

On Sunday 23 April 2023, we are offering people the chance to try canal boating for free at six of our canal boat hire bases across England and Wales.

The taster sessions, which are part of the Drifters national open day event, will include free short trips on skippered narrowboats, and the opportunity to look round holiday-hire boats at some locations.

Our open day events will be on from 11am to 4pm at the following locations:

Bunbury, Shropshire Union Canal

Bunbury Lock, Bunbury, Tarporley, Cheshire, CW6 9QB

Great Haywood, Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal

Mill Lane, Great Haywood, Staffordshire ST18 0RJ

Tardebigge, Worcester & Birmingham Canal

Tardebigge Wharf, Old Wharf, Bromsgrove B60 1LR

Trevor, Llangollen Canal

Canal Wharf, Trevor, Llangollen, Wrexham LL20 7TT

Whixall, Llangollen Canal

Whixall Marina, Alders Lane, Whixall SY13 2QS

Wootton Wawen, Stratford Canal

Canal Wharf, Wootton Wawen, Henley in Arden, Warwickshire B95 6BZ

 

Our events are family and pet-friendly.

To take part, go to www.drifters.co.uk/openday and download your free boat trip voucher.

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Anglo Welsh’s Top 10 narrowboat holidays for 2023

Best narrowboat holidays
Emma Lovell, Anglo Welsh’s reservations manager, gives an overview of the top canal boat holiday destinations in England and Wales for 2023

There are thousands of miles of navigable waterways to explore in England and Wales, offering the chance to set off on your very own adventure afloat.

You can cruise slowly through the countryside, watching out for wildlife and planning your next stop.  There’s a choice of hundreds of waterside destinations to visit, from canalside pubs, restaurants and walks, to museums, theatres and festivals.

To celebrate the new boating season ahead, here’s a guide to our Top 10 narrowboat holidays for 2023:

1. See the rhino calf born at Chester Zoo

On a short break from our base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal you can reach the ancient City of Chester, home to the award-winning Chester Zoo.  Visitors to Chester Zoo will find over 20,000 animals from 500 species, including Jiya, an endangered greater one-horn rhino calf.  Jiya was born to Mum Asha after a 16-month pregnancy in October 2022.  The journey to Chester from Bunbury takes around seven hours, and passes through nine locks.

2. Cruise to Lechlade on Thames for a great choice of country walks

Setting off on a mid-week break from our Oxford base, you can take a Thames boating holiday to Lechlade.  The pretty historic town of Lechlade has a choice of pubs, including the 16th century Swan Inn and riverside Trout Inn.  And you can pick up a guide to six local walks at the Post Office or Library, including information about the history of the area.  The journey to Lechlade passes through seven locks and takes around nine hours.

3. Visit Birmingham, home of the Peaky Blinders

From our Tardebigge base near Bromsgrove, it’s an eight-and-a-half hour, three-lock journey to the Black Country Living Museum.  Scenes for all five series of the BBC’s epic gangster drama Peaky Blinders were filmed at the 26-acre Museum.  As well as walking in the footsteps of the Shelbys, visitors can explore period shops and homes and have a drink in the ‘Bottle & Glass Inn’. You can also sample the Museum’s famous traditionally cooked 1930’s-style fish and chips and take a trip ‘into the thick’ to experience life in an 1850’s coal mine.

4. Visit the Fairport Convention folk festival at Cropredy

On a week’s holiday from Stockton, you can cruise along the Oxford Canal to enjoy the festival of folk and rock music at Cropredy (10-12 August).  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.  From there, the route winds gently on through the countryside, passing through 21 locks along the way.  The 12-mile journey to Cropredy takes around 12 hours.

5. Moor up to see a play in Shakespeare’s Stratford

From our base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal, you can reach Stratford upon Avon on a short break.  There you can moor up in Bancroft Basin to enjoy the town’s lively markets, shops, restaurants and museums. And you can choose from an exciting theatrical programme, including productions of ‘The Tempest’, ‘Julius Caesar’ and ‘Macbeth’ at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.  From Wootton Wawen, it takes around six hours, to reach Shakespeare’s Stratford, passing through 17 locks.

6. Navigate the Four Counties Ring

On a week’s break from our base at Great Haywood in Staffordshire, you can navigate the ‘Four Counties Ring’.  This popular circuit will take you along sections of the Trent & Mersey, Shropshire Union and Staffordshire & Worcestershire canals.  In total, you’ll cruise 110-miles in around 60 hours, passing through 94 locks. Along the way, you’ll pass through some of the most beautiful landscapes in England, including the Peak District and Cheshire Plains.  Highlights include: Wedgewood Pottery in Stoke on Trent; the 1.5 mile long Harecastle Tunnel; the flight of 31 locks at Kidsgrove; the Roman town of Middlewich; and the historic market town of Market Drayton.

7. Pass through the Bingley Five Rise Staircase

From our Silsden base it takes around four hours to reach the Bingley Five Rise Staircase, one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’.  Completed in 1774, this spectacular staircase of locks on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal raises (or lowers) boats 18 metres in five massive chambers.  The locks open directly from one to another, with the top gate of one forming the bottom gate of the next.  On a short break from Silsden, you can continue on to Shipley or Saltaire. On a week’s holiday from Silsden, you can reach Leeds.

8. Glide across ‘The Stream in the Sky’

Departing from our base 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 continue cruising along the Llangollen Canal to Ellesmere.  The Mere at Ellesmere offers visitors woodland walks, places to eat, a sculpture trail and an adventure playground. The journey to Ellesmere takes around seven hours, passing through two locks.

9. Travel up the Caen Hill Flight

On a week’s break from our base at Monkton Combe near Bath, you can reach Pewsey Wharf, travelling up the famous Caen Hill flight of locks along the way.  The route, which is perfect for a week away, takes you along the Kennet & Avon Canal through 37 locks, including the 29 locks of the Caen Hill Flight at Devizes.  You’ll also cruise across two dramatic Bath stone aqueducts at Dundas and Avoncliff, 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.

10. Experience the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod afloat

Taking a week’s break from Whixall, you can cruise through the Shropshire Lake District to the Eisteddfod town of Llangollen.  Every year, thousands of people descend on the pretty town of Llangollen, nestled in the Berwyn Mountains, to celebrate dance, music, costume and culture.  The 2023 Eisteddfod is on from 4-9 July.  The journey takes around 12 hours and passes through just two locks

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Stan Cullimore reviews his widebeam boat holiday on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal

Canal boat hire on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal

Earlier this year, Stan Cullimore – journalist, children’s author and member of the 80’s band The Housemartins – took a press trip aboard one of our widebeam boats.

Departing from our canal boat hire base at Silsden, on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire, he travelled east to Saltaire and back.  Along the way, with help from Canal & River Trust volunteer lock keepers, he travelled through the famous Bingley Five Rise Locks.

He describes the beautiful Spring countryside he passed through as “lush, green and gorgeous”, with lambs, bluebell woods and quaint little villages to see along the way.

He talks about the experience of steering a widebeam boat, and how it differs from navigating on a narrowboat.  And he takes you on a tour of his widebeam canal boat’s “luxury decadence” and “spacious” interior, including the saloon with a wood burning stove, kitchen area and double cabin.

Stan travelled aboard ‘Bob’s Drum’, our 55ft long widebeam boat with accommodation for up to eight people.  ‘Bob’s Drum’ is one of six widebeam boats available to hire from Sildsen, where 2023 prices start at £990 for a short break (three or four nights), £1,505 for a week.  There are also 17 narrowboats for hire from Silsden.

Here’s a link to Stan’s video https://youtu.be/mSY8wc1xn8s

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Top 7 cosy waterside pubs and restaurants to cruise to this winter

Top 7 cosy waterside pubs to cruise to on a canal boat holiday this winter

We offer winter cruising* from seven of our canal boat hire bases – providing the opportunity to cruise gently through the quiet winter countryside and stop off at waterside eateries along the way.

You’ll be snug and warm on board as all our boats have central heating and hot water, and some also have multi-fuel stoves.

We offer narrowboat hire over Christmas and New Year, so you can celebrate the festive season afloat with family and friends.  Or simply escape from it all with your nearest and dearest, aboard your very own floating holiday cottage.

Here’s a guide to our Top 7 waterside pubs and restaurants to cruise to this winter. Please note that winter maintenance on the canals may affect some routes for part of the winter, so do just check with us when you make your booking:

1. Cruise to the Dusty Miller at Wrenbury Mill, Cheshire

From our base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal, it takes around seven hours to reach Wrenbury Mill.  The route travels through 10 miles of the Cheshire countryside, and passes through 11 locks.  You’ll start off on the Shropshire Union Canal, transferring onto the Llangollen Canal at Hurleston Junction.  At Wrenbury Mill you can moor up and enjoy a meal at the Dusty Miller.  They serve traditional pub food, including chicken in a basket and pie of the day. The pub is dog friendly and they have a guide to local walks on their website.

2. Moor up at the Crown Inn near Alvechurch, Worcestershire

From our barge hire base at Tardebigge, it takes one and a half hours to cruise to the canalside Crown Inn.  The journey travels three miles along the Worcestershire & Birmingham Canal.  This lovely country pub offers rustic charm and a great choice food and drink.  From fish and chips, and burgers, to seafood linguine and Chicken Balti, the team at the Crown pride themselves on serving ‘proper food’.

3. Visit the Boathouse overlooking the Mere, Shropshire

Setting out from our base at Whixall, it takes around three-and-a-half hours to reach the historic market town of Ellesmere in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District.  You’ll travel along the beautiful Llangollen Canal, passing a series of lakes, including Cole Mere. Once at Ellesmere, you can moor up and explore the Mere, with its motte and bailey castle, Cremorne Gardens, woodlands and popular Boathouse restaurant over-looking the Mere.

4. Head to the Swan Inn at Fradley Junction, Staffordshire

From our base at Great Haywood it takes around five hours to reach Fradley Junction.  The journey travels along the Trent & Mersey Canal for 12 miles, passing through five locks.  At Fradley, you can moor up next to the historic Swan Inn, serving ‘home cooked honest meals’.  They also have a doggy menu.

5. Visit the Fleur De Lys at Lowsonford, Warwickshire

From our boat yard on the Stratford Canal at Wootton Wawen, it takes around three hours to cruise to the pretty canalside village of Lowsonford.  There you can moor up to visit the Fleur De Lys, a 17th century country pub famous for its pies. Eleven different types of pie are served, accompanied by seasonal vegetables, chunky chips and gravy.  There are gluten free and vegan options, as well as veggie, meat and fish pies.

6. Take refreshment at the Barge Inn at Seend, Wiltshire

From our canal boat hire base at Bath, you can cruise gently through the countryside to the Barge Inn at Seend.  This beautiful pub on the Kennet & Avon Canal offers cosy real fires and classic pub favourites, including great Sunday roasts.  It takes around seven hours to cruise the 17 miles to Seend, passing through four locks along the way.

7. Dine out at the Corn Mill in Llangollen, Denbighshire

From our Trevor base on the Llangollen Canal, it takes around two-and-a-half hours to reach the pretty town of Llangollen, nestled in the Berwyn Mountains.  Once there, you can moor up in Llangollen Basin and take a short walk to the popular Corn Mill pub.  Housed in a 14th century watermill on the banks of the River Dee, there’s a great choice of dishes on offer.  From pumpkin tortellini and a sweet potato curry, to a crispy buttermilk chicken burger and rump steak, all are calorie counted.

*Winter maintenance will affect some of the routes some of the time

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Top 9 Autumn 2022 canal boat holiday destinations

Best Autumn canal boat holidays in England and Wales

This Autumn set sail on an adventure afloat, enjoying the beautiful colours in the trees and hedgerows that line Britain’s canals and rivers.

You’ll be self-contained on board your very own floating holiday cottage, equipped with the key comforts of home, including hot water, TV, WiFi*, well-stocked kitchens, showers, flushing toilets and central heating.

Welcome to our guide to our top destinations for Autumn 2022:

  1. Glide across ‘The Stream in the Sky’ to Whitchurch

On a week’s break from our canal boat hire centre at Trevor in North Wales, you can travel to Whitchurch and back.  The journey along the Llangollen Canal to Whitchurch takes 22 hours and passes through two locks.  Along the way, you’ll travel across the incredible Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.  This UNESCO World Heritage structure carries the canal 126 feet high above the Dee Valley.  Next you’ll go through the Whitehouses and Chirk tunnels, then across the magnificent Chirk Aqueduct.  Then it’s on through the beautiful Shropshire countryside, passing Ellesmere and Cole Mere.  Once at Whitchurch, you can moor up to explore this pretty historic town, with independent shops and restaurants, and way-marked walks.

  1. Travel round the Black Country Ring

From our narrowboat hire base at Great Haywood in Staffordshire, you can complete the Black Country Ring.  The journey takes around 43 cruising hours, and travels through 79 locks.  It navigates sections of the Birmingham & Fazeley, Birmingham Main Line, Coventry, Staffordshire & Worcestershire and Trent & Mersey canals.  Highlights include Birmingham city centre’s Gas Street Basin, the Black Country Living Museum, and the waters at Tixall Wide.

  1. Cruise through the Worcestershire countryside to Lapworth

Navigating from our Tardebigge base near Bromsgrove, it’s a gentle seven-hour cruise through the countryside to the village of Lapworth.  You’ll be travelling along the Worcestershire & Birmingham Canal.  There are two tunnels to navigate through, but no locks.  Once moored up in Lapworth, you can explore the village and visit the National Trust’s Packwood House.

  1. Navigate through the Airedale to Gargrave

On a short break from Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, you can cruise to Highgate Winding Hole, close to the village of Gargrave.  The route passes through Kildwick with its White Lion pub, Snaygill, home of the Bay Horse pub, and Skipton with its fascinating medieval castle.  The pretty village of Gargrave near the head of the Airedale, offers a choice of pubs, including the Masons Arms.  The journey to Highgate Winding Hole and back travels 20 miles and takes around 11 hours.

  1. Float along the Kennet & Avon Canal to Devizes

From our base at Bath it takes around 10½ hours to reach Foxhangers Wharf, on the edge of Devizes.  Here you can walk up the magnificent Caen Hill flight of locks, one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways.  Along the way, you’ll pass through eight locks, and over two dramatic Bath stone aqueducts at Dundas and Avoncliff.  You’ll also pass a series of canalside pubs, including the Cross Guns at Avoncliff and the Barge Inn at Bradford on Avon.  This route is perfect for a short break.

  1. Boat through the Warwickshire countryside to Fenny Compton

On a short break from Stockton, you can reach the pretty canalside village of Fenny Compton.  The journey begins on the Grand Union Canal, transferring onto the Oxford Canal at Napton-on-the-Hill, where there’s a good choice of pubs.  From there, the route winds gently 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).

  1. Take a Thames boating holiday to Lechlade

From our narrowboat hire base on the River Thames at Oxford, it’s a tranquil nine-hour, journey to the pretty market town of Lechlade.  Perfect for a mid-week break, the route passes through seven locks and miles of peaceful countryside.  Places to stop off at include the village of Radcot with its 800-year old bridge across the Thames.  And Kelmscott Manor, once the Cotswold retreat of William Morris. Lechlade has a choice of pubs, cafes and restaurants, as well as independent shops.

  1. Boat to the ancient City of Chester

On a short break from our Bunbury base near Tarporley in Cheshire, you can reach the historic City of Chester.  The 12-mile journey along the Shropshire Union Canal takes you through the rolling Cheshire countryside.  It takes around seven cruising hours, and passes through 18 locks.  Once in Chester, you can enjoy some of the city’s best loved attractions, including Britain’s most complete Roman and medieval walls and the Tudor open-air galleries.

  1. Navigate the Avon Ring

On a 10-day or two-week break from Wootton Wawen, boaters can navigate the Avon Ring.  The 109-mile circuit travels sections of the Stratford Canal, River Avon, River Severn and Worcester & Birmingham Canal.  It passes through 131 locks and takes around 58 cruising hours. Highlights include Shakespeare’s Stratford, historic Evesham, Tewkesbury, Worcester and the 30 locks at Tardebigge.

*NB Our Silsden boats don’t have WiFi

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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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