Pontcysyllte Aqueduct celebrates 10 years of World Heritage Status
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct celebrates 10 years of World Heritage Status
This year, Britain’s highest and longest aqueduct, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and 11 miles of the Llangollen Canal, will celebrate 10 years of World Heritage Status designation, giving it membership of an elite club of sites, including the Taj Mahal and the Pyramids.
Since the designation, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct has become a ‘Must Do’ destination for thousands of international tourists and visitor numbers have quadrupled, with nearly half a million people viewing the ‘Stream in the Sky’ and the Trevor Basin Visitor Centre in 2018.
The aqueduct has also become a regular media star, hosting lots of TV programmes, including ‘Bargain Hunt’, ‘Antiques Road Trip’, ‘Lost Railway Walks’, ‘Escape to the Country’, CBBC and several news broadcasts.
To mark this important milestone, The Canal & River Trust charity in Wales, Glandwr Cymru, will be working with local partners to organise 12 months of celebrations, including a new photography competition, a specially-brewed beer, spectacular luminaire structure lighting, an ‘Under the Arches’ celebration and other community events.
Lynda Slater, Trevor Basin visitor centre manager with the Canal & River Trust, says: “The World Heritage Status has made a world of difference to this spectacular structure and the 11 miles of Llangollen Canal which surround it. The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct has gone from being a national treasure to a tourist destination of international significance.“
The Llangollen Canal is one of the most popular canals in the country with hire boaters. With the opportunity to cruise over two stunning aqueducts at Pontcysyllte and Chirk, and meander through the beautiful Welsh countryside, it is a hot favourite with people wanting to spend their holiday time on the waterways.
Our canal boat hire base at Trevor Basin has long been one of our most popular departure points, and from April this year, we will also be offering narrowboat hire from our new boat yard at Whixall Marina, on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire.
2019 Short breaks (three or four nights) from Trevor and Whixall start at £495 on a boat for four people, £705 for a week.
We also offer day boat hire from Trevor, just a five minutes by boat from the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. Prices start at £120 for a day boat for up to 10 people.
Pontcysyllte Fact File
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Llangollen Canal became a World Heritage Site on 27 June, 2009.
Pontcysyllte is pronounced – ‘pont-cuss-ull-teh’ meaning ‘the bridge that joins’
The Pontcysyllte is a Grade I listed building, a scheduled ancient monument and forms the centrepiece of the 11 mile World Heritage Site.
The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’, compiled over 60 years ago by Robert Aickman, co-founder of the Inland Waterways Association, and published in his book Know Your Waterways.
The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct was constructed by Thomas Telford and William Jessop between 1796 and 1805 during the Industrial Revolution to enable slate and limestone to be moved from quarries in North Wales to the Midlands and beyond.
The aqueduct measures a record-breaking 1,000 ft (307m) long and at its highest point it is 126 ft (38.4m) above the River Dee.
A cast iron trough, which holds 330,000 gallons (1.5 million litres) of water, is 11ft wide and 5ft 3ins deep. It is emptied by pulling out a giant plug in the centre and takes two hours to drain.
With not even a handrail on the north side, when travelling across by canal boat, it’s probably the most heart-stopping and exhilarating experience on the canal network!
There are 19 elegant arches and 18 slender sandstone piers, each with a 45ft span.
To keep the aqueduct as light as possible, the slender masonry piers are partly hollow and taper at their summit.
Incredibly, ox blood was added to the lime mortar which binds the structure’s masonry together, following an ancient superstition that the blood of a strong animal would strengthen a structure. And sugar was boiled with Welsh flannel then mixed with tar to seal the cast joints of the structure’s cast iron trough.
Visitors come from all over the world, with Australians and Japanese heading the international league table. Signing the centre’s visitor book last year were tourists from 52 countries from faraway places such as Zambia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and the Philippines, as well as most European nations.
Repairs to the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct handrail are among eight vital maintenance projects being undertaken by the Canal & River Trust along the Welsh Border canals this winter.
Britain’s 3,000-mile network of canals and navigable rivers provide canal boat holiday-makers fantastic waterway adventures, with access to hundreds of exciting destinations in waterside villages, towns and cities along the way.
To celebrate Armed Forces Day on Saturday 29 June, and the 15% discount we give to members of the Armed Forces, we’ve put together a list of our Top 6 canal boat holiday destinations with military links:
Discover the Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker – from our canal boat rental base at 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 of the nation’s most secret defence sites, and would have been the centre of Regional Government had nuclear war broken out. It was decommissioned in 1993, and today it offers visitors the chance to see the government’s preparations for nuclear war as well as the largest public display of nuclear weapons in Europe.
Browse the nine galleries of the Royal Armouries Museum – from our narrowboat hire base at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, it takes around 17 hours to cruise to Leeds City Centre, home of the Royal Armouries Museum, passing through 28 locks along the way. Home to the national collection of arms and armour, there are thousands of objects from across the world to admire displayed in nine galleries, including the ‘War Gallery’ which houses a longbow from the wreck of the Mary Rose, a Maxim Machine Gun, a model of the Battle of Agincourt and the oldest surviving European horse armour.
Explore over 900 years of history at Oxford Castle – from our canal boat hire base at Eynsham on the River Thames near Witney, it takes around three-and-a-half hours, passing through three locks, to reach moorings in the centre of Oxford, just a ten-minute walk from Oxford Castle. This imposing 11th century earthwork motte-and-bailey castle was founded by the Norman baron Robert D’Oilly the elder in 1071. Most of the fortress was destroyed in the English Civil War and by the 18th century, the remaining buildings had become Oxford’s local prison. Tours of the Castle are led by costumed character guides who lead guests up the Saxon St George’s Tower for panoramic views of the city, as well as deep underground to the 900-year old crypt, through the austere confines of the 18th century Debtor’s Tower and Prison D-Wing, and up the Mound of the castle.
Find out about the last cavalry charge at the Warwickshire Yeomanry Museum – from our narrowboat hire base at Stockton on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, it takes seven hours, passing through 20 locks to reach the county town of Warwick, home of the Yeomanry Museum. This small museum, based in The Court House, on Jury Street in Warwick, celebrates the history of the Warwickshire Yeomanry from 1794 to 1956, including the last classic unsupported Cavalry Charge of the Great War, with a collection of uniforms, weapons, medals and memorabilia.
Get close to medieval warfare at Chirk Castle – from our narrowboat hire base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, it takes just over an hour to reach Chirk, passing over the incredible Pontcysyllte Aqueduct along the way, which this year celebrates 10 years of World Heritage Status. The National Trust’s Chirk Castle, one of a chain of fortresses built on the Welsh-English border by Edward I, is a 30-minute walk up from the canal. Started in 1295, Chirk Castle features round ‘drum’ towers that allowed archers a wide firing field and created a ‘killing zone’ where the fields of fire overlapped. The towers are wider at ground level making it difficult for siege towers and battering rams to get close. Visitors today can explore lavishly furnished rooms, the Adam Tower – complete with its two-level dungeons, medieval toilets and murder holes – and enjoy walking through the Castle’s lovely gardens and parkland full of ancient trees, wildflowers and birds. Chirk can also be reached on a week’s holiday from our new canal boat hire base on the Llangollen Canal at Whixall.
Learn about the siege of Skipton Castle – from our canal boat rental base at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire, it takes just over three hours (travelling six miles with no locks) to reach Skipton with its 900-year old fortress, one of the most complete and best preserved medieval castles in England. Visitors to this impressive stone castle, which withstood a three-year siege during the Civil War, can climb from the depths of the Dungeon to the top of the Watch Tower, exploring the magnificent Banqueting Hall, Kitchen, Bedchamber and Privy in between. Skipton Castle also has some fabulous woodland walking trails to explore. For nearly a thousand years these woods provided fuel, food and building materials for the castle’s inhabitants. Today, there are at least 18 species of trees to admire there, as well as hundreds of flowering plants, including wild orchids and bluebells.
Wonderful canalside pubs worth a visit during any narrowboat holiday
One of the joys of any holiday is whiling away languid hours in the sun with a beer, glass of wine or whatever is your preferred tipple – and canal boat holidays are no exception. Luckily the historic waterways of England and Wales – once main transport thoroughfares – are dotted with welcoming pubs, many of which used to cater for the canal workers of bygone years as they travelled up and down transporting coal and other materials to fuel the industrial revolution. Now of course they cater to a more pleasure-seeking crowd, including those fortunate enough to be enjoying a narrowboat holiday. There are literally dozens of charming pubs where you can stop on your canal trip, but here we list just some of our favourites:
This 16th century inn overlooking a picture perfect stretch of the Kennet and Avon Canal as it snakes its way through a green Cotswold valley is the stuff pub dreams are made of. Stop off enroute to the historic market town of Bradford-upon-Avon and enjoy a refreshing pint in their canalside garden which has lots of outdoor seating meaning you can find space even in the height of summer.
A lovely traditional Staffordshire pub located at the heart of the idyllic Churnet Valley next to the rushing water of a weir. Sitting in the pub garden, watching the narrowboats floating past and steam trains coming and going on the Churnet Valley Railway Line surrounded by the green valley sides, you could be forgiven for thinking you’d been transported back 100 years in time.
This 17th century pub, with its own onsite brew house, has a snug rustic interior where you can warm up while sipping one of their delicious ciders or ales or in summer sit in the canalside garden and admire the gorgeous Warwickshire countryside that surrounds you.
This tiny historic pub, which also runs a camping site, has been run by the same family for more than 100 years. It still boasts the same tables and settles that were in situ when the family took over, with beer often brought up in a jug from the cellar to this day. The multi-award-winning pub was recently given heritage status for its historic importance.
Located in a beautiful 12th century stone building that was originally a monastery, the George Inn has been carefully refurbished by Chef and Brewer to create a stylish welcoming interior with open fires keeping things cosy in winter. Once the sun is shining, enjoy some canalside al fresco beers or sit in the sheltered sun trap of a courtyard.
This 18th century pub, located on the famous Fradley junction of two key canals with a ye olde world charm, offers good beer, fine wine and proper pub grub. It is a great place to sit outside and watch the narrowboats navigating their way between the two historic waterways. And, you’re guaranteed a warm welcome from the owners.
In a charming thatched building, owned and run by the Woodward family since 1877, the Boat Inn offers as warm a welcome now as it did 130 or so years ago, with same open fires still burning through the winter. With ales, ciders and wines to suit every palette, the pub also boasts two eateries with a more informal bistro and Woodwards Restaurant with its gorgeous canalside views.
Sitting on the banks of the Severn with great views of the nearby lock and weir, this rustic pub is a wonderful spot to sit and watch life on the river. The large garden is enlivened by the resident peacocks, chickens, ducks, geese and Sandy the turkey. A small mooring spot is available for passing boats to stop off for some refreshment.
With a history stretching back 800 years when it was originally built as an almshouse, the Trout Inn could reasonably claim to be one of the oldest pubs in the country. It became an inn in 1472 and has continued in that guise, being renamed The Trout Inn in 1704 in recognition of the ancient fishery rights bestowed upon the pub by Royal Charter – it still controls two miles of trout and coarse fishing waters. The pub has been owned and run by Penny Warren for nearly three decades and she has worked hard to preserve its traditional charm, with roaring log fires in winter and a gorgeous riverside garden to enjoy in summer.
This beautiful waterside free house deep in the Shropshire countryside is surrounded by three acres of park-like gardens next to the famous Llangollen Canal. With its tap room and cosy snug warmed by a fire in winter, the Jack Mytton also boasts a sheltered courtyard with seating and a Mediterranean style al fresco bar for hot summer days. There is private mooring space for up to six boats.
The Bay Horse dates back to 1822 and grew in popularity as the industrial revolution saw the local population working the mills soar. Today it remains an idyllic traditional inn with cask ales and hearty food, surrounded by the breath-taking landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales, with a sheltered garden overlooking the canal.
Nearest Anglo Welsh canal boat bases: Whixhall and Bunbury
This lock keeper’s cottage turned pub on the Cheshire-Shropshire border sits right beside a working lock on the Llangollen canal, making it an ideal spot to watch the narrowboats coming and going. The family run pub has a large beer garden and playground and great cask ales often sourced from local breweries, making it popular with boaters, walkers and locals alike.
Since ancient times people have assigned healing properties to water and many recent studies have concluded that time spent by water makes people feel happier and more relaxed.
Water makes up 70 per cent of the human body and around 70 per cent of the Earth, so perhaps it’s not surprising we are drawn to it. In his book ‘Blue Mind’, marine biologist Walter J Nicholls describes the immeasurable sense of peace we feel around water as our “blue mind”, saying “when we are by the water it…cuts us off from the rattle and hum of modern society.”
Last year, The Canal & River Trust, the charity that cares for our 2,000 mile network of canals and rivers, published research that shows spending time by the waterways can make you happier and improve your life satisfaction. And the report shows that the associated benefits of visiting a canal or river increase with the length of visit – with higher levels of happiness and lower levels of anxiety for longer trips.
So why not take the chance to escape the hyper-connected, over-stimulated modern day life by taking a relaxing break on the canals.
We’ve put together our Top 5 reasons why a canal boat holiday can help you relax and unwind:
Escape to the country – there are over 4,000 miles of navigable canals and rivers to explore in Britain, many of them passing through tranquil unspoilt countryside, so a canal boat holiday is a great way to escape from urban living
Connect with nature – Our inland waterways are havens for wildlife, providing homes for many types of birds, plants, animals and insects, so it’s a great way to connect with nature
Slow down – the speed limit on the waterways is just four miles per hour, so you’ll immediately switch into a much more slower pace of life
Bring your pets – interacting with animals is said to reduce anxiety and we welcome one or two pets on all our boats, so you can bring your furry friends along for an extra stress busting boost
Enjoy an outdoor workout – exercise also helps to reduce stress, and with locks to open and close, towpaths to walk, local attractions to explore and plenty of fresh air, a narrowboat holiday can provide an excellent outdoor workout.
What’s on in May: Canalside events to look forward to
Who doesn’t love May? It’s the month when summer finally starts to show its fair face, when blossom coats the hedgerows, when the sun shines late into the evening, when wearing shorts and flipflops becomes a reality, rather than a distant dream.
It is the month when the British countryside blooms, literally, bathing passersby in the sweet honeyed scents.
It is also the month when villages, towns and cities burst into life with the first of the summer’s fetes, festivals, carnivals and other colourful events all making May a busy few weeks.
In short, it is the perfect month to plan a canal boat holiday and explore some of the beautiful historic waterways which crisscross much of the UK.
To help you in planning your narrowboat break, here is a selection of just some of wonderful things taking place along the canals of England and Wales this May:
The best talent from the UK’s folk music scene serenade audiences across Bristol over the May bank holiday weekend. This year’s line up includes Cara Dillon, Sam Kelly & the Lost Boys and Lady Maisery with gigs held at St Stephen’s Church, Bristol Folk House and the beautiful St George’s. There will also be workshops and after hours sessions at other venues across the city.
The newly revamped Royal Pump Rooms offer a spectacular setting for this festival of chamber music which attracts fans from all over the UK and beyond. Violinist Tamsin Little and Russian pianist Andrey Gugnin will launch a stellar festival line up which will see exquisite music provided by organist Jonathan Cunliffe, the Aronowitz Ensemble, Roderick Williams and many more.
Taking place in Little Venice since 1983, the Inland Waterway Association’s Canalway Calvacade is one of the biggest and best canal festivals in the UK. Hundreds of narrowboats and other canal craft decorated with bunting line up along the Grand Union and Regents Canal providing the backdrop to a weekend of live music, dancing and fabulous food and drink. A highlight is the boat ‘pageant’ which sees boats competing for the best décor with a different theme each year.
Thousands of visitors descend upon Skipton over the May Bank Holiday to see dozens of decorated narrowboats line the canal basin and surrounding towpaths. There will be a full programme of entertainment over three days with children’s activites and rides, as well as craft stalls and delicious food and drink.
Launched in 2007, this family festival which takes place across Vines Park in Droitwich and the historic town centre, has grown to include street markets and exhibitions, live entertainment and a vintage car rally alongside the canal boat gathering. The festival culminates with ‘The Great Droitwich Duck Race’ at 4.30pm on the Monday afternoon.
The 2019 Chester racing season starts with the prestigious Boodles May Festival which takes place over three days and kick-starts the racing calendar in style. It starts with City Day on the Wednesday followed by the hats, frocks and thrills of Ladies Day and finishing with Chester Cup Day on the friday.
Step back in time to a wartime era of with a weekend of stories, music and vintage fun. This is a great excuse to dig out that retro or fancy dress, get dancing to some swing music and admire some classic cars and more. Entertainment will be provided by Kevin Mack, George Formby Experience and the Bluebird Belles while re-enactors from the Home Front include Peggy Skivvy, Victory Belles WI and the Bevan Boys and reminders of the fighting forces will be provided by Pathfinders, Red Caps and more. Tickets are £5 and can be bought on the door.
Running over 11 days in May, this annual celebration of music, literature and spoken word brings Bath to life with a rich array of concerns and performances. Traditionally the festival opens with the ‘Party in the City’ when dozens of parks and venues across the city host live bands and solo artists throughout the evening for everyone to enjoy. The programme then showcases an amazingly rich array of world famous musicians, writers and cultural figures. This year will see stars including Sir Michael Parkinson, Dame Darcey Bussell and Jo Brand entertaining audiences across Bath.
This celebration of canals, community and the environment brings together hundreds of traditional narrowboats and other craft from different eras together from across the country. At least 20,000 visitors come to Rickmansworth to enjoy the boats, music, performances, displays and colourful range of traders.
Birmingham’s best independent local food traders gather to tickle the tastebudes of all visitors to this two day culinary celebration, organised by Independent Birmingham and Birmingham Seasonal Markets. Visitors can enjoy a spectacular line up of pop up restaurants, cocktail bars, street food, craft beer, fine wine all to a backdrop of great music. For those arriving via narrowboat the Bond sits conveniently right on the canalside.
Britain’s biggest inland waterways festival with more than 27,000 visitors last year, the Crick Boat Show bring together over 280 exhibitors, dozens of boats of all ages, dimensions and styles, talks by boating experts, boat trips and boat handling taster sessions all topped off with great live music and food and drink to get everyone in a celebratory mood. Now in its 20th year, this boat show is a great day out for all the family.
The biggest two-day LGBT party in the UK, Birmingham Pride is a weekend of flamboyant fun with colourful Carnival Parade through the city centre and live music from a fantastic line up including Years & Years, Lady Leshurr and Mabel. Alongside the main stage, the ‘Gay Village’ also features a dance arena, cabaret marquee, funfair, community village green, central market street, and the friendliest street party for all.
A fantastic boutique, family friendly music festival with more than 33 bands over three days showcasing the best in new talent and established acts. Last year saw around 5000 people soak up the sun and music and this year promises to get even bigger. The line up so far includes top tribute acts from The Stones, Re-Take That and Queen tribute, Mercury.
A celebration of all things delicious, independent food producers and street food traders will ply their wares at the World of Wedgewood over two days. Foodies can combine tasting wonderful local food and enjoying live music with exploring the historic pottery centre which provides a fascinating insight into what was once the region’s key industry and remains a famous English brand to this day.
Travel back to 1455 when the House of Lancaster’s hold on the English throne under King Henry VI is challenged by the House of York. The rival houses clash in battle leading to a war that lasted more than 30 years. The legendary Wars of the Roses is played out before audiences during an epic live action show at Warwick Castle. Experience a spectacle never seen before in the UK, complete with perilous stunt riders, fearless jousting and state of the art special effects. The show takes place every day throughout half term.
This is a must visit for anyone who loves boats in all their forms, with three days of ‘simply messing about in boats’ in this beautiful lake next to the River Thames. Visitors can admire classic boats, wooden boats, fibre glass boats, motor boats, sailing boats and much more with boat trips and rides. For any members of the family less keen on boats, there is also a vintage vehicle rally and many more land-based activities to enjoy.
Canal revamp! New and improved canals ready for your 2019 narrowboat holidays
While we’ve all been hibernating through the chilly winter months, the Canal and River Trust and its army of passionate volunteers have been hard at work restoring our historic waterways. Most of the canals of England and Wales were built more than two centuries ago as industrial transport routes and it is testament to the incredible engineering of Thomas Telford and others that they have so successfully stood the test of time. But as with any historic structure, they do require constant upkeep and this is where the Canal and River Trust steps up. This charity keeps 2000 miles of canals and rivers open and accessible so they can be enjoyed by boaters, cyclists and walkers alike, more than 200 years after their construction. At Anglo Welsh we work closely with the Canal and River Trust which does amazing work to protect the canals, enabling the rest of us to enjoy these magical waterways which form such an important part of our country’s industrial heritage.
A huge amount of renovation work has been going on over the quiet winter period, so here is our round up of routes reopened or improved for your canal boating pleasure this year:
1) Repairs to the Middlewich branch of Shropshire Union
This beautiful offshoot of the Shropshire Union Canal has reopened following £3million repairs to a major breach of the embankment. Just a year after a section of the 200-year-old embankment collapsed into the River Wheelock below, canal boats can once again explore this lovely 10-mile long waterway which connects the Shropshire Union Canal at Barbridge Junction to the Trent & Mersey Canal at Middlewich. Coordinated by the Canal and River Trust, the repair work involved 4,000 tonnes of stone, hundreds of volunteers and two major civil engineering companies. Narrowboat holidaymakers who want to explore the nearly revamped Middlewich branch can reach it most easily from our Bunbury base but it can also be accessed from Trevor and Great Haywood.
2)The Marple Flight reopens on Peak Forest Canal
The stunning Marple flight and aqueduct – the highest canal aqueduct in England – have been closed to narrowboats, walkers and cyclists on and off since September 2017. More than 90 pieces of restoration work have been carried out over the famous Marple flight of 16 locks over the last 18 months but it is now accessible to canal barges once again. There are few routes more beautiful for a canal boat holiday than crossing the incredible triple arched aqueduct that carries the Peak Forest Canal 90-feet above the River Goyt near Marple. Designed by Benjamin Outram and opened in 1800, the Grade I listed construction and ancient monument sits at the bottom of one of the steepest lock flights in Britain. Since 2015, this part of the Peak Forest Canal has been a Green Flag Award winner, the Marple Aqueduct itself winning a Heritage Green Award in 2017. The nearest Anglo Welsh canal boat base is Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal.
3)Caldon Canal from Stoke on Trent to Froghall
The Caldon Canal has undergone a £157,000 winter makeover during which vital maintenance and repair work has been completed. This 240-year-old canal, which runs from the urban surroundings of Stoke on Trent into the idyllic countryside of the Churnet Valley to Froghall, has had three lock gates replaced and repairs to several bridges, lock chambers and walkways. Thousands of fish and other wildlife had to be rescued and transported to other section of the canal before the areas under repair were drained. Thanks to the repair works, some of which are ongoing, narrowboats, cyclists and walkers can continue to enjoy the tranquillity of the Caldon Canal for many years to come. For those planning a narrowboat holiday who wish to take in this route, the nearest Anglo Welsh base Great Haywood.
4) Macclesfield Canal
The Macclesfield Canal in Cheshire has undergone a £1.4million makeover this winter. The project involved extensive dredging to deepen the canal channel between Macclesfield and the canal’s junction with the Trent & Mersey Canal, near Kidsgrove. There was also work to repair leaks, masonry, gates, sluices and washwalls. Dedicated volunteers from the Macclesfield Canal Society and other voluntary groups saved the Canal and River Trust more than £80,000 by giving up their free time to clear away unwanted vegetation and repair the towpaths. Originally built to transport coal during the Industrial Revolution, the 200-year-old waterway was the first canal in the country to gain a coveted Green Flag Award, acknowledging it as a quality green space. The 28 mile Macclesfield Canal is part of the popular 100 mile Cheshire canal cruising ring, which offers boaters a wonderful combination of rural Cheshire scenery and the urban waterways of Greater Manchester. If you wish to visit during your next narrowboat holiday, the nearest Anglo Welsh base is Bunbury.
5) Llangollen and Montgomery Canals restoration work
The stunning Welsh border canals of Llangollen and Montgomery are undergoing £300,000 of restoration work, due for completion at the end of March. The crowning jewel of Britain’s canals, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which soars a jaw-dropping 126-ft above the River Dee, is having its handrails repaired while several sections of the lock will be drained for new lock gates to be installed and walls fixed. The 200-year-old Llangollen Canal, with its 11 mile stretch of World Heritage Site winding through picture perfect countryside, is one of the most popular canals in the country, so it is vital to the Canal and River Trust to keep it in a good state. Anyone planning a canal barge holiday this year who wants to explore the Llangollen can start out from Anglo Welsh’s Trevor base right next to the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.
6) Shropshire Union Canal repairs
The stunning Shropshire Union Canal – affectionately known as the Shroppie – is benefitting from more than £600,000 of repairs which started last November and are likely to last until the end of March. The work on the 66-mile canal which snakes through unspoilt Shropshire, Cheshire and Staffordshire countryside will see 11 lock gates replaced and brickwork, masonry, lock ladder and culvert repairs. Due to its overwhelmingly rural setting, the Shroppie is one of the most popular canals with narrowboaters up and down the country as well as cyclists, walkers, canoes, fishing enthusiasts and more, so it gets a lot of use making the repairs all the more important. For anyone planning their canal holiday who wants to experience the loveliness of the Shropshire Union, setting off from the Anglo Welsh bases at Bunbury or Great Haywood will get you there.
7) Kennet and Avon Canal work
Nearly £450,000 was invested into repairs to the Kennet and Avon Canal this winter with work due to completion in April. Projects at half a dozen locations along the 87-mile waterway will see giant lock gates replaced, historic canal walls rebuilt and other elements of the engineering restored. The 200-year-old canal which twists and turns through Berkshire, Wiltshire and Somerset until it reaches the beautiful city of Bath is a favourite for canal boat holidays. Anglo Welsh has two bases along this wonderful waterway, in Bath itself and a few miles up the canal nestled among the Cotswold Hills in Monkton Combe from where you can easily reach other picturesque towns such as Bradford upon Avon and Devizes.
If you want to stay up to date with all the latest canal restoration works or check that the journey you are planning has no stoppages or closures, go to www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/notices.
Take to the water this Easter, and cruise through the beautiful Spring countryside, adorned with new leaves, fragrant blossom, delightful daffodils, playful spring lambs and chirping birds.
You can cruise gently along aboard your own floating holiday home to enjoy an outdoor family adventure, stopping-off along the way to visit waterside destinations hosting special Easter holiday activities.
From medieval fortresses, battles and jousting, to Easter egg decorating, hunting and (of course) eating, here are our Top 10 Easter canal boat holiday family destinations:
Visit the World’s biggest Cadbury shop at Cadbury World – apparently, if you placed all the Cadbury Creme Eggs made in a year from end to end, they would stretch from Bournville to Sydney, Australia! This Easter, you can discover more amazing chocolate facts, and buy some Creme Eggs at the World’s biggest Cadbury shop, at Cadbury World at Bournville, right next to the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. From our canal boat hire base at Tardebigge, near Bromsgrove in Worcestershire, it takes just two hours to reach moorings outside Cadbury World, and three more lock-free hours to reach Birmingham City Centre.
Have an ‘Eggstraordinary Easter Eggventure’ at the University of Oxford’s Natural History Museum – from our Oxford base, it’s a tranquil three-hour cruise along the River Thames to moorings at Hythe Bridge, perfect for exploring Oxford’s city centre, including the University of Oxford Natural History Museum, which is hosting an Easter egg hunting trail, 6-22 April. Housed in a stunning Victorian neo-Gothic building, Oxford’s Natural History Museum is home to an internationally significant collection of natural history specimens, including T-rex skeletons, the Oxford Dodo, whale skeletons, British bird displays, dinosaur fossils and the 4.5 billion-year-old Nantan meteorite.
Enjoy a Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt at Chirk Castle – from our narrowboat hire base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, it takes just over an hour to reach Chirk, passing over the incredible Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which this year celebrates 10 years of World Heritage Status. Once moored-up, it’s a half-hour walk up to the National Trust’s stunning medieval fortress, Chirk Castle, where over the Easter Weekend (19-22 April), children can follow the Easter Trail, solve the clues and win a Cadbury chocolate prize.
Watch medieval jousting at the Royal Armouries Museum – from our base at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, on a week’s holiday, canal boat holiday-makers can travel to Leeds and back, cruising for a total of 34 hours and passing through 56 locks. Over the Easter weekend (19-22 April) the waterside Royal Armouries Museum will be hosting its spectacular International Jousting event, where four teams of knights from the UK, Poland, the USA and Canada will battle for honour and trophies.
Tour the Roman Baths by Torchlight – from our canal boat rental base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Brassknocker Basin just outside Bath it takes around four hours, passing through six locks to reach Bath City Centre, just a short walk away from the Roman Baths Museum. Over the Easter Weekend (19-22 April), the Museum will be hosting torchlit evening openings (6pm-8pm), giving visitors the chance to see the remarkably preserved remains of one of the greatest religious spas of the ancient world in a different light. Easter evening visitors can also enjoy live music, impromptu performances from the Natural Theatre Company and a drink in a pop-up Prosecco Bar.
See the World’s oldest working steam engines – on a week’s holiday from our narrowboat hire base at Sydney Wharf, you can travel along the beautiful Kennet & Avon Canal to Crofton, near Marlborough, to visit the Crofton Pumping Station. Over the Easter Weekend (20-22 April), the Easter Steam Event allows visitors to witness the work of the oldest working steam engines in the world, still performing the job they were built to do. The two beam engines, one of which is an original 200-year old Boulton & Watt, are both fed by a hand-stoked, coal fired Lancashire boiler. The journey to Crofton takes around 23 hours, cruising 40 miles and passing through 47 locks.
Join the annual Easter Boat Gathering at Ellesmere Port – over the Easter Weekend (19-22 April), the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire celebrates the start of the Summer boating season with a large boat gathering, live music and the Shropshire Boatmen telling waterway stories in song. From our canal boat hire base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire, it takes 10 hours to reach Ellesmere Port, travelling 21 miles through 12 locks, and passing through the ancient City of Chester along the way.
Do some Easter egg decorating at Mary Arden’s Farm – from our base at Wootton Wawen on the pretty Stratford Canal, it takes around an hour-and-a-half to reach the village of Wilmcote, home to Mary Arden’s Farm, where Shakespeare’s mother grew up. Over the Easter holidays, as well as experiencing the sights, sounds and smells of a Tudor farm, visitors can enjoy decorating eggs with traditional Tudor designs at Mary Arden’s Farm. On a short break, you can continue on to Bancroft Basin in the Centre of Stratford to visit waterside eateries, Shakespeare’s Birthplace and the famous Swan Theatre.
Explore the Eggcellent Easter Trail at Trentham Monkey Forest – during the Easter holidays (15-26 April), visitors to Trentham Monkey Forest, where monkeys live in total freedom, can walk amongst the monkeys and follow the Easter Woodland Trail to find a hidden word to gain entry to a prize draw. From our boatyard at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal near Stafford, it takes approximately 10 hours to reach Stoke bottom lock No. 36, a short walk away from Trentham Monkey Forest. The journey cruises 13 miles and passes through 13 locks.
Take a Guided Walk at the Battle of Bosworth Museum – from our canal boat hire base at Stockton on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, it takes around 18 hours, travelling 44 miles and passing through seven locks, to reach Sutton Cheney, close to the Bosworth Heritage Centre & Country Park. Here, where King Richard III famously lost his crown to Henry Tudor in 1485, visitors to the multi-award-winning Bosworth Battlefield Experience can enjoy hands-on displays and guided walks to find out more about medieval warfare, how the battle unfolded and the impact of the powerful Tudor dynasty.
Plan your Easter canal boat holiday: The best waterway routes for kids
It’s finally getting a little bit lighter and there is hope that winter may not last forever.
In fact, it is the perfect time to cheer yourself out of any winter blues by planning your next narrowboat trip. With the school Easter break now just a few weeks away, why not treat the whole family to a canal boat holiday this year. Kids love the novelty of being on the water just as much as adults and all our narrowboats are designed to be family friendly. You could even bring your pets!
To help, we’ve had a think about the best canal boat holiday routes to do with children.
We’ve chosen varied waterway journeys that combine rural beauty and tranquility with more urban settings that are packed with family friendly activities to keep the kids entertained throughout. No more of those, ‘Mum/Dad, I’m boooored,’ comments.
Tardebigge to Birmingham
Set in the heart of rural Worcestershire, Tardebigge offers an idyllic starting point for any canal boat cruise. The base sits at the top of an impressive lock ladder climbing 220 feet, offering wonderful views over the surrounding countryside.
If you are heading towards Birmingham you have a relaxing lock free five-hour cruise north along the Worcester and Birmingham Canal through rolling fields, woodland and quiet villages with welcoming pubs.
On the outskirts of the ‘City of canals’ as Birmingham is romantically labelled, you’ll pass through Bourneville where the canal takes you within touching distance of the old Cadbury chocolate factory. Now Cadbury World, this celebration of all things chocolate is a guaranteed hit with the kids.
Continue to the historic Gas Street Basin right in the city centre, from where you can access all Birmingham’s most famous attractions including the National Sea Life Centre, which is a great day out for the whole family.
To ease you into boating life gently there is a long stretch with no locks, passing through tranquil meadows and the pretty villages of Weston, Salt and Sandon which boast good pubs for a pit stop. After a few more miles, you reach your first lock at Aston, then proceed through more luscious countryside to the historic market town of Stone, which has some great canalside pubs, restaurants and a monthly farmers market.
It is then just seven miles until you reach the towns that make up Stoke on Trent and The Potteries. At Barlaston, you pass the Wedgewood factory with its World of Wedgewood visitor centre offering factory tours, a museum and craft and decorating studios where visitors can test out their talent on the pottery wheel.
The last few miles before you branch off east on the Caldon Canal in Stoke on Trent are dominated by old factories and warehouses, brick furnaces alongside more modern buildings. The Caldon Canal will take you into the picturesque Churnet Valley to Froghall. Here the kids are in for a real treat for it is just a short bus ride to Alton Towers, the UK’s biggest theme park, just make sure you book your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment!
Bunbury to Chester
The Shropshire Union Canal is renowned to be one of the most unspoilt scenic of canals, making it a favourite with narrowboaters from all over the UK.
From Bunbury, cruise north across the expansive open country of the Cheshire Plain past the medieval ruins of Beeston Castle looking down from its rocky crag which offers views all the way to the Pennines. Run by English Heritage and surrounded by a 40-acre woodland park, this is a great place to take the kids. Stop off for refreshment at the canal side Shady Oak Pub, next to Bate’s Mill Bridge, before heading north again.
The canal snakes its way through more green and pleasant farmland until reaching Christleton, a charming village on the edge of Chester with a traditional green surrounded by historic houses.
But most people will be impatient to get to Chester itself, one of the most beautiful cities in the UK, steeped in history. The canal takes you right into the centre of the city, with its cluster of 700-year-old buildings, great shops, restaurants and cafes, and stunning sandstone cathedral all encircled by the imposing medieval city walls.
Take the children to Chester Zoo where you can admire more than 21,000 endangered and exotic animals in the 125 acres of beautiful gardens. This is said to be the most visited tourist attraction in the UK outside of London.
The canal proceeds through gentle Warwickshire countryside until reaching elegant Royal Leamington Spa with its fine examples of Regency and Victorian architecture and ornate parks like Jephson Gardens. The Leamington Spa Spy Mission Trail is a great way to keep the kids entertained while you explore the town.
From here it is a stone’s throw to Warwick itself, with its unique combination of medieval, Queen Anne and Victorian buildings, all overlooked by the enormity of Warwick Castle. Taking you back in time more than 1000 years with its castle ruins, gruesome dungeons, live bird of prey displays and Horrible Histories maze, you could easily spend the whole day at the castle. But make sure you leave time to explore the historic delights of the town itself including the 14th century Lord Leicester Hospital, St Mary’s Church and The Mill Garden on the banks of the River Avon.
*Monkton Combe to Bristol
From Monkton Combe on the Kennet and Avon Canal you skirt the tail end of the Cotswold Hills to reach the famously beautiful city of Bath which, as a tourist honeypot, has plenty of family friendly activities from mini golf to glass making.
In Bath, you leave the canal to join the wider flowing waters of the River Avon which winds its way through gorgeous countryside first to Saltford, where the riverside Jolly Sailor Pub makes a good stop off, then on towards Bristol.
On the outskirts of the city you will pass Beese’s Riverside Bar and Tea Gardens with its idyllic secretive setting on the riverbank hemmed in by woodland. Try and ensure you’re hungry – or thirsty – so you have an excuse to stop.
After this the city begins to close in upon the river as you enter the old industrial area before turning off at Feeder Road to lock into the historic floating harbor. You can then cruise right into Bristol’s vibrant centre where you are within easy walking distance of the hugely popular We The Curious (formerly At-Bristol) science centre, the incredible SS Great Britain or M Shed with its varied exhibits, all designed to appeal to the little ones. If that’s not enough, catch a bus or taxi to Clifton where you can take the children to Bristol Zoo, with its 400 species of rare animals, 12 acres of gardens, water play area and aerial ropes course ending in an exciting zip wire.
*This route is only recommended for experienced boaters due to the tidal River.
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.