Winter cruising through the countryside on a canal boat holiday

Winter cruising through the countryside on a canal boat holiday

We offer winter cruising from six of our narrowboat hire bases*, giving you the chance to cruise gently through the countryside, stopping off to explore canalside villages along the way, and to celebrate Christmas and New Year afloat.

The canals are quieter during the winter months and people tend to make shorter journeys. Winter cruising is about enjoying being close to the water and visiting canalside pubs with traditional log fires and other local attractions, rather than travelling lots of miles each day.

From a cosy narrowboat for two to a family canal boat for 12*, all our boats have central heating, hot water, WiFi, TV and DVD players, so it’s always nice and warm on board. Some of our boats also come with multi-fuel stoves for some extra special winter warmth, and there’s plenty of storage room on board, so you can bring lots of warm and wet weather clothing.

Some of our routes will be affected at times by the Canal & River Trust’s annual winter maintenance work, but here are our Top 6 winter narrowboat holidays for 2020:

1. Cruise through the Staffordshire countryside to Fradley

Heading south from our narrowboat holiday hire base at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal in Staffordshire, you’ll reach Fradley Junction in around five hours. The journey passes through five locks and 12 peaceful miles of Staffordshire countryside, including the Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Places to enjoy along the way include The Wolseley Centre run by the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, the Wolseley Arms pub and the village of Handsacre with its pub ‘The Old Peculiar’. Once at Fradley, you’ll find refreshments at the Canalside Café or The Swan Inn, and walking trails at the Fradley Pool Nature Reserve.

2. Travel gently through the Shropshire countryside to historic Whitchurch

From our barge holiday rental base at Whixall on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire, it takes around four hours to reach the pretty historic town of Whitchurch. Along the way, the route passes Whixall Moss, a Mecca for wildlife. Once at Whitchurch, enjoy way-marked walks, Brown Moss nature reserve and a choice of eateries, including the award-winning Black Bear pub.

3. Float to through the Warwickshire countryside to Shakespeare’s Stratford

From our narrowboat rental base at on the Stratford Canal at Wootton Wawen, near Henley-in-Arden in Warwickshire, it’s a picturesque six-hour cruise through the Warwickshire countryside to Shakespeare’s Stratford. Once there, you can moor up in Bancroft Basin in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon to enjoy exploring this historic town, and visiting some of its many pubs, restaurants and cafes.

4. Navigate to the canalside village of Lapworth

From our canal barge holiday hire base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, it takes around seven hours to cruise the historic canal village of Lapworth. With no locks to pass through along the way, it’s a great route for canal boat holiday beginners. Once there, you can moor up for countryside walks along the Heart of England Way, and visit the National Trust’s Packwood House, with beautiful gardens to explore.

5. Visit historic Chester afloat

From our narrowboat hire base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal near Tarporley in Cheshire, it’s a seven-hour cruise through the Cheshire countryside, passing through nine locks, to reach the historic city of Chester. Once moored up at Northgate visitor moorings, you can take time to explore this ancient Cathedral City with Roman City Walls, Amphitheatre, riverside gardens and fabulous City Centre Christmas lights.

6. Cross ‘The Stream in the Sky’ to the Shropshire Lake District

Our canal boat rental base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, is a ten minute cruise away from the incredible World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. This magnificent feat of Victorian engineering carries the canal 30 metres high above the Dee Valley, with amazing views to enjoy. On a short break, canal boat holiday-makers can cruise to Ellesmere, in the centre of the Shropshire Lake District, to visit the famous Mere, a haven for wildlife.

*Subject to government guidance and the lifting of relevant restrictions to control the spread of coronavirus, our boat yards are due to reopen on Monday 7 December. If you make a booking, but are legally unable to take your holiday as planned due to a Government coronavirus lockdown, you can transfer your booking with no admin fee or request a refund.


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Celebrate National Parks Week Afloat (22 – 29 July)

Canal boat holidays offer the chance to explore some of Britain’s most beautiful countryside, including several of our wonderful National Parks. Cruising gently along at just four miles per hour is the perfect way to relax, unwind and take in the scenery.

To celebrate National Parks Week this week (22-29 July), we’ve put together our ‘Top 3 National Park Canal Boat Holidays’:

  1. Potter through the Peak District to Froghall and back. On a week’s break from our narrowboat hire base at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal, it’s a 43-hour return journey to Froghall Basin and back, travelling a total of 72 miles through 72 locks. 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. At Cheddleton, the Flint Mill Museum is open on selected weekends and the Black Lion pub offers refreshment. After Cheddleton, the canal enters ever more remote countryside and merges with the River Churnet at Oakmeadow Ford Lock, where the valley becomes too narrow for both. At Consall Forge, once home to forges, furnaces and slitting mills, boaters will find the secluded Black Lion pub, said to be one of the waterway network’s most iconic pubs. From Consall, the canal leaves the River Churnet, soon reaching Flint Mill Lock, where the channel narrows, woodlands close in and the canal’s sense of isolation grows, before reaching the 69-metre long Froghall Tunnel.
  2. Travel along the edge of the Yorkshire Dales to Gargrave. From our canal boat hire base at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire, it takes around seven hours, passing through three locks and travelling 12 miles to reach Gargrave on the River Aire – perfect for a short break. The journey takes canal boat holiday-makers through the typical Yorkshire stone built villages of Kildwick and Farnhill, as well as Skipton with its fascinating medieval castle. From Gargrave, visitors can access the Yorkshire Dales National Park where 680 square miles of some of England’s finest walking country can be explored, including deep valleys, open moorland and rugged hills with very little habitation. On a week’s break, canal boat holiday-makers can travel on to Foulridge, winding along the contours of the side of Airedale, with breath-taking views of the Yorkshire Dales.
  3. Cruise along the Peak Forest Canal to Whaley Bridge. From our canal boat rental base at Great Haywood, it takes around 30 hours, travelling 57 miles and passing through 31 locks to reach Whaley Bridge at the head of the beautiful Peak Forest Canal – perfect for a 10-day or two-week break. The route begins by heading north along the Trent & Mersey Canal, passing through the pretty market town of Stone, Stoke on Trent with its Potteries Museum and the 2675-metre long Harecastle Tunnel, before joining the Macclesfield Canal at Hardings Wood. From there, the journey takes boaters along the full 28 miles of the beautiful Macclesfield Canal with spectacular views over the Cheshire Plain, and passes through Congleton and Macclesfield, before reaching Marple. From here, boaters can connect onto the Peak Forest Canal and travel on to historic Whaley Bridge and Bugsworth Basin, once one of the largest inland ports on the English canal network.

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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Celebrate National Pet Month With a Canal Boat Holiday

Top tips for taking your dog on a barge holiday

To celebrate National Pet Month, here at Anglo Welsh canal boat holidays we are waiving our second pet price of £35 on holidays booked from today to depart throughout April.

First pets are already free as part of all our holiday packages, and narrowboat holidays are especially great for dogs – with plenty of towpath walks, dog-friendly canalside pubs and other canines to meet along the way. As well as hundreds of dogs, we’ve accommodated many other kinds of pets aboard our floating holiday homes, including cats, rabbits, hamsters, caged birds and goldfish.

Here are our top tips for taking your dog on a barge holiday:

  1. Go for an open cruiser-stern. When considering which of our narrowboats to hire, it’s a good idea to go for the cruiser-stern style back, rather than semi-trad option, as there’s more room ‘on deck’ for the dog and the rest of the family to enjoy watching the world go by.
  1. Bring your furry friend’s bed. To help them feel at home and keep them off the beds on board!
  1. Don’t leave your dog unattended on board. It’s best to keep your pet with you, but if you do leave Fido behind for a short time to go shopping, bring an appropriately-sized crate as its own ‘safe space’.
  1. Boost their buoyancy. A doggy life-jacket is a good idea, especially for canal barge holiday first-timers, and it’s best to choose one with a wide belly-strap and easy-to-grab handle.
  1. Pack your poo bags. Our 2,000-mile network of navigable canals and rivers offers a wonderful world for dogs to explore but please pick up anything your dog might drop and pop it in a bin.
  1. Be extra safe. By keeping your dog on a short lead around busy spots like locks and bridges and making sure they wear their collar with an ID tag
  2. Watch out for wildlife. Don’t let your dog swim in the canals, especially when there are ducklings, signets, goslings and other water bird chicks about.
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Celebrate Shakespeare and the start of summer at Stratford’s 2017 River Festival

Few towns are more quintessentially English than Stratford-upon-Avon, and there is no better way to celebrate Shakespeare than the annual River Festival in the Bard of Avon’s home town.

Stratford’s 2017 River Festival takes place on Saturday July 1st and Sunday July 2nd, the eighth edition of an event that is close to everybody’s canal-loving heart at Anglo Welsh. For two whole days every summer the riverside comes alive and this year’s festival promises more free events and fun activities than ever.

Last year more than 60,000 people enjoyed world-class entertainment at this award-winning festival on Stratford’s riverside. In the best tradition of English festivities there really is something for everyone, including live music on the Bandstand and Acoustic Stage, fun activities in the Family Zone, artisan craft markets and a mouth-watering selection of food and drink on global food stands.

As befits one of Britain’s biggest canal festivals there will also be a spectacular display of narrowboats, not least Anglo Welsh’s 67ft, 6-berth ‘Summer’, a high spec Bond Class boat that by popular consensus is among the finest narrowboat hires available anywhere on the UK’s waterways.

‘Summer’ will arrive at Stratford-upon-Avon after a leisurely short cruise from Anglo Welsh’s nearby base at Wootton Wawen, Henley-In-Arden, a popular starting point for narrowboat holidays on the Avon Ring, the Warwickshire Ring, Stratford Canal and the Grand Union Canal, among others.

Aside from narrowboats and natural beauty, the highlight of a fabulous two-day River Festival will be a spectacular firework display on the Saturday night. We can’t wait!

And as an extra incentive we will be offering a 20% discount for Anglo Welsh customers who book their Anglo Welsh holiday at the festival!

To book a canal holiday from Wootton Wawen or any of Anglo Welsh’s 11 bases at prime waterway locations, please call our friendly booking team on 0117 304 1122.

Terms and conditions apply. Only available on Anglo Welsh boats, excluding Silsden boats.

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Be Inspired

We offer a range of different types of holidays such as City Breaks, Relaxation Cruises and Popular Destinations

City Breaks
Rural retreats
Popular places

So why choose Anglo Welsh?

Over 55 years providing unique canal boat holidays in England and Wales.
Modern and spacious narrowboat and wide beam barge hire – from 2 to 12 berths.
Wide choice of narrowboat hire locations and canal boat holiday destinations.
Canal boat holiday routes for novices & experienced boaters.
Flexible holiday booking, no hidden costs.
Family friendly and pet friendly holidays.
Great days out on the water.
Luxury canal boat hire and Thames boating holidays.

Anglo Welsh. So much more than narrowboats

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