Here at Great Haywood, on the Trent & Mersey Canal in Staffordshire, we offer canal boat hire all year round, including holidays over Christmas and New Year.
The canals are much quieter in the winter months and there are lots of historic canalside pubs with roaring log fires to stop off at along the way.
The most popular winter cruise destination from Great Haywood is to travel south along the Trent & Mersey Canal to Fradley Junction. This peaceful 12-mile cruise through the Staffordshire countryside takes around five hours, passing through five locks.
Pubs to visit along the way the Wolseley Arms at Wolseley Bridge and The Old Peculiar in the village of Handsacre. Once at Fradley, boaters can find refreshments at the Canalside Café or The Swan Inn.
Alternatively boaters can travel north along the Trent & Mersey Canal to the market town of Stone, passing through Sandon, home to the Dog & Doublet pub, and Burston, home of The Greyhound.
We are lucky to have a number of great attractions close to us at Great Haywood. For example the National Trust’s Shugborough Estate, where the gardens lead right down to the canal less than a mile from here, has some lovely Christmas events. Visitors can see beautiful Christmas decorations in the Georgian Mansion, Servants’ Quarters and Park Farm House from 30 November to 19 December and book tickets for a spectacular Lantern Parade on Friday 20 and Saturday 21 December.
Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, once a royal hunting forest, and the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust’s Headquarters at The Wolseley Centre are also close to the canal just a few miles away from Great Haywood. Both are wonderful havens for wildlife, with lots to see and do even in the winter months.
We also still see plenty of wildlife on the canal here over the winter, especially woodland and hedgerow birds such as Chaffinch, Robins, Blue and Coal Tits, Jays, Nuthatch, Woodpeckers and our resident pair of swans. We feed the birds all year round, but of course it’s over the winter months that it’s most vital to do so. We provide nutritious wild bird seed, peanuts, fat balls and sesame seeds.
We offer a range of canal boats for hire over the winter, from a cosy narrowboat for two to a family canal boat for 12. They all have central heating, hot water showers, comfortable beds, fully equipped kitchens, WiFi, TV and DVD players, so it’s always nice and warm on board. Our luxury Constellation Class narrowboat for up to six people, ‘Pegasus’ also has a multi-fuel stove.
Over the Christmas week, we’ve got boats going out on the Friday and Saturday before Christmas and while some will return on Christmas Eve, it’s all quiet on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
This year my wife and I will be cooking Christmas lunch aboard our narrowboat for our two children and two Staffordshire Bull Terriers. Cooking Christmas dinner on a canal boat isn’t that different to a normal kitchen except you don’t have a huge amount of worktop space and you need to be careful not to buy too big a turkey, as most ovens are slightly smaller on boats.
What to look forward to along the canals this autumn
As the leaves turn rust red and the sinking sun casts long shadows across golden fields, the steady slide towards winter is arguably the most beautiful time of year.
Autumn is also the season of Halloween and Bonfire Night before the festive march towards Christmas begins.
There are dozens of fun events to look forward to between now and Christmas along the inland waterways of England and Wales so with half term approaching, this is an ideal time of year to embark on a canal boat holiday
Dig out your scarf and gloves, wrap up warm and head off on a magical narrowboat cruise before winter fully closes in.
Here are some of the fun events to consider if you are planning an autumn canal boat holiday:
It is 250 years since the first canal reached Birmingham, a city now celebrated as boasting more waterways than Venice. Commemorate this landmark birthday by joining in a cruise, organised by the Bimingham Canal Navigation (BCN) Society, from Windmill End into central Birmingham. After a midday celebration at Old Turn Junction, boats can parade around to Cambrian Wharf or through Gas St Basin. This will be a must see for any canal and boating enthusiasts.
The Roving Canal Traders Association (RCTA) will be hosting its floating market in the pretty village of Stoke Bruerne, also home to the Canal Museum, making it an ideal stop off on a narrowboat holiday. The RCTA brings together an eclectic group of craftsmen and traders who travel the inland waterways selling their wares. It is the perfect place pick up some quirky holiday souvenirs and unusual gifts.
Early December will see the return of this wonderful festival floating market during which the RCTA boats will line both sides of the canal at Brindley Place, offering unique Christmas shopping opportunities not to be found on any high street. This is an ideal way to rouse those festive feelings as the Christmas season gets into full swing.
Join Father Christmas and his helpers aboard the Edwin Clark trip boat this December and enjoy a festive cruise on the River Weaver. The trip will include storytelling, festive songs and, of course, each child will be presented with their very own present from Santa.
The ultimate festive canal holiday stop off, young visitors can drop in on Father Christmas’s grotto, to meet the man himself and watch his elves in action. Santa will share some stories and present each young visitor with an early Christmas gift. There will be another chance to meet Santa while enjoying a bite to eat in his special Christmas café. The ticket will also give you access to the rest of the museum’s fascinating collection.
It is worth noting that the Anglo Welsh narrowboat hire bases at Oxford, Bath, Monkton Combe, Silsden and Stockton all close down for winter from the 1st November. This is so that our team can carry out vital maintenance on the boats to ensure they are in tip top condition for the next season.
If you want more information or advice on great canal boat holiday routes or how best to reach any of these events and locations on an Anglo Welsh narrowboat, please don’t hesitate to contact our team by phone or email – they will be happy to help.
Take ‘Emma’ into Birmingham to enjoy Christmas shopping afloat
We are offering a special over-night hire package aboard our Tardebigge-based cosy narrowboat for two ‘Emma’ – providing the perfect opportunity to take some of the stress out of the festive season build-up and enjoy Christmas shopping in Birmingham afloat.
Setting off from our canal boat hire base at Tardebigge, on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal just outside Bromsgrove, the lock free journey to Birmingham’s City Centre takes approximately five hours*. Free over-night moorings are available at Gas Street Basin, offering easy access to Brindleyplace, The Mailbox and Bullring shopping centres.
Sarah Yates, our manager at Tardebigge, explains: “As well as world-class shopping centres, Birmingham famously boasts more canals than Venice, so we thought we’d bring the two together to help take some of the stress out of Christmas shopping.
“Couples can enjoy a peaceful lock free cruise along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, avoiding all the traffic and crowds travelling into Birmingham, and arriving just a short walk away from the City’s top shopping centres and a great choice of waterside eateries at Brindleyplace.
“On their Christmas mini-break, couples could perhaps also take in a show at one of Birmingham’s theatres or visit the City’s famous Frankfurt Christmas Market (7 November to 23 December) to enjoy some gluhwein, live music and romantic Christmas sparkle.”
With no locks, the journey from Tardebigge is perfect for narrowboat holiday beginners and we offer free tuition as part of our hire package.
‘Emma’ is available to hire any day of the week until 22 December (subject to availability). Hirers can pick her up at 9am and return her by 3pm the following day.
Over-night hire packages aboard ‘Emma’ start at £198, including gas and bed linen. Fuel is charged based on use, circa £10-15 per day. A £50 fuel deposit is taken at the time of booking.
Anglo Welsh also offers short breaks (three or four nights) and week-long holidays across the winter from our Tardebigge, Wootton Wawen, Bunbury, Trevor, Great Haywood and Whixall bases. Narrowboats range in size from cosy boats for two, up to boats for 12 people. Prices start at £495 for a short break on a boat for four, and £705 for a week.
*Winter maintenance work along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal may cause short delays between 9 October and 14 November inclusive.
We offer a range of different types of holidays such as City Breaks, Relaxation Cruises and Popular Destinations
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.