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Plan your 2021 canal boat holiday adventure with our bucket list guide

Canal boat holidays are a wonderful way to explore the countryside and some of Britain’s most exciting historic attractions. With the narrowboat as your mobile floating holiday home, you can moor up in a new spot every night, and discover fascinating things to see and do along the way.

To help you plan the perfect narrowboat holiday adventure in 2021, here’s a guide to some of our canal boat holiday musts:

1. Be wowed by the wildlife
Canals and rivers are home to an incredible array of wildlife, from rare mammals, birds and amphibians to many species of plants. Even in cities, canals provide green corridors, enabling animals and plants to flourish. If you are vigilant and have a pair of binoculars at the ready, you may be able to spot some of the rarer and shier waterway inhabitants such as water voles, otters and kingfishers, as well as the more common water birds, like ducks, swans, coots, moorhens and geese. You can also take a look down at the water to spy fish, frogs, toads, newts, or up at the sky to see bats, owls, woodpeckers, hedgerow birds and birds of prey.

2. Visit a historic town or city
The waterways were once the primary means of transport and communication between centres of industry and commerce, so they pass through many exciting historic towns and cities. You can choose a route which takes you to some of Britain’s best preserved ancient cities, including Bath, Oxford and Chester, all with an impressive array of beautiful historic buildings to admire. The canals can also take you into the heart of bustling cities, like Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham and to historic market towns, such as Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwick, Devizes, Llangollen, Whitchurch, Bradford on Avon and Abingdon.

3. Marvel at the historic engineering of the canals
Most of our canals were built over 200 years ago during the Industrial Revolution, starting with the opening of the Bridgewater Canal in 1761. Despite their age, the canals still use, for the most part, the same engineering structures – lock gates, swing bridges, tunnels and aqueducts. There are some particularly impressive feats of historic engineering which are worth trying to incorporate into your canal boat holiday route, such as the incredible lock flights at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, the Kennet & Avon Canal at Caen Hill or the Grand Union Canal at Hatton. There are many famous tunnels, such as the Chirk Tunnel on the Llangollen Canal, the Harecastle Tunnel on the Trent & Mersey Canal and the Blisworth Tunnel on the Grand Union Canal. And there are soaring aqueducts to glide across, including the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct on the Llangollen Canal and the Edstone Aqueduct on the Stratford Canal.

4. Enjoy a pint at a canalside pub
From busy city boozers to rustic country inns, the canals are lined with wonderful pubs where you can enjoy a pint, shoot the breeze and watch the world float by. During the years when canals provided key transport thoroughfares, many pubs sprung up along their routes to cater for the canal workers who would travelling up and down the country delivering their cargo. To this day, some of the country’s oldest and most characterful taverns are found along our canals, so enjoy taking some time out from boating to enjoy a warm canalside pub welcome.

5. Explore on foot
Canal towpaths offer thousands of miles of wonderful walking and cycling routes and hundreds of footpaths connect into waterway paths. These include some of Britain’s most famous walking routes, such as the Pennine Way, the Offa’s Dyke Path, the Heart of England Way and the Shropshire Way. Plan some lovely circular walks to explore more of the gorgeous unspoilt countryside through which you are passing, or the historic towns and villages you moor up in.

6. Stop off at a castle or stately home
Britain has a wealth of historic properties to visit, from castle ruins to perfectly preserved stately homes. People travel from all over the world to see these treasures and a canal boat holiday is the perfect way to reach some of our nation’s most amazing sights. Many stately homes house incredible art collections and antique furnishing, as well as landscaped formal gardens and parkland. National Trust properties close to the canals include: Packworth House close to the Stratford Canal at Lapworth in Warwickshire; Shrugborough Hall next to the Trent & Mersey Canal near Great Haywood; and Chirk Castle close to the Llangollen Canal. There are also fascinating castles at Oxford, Skipton and Warwick to explore, as well as historic sites like Avebury close to the Kennet & Avon Canal in Wiltshire and the Battle of Bosworth Field next to the Ashby Canal in Leicestershire.

For more information on our routes and exciting waterside destinations, take a look at our 2021 brochure:https://anglowelshportal.co.uk/

Canal maps are available to buy from our booking office or from our canal boat holiday hire bases.

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Top 6 Christmas Destinations

Anglo Welsh offers winter cruising* from six bases, giving narrowboat holidaymakers the chance to celebrate Christmas or New Year afloat, joining in the festive celebrations at exciting waterside towns and cities and stopping off at rural pubs with roaring log fires.

From a cosy boat for two to a party boat for 10, we’ve got a range of boats to choose from.  Christmas prices start at £470 for a short break (three or four nights), weekly hire from £670.

All our boats have central heating, hot water, WiFi, TV and DVD players and some also have multi-fuel stoves, so it’s always warm and cosy on board.

Here are our Top 6 festive destinations for 2016/17:

1.  Wonder at the Animal Lanterns at Chester Zoo –  from our Bunbury base on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire, it’s a seven-hour, nine-lock journey to the historic walled city of Chester.  With 3D Christmas Lights, Christmas parades, a sparkly Christmas Market with dozens of gift and festive-fare filled chalets, carol concerts at Chester Cathedral and the magical ‘Lanterns at Chester Zoo’ event, Chester is a great place to celebrate Christmas.


2.  Visit the award-winning Christmas market in Bath – 
from our base in the historic town of Bradford on Avon on the edge of the Cotswolds, it’s a delightful six-hour cruise along the beautiful Kennet & Avon Canal to moorings close to the centre of World Heritage city Bath.  With an award-winning Christmas market, carol services at Bath Abbey, stunning Georgian architecture, world class museums and top restaurants, Bath is a fantastic place to get Christmassy!


3. 
Watch a panto in Birmingham –  With its famous German Christmas Market, ice rink and big wheel, excellent shopping, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, National Sea Life Centre, incredible new library and Christmas shows, including ‘Treasure Island’ at the Birmingham Rep and ‘Dick Whittington’ at the Hippodrome, Birmingham is a great place to visit at Christmas time.  City centre moorings at Gas Street Basin, close to Brindleyplace, can be reached in just five hours from our narrowboat hire base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal.


4. 
 Enjoy the Christmas Festival at Stratford upon Avon – from our base at Wootton Wawen near Warwick, it’s a picturesque six-hour cruise through the Warwickshire countryside to Shakespeare’s Stratford.  Once there, boaters can moor up in the town’s canal basin to enjoy the marvellous Christmas lights, Christmas markets, Christmas grotto with the Real Father Christmas (from 24 Nov), intriguing Ebenezer Scrooge Grotto (from 28 Dec), carol singers, traditional pubs, ghost walks, museums, shops, Swan Theatre and cosy restaurants.


5. 
 Experience a ‘Santa Special’ at the Llangollen Railway – our canal boat hire base at Trevor on the beautiful Llangollen Canal in North Wales is just minutes away from the incredible 40m high and 30m long Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.  As a World Heritage designation, this incredible feat of Industrial Revolution engineering has been put on a par with the Taj Mahal, Great Wall of China and the Pyramids.  On a short break from our narrowboat holiday base at Trevor, boaters can reach the pretty town of Llangollen, nestled in the hills, to enjoy Christmas celebrations at the Llangollen Railway, which is running ‘Santa Specials’ on 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18, 22, 23 and 24 December.


6. 
 See an Outdoor Christmas Nativity in Market Drayton –  from our Great Haywood base at the junction of the Staffordshire & Worcestershire and Trent & Mersey canals in Staffordshire, on a week’s cruise, canal boat holidaymakers can travel to Market Drayton in North Shropshire.  Said to be home of the Gingerbread man, this historic market town offers visitors lively street markets, beautiful architecture and the ‘Buttercross to Bethlehem’ outdoor nativity acted by people and animals, to be held in the Buttercross stone portico in Cheshire Street, 18 December at 4.30pm.

 

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

 

*Winter cruising routes can be affected by stoppages and closures as a result of winter maintenance work. 

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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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