Our modern narrowboats are like floating holiday cottages, with hot water, central heating, showers, flushing toilets, comfortable beds and fully equipped kitchens.
In our galley kitchens, you’ll find a sink with hot and cold running water, a cooker with four gas hobs, and an oven/grill beneath. There’s a fridge with a small freezer compartment, a larder, work tops, pots, pans, kettle, cutlery and crockery. Many of our canal boats also have a microwave. So, while the space is relatively small, it’s easy to cook simple and healthy meals on board.
To provide inspiration for your next holiday afloat, we asked some of our experienced narrowboat holiday-makers and colleagues who live on board their own boats, for their favourite recipes afloat.
Stan Cullimore’s Venison Ragu with Tagliatelle
Stan Cullimore was a member of the 80’s band The Housemartins. Now a journalist and children’s author, Stan has been enjoying regular narrow boat holidays for years.
Cooking time: around 1 hr
500g venison mince*
400g chopped tomatoes (tinned)
2 x medium carrots
1 x large onion
1 x bulb of fennel
handful of fresh tarragon (or a large pinch if dried)
200ml beef stock
200 ml red wine
dollop of tomato puree
75g of Tagliatelle per person
*If you prefer, you can replace the venison with pork, beef or Quorn mince. And use vegetable stock instead of beef stock.
Put the venison mince into a frying pan with some olive oil and brown for a few minutes. Whilst it is sizzling away, chop the carrots, onion and fennel.
Remove the mince from the pan, leaving the juices behind. Place the meat to one side in a bowl. Place the chopped vegetables in the pan with the meat juices. Heat and allow to soften for a few minutes.
Return the meat to the pan, with the vegetables, and allow this marvellous mixture to bubble away gently. Add the chopped tomatoes. Stir in the stock, red wine and tomato puree. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
Finely chop the tarragon (if fresh), the chilli and the garlic. Add to the pan. Place a lid on the pan, turn down the heat and leave to simmer for at least 40 minutes. By now, you should have an open bottle of red wine to hand which is still quite full. Pour yourself a glass, sit back and relax. The hard work is over, it’s time to kick back, chill out and enjoy the smells wafting from the cooker. Mmm. Should be good.
Twelve minutes before the ragu is due to be ready, fill the kettle, boil it, then put the pasta on to cook. Should take around ten minutes, but read the pasta packet for details.
Finally, plate up the pasta, spoon a large portion of ragu on top and munch away. With that and another glass of red in hand, you are definitely living your best boat life.
Kevin Yarwood’s Cauliflower, Broccoli & Tomato Gratin
Kevin is our base manager at Great Haywood. He lives aboard his own narrowboat with his wife and two children.
Cooking time: around 40 minutes
1 head each of broccoli and cauliflower, cut into small florets
4 large tomatoes sliced
6 tablespoons grated Parmesan
180g of cream cheese
150ml tub of sour cream
200ml tub crème fraiche
2 teaspoons of English mustard
2 handfuls of grated cheese
bunch of finely chopped spring onions
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Pre heat oven at gas mark 6
Put florets into a pan of boiling water and simmer for 5 minutes
Drain and put into a roasting tin
Mix all topping ingredients together season with salt and black pepper
Spread the mix over the florets
Top with sliced tomatoes and sprinkle over the Parmesan
Bake for 30 minutes, until bubbling and browned on top
Serve with a crisp mixed salad and garlic bread
*This recipe is vegetarian but can be made vegan by exchanging the cheese and dairy products to vegan alternatives.
Matt Lucas Stern’s Scotch Egg Recipe
Matt is our operations manager, and he lives on board his own narrowboat at Wootton Wawen.
“Scotch eggs are great for a cruise on the boat, as you can have them hot in the evening with a salad, and any left-over eggs can be eaten cold the next day, when you are on the move. These home-made scotch eggs are soft boiled, making them far better than the dry ones you buy.”
Cooking time: around 45 minutes
70g pack of Panko breadcrumbs
720g sausage meat
salt & pepper
To soft boil the eggs
Boil a pan of water with a small amount of vinegar.
When on a rolling boil, lower your free range eggs in to the water making sure they are covered by the water.
Time for 6 minutes for soft boiled, longer for harder centres. When time is up, cool immediately in a bowl of cold water and peel and set aside.
To make the outer casing
Mix 180g of sausage meat per egg with pinch of salt, a generous amount of cracked pepper, a pinch of thyme, a tablespoon roughly chopped parsley and a teaspoon of Dijon mustard.
Flatten out the mix and wrap each egg in the sausage meat mixture.
To finish the egg
Preheat oven at gas mark 6.
Make an egg wash dip by whisking an egg and preparing a Panko breadcrumb bath.
Dip the egg and sausage meat ball in the egg first, then the breadcrumbs. Do this twice for an extra crispy outer crust.
Put eggs on a non-stick baking sheet and spray with a small mist of light oil. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, or until crispy and golden brown.
Bridget Harrison’s Mars Bar Crunch
Bridget writes for The Times and has been going on regular family holidays on board boats for over 30 years.
“This is an easy recipe that kids can do alone, and makes delicious snacks that you can hand out at tea time, or as rewards to any crew driving or doing locks. But be warned, they are very moreish!”
6 Mars bars
200g Rice Crispies
Cut the butter and Mars bars into chunks and melt in a saucepan over a low heat until liquid.
Put the Rice Crispies in a bowl and add the Mars bar /butter mixture.
Stir well until they are combined. Tip into a baking dish and press down until firm.
Pop in the fridge if you have room, but you may not on the boat, so it’s fine to leave on top also.
When the mixture is set, turn out and cut into squares and store in a Tupperware box.
Howard Fisher’s Bread & Butter Pudding
Howard Fisher has been on a canal boat holiday almost every year for the last 50 years, including around 15 with Anglo Welsh.
“This is for a pudding I’ve made for years. It has been modified over the years, but it always disappears, no matter how much I make!”
6 small slices bread and butter
and optionally 2 tablespoons marmalade
Heat oven to 175°C (Gas mark 6)
Grease dish and line with 3 slices of bread and butter.
Sprinkle with currants, sugar and grated nutmeg. Spoon over marmalade if using.
Fun for all the family: Why narrowboating appeals to all generations
A canal boat holiday is a wonderful way to bring the family together as there is something for every age group to enjoy. With constantly changing scenery and a new destination daily – if you choose – narrowboat holidays offer an amazing variety of sights, attractions and activities. The joy of a canal boat holiday is that you can shape it to suit your specific wishes – from the style and size of narrowboat you hire and which location you set out from to your chosen destinations and how long you linger at each of these. It is this flexibility that makes a narrowboat break such a great family holiday – appealing to every generation.
Any parent will tell you, children are easily bored. This means a holiday in which they are regularly on the move, seeing and experiencing new things every day is perfect to ward off the dreaded cries of: “Mummy, I’m bored.”
With miles of canal towpaths and open countryside lining the waterways, most narrowboat holidays also offer plenty of space for kids to run around, play, breathe the fresh country air and generally expend their energy so they collapse in bed and sleep soundlessly at the end of each day.
Most children love the novelty of life afloat and get very excited by the workings of the narrowboat and canals, whether navigating through a tunnel or helping work a lock. For most kids it is a far cry from their day to day.
Lastly, a canal boat holiday offers the opportunity to visit countless attractions which will have your little ones giddy with excitement, from the sweet allure of Cadbury World which sits right next to the Worcester and Birmingham Canal in Bournville to the thrills of Alton Towers, accessible from the Caldon Canal and the wonders of the Sea Life Centre in Birmingham. For inspiration have a read of our blog on the best canal routes for kids.
Probably the most difficult age group to satisfy on a family holiday, teenagers crave independence and freedom to roam, usually as far from their parents as possible! Luckily, this is perfectly achievable on a canal boat holiday as teenagers can take themselves off for walks, runs, bike rides on the safety of the traffic-free towpaths. Towpaths also make it almost impossible to get lost!
There are also lots of water-based activities on offer along the canals such as kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding and fishing which may appeal to the teenagers of the family – and might even stop them from looking at their mobile phones for more than five minutes.
Teenagers also have a great propensity to get bored so the constant movement and change of a narrowboat holiday will suit their desire for new surroundings. A canal boat holiday with a rich variety of urban and rural surroundings is likely to work best for teenagers – although clearly all this will vary greatly with the individual and their interests.
With 11 narrowboat hire bases to choose from dotted across England and Wales, families can opt for a canal boat holiday route which takes in locations and attractions most likely to interest and absorb their teenage crew members. Our narrowboats are built to provide ample space for all crew members so teenagers can enjoy the privacy of their own cabin and if they do need a social media fix, they can connect to the Wifi available on all barges but hopefully there’ll be enough distraction to make this unnecessary.
Narrowboat cruises are ideal holidays for groups of friends or couples wanting a romantic break with a twist. Our narrowboats, built for comfort and enjoyment of all our guests, range from cosy two berth barges perfect for couples to 12 berth floating hotels ideal for a big group holiday. There are plenty of top city break destinations along the canals such as Bath, Oxford and Chester all of which offer a rich combination of beauty, history and culture – as well as great places to eat and drink. For couples wanting some inspiration, read our most recent guide to the most romantic canal holiday destinations.
For group holidays the variety of activities and destinations on offer along the canals works perfectly. Some people might head off for a long walk while others choose to relax on deck or moor up by a waterside pub and enjoy a relaxing pint. A canal boat holiday can take in historic towns and cities, rural loveliness, famous sights and a whole bunch of activities that will keep everyone in the group happy, whatever their preference.
With fully equipped galleys, our narrowboats are well set up for cooking meaning those on a budget can enjoy preparing delicious meals onboard although there are countless tempting spots to go out for dinner along the waterways. If you want to treat yourself to dinner out, have a look at our guide to some great canal side pubs and restaurants.
For parents, a canal boat holiday is the ideal way to satisfy their children and themselves. As we’ve already mentioned, there is plenty on offer along the canals to keep children occupied and happy which will enable their parents to relax and enjoy themselves. Few people can fail to be seduced by the beauty and tranquility of the canals. For parents who often spend much of their lives racing around trying to balance the demands of their jobs and their children while still maintaining some sort of social life, slowing their life down to the stately canal barge pace of 3mph can offer much needed respite. By swapping the bustle of their day to day existence for the calm of the canals, they can escape their usual worries, breathe deeper and destress. To find out more, take a look at our blog about wellness on the waterways.
They may wish to mix things up with a taste of city life afloat as well as some rural cruising or stick to serene countryside routes. Some canal routes are renowned for their fascinating historic sights and feats of engineering, others boast abundant wildlife or incredible dramatic scenery. All canals provide a chance to get outside and get active after weeks cooped up in an office. Essentially, parents can tailor their canal boat holiday to ensure everyone is kept captivated throughout. Our narrowboats are all pet friendly so parents can even bring along the furrier members of the family if they don’t want to leave them behind.
Alternatively, for parents needing a break from their little ones should leave the kids at home with a friend or relative and treat themselves to one of these perfect child-free breaks for parents.
It is lovely for grandparents to be able to join their children and grandchildren on family holidays, particularly those who are now living on their own. This can also be an ideal set up for everyone as it enables parents to share a bit of the childcare and maybe even head off for a romantic meal or enjoy a child-free day out, while granny or grandpa can spend some quality time with the kids.
A canal boat holiday is the ideal way to bring everyone together as it can be as active or relaxing as those onboard choose. Grandparents who are still super fit and active will love the outdoorsy element while those who are less mobile can still enjoy gorgeous, constantly changing scenery from the comfort of the narrowboat. Towpaths offer easy walking routes and are generally wheelchair friendly with most being tarmacked or paved and relatively flat so accessibility need not be a problem.
Grandparents, like parents, are likely to love the rich variety of interesting destinations. There are buzzing cities like Birmingham and Bristol, historic destinations like Bath and Chester or cultural treasures such as Stratford upon Avon and Oxford. Away from the cities, there are stately homes, castles, parks and gardens galore in additional to the natural wonders of the British countryside.
Last but not least, everyone onboard is needed to help on and off the boat, from steering and tying up to working the locks. A narrowboat holiday is all about teamwork. It brings everyone together, united by a common aim to get from place to place as efficiently as possible while having lots of fun.
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.
The technical storage or access is strictly necessary for the legitimate purpose of enabling the use of a specific service explicitly requested by the subscriber or user, or for the sole purpose of carrying out the transmission of a communication over an electronic communications network.
The technical storage or access is necessary for the legitimate purpose of storing preferences that are not requested by the subscriber or user.
The technical storage or access that is used exclusively for statistical purposes.The technical storage or access that is used exclusively for anonymous statistical purposes. Without a subpoena, voluntary compliance on the part of your Internet Service Provider, or additional records from a third party, information stored or retrieved for this purpose alone cannot usually be used to identify you.
The technical storage or access is required to create user profiles to send advertising, or to track the user on a website or across several websites for similar marketing purposes.