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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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Best pet friendly canal boat holidays

Best pet friendly canal boat holidays

Narrowboats provide a floating holiday home so it’s possible to take many types of pets on the canals

Canal boat holidays are especially great for dogs, with plenty of towpath walks and dog-friendly canalside pubs to visit. Over the years, we’ve accommodated many other kinds of pets, including rabbits, cats, hamsters, caged birds and goldfish.

First pets go for free on all our holidays, and we charge a £25 supplement for a second pet on a short break, £35 for a week.

Guide dogs go free of charge. We allow a maximum of two pets, plus a guide dog, but all bedding and pet facilities must be provided by the owner(s).

We recommend our cruiser stern boats for holidays with a dog, as there’s more room ‘on deck’ for the dog and the rest of the family to enjoy watching the world go by.

Now for some do’s and don’ts

Do bring your dog’s bed to help them feel at home and don’t leave your dog unattended on board.

Do pack your poo bags.

Don’t let your dog swim in the canals, especially when there are ducklings, signets, goslings and other water bird chicks about.

To celebrate, here’s a guide to our top 7 destinations for animal lovers:

  1. Cruise to Cannock Chase for acres of dog walking trails – on a short break from our base on the Trent & Mersey Canal at Great Haywood in Staffordshire, you can easily reach Cannock Chase Forest where there are miles of walking trails enjoy, as well as a dog activity trail. Once a Royal Forest, Cannock Chase is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with over 6,800 hectares of landscapes to explore.  There are mixed deciduous woodlands, coniferous plantations and healthlands.  These habitats are home to a wide variety of animals and insects, including a herd of fallow deer, a number of rare and endangered birds, including migrant nightjars, as well as butterflies, bats and reptiles.  The Wolseley Centre and Nature Reserve is next to Wolseley Bridge is just two miles and two locks from Great Haywood, and offers a great gateway to Cannock Chase.
  2. Cruise to the foot of the Caen Hill Flight – from our base at Monkton Combe on the Kennet & Avon Canal you can travel to Foxhangers Wharf, at the foot of the Caen Hill flight of locks in Devizes. Along the way, you’ll pass through miles of peaceful Wiltshire countryside, with a series of villages and dog-friendly country pubs to visit along the way.  These include The Cross Guns at Avoncliff, the Barge Inn at Bradford on Avon and the Barge Inn at Seend.  Once at Caen Hill, you can moor up and explore the flight and its large side ponds, which provide a fantastic haven for wildlife.  Full of fish, the side ponds provide an ideal habitat for dragonflies, butterflies and many types of water birds.  You can look out for swans, ducks, geese, coots, moorhens, herons and cormorants.  The journey to Foxhangers Wharf and back takes around 19 hours, passing through 16 locks (eight each way).
  3. Cruise to Ellesmere for some heron spotting – on a short break from our base on the Llangollen Canal at Trevor in North Wales, you can cruise to the Shropshire Lake District. The journey to the medieval market town of Ellesmere takes around seven hours, passing through just two locks.  You’ll also cross over the magnificent Pontcysyllte and Chirk aqueducts.  Moscow Island on The Mere in Ellesmere is home to the Heron Watch Scheme, where cameras allow visitors to watch the birds build nests and raise chicks.  And there are plenty of woodland walks and trails to follow with your dog.
  4. Explore the gardens and the ancient topiary at Packwood House – from Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal near Henley-in-Arden, it’s a seven-mile, 31-lock and 10-hour journey to Lapworth Lock No 6.  From there, it’s a half-mile walk to the National Trust’s Packwood House, where there are miles of woodland and countryside walks to enjoy. Dogs are welcome at Packwood on leads on public footpaths across the estate, on the café terrace and in the barnyard.  The house and formal gardens are only for humans.
  5. Boat to the historic village of Wrenbury and back – from our base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire it takes around six hours, passing through 11 locks, to reach Wrenbury Mill on the Llangollen Canal. The journey takes you along 10 miles of waterway through quintessential Cheshire farmland and countryside.  The historic village of Wrenbury, which is on the South Cheshire Way offers lots of countryside walks.  It’s also a registered conservation area with plenty of wildlife to watch out for, particularly in the gardens of the Grade II listed St Margaret’s Church. There’s a choice of dog friendly pubs to visit, including the canalside Dusty Miller, and the Cotton Arms in the village of Wrenbury.
  6. Cruise along the River Thames into the Cotswolds – from our Oxford base on the River Thames, on a four-night mid-week break you can take a tranquil nine-hour, seven-lock Thames boating holiday to the pretty market town of Lechlade on the edge of the Cotswolds. Along the way, you’ll travel through miles of peaceful Oxfordshire countryside, with plenty of dog walking opportunities.  Places to visit include the village of Radcot with its 800-year old bridge across the Thames and dog-friendly bar in the Ye Olde Swan Hotel. And Kelmscott with its Grade I listed Kelmscott Manor, once the Cotswold retreat of William Morris, and popular Plough Inn.
  7. Watch out for wildlife on the Montgomery Canal – from Whixall Marina in Shropshire, it takes around six hours to reach Frankton Junction, where the Llangollen Canal meets the Montgomery Canal. This beautiful canal runs for 38 miles between England and Wales.  It is recognised as a Special Area of Conservation, making it one of the most important sites for wildlife in Europe.  Currently only around half the Montgomery Canal is navigable, including a seven-mile section from Frankton Junction to Gronwyn Wharf.  From Whixall, the journey to Gronwyn Wharf and back takes around 20 hours. You’ll travel through 34 miles of beautiful countryside and passing through 16 locks (eight each way).  Along the way, you can look out for many types of waterway birds, animals and insects.  These include dragonflies, damselflies, otters, Daubenton’s bats skimming over the water at dusk, and the critically endangered water vole.

Click here to check availability and book, or call us on 0117 304 1122.

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Best February half term canal boat holiday destinations

Best February half term canal boat holiday destinations

There’s a great choice of exciting family destinations to visit on a half term boating breaks on the canals

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 four destinations on a family canal boat holiday this February half term:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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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Best spring canal boat holidays

Best spring canal boat holiday breaks in 2024

Experience a spring break on Britain’s beautiful canal network and see the countryside bursting with new life

Spring is a glorious time to celebrate the rich and diverse wildlife living in Britain.

Kevin Yarwood, manager at our Great Haywood base, explains:

“Our beautiful inland waterways weave through the countryside taking in woodlands, farmland, nature reserves and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Travelling along at just four miles per hour on a canal boat holiday, there’s always something special to look out for.

“In spring, when the countryside is bursting with new life, there’s no better way to see waterside trees and hedges covered blossom, nest-building birds, ducklings bobbing on the water, spring lambs playing in the fields, and carpets of bluebells in waterside woodlands.”

To celebrate Britain’s natural environment, we’ve put together a guide to our best spring canal boat holiday destinations:

  1. Navigate through Shakespeare country and Warwickshire farmland 

    From our narrowboat hire base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal near Henley-in-Arden, it takes around six hours, travelling through 17 locks to reach Stratford-upon-Avon. Travelling over the Edstone Aqueduct and on through the pretty Warwickshire countryside, with spring lambs playing in the fields alongside the canal, boaters can stop off to visit Mary Arden’s Tudor Farm in the canalside village of Wilmcote, where Shakespeare’s mother grew up.  Once in Stratford, there are overnight moorings in Bancroft Basin, perfect for enjoying all that Shakespeare’s birthplace has to offer, including riverside parks, theatres, shops, restaurants and museums.

  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 easily reach the beautiful Caldon Canal and travel into the Peak District. The journey takes boaters up to Stoke on Trent, passing Wedgewood World along the way, and, once on the Caldon, through gently rolling hills and wooded areas alongside the beautiful River Churnet.  Here there’s the chance to spot kingfishers, herons, jays and woodpeckers, as well as otters which have recently returned to the area.  The return journey along the Caldon to Froghall takes around 43 hours, travelling a total of 72 miles and passing through 70 locks.

  3. Cruise to Ellesmere to catch a glimpse of a heron chick

    On a short break from our 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. 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 the Pontcysyllte and Chirk aqueducts.  Formed thousands of years ago by the melting of the glaciers during the retreating ice age, the meres of the Shropshire Lake District, including The Mere at Ellesmere are particularly beautiful in Spring.  And every Spring, Moscow Island on The Mere is home to the Heron Watch Scheme, with cameras allow visitors to watch the birds build nests and raise chicks.

  4. Cruise to the gateway of the Yorkshire Dales and explore the ancient woods at Skipton Castle

    From 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. For nearly 1,000 years Skipton Castle Woods provided fuel, food and building materials for castle inhabitants.  Today there are at least 18 species of trees flourishing there, and hundreds of flowering plants, including wild orchids and bluebells in the Spring.  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.

  5. Drift through the beautiful prehistoric Vale of Pewsey

    From our base at Monkton Combe on the Kennet & Avon Canal just outside Bath, it takes around 19 hours to reach Pewsey Wharf, perfect for a week afloat. Along the way, you’ll pass through miles of peaceful Wiltshire countryside, with a series of waterside villages and country pubs to visit along the way.  Highlights on this route include: the mighty Caen Hill Flight of 29 locks at Devizes; cruising along the edge of the ancient Savernake Forest; and the beautiful Vale of Pewsey, part of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and home to prehistoric Avebury.  The journey to Pewsey and back takes around 38 hours, passing through 74 locks (37 each way).

  6. Travel to Llangollen on the edge of the Berwyn Mountains

    From Whixall, on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire , it takes around 12 hours to reach the pretty town of Llangollen. Along the way, you’ll travel through the beautiful Shropshire Lake District and across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’ and now a UNESCO World Heritage site.  Once in Llangollen, you can moor up to enjoy exploring this pretty town nestled on the edge of the Berwyn Mountains, including its regular markets packed with local produce, choice of independent shops and restaurants, steam railway and famous Horseshoe Falls.  The journey to Llangollen and back passes through just four locks (two each way).

  7. Navigate the Four Counties Ring for stunning views of the Cheshire Plains  

    On a week’s break from Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire, you can travel round the popular Four Counties Ring. Travelling for around 58 hours and passing through 96 locks, this route takes you through the counties of Staffordshire, the West Midlands, Cheshire and Shropshire and travels sections of the Trent & Mersey, Staffordshire & Worcestershire and Shropshire Union canals.  Rural highlights include: panoramic views from the flight of 31 locks (also known as ‘Heartbreak Hill’) between Middlewich and Kidsgrove on the Trent & Mersey Canal; views of the rolling Cheshire Plains on the Shropshire Union Canal; acres of farmland on the Middlewich Branch; wildlife spotting at Tixall Wide on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal; and the National Trust’s Shugborough Hall with its extensive waterside gardens.

  8. Take a Thames boating holiday to Abingdon and listen out for cuckoos calling

    From our Oxford barge hire base on the River Thames, it takes around five hours, passing through six locks and travelling 15 miles to reach the historic riverside market town of Abingdon – perfect for a short break Thames boating holiday. As well as cruising through the outskirts of the ancient City of Oxford, you’ll pass through beautiful stretches of Oxfordshire countryside, with lush meadows, stretches of bluebells woodlands alongside the river and the chance to hear cuckoos calling.  Once moored up at Abingdon, you can enjoy exploring riverside walks, parks and eateries, including the popular waterside Nag’s Head.

Click here to check availability and book.

The Canal & River Trust as produced a Spotters Guide to Waterway Wildlife.

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Best canal boat holiday routes for Winter 2022

Best winter canal boat holiday routes

We have a range of narrowboats to choose from this winter, including cosy two-berths and twelve-berths fit for a party on the canal. Whilst all of our canal boats have central heating and hot water, some have the added advantage of a multi-fuel stove, perfect for keeping warm and toasty during the colder months. With WiFi, a TV and a DVD player on every boat, you can spend your evening relaxing onboard, if you’re not too busy enjoying a canal side pub or three!

Ice Skating in Bath

Mooring close to Pulteney Bridge, you can enjoy everything the beautiful city of Bath has to offer including ice skating in Royal Victoria Park! You can reach the World Heritage city within just a few hours from our Bath base on the Kennet & Avon canal. First you cruise along a section of the Avon Valley and then onwards through a flight of six locks. If you’re not feeling festive, there’s much more to explore, including the Roman Baths and Medieval Bath Abbey.

Skiing in Etruria

On a seven-night holiday from our Great Haywood base, you can make it to Etruria where you can spend a day on the slopes at Stoke Ski Centre. Travelling north up the Trent & Mersey canal, stopping off at the canal town of Stone and the village of Barlaston, you’ll pass through eighteen locks before mooring up to enjoy a family day out. If you’re not up for testing out your skiing skills, there’s much more to do in the area, including Waterworld Aqua Park.

Shakespeare Country

If you fancy a tour of cosy country pubs, this is doable on a short break from our base in Wootton Wawen. On a picturesque six-hour cruise through the picturesque Warwickshire countryside, you can reach Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon Avon. Mooring up at Bancroft Basin, you can enjoy the historic town and its many pubs, restaurants and cafes.

The Stream in the Sky

Our base at Trevor sits on the doorstep of the world famous Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, so this is easily doable on a short break or even a day hire! On a short break, canal boat holiday-makers can cruise to Ellesmere, in the centre of the Shropshire Lake District, to visit the famous Mere, a haven for wildlife.

If you don’t have time for a boating break, but want to get into the Christmas spirit, our trip boat “Little Star” is offering festive trips across the aqueduct from 10th-24th December. All children aboard will receive a small gift, from our special guest Mary Christmas! With the chance to win a free dayboat, you won’t want to miss out.

Ice Skating in Birmingham

City Centre moorings are just a five-hour, lock-free cruise away from our base at Tardebigge, so why not enjoy some ice skating and a ride on the big wheel in Birmingham? With a German Christmas Market, this is the perfect short break to get you in the Christmas mood!

Our dayboat Emma is also available to book overnight, so provides the perfect excuse for a last-minute winter getaway.

Visit Beeston Castle in Chester

Starting your journey at our base in Bunbury, head north-west through beautiful, peaceful countryside all the way to the village of Beeston. Here you can find the English Heritage site of Beeson Castle which is situated on top of a steep hill (make sure to bring your walking boots with you!). The impressive ruin dates back to the fourteenth century and can be visited by mooring up at bridge 107. Continuing along you’ll eventually spot the spires in Chester; there’s time for a visit if you moor up at bridge 123D and take a short walk into the city centre. Here you can enjoy Chester Cathedral before starting your return journey to Bunbury.

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Top 12 Tips for First-Time Narrowboat Holiday Makers   

You don’t need to be an expert to enjoy a canal boat holiday, in fact, each year around one fifth of narrowboat hirers are new to the waterways!

It’s easier than you think to take control of a narrowboat, but to help settle any nerves about a staycation afloat, we’ve put together our top 12 canal boating tips for first-timers:

  1. Keep to the right: Unlike what you will be used to when driving, canal boats travel on the right side of our canals and rivers, so when you meet another boat, be sure to keep to the right.
  2. Steering basics: It might sound confusing at first, but really, it’s simple: if you want to go left, push the tiller to the right, and if you want to go right, push it to the left. Put the engine in reverse to stop. You’ll soon get the hang of it!
  3. Lock logistics: Always make sure you have a steerer on the boat when in a lock, and ensure that the boat is kept forward of the gates and cill (step). Be careful of slippery surfaces when pushing the gates open. Take your time and leave slowly to avoid any bumps.
  4. Close the gates behind you: Check that all paddles and gates are shut after you’ve used a lock, unless you can see another boat approaching.
  5. Sharing is caring: If possible, always share a lock with other boats to save water. This works to your advantage, as it means you can share the lock operation, and have a chat with other narrowboaters!
  6. Use your horn: The horn is there to enable you to warn canal boats coming towards you when approaching any sharp bends and when entering a tunnel.
  7. Tunnel tricks: Switch on your headlight before entering a tunnel, and if it’s a one-way tunnel, always make sure there isn’t already a boat inside before you begin to navigate your way through. To be sure, sound your horn upon approach.
  8. Slow down to walking pace: There’s a 4mph speed limit on the inland waterways. If you’re creating too much wash, you’re going too fast. Washes in the canals disturb wildlife and erodes the banks.
  9. Reduce your speed even further: Slow down when you are approaching bridges, locks, bends or junctions, and when passing other canal boats or anglers.
  10. Mooring musts: When mooring up at busy spots, make sure to avoid leaving a big gap between your boat and the bank. Never moor opposite winding holes, on bends, near to bridges, on private property, on lock landings (unless you are waiting to lock through) or at water points (unless you are filling up).
  11. Tying up: To keep your narrowboat secure, you need to tie it to the bank with a rope from both the front and the back of the barge, and on rivers you should fix your upstream rope first.
  12. Enjoy yourself! Above all, relax & enjoy your boating holiday!

For more tips and advice ahead of your narrowboat holiday, check out our YouTube channel where we have a series of virtual boat handover clips: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcFikWqY-NcnYsWpOE7osrA

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Anglo Welsh win Bronze award for ‘Self Catering Accommodation of the Year’

Self catering accommodation of the Year

Bronze award for ‘Self Catering Accommodation of the Year’ at the 2022 West Midlands Tourism Awards.

Our marketing and bookings team attended the event at the stunning Coombe Abbey in Coventry and enjoyed celebrating the West Midlands tourism industry with other finalists.

Gabby Wood, marketing co-ordinator for Anglo Welsh, says:

“Narrowboat holidays are a fun and unique way to explore the West Midlands and we are so proud to have been recognised for the staycations we provide on the canals.

We had a fantastic time meeting other finalists. It was so great to learn more about the variety of visitor attractions, accommodation and hospitality venues available to tourists in the West Midlands. It’s been a challenging few years for the tourism industry, but it was inspiring and motivating to see the resilience of everyone and to be congratulated for our hard work.

We want to give a special mention to the staff at our boatyards who work extremely hard to keep the boats on top form and who always go out of their way to ensure customers enjoy their narrowboat holiday.”

Interested in exploring the West Midlands by narrowboat? We offer boat hire from locations at Wootton Wawen, Tardebigge and Great Haywood. Our canal boats range from 2-berths to 12-berths and all have well-equipped kitchens, fresh water flushing toilets, hot water showers, comfortable beds, TVs, DVD players and WiFi, and are all pet friendly.

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What to pack for your narrowboat holiday

Our canal boats are like floating holiday cottages so you’ll find many of the home comforts already on board, including a galley kitchen equipped with cutlery, crockery, cooking utensils, saucepans, a four burner gas cooker with an oven and grill, a microwave and a fridge with a small freezer compartment.  Bed linen is supplied and you’ll also find hand towels in the bathrooms.

There’s a surprising amount of storage space on board for everything you need to bring with you.  To help you prepare for your canal boat holiday, we’ve put together a list of useful items to pack.

What to Pack for Your narrowboat Holiday?

  1. Extra Towels – We provide both bath towels and hand towels but bringing some extra will be a good idea, especially in the wetter months!
  2. Shopping bags – remember to pack your re-useable shopping bags as well as re-useable plastic bottles and coffee cups to help limit the amount of plastic you acquire on your holiday afloat.
  3. DVD’s & games – for cosy nights in, bring along some cards and board games, as well some DVD’s as a good TV reception isn’t always available on the canals.
  4. A torch – if you do venture out to the pub for the evening, it’s best to take a torch as country moorings can be incredibly dark at night #greatforstargazing.
  5. Toilet rolls – we supply toilet roll in our loos but do bring along extra
  6. Washing up liquid – pack an eco/aquatic-friendly washing up liquid and hand soap like Ecover or Poddy (which we sell in our boat yard shops), and make sure your shampoos and face washes are microbead free as the water you use to wash up and shower with will empty straight into the canal.
  7. Be prepared for all weather – if it’s wet you’ll need a good waterproof jacket and a large golfing umbrella for the skipper. If it’s sunny, you’ll need a sun hat, sun glasses and sun cream.  Gloves are also useful for working the locks and steering when it’s cold.
  8. Footwear – trainers or rubber soled shoes are best for boating and lock working. And it’s a good idea to bring slippers or warm socks to wear on board.
  9. Binoculars – one of the best things about a narrowboat holiday is the wildlife you’ll see along the way, so do pack some binoculars if you own them to enhance your wildlife spotting experience.
  10. A canal map – there are some great canal maps available to buy in advance or in our boat yard shops, for example Nicholson’s guides are available on Amazon. You can also plan your trip online using the mapping tools on the Canal & River Trust’s website, but mobile phone signals can be patchy on the canal network.
  11. Drinks – the water on board is drinkable but it’s worth bringing a large bottle of drinking water to top up with. And wine boxes are great space savers and safer to transport than bottles.
  12. Condiments – if you are planning to cook on board, remember to pack some extra flavourings as well as the main ingredients, including salt & pepper, tomato sauce, herbs and spices.
  13. Phone chargers – our boats have 240 volt 3-pin sockets powered by the on board batteries so you can charge your phones and tablets on board. But we advise you to only do this when the engine is running as there’s a limit to power available and you want to avoid draining the batteries. Blenders, cool boxes and hair straighteners can also be plugged in, but nothing above 1000 watts is permitted – so no kettles, irons, hairdryers or heaters.
  14. Your dog’s bed – pets are welcome on board our boats, but do let us know at the time of booking and remember to bring your pet’s blanket or basket with you as they aren’t allowed on the beds or chairs. Remember to bring poo bags too!
  15. First aid kit – we recommend you pack a basic first aid kit, including antiseptic, plasters & bandages, in case of any cuts, scrapes or sprains.
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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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