Anglo Welsh’s Top 10 Canal Boat Holidays For 2017
1. Explore the labyrinth of limestone caverns at Dudley … from our Tardebigge base on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, it’s an eight-hour (three-lock) journey to moorings outside the fascinating 26-acre open-air Black Country Living Museum, often used as a backdrop for the BBC’s award-winning ‘Peaky Blinders’ series. From there, walk across to Dudley Canal Tunnel and board a trip boat to explore the spectacular limestone tunnels under Castle Hill, including the ‘Singing Cavern’ where seven enormous limestone pillars support its roof.
2. Pitt Stop at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford … 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 fascinating Pitt Rivers Museum. Here display cabinets are crammed with objects that make people different, including shrunken heads from the Amazon, Hawaiian feather cloaks and the curious ‘Witch in a Bottle’. Lieutenant-General Pitt Rivers made an original gift of 18,000 objects in 1884, some collected on Captain Cook’s voyage in the 1770s. Later travellers have added a further 300,000 objects.
3. Reach the Royal Crescent at Georgian Bath … 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 25-minute walk through Bath city centre to the stunning Royal Crescent, one of the greatest examples of Georgian architecture in the UK and one of Bath’s most iconic landmarks. Built between 1767 and 1775 and designed by John Wood the Younger, this impressive landmark forms a sweeping crescent of 30 Grade I Listed terrace houses, with a Museum of Georgian Life at No. 1.
4. See fantastic machines in Shakespeare’s Stratford … from our base at Wootton Wawen on the narrow Stratford Canal in Henley in Arden, it’s a delightful six-hour, 17-lock cruise journey through the Warwickshire countryside to Bancroft Basin in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare. Here, a choice of waterside eateries, the Swan Theatre, shops and the machine-infested MAD (Mechanical Art & Design) Museum, with over 100 pieces of Kinetic Art and Automata from artists around the World, are all within easy reach.
5. Travel the scenic Four Counties Ring … From our base at Great Haywood, at the junction of the Trent & Mersey and Staffs & Worcs canals, on a week’s break narrowboat holiday-makers can cruise the popular Four Counties Ring. Travelling 109 miles and tackling 94 locks, this scenic journey through the counties of Cheshire, Staffordshire, Shropshire and the West Midlands takes around 55 hours. Highlights include: Lord Lichfield’s Shugborough Hall; the Wedgewood Museum at Etruria; the 6,675-metre long Harecastle Tunnel at Kidsgrove; historic Market Drayton home of the Gingerbread Man; and the beautiful ‘Tixall Wide’ lake, bursting with wildlife.
6. Remember what the Romans did for us in Chester … From our 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 holidaymakers can explore the city’s Roman heritage, including its Roman roads ‘Via Praetoria’ and ‘Via Principalis’ (now Bridge Street and Eastgate), the Roman Museum, Roman Solider Tours, Roman Gardens and Amphitheatre.
7. Glide across ‘The Stream in the Sky’ … just five minutes by boat from our canal boat hire base on the Llangollen Canal at Trevor, the incredible Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is truly one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’. Its cast iron trough is supported on iron arched ribs and carried 38 metres high above the Dee Valley on 19 hollow pillars. In 2009 it was granted World Heritage status, putting it on an equal footing with the Great Barrier Reef and Taj Mahal. On a short break from Trevor, boaters can cross the aqueduct and then continue east to reach the Ellesmere Lakes, also known as the Shropshire Lake District.
8. Potter along to Stoke Bruerne canal village … from our Stockton base on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, the “chocolate box” pretty canalside village of Stoke Bruerne is 13 hours and 17 locks away. Home to a Wildlife Trust nature reserve, a variety of historic pubs and eateries (including the canalside Navigation and Boat Inn), an intriguing Canal Museum housing a treasure trove of canal curiosities, the southern end of the spooky 2,813-metre long Blisworth Tunnel, and a fascinating walking trail, this idyllic village is a really lovely place to visit.
9. Saunter to Saltaire & The Bingley Five Rise … from our base at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, on a short break boaters can travel to Saltaire near Bradford, said to offer the finest example of Italianate architecture in England and now a World Heritage Site. Sir Titus Salt built the textile Mill and entire village for the mill workers on the River Aire, with the new mill opening in 1853. Today, Salt’s Mill is home to examples of the work of Bradford born artist David Hockney, as well as an eclectic collection of books, furniture, jewellery, clothing and food for sale. From Saltaire, it’s a short walk or cruise on to the magnificent Bingley Five Rise lock staircase, the steepest flight of locks in the UK raising the canal up (or down) 60ft.
10. Cruise the epic Stourport Ring … from our base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, the 74-mile, 118-lock Stourport Ring can be undertaken in a busy week, or a more leisurely 10-day or two-week holiday. Visiting three cities (Wolverhampton, Birmingham and Worcester) and travelling sections of six different waterways (Staffs & Worcs Canal, Worcs & Birmingham Canal, Birmingham & Fazeley Canal, Birmingham Canal Main Line, Birmingham Canal Old Main Line and the River Severn), it offers a huge variety of both urban and rural scenes to enjoy along the way.