Saints days and national holidays are a great excuse to get together with friends and family to enjoy some quality time out.
What better way to celebrate than to take a holiday on Britain’s beautiful canal network, enjoying a peaceful rural escape or visiting an exciting waterside town or city.
Here at Anglo Welsh we love to celebrate feast days and national holidays, so we’ve put together some ideas for the best celebratory destinations afloat.
St David’s Day(1 March) – the feast day of St David, the patron saint of Wales falls on 1 March, the date of St David’s death in 589 AD, and it’s a public holiday in Wales. Saint David was a Celtic monk and the Archbishop of Wales. He spread the word of Christianity across Wales. The feast has been celebrated since the canonisation of David in the 12th century, by the wearing of leeks (Saint David’s symbol) and daffodils (the symbol of Wales). Traditional Welsh food is eaten, including cawl (a traditional Welsh soup made with lamb or beef and potatoes, swedes, carrots – and of course leeks) and Welsh rarebit (cheese sauce on toast).
To celebrate afloat, take a trip from our canal boat holiday base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, and glide across the towering Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which this year celebrates 10 years of World Heritage Status.
Or you could travel along the Leek Branch of the Caldon Canal to Leek in Staffordshire. Departing from our canal boat hire base at Great Heywood, you’d reach Leek in around 18 hours, travelling just over 30 miles and passing through 27 locks.
St Patrick’s Day (17 March) – Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was actually born in Roman Britain, sometime in the late 300s AD. Saint Patrick’s Day started as a religious celebration in the 17th century to commemorate the life of Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. This ‘Feast Day’ always took place on the anniversary of Patrick’s death, which was believed to be March 17, 461 AD. In 1903, the Feast Day became a national holiday in Ireland. These days, Saint Patrick’s Day is so popular it’s thought to be celebrated in more countries than any other national festival. Festivities include boisterous parades, Gaelic marching bands, Irish jigs, dressing up as leprechauns in shamrock hats and drinking lots of Guinness.
As we can’t ship you out to the Emerald Isle on board one of our boats, instead we are celebrating St Patrick’s Day by offering savings of £100 on all new bookings made and paid for by 17 March, regardless of the actual dates you choose for your holiday. And for extra touch of Irish-themed hospitality, we’ll welcome you on board with eight complimentary cans of Guinness.
St George’s Day (23 April 2019) – St George, the patron Saint of England, has captivated the imaginations of the British since the Crusades and the Hundred Years’ War. He was born sometime around the year 280 in what is now Turkey and became a Roman soldier famous for slaying a dragon. According to legend, the only well in the town of Silene (in modern day Libya) was guarded by a dragon, who demanded a human to be sacrificed in exchange for water. On the day St George visited, a princess had been chosen for the sacrifice, so to save her he slayed the dragon and gave the people access to water. St George’s Day falls on the anniversary of his death on 23 April 303, when he was executed for being a Christian. The flag of England with a red cross over a white background represents the St George’s Cross. Although it’s no longer a national holiday, people still like to celebrate the day with parades, Morris Dancers, flag flying, Punch and Judy shows and by eating fish and chips!
To celebrate St George’s Day afloat, take to the water with St George’s Cross flags flying and head to Oxford Castle to climb the Saxon St George’s Tower and enjoy amazing panoramic views over the historic City of Oxford. From our canal boat holiday rental base on the River Thames at Oxford, it takes just three-and-a-half hours, passing through four locks to reach moorings in Oxford City Centre, just a ten-minute walk from Oxford Castle & Prison.
Or book a break from our Tardebigge base on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove and head to the Black Country Museum to enjoy some traditional 1930s cooked fish and chips. The journey to the Black Country Museum takes around eight hours and passes through three locks.
Easter (Good Friday 19 April 2019, Easter Monday 22 April 2019) – On Easter Sunday, Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead after his crucifixion and burial, usually by going to Church. Easter is always celebrated on the Sunday immediately following the Paschal Full Moon, which can fall anywhere between 22 March and 25 April. Easter eggs symbolise new life and the resurrection of Christ.
Easter is a great time to get afloat and explore the countryside as it bursts into life with new leaves, daffodils, bluebells, spring lambs and nesting birds and waterside attractions host special Easter holiday activities. For example, the canalside Cadbury World, home to the World’s biggest chocolate shop, will host an ‘Easter Eggstavaganza’ with a stage show starring Mr Cadbury’s Parrot, as well as an Easter Egg Trail. Cadbury World is just two hours away from our canal boat hire base at Tardebigge.
Or visit Bath Theatre Royal’s famous Egg Theatre. Setting off from our canal boat hire base at Brassknocker Basin just outside Bath, you can reach Bath City Centre in just four hours, passing through six locks.
May Day (6 May 2019) – the roots of May Day (1 May) can be traced back to the Dark Ages when the ancient Celts divided their year by four major festivals, including ‘Beltane’ or ‘the fire of Bel’, representing the first day of summer. May Day is associated with fun, revelry and fertility. The day would be marked with maypole dancing, the selection of the May Queen and the dancing figure of the Jack-in-the-Green at the head of a procession, a relic from when our ancestors worshipped trees. In the 16th century, the pagan May Day celebrations were banned by Church and State and Oliver Cromwell later passed legislation which saw the end of village maypoles. Dancing did not return to village greens until the restoration of Charles II. Today, some of the old customs have survived, including Morris dancing, maypole dancing and the crowning of a May queen.
The first May Bank Holiday is a great time to take to the water and enjoy Spring sunshine and verdant green trees, fields and hedgerows. May Day celebrations take place each year at Bancroft Basin in Stratford upon Avon, which can be reached in six hours from our canal boat hire base at Wootton Wawen. And the St Richard’s Canal Festival takes place the first May bank holiday each year at Vines Park, alongside the Droitwich Barge Canal. Droitwich can be reached from our canal boat holiday base at Tardebigge in 11 hours.
Whitsun Late May Bank Holiday (27 May 2019) – in the past Whit Monday was a day off after Whit Sunday (which falls seven Sundays after Easter), commemorating the gift of the Holy Spirit to the followers of Jesus on the Day of Pentecost. After the disciples received the Holy Spirit in the form of flames, they began to out and preach about Jesus. In 1971 the Banking and Financial Dealings Act changed the date of the holiday to make it fall on the last Monday of May, rather than on the day after Whit Sunday.
Christians have traditionally taken part in Whit walks at Whitsun. Hundreds of footpaths and walking routes intersect with the canals, for example in Cheshire, the 16.5 mile long Eddisbury Way meets the Shropshire Union Canal close to Williamsons Bridge, four-and-a-half miles from our canal boat rental base at Bunbury. And the Shropshire Way meets the Llangollen Canal at Spark’s Bridge, close to the historic town of Whitchurch, six miles from our canal boat hire base at Whixall.
August Bank Holiday (26 August 2019) – also known as the Summer Bank Holiday, this falls on the last Monday of August, except in Scotland when it falls on the first Monday in August. In 1871, Sir John Lubbock introduced the Bank Holidays Act, starting the concept of holidays with pay. He designated four in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and five in Scotland, including a Summer Bank Holiday.
Escape crowded airports, congested roads and engineering works on the railways with a holiday afloat on the canals. Pottering along at just four miles an hour, soaking up the last of the summer sun, a holiday on Britain’s beautiful waterways is a great way to relax and see the countryside, as well as visit waterside attractions hosting special bank holiday events. For example, setting off from our canal boat hire base at Stockton on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, you can reach moorings close to Warwick Castle in around seven hours, travelling through 20 locks. Over the August bank holiday weekend, Warwick Castle will be hosting its spectacular Dragon Slayer event, with fearless fire jousting, perilous stunt riding and epic battles with live actors, pyrotechnics and fireworks.
St. Andrews Day (30 November) – St Andrew’s Day is a public holiday in Scotland. St Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland, is considered to be Jesus’ first disciple. He was crucified on 30 November 60AD by order of the Roman governor Aegeas. He was tied to an X-shaped cross, represented by the white cross on the Scottish flag, the Saltire. St Andrews Day celebrations have been taking place in Scotland for over a thousand years. Today people celebrate by attending a ceilidh, by eating Cullen skink or lamb and by displaying the flag of St Andrew.
Christmas & New Year – Christmas is both a sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon. Christians celebrate 25 December as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus, but celebrating the middle of winter has long been a celebration around the world. For example, in Scandinavia, the Norse celebrated Yule from 21 December, the winter solstice, through January.
Festivals and celebrations marking the beginning of the calendar have been around for thousands of years. Some are linked to agricultural or astronomical events. In Egypt for example, the year began with the annual flooding of the Nile, which coincided with the rising of the star Sirius.
Britain’s canals can offer a great antidote to the hustle and bustle of Christmas. We offer winter cruising* from four of our bases, giving you the chance to enjoy cosy evenings afloat, visit waterside pubs with roaring log fires, and wake-up to frosty towpaths and crisp clean air.
Whether it’s a snug boat for two or a family break for ten, celebrating Christmas or New Year afloat offers a great getaway. It’s free to moor almost anywhere on the network, so a narrowboat could provide the perfect base to enjoy new year celebrations in waterside towns and cities like Birmingham or Stratford upon Avon.
All our boats have central heating, hot water, televisions and DVD players. Some also have multi-fuel stoves. So, whatever the weather, it’s always nice and cosy on board.
*Winter cruising routes can be affected by stoppages and closures as a result of winter maintenance work
We’re opening a new canal boat hire base at Whixall
From next Spring, we are delighted to offer canal boat hire from our new narrowboat rental base at Whixall Marina, on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire.
From this popular marina, surrounded by beautiful Shropshire countryside, it takes just 30 minutes to reach the main line of the Llangollen Canal, offering a fantastic range of cruising destinations.
On a short break (three or four nights) canal boat holiday-makers can head west along the Llangollen Canal to Ellesmere and the Shropshire Lake District, or you can travel on to Chirk with its magnificent aqueduct, 459-yard long tunnel, choice of canalside pubs and access to the National Trust’s Medieval Chirk Castle.
On a week’s holiday, boaters heading west can cross the awesome World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and travel on to the pretty Eisteddfod town of Llangollen on the edge of the Berwyn Mountains.
Heading east, you can reach the pretty historic town of Whitchurch in less than four hours, where there’s a selection of independent shops and places to eat, including the Wheatsheaf Hotel and the award-winning Black Bear pub.
From Whitchurch, it takes around nine hours, passing through 19 locks to reach Hurleston Junction, where the Llangollen Canal meets the Shropshire Union Canal. From here, if you’re on a week’s holiday you can head to Nantwich, Market Drayton or Chester, or on a 10-day or two-week break, you can tackle the Four Counties Ring.
Why choose Whixall?
It offers easy access to the beautiful Llangollen Canal, one of the most popular waterways on the network and home to the incredible World Heritage site of the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.
Whixall offers a range of routes, from easy lock-free cruising short breaks perfect for beginners, to epic journey cruising rings for more experienced canal boat holiday-makers on longer breaks
Buried deep in the Shropshire Countryside, holidays starting from Whixall offer the chance to visit the Fenn’s, Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses national nature reserve, home to an abundance of wildlife, including 29 species of dragonfly and damselfly, 670 species of moth, 32 species of butterfly and 166 species of wetland birds.
As well as a choice of standard boats, we’re offering a range of luxury canal boats from Whixall, including the 4 berth Constellation Class boat ‘Aquila’, the 6 berth Constellation Class boat ‘Perseus’ and the Constellation 12 berth boat ‘Andromeda’. We are also introducing a brand-new Constellation 10 berth Class in 2019, which will feature the new boat ‘Gemini’ based at Whixall. The popular Weir Class will also receive a brand-new addition to the fleet and ‘Grafton’ will cruise from Whixall in the new year.
Whixall Marina has a café on site and the popular Dog & Bull pub is just a few miles away at Coton.
By road, Whixall is 27 miles from Chester, 30 miles from Stoke-on-Trent, 34 miles from Stafford, 57 miles from Manchester, 52 miles from Liverpool and 60 miles from Birmingham, putting it within easy reach for narrowboat holiday-makers travelling from the North West and Midlands.
Britain’s canal network was built by hand more than 200 years ago, and the blood, sweat and tears of countless hours’ work, as well as many more grisly incidents, have left their ghostly mark on the waterways.
Canal users often report strange occurrences along Britain’s 2,000 mile network of canals and rivers, so we’ve put together our Top 8 creepy canal destinations ready for Halloween.
Get the chills in Chester – at Chester’s old Northgate where the canal was dug into part of the town’s moat, a Roman centurion can sometimes be seen guarding the entrance to the city. From our boat yard on the Shropshire Union Canal at Bunbury near Tarporley, it’s a seven hour cruise to Chester, passing through nine locks along the way.
Meet ‘The Man Monkey’ – at Bridge 39 near Norbury, sightings of a hideous black, shaggy coated being are believed to be the ghost of a boatman drowned here in the 19th century. From our narrowboat hire base at Great Haywood, it’s a 36-mile, 14-lock journey to Norbury, which takes around 17 hours.
Watch out for the phantom at Blisworth – at Blisworth Tunnel, near Stoke Bruerne in Northamptonshire, a mysterious candlelit phantom appears at the spot where 14 navvies died in a rock fall during the construction of the tunnel in the late 18th century. From our canal boat hire base at Stockton on the Grand Union Canal, it’s a 13-hour, 17-lock cruise to Stoke Bruerne, passing through the 2,813-metre-long Blisworth Tunnel, the third longest navigable tunnel on the UK canal network.
Steer a course for an aqueduct apparition – on moonlit nights an eerie figure can sometimes be seen gliding along the towpath by the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, a UNESCO World Heritage site on the Llangollen Canal. From our narrowboat hire base at Trevor, the aqueduct is a 10-minute cruise away.
Head for horror at Harecastle Tunnel – a shrieking boggart – the ghost of Kit Crewbucket who was murdered and whose headless corpse was dumped in the canal – is said to inhabit Harecastle Tunnel at Kidsgrove. From our canal boat hire base at Great Haywood, on the Trent & Mersey Canal in Staffordshire, it’s a 22-mile, 18-lock journey to Harecastle Tunnel, which takes around 10 hours.
Listen to cries for help at Lapworth – the ghost of a boatman – who lost his footing on the bridge as he walked back from the Navigation Inn to his working boat in the 1940s, falling through the ice and drowning – can sometimes be heard shouting for help in cold weather. It takes seven hours to travel lock-free to Lapworth from our narrowboat hire base at Tardebigge, on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove.
Aim for Astley if you want to get spooked – at Astley on the Bridgewater Canal, a mysterious grey lady – thought to be the ghost of 18 year-old Ann Mort who died of a broken heart after her parents banished her suitor – appears to be searching for her lost love. From our canal boat hire base at Bunbury, it’s a 58-mile, 11-lock journey to Astley, which takes around 23 hours.
Be prepared for screaming at Betton – at Betton Cutting on the Shropshire Union Canal near Market Drayton, which has always had a dark reputation among boating people, a shrieking spectre has been seen and heard. From our boat yard at Great Haywood in Staffordshire, it’s a 19-hour, 19-lock journey to Market Drayton.
To book a holiday or break on any of Anglo Welsh’s fleet, call our friendly Booking Team on 0117 304 1122.
Autumn is a great time to visit the waterways and get the whole family out in the fresh air to experience an adventure afloat.
You can enjoy seeing the beautiful colours in the trees and hedgerows that line the canals, wake up to misty mornings and visit some of the exciting waterside destinations offering special October Half Term events, many of them Halloween related.
So, whether you are beginner looking for an easy short break route to test the waters, or a seasoned canal boater looking for a longer more challenging route, take a look at our Top 9 spooky half term destinations this October:
Enjoy a Halloween Monster Mash at the National Waterways Museum – from our boat yard on the Shropshire Union Canal at Bunbury, the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port is a 21-mile, 16-lock cruise away, taking narrowboat holiday-makers through the beautiful Cheshire countryside and ancient City of Chester along the way. The Museum’s historic boat collection, docks, warehouses, forge, stables and workers cottages, bring the past vividly to life with costumed characters and guided tours, and on the 27th and 28th of October the Museum will be hosting a special ‘Halloween Monster Mash’ event with a trick or treat promenade performance from the Boaty Theatre Company.
Experience the Ascarium at Birmingham’s Sea Life Centre – from our canal boat hire base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, it’s a five-hour, lock-free journey to moorings at Gas Street Basin in Birmingham City Centre, close to Brindleyplace and its fantastic Sea Life Centre. From the 20th October to the 4th of November, the Sea Life Centre will be hosting its ‘Ascarium’ event, offering visitors the chance to step into the deep and follow an immersive trail past some of the creepiest sea creatures, including the blob fish, goblin sharks and barrel eye fish.
Try Pumpkin Pottery Painting at the World of Wedgewood – on a short break from our canal boat hire base at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal in Staffordshire, canal boat holiday-makers can cruise to the World of Wedgewood in around seven hours, passing through 12 locks and travelling 13 miles. From 27th October to the 4th November, the Museum will be hosting special half term activities, including Halloween pottery painting, a Big Draw competition, Factory Tours and Museum Trails.
Unlock bat mysteries at the University of Oxford’s Natural History Museum – take a Thames boating holiday from our Oxford narrowboat rental base, and you can reach moorings in the centre of Oxford in just three hours, passing through four locks along the way. From there, the University of Oxford’s Natural History Museum is short walk away, where an internationally significant collection of natural history specimens is on display, as well as a special exhibition of the studies of UK bat populations in Wytham Woods. Offering a unique insight into the behaviour of these mysterious night dwellers, ‘Bats: The Mystery Beings’ is on until 8th January 2019.
Make a monstrous Gorgon’s head badge at the Roman Baths Museum – from our barge holiday base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Brassknocker Basin, it’s a four-hour journey, passing through six locks to moorings in the centre of the UNESCO World Heritage City of Bath. Once there, you can explore some of the City’s top attractions, including the Roman Baths where over half term (27th October to 2nd November), as well as learning about this incredible Roman site, families can find out who the Gorgon was and make a Gorgon’s head badge.
Get spooked at Warwick Castle’s Haunted event – in just over seven hours from our canal boat hire base at Stockton on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire you can reach the moorings close to the incredible medieval castle on the banks of the River Avon at Warwick. Over the half term break (20th October to 4th November), the Castle is hosting its ‘Spooktacular Haunted Castle’ event with live shows at the Dead Centre Stage, The Witches Tower, spooky Halloween Trail, Flight of the Eagles displays, Horrible Histories Maze, The Castle Dungeon tour and the Mighty Trebuchet in action.
Find out about the Pendle Witches at Barrowford – from our canal boat rental base at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, it takes around 15 hours, passing through 20 locks and the mile-long Foulridge Tunnel, to reach the village of Barrowford, home to the Pendle Heritage Centre. Here, visitors will find an exhibition on the famous Pendle Witch Trial of 1612 and walking routes into the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Pendle Hill.
Visit the haunted house of Plas Newydd at Llangollen – on a short break from our canal boat hire base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, it takes just two hours to reach the idyllic town of Llangollen, home to the remarkable Plas Newydd House. In the late 18th century this fascinating stone built house was turned into gothic fantasy by its most famous inhabitants, the Ladies of Llangollen. Today visitors can enjoy exploring enchanting gardens and the fascinating oak carved panelled interiors, said to be haunted by ghostly apparitions and heavy dragging sounds from the upper floors.
Step aboard the SS Great Britain for a Victorian fright-fest– from our narrowboat hire base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Bath, canal boat holiday-makers can travel west to Bristol’s Floating Harbour* in eight hours, passing through 13 locks. Once there boaters can moor up to visit the SS Great Britain and take a night time Spooky Ship Tour, available from 31st October to 3rd November. On these special Halloween tours, goulish guides will take visitors to the darkest nooks and crannies of Brunel’s 175-year old ship to experience eerie sights, sounds and smells and listen to terrible tales told by creepy characters lurking in the shadows. *NB this route is recommended route for experienced boaters and overnight mooring fees will apply.
This week Anglo Welsh’s narrowboat ‘Butterfly’ appeared on BBC One’s popular ‘Antiques Road Trip’, taking presenter Catherine Southon across the awesome Pontcysyllte Aqueduct on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales.
To celebrate, we’ve put together a list of our Top 6 moments in the spotlight over the last 12 months:
The Antiques Road Trip visited Trevor. Back in April, presenter Catherine Southon boarded our 62ft-long narrowboat ‘Butterfly’ at Trevor to film an episode of this BBC One favourite. Based at our canal boat hire base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, ‘Butterfly’ is one of our popular Trent II Class narrowboats, offering flexible accommodation for up to eight people. If you missed it, the episode (screened on Wednesday 19 September at 4.30pm) can be found on the BBC iPlayer until 18 October. Image c/o Antiques Road Trip – STV Productions/BBC.
Globalmouse Travels visited the Kennet & Avon Canal. Last summer, Nichola West (AKA Globalmouse), currently ranked number two in Vuelio’s ‘Top 10 UK Family Travel Blogs’, enjoyed an Anglo Welsh family narrowboat holiday aboard ‘Selwood’. Setting off from our canal boat rental base at Bath, she travelled with her three children to Bradford on Avon and back over the August bank holiday. Describing their first night afloat in her review (published Sep 2017) she says: “It felt lovely mooring up on the side of the bank, hammering in pegs to tie-up our boat…on this quiet bit of the Kennet and Avon Canal. We cooked up pasta in our lovely little kitchen and listened to the gentle sounds of the river as we played card games afterwards and headed off to bed.”
Jasper Winn wrote the last chapter of ‘Water Ways’ aboard Summer. At the end of last year, the writer and slow adventurer Jasper Winn took to the water aboard Anglo Welsh’s 67ft Bond Class narrowboat ‘Summer’ to write the final chapter of ‘Water Ways’. Published in July by Profile Books, ‘Water Ways’ is a mix of travel, history and nature writing, in which Winn describes his year-long adventure exploring Britain’s waterways on foot and by bike, in a kayak and on narrowboats. ‘Summer’, based at our canal boat hire centre at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal in Warwickshire, features in the final chapter.
John Craven cruised along the Llangollen Canal. Last October, the BBC’s Countryfile Magazine featured an article by veteran presenter John Craven recounting his holiday aboard our beautiful 67ft Bond Class boat for up to six people ‘Askrigg’. John set off from our canal boat rental base at Trevor for a short break with his two eldest grandsons, Charlie and Oliver, and said: “It had been an exhilarating, slow-motion few days. We had glided though breath-taking countryside while being overtaken by walkers and their dogs, joggers, cyclists and kayakers. Many peaceful hours of travelling had been dotted with moments of tension…as I tried to master the skills needed for a method of transportation that hasn’t changed in centuries. We agreed it had been far more than just a short holiday. The Llangollen Canal had given us an experience we’d never forget.”
The Daily Telegraph recommended Tardebigge. Earlier this month, Daily Telegraph travel writer Sarah Baxter listed ‘Cruise the canals like you are in Venice’ as one of her ’30 amazing weekend breaks to extend the British Summer’. The article explains that our canal boat hire base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove if a five hour, lock free cruise from Birmingham’s centre where you can “use your boat as a hotel…or pootle along some of the 100 navigable miles of urban waterways”.
The Times recommended Wootton Wawen. In July, the Sunday Times Weekend magazine travel section suggested taking a canal trip through Shakespeare country as part of its ’30 great British mini-breaks’ feature. The article highlights the opportunity to cruise along the Stratford Canal from our canal boat hire base at Wootton Wawen, reaching moorings by the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford upon Avon in just six hours, perfect for exploring “Bard-related sites such as Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and Shakespeare’s Birthplace”.
Visiting local markets and independent shops to find fresh ingredients for cooking on board can be a fun and inspiring element of a holiday afloat. The 2,000 miles of navigable waterways that criss-cross England and Wales pass through dozens of market towns and cities, offering exciting local produce and a welcome break from the usual weekly supermarket shop.
Here are our top 10 destinations for foodies looking for special treats and ingredients:
Snugburys ice cream shop at Hurleston. This famous ice cream shop making award winning ice cream is close to the Shropshire Union Canal at Hurleston near Nantwich. Located on the Snugbury family farm, this wonderful shop offers 55 mouth-watering flavours, all made from fresh British cream, including chocolate brownie, raspberry pavlova, crème brulee, clotted cream vanilla, amaretto and Turkish delight. From our canal boat hire base at Bunbury, it takes just one hour to reach Hurleston Junction, and from there it’s a short walk to Snugburys.
Stone Farmers Market. Renowned as the ‘foodie capital’ of North Staffordshire, on the first Saturday of every month (except January), Stone’s popular Farmers Market lines the town’s pretty Georgian High Street. With over 50 stalls offering locally-reared meats, breads, preserves, cakes, honey, cheese, fruit, vegetables and smoked fish, it’s a mecca for foodies. From our narrowboat hire base at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal it takes five hours to reach Stone.
The Cheese Shop at Bradford on Avon. Located in the heart of historic Bradford on Avon, this little shop is bursting with flavours and aromas, pure heaven for cheese lovers. As well as an impressive range of fine cheeses, there Cheese Shop offers exciting lunch options from its well-stocked deli, including delicious home-made quiches, prepared and baked daily, as well as a large selection of local chutneys to go perfectly with the cheese. From our narrowboat rental base at Bath, it takes just four hours to reach Bradford on Avon.
Stratford’s Farmers Market. On the first and third Saturday of each month, Stratford upon Avon’s Farmers Market meets in Rother Street, selling a wide range of local produce. From rare breed and game meats, organic vegetables, eggs, cheese, freshly baked bread and cakes to wine, confectionery, jams and pickles. There’s also a fantastic hot food stand offering outdoor bred roasted pork, bacon and sausage. From our canal barge hire base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal near Henley-in-Arden it six hours to reach Stratford upon Avon.
Bailey’s Deli in Llangollen. The pretty town of Llangollen on the edge of the Berwyn Mountains, offers a range of independent shops, including Bailey’s Deli. Located in the Town Hall, Bailey’s offers a great range of pies, sausage rolls, Welsh Oggies, Scotch eggs, cooked butcher’s meat, cakes, farm ice cream, chocolates, fudge, sandwiches, cheeses, mustards, jams and marmalade, as well as ales, whiskies, spirits and mead. From our boat yard at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, it takes just two hours to reach Llangollen.
The Covered Market in Oxford. This fabulous historic market space in the centre of Oxford offers products from a large number of specialist independent traders, offering crafts, food and drink. Edible fare includes fresh fruit, vegetables, breads, cakes, meats and cheeses. Moorings at Hythe Bridge, just a short walk from the Covered Market can be reached from our Thames boating holiday base at Eynsham, near Witney.
Keelham Farm Shop in Skipton. Showcasing the region’s best locally grown and reared produce, Keelham Farm Shop on Gargrave Road in Skipton stocks produce from over 400 local suppliers in dedicated butchers, greengrocer, bakery and delicatessen sections. It also has an ale house offering beers from more than 20 local breweries. Skipton can be reached in just three hours from our narrowboat hire base on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal at Silsden.
Fresh fish at the Bull Ring Indoor Market. The indoor market at Birmingham’s magnificent Bull Ring is home to one of the UK’s largest fish markets. Open from Monday to Saturday, 9am to 5.30pm, as well as an impressive choice of quality fish and seafood, visitors to the indoor market and also buy meat, exotic fruits and vegetables. From our canal boat hire base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, it takes five hours to reach city centre moorings in Gas Street Basin.
Aubrey Allen’s butchers in Leamington Spa. Offering outstanding quality cooked and uncooked meat, as well as deli products and artisan cheeses, this multi-award winning family business on Warwick Street is one of the best known butchers in the Midlands. Leamington Spa can be reached in six hours from our Stockton boat yard on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire.
Treacle Market in Macclesfield. Named after a centuries old incident when a treacle wagon overturned in Macclesfield’s cobbled town centre, Treacle Market offers exceptional food and drink, including local farm cheese, great north pies, sourdough, apple juice and fresh farm eggs. The market takes place the last Sunday of the month, from 10am to 3.30pm. The journey to Macclesfield takes 21 hours from our canal boat hire base on the Trent & Mersey Canal at Great Haywood.
Autumn is a great time to get afloat and enjoy the beautiful colours in the trees and hedgerows along our amazing inland waterways network.
All our boats are equipped with the key comforts of home – central heating, hot water, TV, WiFi, well-stocked kitchens, showers and flushing toilets – and our Bond, Constellation and Heritage Class luxury canal boats all provide extra space and comfort. So whether you are beginner looking for a short break easy route to test the waters, or a seasoned canal boater looking for a longer more challenging route, why not book a narrowboat holiday break this autumn and choose from hundreds of fantastic waterside destinations.
Here are our Top 9 destinations to enjoy this autumn:
Experience the acoustic delights of Birmingham’s Symphony Hall. From our canal boat hire base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, it’s a five-hour, lock-free journey to moorings at Gas Street Basin in Birmingham City Centre. From there, it’s a short walk to Birmingham’s Symphony Hall, one of the best concert halls in the world and home of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, offering audiences the best in classical music, jazz, world music, folk, rock, pop and stand-up comedy.
Explore arms and armour from across the world at the Royal Armouries Museum. From our canal boat rental base at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, it takes 17 hours, passing through 28 locks to reach the Royal Armouries Museum at Leeds Dock – perfect for a week afloat. Home to the national collection of arms and armour, there are thousands of objects to admire across nine galleries, including the ‘Tula garniture’, an 18th century set of decorated hunting weapons that belonged to Elizabeth Petrovana the Empress of Russia in the Hunting Gallery, and a 15th century Ming dynasty sword from the workshop of the Yongle Ming Emperor in the Oriental Gallery.
Take a floating tour of the West Midlands. On a week’s holiday from our Stockton canal boat rental base on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, narrowboat holiday-makers can tackle the 101-mile, 94-lock Warwickshire Ring, which takes around 53 hours. The route takes boaters along sections of the Coventry, Oxford, Grand Union, Stratford and Birmingham & Fazeley canals. Highlights include historic Warwick with its incredible medieval castle on the banks of the River Avon, the magnificent Hatton Flight of 21 locks, the pretty canal village of Braunston and vibrant Gas Street Basin in the heart of Birmingham.
See the Tolkien exhibition at the Bodleian Library. Take a Thames boating holiday from our Oxford narrowboat hire base, and it takes just three hours to reach City Centre moorings at Hythe Bridge. From there, it’s a short walk to many of Oxford’s most famous attractions, including the magnificent Bodleian Library, one of the oldest libraries in Europe. Accessed through the Old Schools Quadrangle of the Divinity School, a breath taking masterpiece of English Gothic architecture, until 28 October 2018 the Bodleian Library is hosting an exhibition of over 200 items from the Library’s extensive Tolkien Archive.
Enjoy panoramic views from Chester’s Roman walls. From our canal boat hire base on the Shropshire Union Canal at Bunbury, the Roman City of Chester is a delightful seven-hour, nine-lock cruise away, travelling through the rolling Cheshire landscape. Once there, boaters can take time to explore this great heritage city, home to the most complete City Walls in Britain which date back 2,000 years to the Roman occupation. There’s a two-mile wall-walking trail, giving visitors the chance to follow in the footsteps of Roman soldiers and enjoy panoramic views on both sides.
Glide across the Stream in the Sky to Whitchurch. On a week’s holiday from our canal barge holiday hire centre at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, boaters can travel to Whitchurch and back, which takes a total of 44 hours, passing through just four locks (two on the way, two on the way back). Along the way, canal boat holiday-makers encounter the incredible UNESCO World Heritage designated Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which carries the canal in a cast iron trough 38 metres high above the Dee Valley. Once at Whitchurch, boaters can moor up to explore this pretty historic town with half-timbered buildings, independent shops and restaurants, way-marked circular walks, water voles at Staggs Brook, woodpeckers at Brown Moss nature reserve and the award-winning Black Bear pub.
Travel the Birmingham Mini-Ring. On a week’s holiday from our narrowboat hire base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal, canal boat holiday-makers can travel the Birmingham Mini-Ring, cruising for 35 hours and passing through 83 locks. The route takes boaters through peaceful stretches of the Warwickshire countryside, with quiet villages and historic waterside pubs to enjoy, and then right into the heart of Britain’s Second City. Here there are moorings in Gas Street Basin, the perfect base from which to explore some of the City’s top attractions, including Brindleyplace, the Mailbox Shopping Centre and the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, home to the world’s largest collection of Pre-Raphaelite art.
Visit No 1 Royal Crescent in fabulous Georgian Bath. From our barge holiday base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Brassknocker Basin, it’s a four-hour journey, passing through six locks to reach moorings in the centre of the UNESCO World Heritage City of Bath – perfect for a short break afloat. Once moored up, boaters can explore some of the City’s top attractions, including the Roman Baths, Bath Abbey and No 1 Royal Crescent where each room offers a fascinating example of Georgian interior design with authentic furniture, paintings, textiles and carpets.
Cruise into the Peak District to enjoy magnificent scenery. On a week’s break from our narrowboat hire base at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal, canal boat holiday-makers can cruise into the beautiful Peak District. It’s a 43-hour return journey to Froghall and back, travelling a total of 72 miles (36 each way) through 70 locks (35 each way). The route first takes boaters north along the Trent & Mersey Canal to Stoke-on-Trent, where they can connect onto the peaceful 17-mile long Caldon Canal, which passes through some of the most magnificent scenery in Britain. As the Canal leaves Stoke, it begins to pass through gently rolling hills, wooded areas, past old mills and then alongside the beautiful River Churnet. The route takes boaters through Cheddleton, home to the headquarters of the Churnet Valley Railway, and the village of Consall Forge with the secluded Black Lion pub serving good food and real ales.
To book a holiday or break on any of Anglo Welsh’s fleet, call our friendly booking team on 0117 304 1122.
Anglo Welsh’s canal boat hire base at Great Haywood, on the junction of the Trent & Mersey and Staffordshire & Worcestershire canals near Stafford, offers narrowboat holiday-makers the chance to explore the Potteries, the Peak District and the Black Country by boat.
Kevin Yarwood, Anglo Welsh’s manager at Great Haywood, says, “Situated at the junction of two key arteries of the canal network, our canal boat rental base at Great Haywood offers boaters a huge variety of route options. From easy short breaks, passing through peaceful canalside villages with cosy historic pubs, to epic journeys around some of the most popular cruising rings on the waterways.
“Perhaps the most popular route for beginners from Great Haywood is to take a short break (three or four nights) and cruise north along the Trent & Mersey Canal to the historic market town of Stone and back – a journey that takes 10 hours (five each way) and passes through just eight locks (four each way). Stone is renowned as the food and drink capital of Staffordshire, with regular markets, a good choice of restaurants and the annual Food & Drink Festival in October.
“Another great short break route is to head south along the Trent & Mersey to Fradley Junction and back – which takes around 12 hours, travelling a total of 24 miles and passing through five locks each way. The Coventry Canal meets the Trent & Mersey Canal at Fradley where visitors can enjoy refreshments at the Canalside Café or The Swan Inn and a wander around the Fradley Pool Nature Reserve, where a woodland trail and boardwalk take visitors on a tour of the reserve. Along the way to Fradley Junction, the route passes the magnificent Shugborough Estate with its stunning Georgian Mansion House and a number of family-friendly pubs, including the Wolseley Arms at Wolseley Bridge.
“The beautiful Caldon Canal, which takes boaters into the Peak District, is perhaps our most popular destination for those taking a week’s holiday afloat. It’s a 43-hour return journey to Froghall Basin and back, travelling a total of 72 miles (36 each way) through 70 locks (35 each way). To make this journey, boaters first head north along the Trent & Mersey Canal to Stoke-on-Trent, to connect onto the Caldon Canal at Etruria.
“As the Caldon Canal leaves Stoke, it begins to pass through gently rolling hills, wooded areas and past old mills and then alongside the beautiful River Churnet, where boaters can look out for kingfishers, herons, jays and woodpeckers, as well as otters which have recently returned to the area.
“For those looking for an active week’s break from Great Haywood we recommend travelling the Black Country Ring, which takes narrowboat holiday-makers on a 45-hour waterway odyssey, cruising a total of 75 miles and passing through 79 locks. Highlights of the route, which travels along sections of six different canals, include Cannock Chase, once a medieval royal hunting forest where deer still roam, and the Black Country Museum where visitors can step back in time and meet costumed characters, explore period shops and houses, take a 1912 school lesson and eat traditional fish & chips.
“On this route, boaters will also see the beautiful Tixal Wide – an amazing expanse of water home to many birds and animals, plus the historic market town of Penkridge with its striking church tower dominating the skyline, and Birmingham’s Gas Street Basin in the heart of the City, with easy access to Brindleyplace and a host of attractions.
“On a 10-day or two-week break from Great Haywood, we recommend tackling the Four Counties Ring – travelling through Cheshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire and the West Midlands, covering 110 miles and 94 locks, and taking around 55 cruising hours. Highlights along this scenic, largely rural journey include the Wedgewood Museum at Etruria, the 2,670-metre long Harecastle Tunnel at Kidsgrove and historic Market Drayton, home of the Gingerbread Man.
“We are particularly proud of the Luxury canal boat hire options available here at Great Haywood, including our 65ft long boat for four people ‘Centaurus’ and the 67ft six-berth ‘Pegasus’. They are both Constellation Class boats with semi-traditional sterns, two shower rooms with toilets, and two cabins which can be configured as a double bed or two single beds. In its spacious saloon, ‘Pegasus’ also has a bench seat and table that can be converted into either a double or two singles in the evening.”
If you would like to book a short break or holiday from Great Haywood, or any of our bases, simply call our friendly booking team on 0117 304 1122.
We offer a range of different types of holidays such as City Breaks, Relaxation Cruises and Popular Destinations
So why choose Anglo Welsh?
More than 55 years providing unique canal boat holidays.
Modern & spacious narrowboat holiday fleet – from 2 to 12 berths.
Wide choice of narrowboat hire locations and canal.
Canal boat holiday routes for novices & experienced boaters.
Flexible holiday booking, no hidden costs.
Family friendly holidays, pets also welcome.