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Spotlight on the Canals – The Stratford Canal

Shakespeare, barrel roof lock cottages, iron aqueducts and gourmet pubs

The 25-mile long narrow and mostly rural Stratford-upon-Avon Canal links Shakespeare’s Stratford and the River Avon in the south, with the Worcester & Birmingham Canal close to Birmingham in the north, passing through the Forest of Arden along the way.

The southern section of the canal, running from Bancroft Basin in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon up to Lapworth, is characterised by barrel roofed lock cottages and a series of split bridges with gaps for the tow ropes of boat horses.

The northern section has 19 locks running up from Lapworth, and then a 10-mile lock-free level stretch to the canal’s guillotine-gated stop-lock at Kings Norton Junction.

Completed in 1816 at a cost of £297,000, the canal has 54 locks, a 322-metre long tunnel, three high embankments, a reservoir, a large single span brick aqueduct and three cast iron trough aqueducts, all unusually with towpaths at the level of the bottom of the canal.

Best for beginners

From our base at Wootton Wawen, a pretty hamlet set within a conservation area, it’s a six-hour, 16-lock journey through the beautiful Warwickshire countryside to Shakespeare’s Stratford – perfect for a short break.

Canal boat holiday-makers head south, first crossing the Grade II* listed Wootton Wawen aqueduct over the A3400 and a few miles later the longer 105-metre long Edstone Aqueduct – which crosses a minor road, the Birmingham and North Warwickshire railway and the track bed of the former Alcester Railway and provides boaters with excellent views of the surrounding countryside.

Next the canal passes the picturesque village of Wilmcote. Canal boat holiday-makers can moor-up above Wilmcote Top Lock and walk into the village to explore Mary Arden’s Farm, the childhood home of Shakespeare’s mother to experience the sights, smells and sounds of a working Tudor farm. Wilmcote also has two pubs – the gourmet Mary Arden Inn which dates back to the 1700s, and The Masons Arms, a traditional pub with flagstone floors and real fires.

Continuing south, boaters next negotiate the Wilmcote Flight of 11 locks, taking the canal down the hill into Stratford. Expect “gongoozlers” as you pass through the last two locks and arrive at Bancroft Basin, the perfect place to moor up and enjoy the delights of Stratford-upon-Avon.

Just some of the highlights of this world-famous home of the Bard include the Royal Shakespeare Company’s magnificent Royal Shakespeare Theatre with over 1,000 seats. In 2017 performances of Anthony & Cleopatra, Julius Caesar and Titus Andronicus are scheduled.

There are regular markets, plenty of eateries including Carluccio’s and the Giggling Squid, and a number of museums, including the bizarre MAD Museum of Mechanical Art & Design (described as a mixture of Wallis & Gromit, Heath Robinson and Scrapheap Challenge) and Shakespeare’s Birthplace.

Best for experienced boaters

The mighty Warwickshire Ring is perfect for more experienced boaters on a 10-day or two-week break. From Wootton Wawen, the journey time is 59 hours, travelling through 128 locks.

First head north up the Stratford Canal, passing through two locks at Preston Bagot, with a barrel roof cottage at lock number 37.

Next the canal passes close to the tiny hamlet of Yarningdale Common, with another barrel roof cottage at lock 34 and the Grade II* listed Yarningdale Aqueduct.

At the village of Lowsonford, the canalside Fleur de Lys pub is well worth a visit, renowned for its home-made pies.

Several locks, barrel roofed cottages and miles later, the canal passes beneath the noisy M40 motorway. After another five locks, and boaters reach Lapworth junction where they can take the Lapworth link to connect onto the broad Grand Union Canal at Kingswood Junction.

To travel clockwise around the ring, boaters turn left and head north. The Heart of England Way meets the canal here at Kingswood Bridge, and it’s just over a miles walk to the National Trust’s Baddesley Clinton stunning moated manor house in the heart of the Forest of Arden from here.

Soon after, the canal passes the Black Boy and King’s Arms pubs at Heronfield, and then reaches the Knowle flight of five wide locks, which raise the canal by 12.5 metres. The town of Knowle is a short walk away, with a supermarket and choice of pubs.

Soon after, the canal passes beneath the M42 motorway, and continues north past the Boat Inn at Catherine de Barnes, before entering the urban outskirts of Birmingham at Solihull.

Six miles later, boaters reach the six locks at Camp Hill and then Bordesley Junction. From here it’s just half a mile to moorings at Typhoo Basin, close to Warwick Bar in the centre of Birmingham.

There’s so much to do in Birmingham – theatres, art galleries, museums, concert halls, restaurants and shops, but the City’s award-winning Thinktank Science Museum, with its exciting Spitfire and Marine Worlds galleries, is close by.

Next turn back to Bordesley Junction and head up the Birmingham & Warwick Junction Canal, which connects with the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal at Salford Junction. From there begin heading east, still in a very urban environment for another four miles until the Hare & Hounds pub at the bottom of the Minworth flight of three locks.

Now back in the countryside, the route passes the White Horse at Cudworth, where the Cudworth flight of 11 locks starts. The Dog & Doublet pub is next to Lock 9 of the flight and there are moorings soon after, with access to Kingsbury Water Park, offering 600 acres of country park to explore.

The Heart of England Way follows the line of the canal here for several miles and passes the RSPB’s Middleton Lakes Nature Reserve, great for a spot of birdwatching.

Fazeley is next with its choice of pubs – the Plough and Three Tuns, plus a short bus or taxi ride to Drayton Manor Theme Park if you fancy a change of pace!

The Coventry Canal meets the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal here, taking boaters travelling the Warwickshire Ring east through Tamworth to Alvecote with its Samuel Barlow pub, the ruins of Alvecote Benedictine Priory and the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust’s Alvecote Pools nature reserve.

Now heading south, the canal passes beneath the M42 and past the Pooley Visitor & Heritage Centre, displaying mining memorabilia and offering waymarked paths around woodland and spoil heaps.

Then it’s on through the village of Polesworth, a good place to stop and re-stock with shops, and Bulls Head, Red Lion and Royal Oak pubs.

The canal becomes very rural for a while, passing Hoo Hill obelisk which marks the site of the Chapel of Leonard at Hoo, demolished in 1538 by Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries.

Atherstone is the next town, with a flight of six locks, choice of shops and pubs, including the Kings Head.

The canal continues south, lock-free for the next 11 miles. The Anchor at Hartsmill is the next canalside pub on route and soon after the canal becomes more urban again as it winds its way through Nuneaton, before meeting its junction with the Ashby-de-la-Zouch Canal at Bedworth.

Two miles later, the Coventry Canal meets the North Oxford Canal at Hawkesbury Junction, where Warwickshire Ring travellers being heading south down the Oxford Canal. The route soon passes under the M69 motorway and through the pretty village of Ansty, with its Rose & Castle pub.

Three miles later, it’s worth stopping at Brinklow to visit the remains of Brinklow Castle, a Norman earthwork motte and bailey fortress, and Brinklow Arches to the south of the village, a canal aqueduct built during the Imperial Period. There are also a number of pubs in the village, including The Raven and White Lion.

The canal then passes through the 186-metre long Newbold Tunnel, past the Barley Mow and Boat pubs, becoming more urban again as it travels through the town of Rugby. Boaters soon reach the Bell & Barge pub and Tesco store at Brownsover, and then the village of Hillmorton, with its flight of three locks, plus Old Royal Oak and Stag & Pheasant pubs.

After Hillmorton, the canal cuts through open countryside again, and is lock-free to the Braunston Turn, where the Oxford Canal merges with the Grand Union Canal. The historic village of Braunston, in the heart of the canal network, is a great place to stop with a marina, boatyard, fish and chip shop, and plenty of pubs including the Wheatsheaf and Old Plough

Eleven miles and nine locks later, the canal reaches Napton Junction where the Oxford Canal splits off and heads south.

The Warwick Ring continues along the Grand Union Canal towards Birmingham, soon reaching the three locks at Calcutt. The next two miles are on one level until the route reaches Stockton Top Lock, the peak of a flight of 13 locks taking the canal to the village of Long Itchington, who’s six pubs host a popular annual beer festival.

The next four miles remain rural and just before Leamington Spa is reached, the canal passes by the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust’s Lea Valley Nature Reserve, with family-friendly activity trails.

There are plenty of visitor moorings in Royal Leamington Spa, giving boaters the chance to enjoy some of this historic spa town’s attractions, including its impressive Georgian and Edwardian architecture, Royal Pump Rooms Museum, Loft Theatre, Welches Meadow Nature Reserve, and excellent choice of shops and restaurants.

Next it’s the beautiful country town of Warwick, with its jaw-dropping medieval castle on the banks of the River Avon, dating back to William the Conqueror. Warwick Castle offers a fantastic day out with ramparts to climb, birds of prey and trebuchet firing displays, Horrible Histories Maze, landscaped gardens, Castle Dungeon and daily history team tours.

Warwick itself has a vibrant market place hosting a variety of shops, pubs and cafes and a thriving Saturday market, as well as a popular racecourse, Yeomanry Museum, Lord Leycester Hospital Museum, Queen’s Own Hussars Museum & Master’s Garden, St John’s House Museum and Warwickshire Museum.

Heading out of Warwick, boaters soon encounter Hatton Bottom Lock and the start of the epic Hatton Flight of 21 locks, traditionally known as the ‘Stairway to Heaven’, which raises boats up by nearly 45 metres along a two mile stretch of the canal. Just below the Top lock, boaters will find the Hatton Locks Café for welcome refreshment!

It’s another four miles back to Lapworth from Hatton, passing through the Shrewley and Rowington tunnels, before heading back down the Stratford Canal to Wootton Wawen.

To book a holiday or break on any of Anglo Welsh’s fleet, call our friendly booking team on 0117 304 1122.

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We’re welcoming ‘Eynsham’ back with a discount & bubbles!

Our 61ft narrowboat ‘Eynsham’ has been refurbished over the winter and will be returning to action on the Stratford Canal next week (7 April 2017), with hire prices starting at less than £22 pppn.

‘Eynsham’ has been transformed from a boat for eight people, into a spacious six-berth, with a generous front cabin, one bathroom and two cabins, making her the perfect family boat.

Her accommodation can be configured as one dinette double, with one fixed double and two fixed singles, or one dinette double with four fixed single beds.

First introduced to the Anglo Welsh fleet in 2004, ‘Eynsham’ has spent 12 years taking canal boat holiday-makers on adventures along the Kennet & Avon Canal.

To celebrate her return, we are offering her for hire throughout 2017 at price band 5/E, rather than 6/F, saving up to £150. And every new booking for holidays on ‘Eynsham’ in 2017 will receive a complimentary bottle of Bubbly on board.

In 2017, short break narrowboat holidays aboard ‘Eynsham’ start at £640, weekly breaks from £915. These prices include cancellation protection.*

On a short break (three or four nights) from our canal boat hire base on the Stratford Canal at Wootton Wawen, narrowboat holiday-makers can travel through the beautiful Warwickshire countryside to visit the historic market town of Stratford-upon-Avon, birthplace of Shakespeare.

The journey passes over two aqueducts, through 17 locks and takes around six hours. Along the way, boaters can stop off at the pretty village of Wilmcote and step back in time to experience the sights, smells and sounds of a Tudor farm at Mary Arden’s Farm, the house where Shakespeare’s mother grew up.

Once in Stratford itself, there are town centre moorings at Bancroft Basin, close to the Swan Theatre, Shakespeare’s Birthplace, and a choice of pubs, restaurants and cafes, including the One Elm pub, Hathaway Tea Rooms, Carluccio’s and the Giggling Squid.

On a week’s break from Wootton Wawen, boaters can reach the historic county town of Warwick to visit its jaw-dropping medieval castle, tackling the infamous flight of locks at Hatton along the way.

Or head to Birmingham and moor up in Gas Street Basin to explore our exciting second city, boasting more canals than Venice and award-winning attractions like the Thinktank Science Museum.

On a 10 night to two-week holiday from Wootton Wawen, the Warwickshire or Avon rings can be completed.

Go to our bookings page to check availability or call us on 0117 304 1122 to find out more.

*A compulsory Damage Waiver of £50 is required. Fuel deposits are £50 for short breaks and £90 for week long holidays.

To book a holiday or break on the Eynsham or any of the Anglo Welsh fleet, call our friendly booking team on 0117 304 1122.

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Anglo Welsh’s Top 10 Easter Holidays Afloat

Narrowboat holidays offer the chance to enjoy a fantastic family adventure holiday afloat. So why not ship out this Easter to explore the Great British countryside as it bursts into life with spring lambs, busy birds, blossom and new leaves.

And stop-off along the way to visit exciting waterside visitor attractions hosting special Easter activities.

Here are our Top 10 family destinations this Easter to help you plan ahead:

  1. Check out the new arrivals at Chester Zoo. 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, canal boat holiday-makers can visit Chester Zoo, home to over 15,000 animals, living in 125 acres of award-winning zoological gardens. New arrivals include a rare baby Sulawesi crested macaque monkey, ‘Diego Junior’ an endangered giant otter, ‘Murchison’ the baby giraffe and two baby elephants.
  2. Glide across ‘The Stream in the Sky’. Just five minutes by boat from our base on the Llangollen Canal at Trevor, boaters encounter the incredible World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, truly one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’. Its cast iron trough, along which boats travel, is supported on iron arched ribs and carried 38 metres high above the Dee Valley on 19 hollow pillars. On a short break from Trevor, boaters can cross the aqueduct and then continue east to reach the Ellesmere Lakes, teaming with wildlife. On a week’s break, boaters can cruise on to the historic market town of Whitchurch, with its striking half-timbered buildings, independent shops and restaurants, way-marked circular walks, and numerous pubs, including the award-winning Black Bear.
  3. Enjoy Egg-citing Easter activities at the Black Country Living Museum. From our Tardebigge base on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, it’s an eight-hour, three-lock journey to moorings outside the Black Country Living Museum. From 8-23 April the Museum will be hosting an array of family activities, including a ‘m-egg-a hunt across the 26-acre site, exploring shops and houses to solve clues, egg rolling competitions, eggy craft activities, traditional street games, Victorian school lessons, a trip into an 1850s coal mine and the chance to enjoy freshly baked hot cross buns from their bakery and traditionally cooked fish & chips.
  4. Get brainy at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. 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 awesome Oxford University Museum of Natural History, home to the University’s internationally significant collections of geological and zoological specimens, including the Oxfordshire dinosaurs, the Dodo and the swifts in the Tower. This Easter, visitors can enjoy their special ‘Brain Diaries’ exhibition (10 March 2017 to 1 January 2018), which chronicles the fascinating physical developments our brains undergo as we grow from babies to children, teenagers and then adults.
  5. Join the Medieval Easter activities 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. Here, boaters can moor up and explore the Royal Armouries Museum at Leeds Dock, home of the national collection of arms and armour. From Saturday 8 to Sunday 23 April, the Museum will be hosting a range of medieval-themed events and activities, with an exciting gallery programme of live interpretations, dramatic performances, and combat demonstrations, plus the Knight’s Apprentice Horse Show, Knight School, Falconry Flying Displays and medieval dance workshops.
  6. Meet a Roman soldier at the Roman Baths. From our base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at the historic town of Bradford on Avon in Wiltshire, boaters can reach Bath Top Lock, in just six hours, travelling through one lock and over two beautiful Bath stone aqueducts. From there, it’s a 15-minute walk into Bath City Centre and the Roman Baths, where visitors can see the remarkably preserved remains of one of the greatest religious spas of the ancient world and meet costumed characters, including a Roman soldier, stonemason, slave girl and priest, bringing to life the people who lived and worked at Aquae Sulis 2,000 years ago.
  7. Find a tropical butterfly paradise at the Stratford-upon-Avon Butterfly Farm. From our base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal, it’s a delightful six-hour, 17-lock cruise journey through the Warwickshire countryside to moorings in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon. From here, it’s a short walk to the town’s theatres, shops, restaurants and museums, as well as the Stratford-upon-Avon Butterfly Farm, where visitors can see some of the world’s largest and most camouflaged caterpillars on show, find out about the amazing lifecycle of a butterfly within the Farm’s Emerging Cage and observe the fascinating Mini-Beast Metropolis, inhabited by stick insects, beetles, leafcutter ants and some of the world’s largest tarantula spiders.
  8. Step back in time at Fradley Junction. From our base at Great Haywood, near Stafford, it’s a peaceful six-hour journey along the Trent & Mersey Canal to Fradley Junction, near Burton-on-Trent, where the Trent & Mersey Canal meets the Coventry Canal. Here visitors can find out about the people who once lived at Fradley Junction, repairing boats and locks, the cottages they lived in, the maintenance yard where they worked and the pub where they swapped gossip after a hard day’s work. There’s an audio trail to follow and wildlife to spot at the Fradley Pool Nature Reserve, with a bird hide and pond dipping platform.
  9. Wonder at Warwick Castle. From our Stockton base on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, it’s a seven-hour journey, passing through 20 locks, to reach the beautiful country town of Warwick with its jaw-dropping medieval castle on the banks of the River Avon. Dating back to William the Conqueror, Warwick Castle offers a fantastic day out with ramparts to climb, the Castle Dungeon, Great Hall and Staterooms to explore, the sights, sounds and smells of the medieval period to experience in the Kingmaker exhibition, soaring birds of prey and trebuchet firing displays to watch, the Horrible Histories Maze to navigate and landscaped gardens to tour.
  10. Explore Brunel’s SS Great Britain in Bristol’s Floating Harbour*. From our base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Sydney Wharf in Bath, Bristol’s Floating Harbour is an eight-hour cruise away, travelling through 13 locks. Once there, narrowboat holiday-makers can moor-up and take time to explore Brunel’s awesome SS Great Britain, one of the most important historic ships in the world. Special activities planned this Easter include an Easter Animal Trail for families to follow clues in search of creatures that traditionally travelled on board the ship, and volunteer-led talks about the ship’s first voyage to Australia, with tales of murder, mystery, life changing success and spectacular failure. *NB this route is recommended route for experienced boaters.

To book a holiday or break on any of Anglo Welsh’s fleet, call our friendly booking team on 0117 304 1122.

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Spotlight on the Canals – the Shropshire Union Canal

Stunning views of the rolling Cheshire landscape, sleepy villages, atmospheric cuttings & an abundance of wildlife.

Stretching from Autherley Junction near Wolverhampton in the South, to Ellesmere Port in the North, the charmingly rural Shropshire Union Canal, affectionately referred to as “The Shroppie”, covers 77 miles, including its 10-mile Middlewich Branch and quarter-of-a-mile long River Dee Branch.

There are 47 locks along the main line, four along the Middlewich Branch and three on the River Dee Branch. With long stretches with no towns for miles, the Shropshire Union Canal is great for getting close to nature.

The northern section is a wide waterway, running through the gently rolling Cheshire landscape, while the arrow-straight southern section features long embankments, cuttings and grand bridges, and fewer locks.

These deep mossy cuttings are atmospheric and full of wildlife, giving keen-eyed boaters the chance to spot the flashing blue of a kingfisher in flight, and other waterway wildlife.

Best for beginners

On a short break from our canal boat hire base at Bunbury near Tarporley in Cheshire, narrowboat holiday-makers can head north along the Shropshire Union to the historic City of Chester. The 12-mile journey through the rolling Cheshire countryside takes seven hours, passing through 18 locks.

After leaving the base and going through Tilstone Lock, and two more locks at Beeston (Beeston Stone & Beeston Iron), boaters can moor-up just below Wharton’s Lock and walk half-a-mile to English Heritage’s Beeston Castle & Woodland Park, one of the most dramatic ruins in the English landscape.

Continuing along, soon after Wharton’s Lock, boaters come across the canalside Shady Oak pub and two miles later, the Famous Cheshire Ice Cream Farm at Tattenhall is a short walk from the canal.

Soon after the canal becomes less rural, passing through Waverton, and the site of the Battle of Rowton Moor (one of the last major battles of the English Civil War), and then into Christleton with its Cheshire Cat canalside pub and the Ring ‘o’ Bells pub in the village.

Climbing up five more locks along the way (Christleton, Greenfield, Tarvin, Chemistry, and Hoole Lane), the canal passes the Lead Shot Tower site, where during the Napoleonic Wars musket shot was produced by dropping molten lead balls from height, which formed spheres as they fell into a vat of water at the bottom.

Now in the ancient City of Chester, there’s so much to explore, including the City’s Roman Amphitheatre, Museum, City walls, River Dee, Chester Rows, Shops, Chester Cathedral built in 1541, St Johns’, Chester Castle, and racecourse.

For canal boat holiday-makers heading back to Bunbury, there’s a winding hole close to Chester Cathedral at Cow Lane Bridge 123E.

Boaters on a four-night or week-long break can continue down the staircase locks and into Telford’s Basin, then on lock-free for a further eight miles to the end of the Shropshire Union Canal at Ellesmere Port, where the canal meets the Manchester Ship Canal. Alternatively, at the four-mile marker there’s the option to moor-up at Caughall Bridge, and walk half a mile to the award-winning Chester Zoo, with 15,000 animals living in 125 acres of gardens.

At the canal’s terminus, boaters can visit the National Waterways Museum, with its historic boat collection, docks, warehouses, forge, stables and workers cottages, recreates homes from the 1830s, 1900s, 1930s and 1950s and brings the past vividly to life with costumed characters and guided tours.

Best for experienced boaters

On a week, 10-day or two-week break from Bunbury, boaters can tackle the Four Counties Ring, travelling through Cheshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire and the West Midlands, covering 114 miles and 96 locks, and taking around 58 cruising hours.

After travelling south two miles to Barbridge Junction, with its marina and Olde Barbridge Inn, to travel anti-clockwise around the Ring, boaters should continue to head south down the Shropshire Union Canal to its junction with the Staffs & Worcs Canal at Autherley.

Along the way, the route passes over the Nantwich Aqueduct on the outskirts of Nantwich, home to the stunning timber framed Elizabethan mansion house, Churche’s Mansion.

Two rural miles later, there are two locks at Hack Green, close to the Secret Hack Green Nuclear Bunker, once one of the nation’s most secret defence sites, and now a fascinating museum.

Three miles on at Audlem, boaters pass the Shroppie Fly pub and Audlem Mill, selling canal gifts, crafts and the locally made Snugbury’s Jersey Ice Cream.

Then the Audlem flight of 15 locks takes boaters 93ft downhill to a lock-free mile, and then another flight of five locks at Adderley.

Boaters next travel through Betton Cutting, passing by Brownills Wood before reaching the historic market town of Market Drayton, home of the gingerbread man.

Next there are five locks at Tyrley, then the canal is lock free for 17 miles, passing through a series of cuttings, embankments and villages with excellent pubs.

Places of note along this 17-mile level stretch include Goldstone Wharf with its Wharf Tavern pub, Staffordshire Wildlife Trust’s Loynton Moss Nature Reserve at Grub Street, the Old Wharf Tearoom at Norbury Junction, the Royal Oak at Gnosnall, and the Hartley Arms and Mottey Meadows Nature Reserve at Wheaton Ashton.

There’s just one lock at Wheaton, then the route is lock-free again for eight miles, passing the Bridge pub at Brewood, going under the M54 motorway and running close to Pendeford Mill Nature Reserve, before meeting Autherley Junction Stop Lock and the southern end of the Shroppie.

To continue the Four Counties Ring, boaters then travel north up the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal to Great Haywood, before transferring onto the Trent & Mersey Canal.

Places of interest along this section include the National Trust’s Shugborough Estate with beautiful riverside gardens, the 2,675-metre long Harecastle Tunnel and the Wedgewood Museum at Stoke on Trent.

At Middlewich, the ring route leaves the Trent & Mersey Canal to head west back to Barbridge, travelling along the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal.

This quiet waterway, which travels peacefully through the Cheshire countryside, has just four locks along its 10-mile length. For refreshments, as well as a choice of canalside pubs at the historic market town of Middlewich, the Badger Inn at Church Minshull, just a short walk from the canal, it’s a popular place to stop.

To make a booking or to get friendly advice on canal holidays, please call our Booking Office on 0117 304 1122.

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What’s on in 2017 – Anglo Welsh’s guide to the year’s top canal festivals

Literary giant Dr Samuel Johnson famously said that “when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life”. Here at Anglo Welsh we reckon you could say the same thing about canals! Every year there is an action-packed calendar of festivals and boat shows on the waterways near our 11 bases in England and Wales, and 2017 is no exception.

Dr Johnson’s hometown of Lichfield lies just a few miles by waterway from the historic Shropshire Union Canal, a firm favourite among holidaymakers departing from Anglo Welsh’s Great Haywood and Bunbury bases. Taking place just cruising distance from both bases is the 18th annual Audlem Festival of Transport (30th July), where a record number of vintage canal boats are expected at the Audlem Wharf next to Audlem Mill and the Shroppie Fly. For all-round transport buffs, there will also be a parade of 300+ vintage cars, vans, trucks and buses.

The Skipton Waterway Festival (29th April – 1st May) on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal near Anglo Welsh’s Silsden base will see narrowboats lined up along the Skipton Basin and surrounding towpaths. The North Yorkshire event also features specialist attractions like the ‘Birds of Prey’ show and the ‘Bark-ing mad wood turners’, plus a host of children’s rides. The Silsden to Skipton stretch of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal runs through a beautiful part of Yorkshire and offers gorgeous views of the South Pennine countryside and old stone-built villages.

The Crick Boat Show (27th – 29th May) in Northamptonshire is Britain’s biggest inland waterways festival. Visitors can take a free trip out onto the water to experience the Grand Union Canal on a vintage canal boat, and for nostalgic narrowboaters there will be a unique show of historic boats dating back as far as 1909. The Crick event is organised by Waterways World, a must-read monthly magazine that explores the UK’s waterway systems, tests the latest boats, and looks into the history and heritage of our canals.

There will certainly be plenty of canal history and heritage on offer at the Foxton Locks Festival (17th – 18th June) near Market Harborough on Anglo Welsh’s East Midlands Circuit. Waterway enthusiasts will tell you the highlight is witnessing boats getting up or down the hill through the famous Foxton locks and the amazing inclined plane, but that’s not the only thing on offer. Leicestershire’s much-loved festival boasts a fantastic range of historic boats to enjoy as well as craft marquees, a music festival and the ever-popular Fun Dog Show.

Another early summer highlight comes in the shape of the Braunston Historic Narrowboat Rally and Canal Festival (24th – 25th June) near Daventry in Northamptonshire. Over 80 historic boats will gather at the picturesque marina located on three Anglo Welsh circuits – the Warwickshire Ring, South of England Circuit and East Midlands Circuit. There they will take part in parades with expert commentary; other attractions include a real ale beer tent, boat exhibitors, waterways artists, live music, and Morris dancing.

Travelling across to Shakespeare country on Anglo Welsh’s popular Avon Ring, the Stratford-upon-Avon River Festival (1st – 2nd July) is now in its eighth year and goes from strength to strength. It’s a quintessentially English summer festival featuring a display of spectacular narrowboats, world-class live music, fun activities in the Family Zone, an artisan craft market, a delicious selection of global food stalls, and an awesome Saturday firework display.

For canal goers who enjoy spectacular festivals and thrilling boat shows, 2017 will clearly be another busy year on the UK’s waterways. To paraphrase Dr Johnson; if a man, woman or child is tired of canal festivals and Anglo Welsh narrowboats, they are tired of life!

Click here to see the full range of Anglo Welsh canal circuits on the Shropshire Union Canal, Grand Union Canal, East Midlands Circuit, the Avon Ring and more.

Anglo Welsh’s friendly staff at our 11 bases in England and Wales will be delighted to recommend the best local boating events. To book a narrowboat holiday in 2017 call our booking team on 0117 304 1122.

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Anglo Welsh’s Class of 2016 oozes ‘Star’ Quality

Many canal devotees love to enthuse about vintage narrowboats, and understandably so, but here at Anglo Welsh few things get our pulses racing more than a spanking new hire boat, especially when it’s suited and booted to our very own specifications.

In recent years, we’ve grown accustomed to narrowboat connoisseurs waxing lyrical about our Bond Class boats. But to paraphrase a 007 movie trailer, ‘Bond is back, and it’s better than ever’. In fact, it even has a new name! Ladies and gentleman, we proudly present the Anglo Welsh Constellation Class – six brand-new narrowboats that are all set to make a big splash in 2016 and beyond.

As the latest evolution of our customised fleet, the Constellation Class combines the proven layout of the Bond Class with upgraded facilities and striking new livery. And we’ve tried to spread the joy around! The 12-berth ‘Andromeda’ is based at our Bradford on Avon base, the 12-berth ‘Delphinus’ at Oxford, the 6-berth ‘Cassiopeia’ at Bunbury, and the 4-berth trio ‘Aquarius’, ‘Aquila’ and ‘Carina’ at Trevor, Wootton Wawen and Bunbury respectively.

“The Bond Class has been an incredibly popular hire over the years,” says Wootton Wawen base manager Alistair King, but we’ve really pushed the boat out … excuse the pun … with the Constellation. Built by one of Britain’s oldest established boat builders using Anglo Welsh’s own bespoke specs, they’re among the finest narrowboats you’ll see anywhere on the UK’s waterways.”

 

“Below deck, light ash interiors and reflective white ceilings create a really spacious feel, and as an added bonus, the Constellation Class is highly adaptable, with double beds easily converting into singles and vice-versa. ‘Aquila’ enjoyed its maiden voyage in March and we’ve already received great feedback. The only thing we can’t agree on is the pronunciation, though for now we’re going for ‘Aquila’ rhyming with ‘Tequila’!”

As well as being built to order, the Constellation Class was also ‘christened’ by the Anglo Welsh team. So why Constellation? “Despite the fact our narrowboat fleet already includes a boat called ‘Enterprise’ the name has nothing to do with ‘Star Trek,” confesses Alistair with a smile. In fact, stargazers will have already spotted that Aquarius, Aquila, Carina, Cassiopeia, Andromeda and Delphinus are all named after constellations. “Apparently Aquarius even means water-carrier in Latin,” adds Alistair, “though I prefer to think of it as an amphibious people carrier!”

To which we can only add, the Constellation Class is undoubtedly the new ‘star turn’ on the UK’s waterways and we’re confident that these magnificent boats will carry people on some memorable canal journeys!

To book one of the new Constellation Class narrowboats, please contact our dedicated Booking Team on 0117 304 1122.

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Army & You Review: Beautiful Boating Break

Andrew and Kirsten King reviewed their recent holiday from our Wootton Wawen base for www.armyandyou.co.uk

It was quite a test to get the hang of manoeuvring our 62ft-long boat, called Marlow, but by the second day we had it down. You get a run through at the beginning and an instructional DVD, which helped clear up a few things that we were a little unsure about.  

We started in Wotton Wawen and made our way to Stratford upon Avon, spending the night in the Stratford Basin which was a great spot to tour the heart of “Shakespeare Country”.

The boat is fairly modern compared to what we expected for this “old timey” experience. There are good heaters throughout and on a four-berth boat you can request two double beds or a double and two singles. Having two toilets was handy and in the kitchen we had all the utensils you need, a foldable table and chairs, some loungers and a TV – liveable and comfortable for a week’s stay.

Finley and Addison really enjoyed the whole experience. Locks can be a lot of work, especially when there are several in a row, but everyone was put to work when it came to operating them. The kids helped look out for particular lock or bridge numbers, pushed the lock gates open and shut and helped tie up the boat for the night.

They loved feeding the ducks along the canal at many points. Finley even had a go at steering. It’s worth considering bringing an extra pair of adult hands to share the workload if you have young children that need attention.

Part of the attraction is spending a bit of time off the boat. The highlights were tackling new challenges together and meeting new people, like the volunteers who help you through the locks and other friendly boat owners. One of the stops we made was to Mary Arden’s farm house (Shakespeare’s mother) where we learnt about what life was like when Shakespeare was alive.

We would definitely recommend this sort of holiday to Army families. It’s a history-rich and cultural experience that gets you up and about seeing some picturesque parts of the countryside.

Anglo Welsh offers all British Service personnel up to 15 per cent off. Our team of helpful canal holiday experts are available to take your booking! Please call us 0117 304 1122

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Retiring at Twenty Five!

One of Anglo Welsh’s most valued and loyal customers has left the world of school trips after his 25th booking.

Headmaster, Peter Cook, of Wellow House School, Newark, and formerly Kimbolton School in Cambridge is hanging up his gown and mortar at the end of this year for a well earned retirement. Or, in Sir’s case his rugby shirt and shorts!

Peter has introduced children to the wonderful experience of narrowboating for 19 years, combining educational, fitness recreation and the fun activities that canal cruising has to offer.

An avid Rugby Union devotee, Peter still strikes an imposing figure on and off the pitch and the disciplines of the sport are reflected in the behaviour of the pupils in his charge.

In recognition of his quarter century of bookings Base Manager, Kevin Yarwood presented Mr Cook with a brass compass and sundial on his final visit to Great Haywood base. Kevin thanked him for his custom over the years and on behalf of Anglo Welsh wished him a long and happy retirement and hoped to welcome him back, in the future, with his family.

Commenting on his presentation, Peter said “I never expected anything like this but it is typical of the team at Great Haywood. Over the years I have had nothing but praise for the Booking Team, the base managers and staff for their consideration and helpfulness.”

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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?

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.

Anglo Welsh. So much more than narrowboats

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

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