Welcoming the New Year with an Admiral Class cruise
As the Operations Director of Anglo Welsh, it’s always valuable to take one of our boats out on a family break, looking at it from a customer’s point of view. So, with Christmas Day enjoyed, myself, my partner Claire, my two boys Jacob and Daniel, plus our two dogs George and Cooper, set off on one of the brand-new Admiral Class boats from Great Haywood the day after Boxing Day.
With the boat packed up with everything we needed for our planned three-day cruise to Wootton Wawen, we headed off at 8am. All of us were excited to see what the next few days brought, although the weather forecast did not look like it was going to be kind to us. I’d instructed all to pack warm clothes, waterproofs and suitable footwear. It was only myself who didn’t listen, and I forgot my coat. As we were passing Tesco in Rugeley, we moored up and I made a dash to purchase an emergency coat – best £35 I’ve spent!
We headed down on the Trent & Mersey route, which took us up towards Fradley Junction to join the Coventry Canal as our plan of action was to moor in Fazeley for the night. We arrived there at 5pm having had a great day cruising along, chatting, eating turkey sandwiches, Christmas cake and plenty of hot drinks along the way. The boys and the dogs also love the quiet pace of life and it was great to see them all enjoying the fresh air.
Once moored at Fazeley, in the well-equipped kitchen Claire was able to make us all a lovely two-course dinner and a very enjoyable game of Monopoly was had. The kitchen facilities on board are excellent and have all the items needed to cook throughout the trip, with Claire commenting that the only thing missing was a dishwasher!
After a great night’s sleep by all in the comfortable beds, we set off again at 7.30am and headed through Birmingham. It’s fair to say that this part of Birmingham is not necessarily the prettiest, and Daniel hoped it would take us via the nicer side of Brindley Place, but that was unfortunately not possible on this route. It was interesting to cruise under the M6 though, as you get to see a very different side to Birmingham by boat as opposed to by car. We cruised all day, enjoying the scenery and wildlife with Jacob fishing along the way, then we were able to moor at Catherine de Barnes when we arrived about 5pm. Whilst I sorted out the boat and popped to the local shop, Claire and Daniel walked the dogs. Then back to the boat for another hot meal and a second round of Monopoly and Jenga. It was so warm on the boat during the evening with the central heating on board, we didn’t even need to light the multi-fuel stove during the trip! The Admiral Class four-berths have two bathrooms and the hot showers are excellent, just what you need after a day of cruising along.
On our final day, we were all up early and headed off in the rain at 7.30am towards Knowle Locks. Such a beautiful location which made for some great photos, it was a shame it was raining so hard and we did all get quite wet, but we just had to see the funny side of this! It’s definitely somewhere I’d like to visit again in the dry. The scenery on the third day was stunning as we joined the Stratford Canal, and with all the pretty locks, it made for a really special day. Jacob and Claire were mainly on lock duty, perfected after going through over 40 during the 3 days, whilst Daniel kept the dogs entertained on the boat. We arrived at Wootton Wawen around 4pm and so were bang on our original plan.
After such a busy year, it was a brilliant way to unwind and relax before seeing the New Year in. We had lots of fun, relaxation, games, ate very well and had all the fresh air that we needed. Everyone, including the dogs, came away from this break feeling refreshed and ready to see what 2022 brings us all.
Our brand-new four-berth Admiral Class boats ‘Duncan’ and ‘Curzon’ are joining our fleet at Wootton Wawen and Great Haywood this March, and ‘Codrington’ will join the fleet at Bath in mid-April. Our Reservations Team are taking bookings for these boats now, so if you’d like to come aboard, please give them a call on 0117 304 1122.
First pets are free on our holidays so you don’t have to leave your furry friend behind!
Narrowboats provide a floating holiday home so it’s possible to take all sorts of pets on the canals.
Canal boat holidays are especially great for dogs, with plenty of towpath walks and dog-friendly canalside pubs to visit, but over the years, we’ve accommodated many other kinds of pets, including rabbits, cats, hamsters, caged birds and goldfish.
First pets go for free on all our holidays, and we charge a £25 supplement for a second pet on a short break, £35 for a week.
Guide dogs go free of charge. We allow a maximum of two pets, plus a guide dog, but all bedding and pet facilities must be provided by the owner(s).
We recommend our cruiser stern boats for holidays with a dog, as there’s more room ‘on deck’ for the dog and the rest of the family to enjoy watching the world go by.
Now for some do’s and don’ts:
Do bring your dog’s bed to help them feel at home and don’t leave your dog unattended on board. Don’t let your dog swim in the canals, especially when there are ducklings, signets, goslings and other water bird chicks about and don’t forget to pack your poo bags!
To celebrate the fact our holidays are pet-friendly, we’ve put together our Top 10 destinations for animal lovers:
Cruise to Cannock Chase for acres of dog walking trails – on a short break from our barge hire base on the Trent & Mersey Canal at Great Haywood in Staffordshire, you can easily reach Cannock Chase Forest where there are miles of walking trails enjoy, as well as a dog activity trail. Once a Royal Forest, Cannock Chase is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with over 6,800 hectares of landscapes to explore. There are mixed deciduous woodlands, coniferous plantations and healthlands, which are home to a wide variety of animals and insects, including a herd of fallow deer, a number of rare and endangered birds, including migrant nightjars, as well as butterflies, bats and reptiles. The Wolseley Centre and Nature Reserve is next to the Trent & Mersey Canal at Wolseley Bridge, just two miles and two locks from Great Haywood, and offers a great gateway to Cannock Chase.
Cruise to the foot of the Caen Hill Flight – from our canal boat rental base at Brassknocker Basin on the Kennet & Avon Canal just outside Bath, on a short break (three or four nights) you can travel to Fox Hanger Wharf, at the foot of the mighty Caen Hill flight of locks in Devizes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways. Along the way, you’ll pass through miles of peaceful Wiltshire countryside, with a series of villages and dog-friendly country pubs to visit along the way, including The Cross Guns at Avoncliff, the Barge Inn at Bradford on Avon and the Barge Inn at Seend. Once at Caen Hill, you can moor up and explore the flight and its large side ponds, which provide a fantastic haven for wildlife. Full of fish, the side ponds provide an ideal habitat for dragonflies, butterflies and many types of water fowl – from swans, ducks and geese, to coots, moorhens, herons and cormorants. The journey to Fox Hanger Wharf and back takes around 19 hours, passing through 16 locks (eight each way).
Cruise to Ellesmere for some heron spotting – from our narrowboat hire base on the Llangollen Canal at Trevor in North Wales, on a short break (three or four nights) you can cruise to the Shropshire Lake District, teeming with water birds and other wildlife. The journey to the medieval market town of Ellesmere, in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District, takes around seven hours, passing through just two locks and over two magnificent aqueducts, including the famous Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. Moscow Island on The Mere in Ellesmere is home to the Heron Watch Scheme, where cameras allow visitors to watch the birds build nests and raise chicks. If you are on a four-night break, you will also have time to cruise to the pretty town of Llangollen, passing The Sun at Trevor, a traditional Welsh country pub and winner of the Rover Dog Friendly Awards in 2019.
Explore the gardens and the ancient topiary at Packwood House – from our canal boat rental base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal near Henley-in-Arden, it’s a seven-mile, 31-lock and 10-hour journey to Lapworth Lock No 6, a half-mile walk from the National Trust’s beautiful Packwood House. Packwood’s magnificent gardens boast stunning herbaceous borders (including the unusual North African Cabbage Trees), a bountiful Kitchen Garden, Memorial Orchard, wildflower meadows and the iconic Yew Garden, where according to legend, the 350-year old trees represent the ‘Sermon on the Mount’. Dogs are welcome at Packwood on leads in the car park, on public footpaths across the estate, on the café terrace and in the barnyard. The house and formal gardens are only for humans.
Travel round the Stourport Ring and the up the longest lock flight in the country – on a week’s break from our canal boat rental base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, you can travel round the Stourport Ring. This popular circuit takes boaters on an 84-mile, 114-lock journey, in around 56 cruising hours. Much of the route is rural, cruising sections of the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal, Worcester & Birmingham Canal Navigation, River Severn, Birmingham Canal Main Line and Stourbridge canals. Rural highlights include: Kinver Edge with its extensive woodlands and National Trust Holy Austin Rock Houses; idyllic stretches of Worcestershire countryside along the River Severn; and the dramatic flight of 30 locks at Tardebigge. Climbing two-and-a-quarter miles with spectacular views of the open countryside all around, Tardebigge is the longest lock flight in the country.
Boat to the historic village of Wrenbury and back -from our canal boat hire base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire it takes around six hours, passing through 11 locks, to reach Wrenbury Mill on the Llangollen Canal. The journey takes you along 10 miles of waterway through quintessential Cheshire farmland and countryside. The historic village of Wrenbury, which is on the South Cheshire Way offers lots of countryside walks. It’s also a registered conservation area with plenty of wildlife to watch out for, particularly in the gardens of the Grade II listed St Margaret’s Church, and there’s a choice of pubs to visit: the canalside Dusty Miller, and the Cotton Arms in the village of Wrenbury.
Cruise along the River Thames into the Cotswolds – from our narrowboat hire base on the River Thames at Oxford, on a four-night mid-week break, you can take a tranquil nine-hour, seven-lock Thames boating holiday travelling west to the pretty market town of Lechlade on the edge of the Cotswolds. Along the way, boaters travel through miles of peaceful Oxfordshire countryside, with plenty of dog walking opportunities. Places to visit include the village of Radcot with its 800-year old bridge across the Thames, dog-friendly bar in the Ye Olde Swan Hotel and Civil War Garrison Earthworks, and Kelmscott with its Grade I listed Kelmscott Manor, once the Cotswold retreat of William Morris, and popular Plough Inn.
Watch out for wildlife on the Montgomery Canal – from our canal boat rental base at Whixall Marina, on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire, it takes around six hours to reach Frankton Junction, where the Llangollen Canal meets the Montgomery Canal. This beautiful canal, which runs for 38 miles between England and Wales, is recognised as a Special Area of Conservation, making it one of the most important sites for wildlife in Europe. Currently only around half the Montgomery Canal is navigable, including a seven-mile section from Frankton Junction to Gronwyn Wharf. The restoration of a further section from Gronwyn Wharf to Crickheath is expected to be completed later this year. From Whixall, the journey to Gronwyn Wharf and back takes around 20 hours, travelling through 34 miles of beautiful countryside and passing through 16 locks (eight each way). Along the way, you can look out for many types of waterway birds, animals and insects, including dragonflies, damselflies, the shy nocturnal otter, Daubenton’s bats skimming over the water at dusk, and the critically endangered water vole.
Travel round the Warwickshire Ring – from our canal boat hire base at Stockton, on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, you can travel round the Warwickshire Ring, one of the most popular canal cruising circuits in Britain. Cruising sections of the Grand Union, Oxford, Coventry and Birmingham & Fazeley canals, the Warwickshire Ring covers 104 miles, passes through 120 locks and takes around 60 hours to navigate. It can be done in a week, but a 10-day or two-week break gives more time for sight-seeing. Passing through many miles of countryside, with fields and ancient meadows and the occasional sleepy village for much of its length, the route also takes you through the vibrant city centre waterfronts of Birmingham. Destination highlights along the way include: the pretty canal village of Braunston; the awesome flight of 21 locks at Hatton; the splendid medieval Warwick Castle; and Birmingham’s Brindleyplace with its impressive National Sealife Centre.
See David Hockney’s Dachshunds at Saltaire – on a short break from Anglo Welsh’s canal boat hire base at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool in West Yorkshire, you can reach the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Saltaire. Founded on the banks of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal near Bradford in 1851 by Sir Titus Salt, as a place for his woollen mill to operate and works to live, today Salts Mill has a number of galleries, including the stunning David Hockney Gallery. This beautiful exhibition space shows both permanent and temporary collections of the Bradford-born artist’s work, including prints of some of the portraits he has made of his beloved Dachshunds, Stanley and Boogie. Unfortunately dogs aren’t allowed in Salts Mill so if you bring your dog, you’ll have to take it in turns to visit.
‘Messing about in boats’ – there’s really nothing better!
“Believe me my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” So says Ratty to Mole in Kenneth Grahame’s classic novel ‘The Wind in the Willows’. To which the 150,000 people who take a canal holiday in the UK every year can only respond: “And so say all of us!”
Everyone who hires a narrowboat will have their own passions when it comes to messing about on the water, but with Ratty otherwise engaged, here are a few reasons why the Anglo Welsh team believe waterway holidays are an incomparable experience.
Relaxation. No traffic jams, no customs, no connecting flights, no noisy neighbours. Above all, no stress. Is there any better way to unwind on holiday than to meander along a canal surrounded by England’s green and pleasant land (not forgetting some wonderful Welsh landscapes)?
All the mod cons. The days when canal jaunts meant sleepless nights in uncomfortable cabins are long gone. Anglo Welsh’s fleet of 160 modern narrowboats offer all the creature comforts: fully-equipped kitchens, gas central heating, high spec showers, TVs, bedding, towels, even free wi-fi*.
Kids love canals. A family adventure on a narrowboat is an experience your children, or grandchildren, will cherish for the rest of their lives. Younger kids love pottering about on boats; even teenagers have been known to surrender their mobiles and muck in at the locks. And eating together as a family means leisurely meals on board, not fast food at McDonald’s (though ‘big kids’ often prefer traditional pub lunches in canal-side pubs!).
Doggy heaven. Dogs like canal holidays even more than us humans. Fresh air, new smells, plenty of countryside stops for bracing walks, maybe even the odd swim. Up to two well-behaved dogs are welcome on all of Anglo Welsh boats. Just keep Fido away from the swans!
It’s better than the zoo. Britain’s canals boast a staggering range of habitats and wildlife. Swans, mallard ducks, moorhens, coots, herons, kingfishers; water voles (like the slightly confused ‘Ratty’), otters, frogs; dragonflies, butterflies. No tigers, but no cages either.
No experience, no problem. One of Anglo Welsh’s experienced instructors will show you how to start the engine, fill up with water, steer, slow down, moor up and navigate locks. You’ll be amazed how straightforward it all is.
Location, Location, Location. Anglo Welsh has 11 bases in prime locations across the inland waterways of England and Wales. Our routes pass through rural idylls galore and historical towns and cities like Bath, Oxford, Birmingham and Stratford-upon-Avon.
Something for every budget. Long holidays, 3-day weekends, midweek getaways; 2-4-berths, 5-8 berths, 9-12 berths; there is a narrowboat experience for every type of holidaymaker and for every budget, including money-saving offers for under 12s and over 60s bookings for next season (until the end of Jan 2017), and flotilla discounts, loyalty discounts and armed forces discounts all year round.
And finally, to pinch another quote from ‘The Wind in the Willows’: “Here today, up and off to somewhere else tomorrow! Travel, interest, excitement! The whole world before you, and a horizon that’s always changing!”
*Wi-fi is free up to 1GB per week and subject to the signal.
To make a booking or to get friendly advice on canal holidays, please call our Booking Office on 0117 304 1122.
We offer a range of different types of holidays such as City Breaks, Relaxation Cruises and Popular Destinations
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.
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