Instagram
YouTube

Top 6 summer canal boat holiday circuits

Best canal boat holiday circuits and rings

Canal circuits and rings take in a wide variety of landscapes and are popular routes for narrowboat holidays

Canal boat holiday circuits and cruising rings bring you back to your narrowboat hire base without having to travel the same way twice.

Some are seriously challenging, with steep flights of locks and long dark tunnels to negotiate.  Others are easier and more suitable for boating beginners.

All offer a wonderful summer holiday adventure and the chance to explore some of Britain’s best loved countryside, as well as vibrant city centres.  All from your very own floating holiday home.

Here’s a guide to our top six narrowboat holiday summer circuits to explore:

1. The Black Country Ring

Setting off from our canal boat rental base at Great Haywood, the Black Country Ring can be done in a week.  You’ll cruise sections of the Birmingham & Fazeley, Birmingham Main Line, Coventry, Staffordshire & Worcestershire and Trent & Mersey canals.  Highlights include: Birmingham’s Gas Street Basin; the 21 locks at Wolverhampton; and the peaceful waters at Tixall Wide.  To complete the Black Country Ring from Great Haywood you’ll travel 75 miles, through 79 locks in around 43 hours.

2. The Four Counties Ring

Departing from our bases at Great Haywood, Bunbury or Whixall, this popular circuit can be completed on a 10-day or two-week break.  It takes you through the counties of Staffordshire, the West Midlands, Cheshire and Shropshire. Highlights include: the 2670-metre long Harecastle Tunnel; the flight of 15 locks at Audlem; views of the rolling Cheshire Plains; and the Roman town of Middlewich.  To complete the Four Counties Ring from Great Haywood, you will travel 110 miles, pass through 94 locks, which will take around 55 hours.  From Bunbury, it will be 115 miles, 96 locks and 58 hours.  From Whixall, it’s 137 miles, 132 locks and 86 hours.

3. The Cheshire Ring

From our Bunbury base, you can complete the Cheshire Ring on a 10-day or two-week break.  The journey will take you right through the heart of Manchester and into the Peak District via the Ashton, Macclesfield, Peak Forest, Rochdale, Trent & Mersey and Bridgewater canals.  Highlights along the way include: the incredible Anderton Boat Lift; stunning views of the Peak District; and Manchester’s China Town.  To complete the Cheshire Ring from Bunbury, you will travel 122 miles and pass through 102 locks, which takes around 86 hours.

4. The Warwickshire Ring

Setting off from Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal, you can complete the Warwickshire Ring on a 10-day or two-week break. You’ll travel along sections of the Grand Union, Oxford, Coventry and Birmingham & Fazeley canals.  Highlights include: the flight of 11 locks into Atherstone; the pretty canal village of Braunston; the awesome flight of 21 locks at Hatton; and Warwick Castle.  To complete the Warwickshire Ring from Wootton Wawen, you’ll pass through 128 locks in around 59 hours.

5. The Birmingham Mini-Ring

With more canals than Venice, exploring the Birmingham area by boat is one of the best ways to experience Britain’s vibrant second city. You can complete the Birmingham Mini-Ring on a week’s break from Wootton Wawen.  The route takes in sections of the Worcester & Birmingham, Birmingham Main Line and Grand Union canals. Highlights include: the historic village of Bournville, home of Cadbury’s chocolate; Gas Street Basin in central Birmingham; and the flight of 13 locks at Farmers Bridge.  To complete the Birmingham Mini-Ring from Wootton Wawen it takes around 35 hours and you’ll pass through 83 locks.

6. The Avon Ring

You can complete this epic circuit on a two week break Wootton Wawen.  The journey navigates sections of the Stratford Canal, River Avon, River Severn and Worcester & Birmingham Canal. Highlights include: Shakespeare’s Stratford; the River Avon with its panoramic views; the charming historic town of Evesham; the Cotswold medieval town of Tewskesbury; the City of Worcester with its magnificent cathedral; and the flight of 30 locks at Tardebigge.  To complete the Avon Ring from Wootton Wawen, you’ll travel 109 miles and pass through 131 locks, which will take around 58 hours.

To check availability and book click here or call us on 0117 463 3419.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Top 9 canal boat holiday staycations

Canal boat holidays on the Llangollen Canal

Britain’s beautiful canal network provides the perfect destination for a boating staycation experience

Whether it’s the appeal of pottering slowly through the countryside, watching out for wildlife and stopping off at canalside pubs. Or the lure of an exciting waterside attraction in a vibrant waterfront city destination, our canal boats provide the perfect floating holiday home adventure.

To help plan your next UK waterway-getaway, here are our top 9 narrowboat holidays for the year ahead:

  1. Take an Oxford ‘His Dark Materials’ mini-break – from our base on the River Thames near Oxford, you can enjoy a Thames boating holiday.  You can reach overnight moorings at Hythe Bridge in just three hours. From there, it’s just a short walk into Oxford’s city centre for the chance to explore dozens of historic sites.  These include the Bodleian Library, Lyra’s home in the BBC’s drama series ‘His Dark Materials’, based on Philip Pullman’s book ‘Northern Lights’.  Just seeing this incredible building from the outside is a bucket list experience, but adults and children aged 11 and over can also explore the museum, home to nine million books across over 100 miles of shelves.  The Museum also houses a number of fascinating maps, including the 14th century ‘The Bodleian Map’, the oldest surviving map of Great Britain.
  2. Watch out for wildlife on the Montgomery Canal – from 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 designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) on both sides of the border.  The entire length in Wales is also 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 an eight-mile section from Frankton Junction to Crickheath Basin.  From Whixall, the journey to Crickheath and back takes around 19 hours, travelling through 36 miles of beautiful countryside.  The route takes you through 16 locks (eight each way).  Along the way, you can enjoy looking out for many types of waterway birds, animals and insects. As well as the shy nocturnal otter and critically endangered water vole.
  3. Navigate the Four Counties Ring – on a week’s break from Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal in Staffordshire, you can travel round the ‘Four Counties Ring’. Cruising sections of the Trent & Mersey, Shropshire Union and Staffordshire & Worcestershire canals, this popular circuit takes boaters on a 110-mile, 60-hour, 94-lock canal boat holiday odyssey.  You’ll pass through some of the most beautiful landscapes in England, including the Peak District, the rolling Cheshire Plains and the Potteries.  Highlights along the way include Wedgewood Pottery in Stoke on Trent and the 1.5 mile long Harecastle Tunnel.  You’ll also encounter the flight of 31 locks between Middlewich and Kidsgrove known as ‘Heartbreak Hill’. You’ll visit the Roman town of Middlewich and the historic market town of Market Drayton, home of the gingerbread man.
  4. Climb aboard the SS Great Britain in Bristol’s Floating Harbour – from our base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Bath, it takes around eight hours, passing through 12 locks, to reach moorings in Bristol’s Floating Harbour. Once there you can moor up to explore the harbour and Brunel’s SS Great Britain, the ship that changed the world. *NB this route is recommended route for experienced boaters and overnight mooring fees will apply
  5. Visit the Orangutans at Chester Zoo – from Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire it takes around seven hours, passing through nine locks to reach the ancient City of Chester. Chester is home to the award-winning Chester Zoo, with over 20,000 animals from 500 species, including a family of Sumatran orangutans.  Sumatran orangutans are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature with fewer than 14,000 surviving in the wild.  At Chester Zoo, you can find out more about these fascinating animals and how to help to prevent their extinction.
  6. Glide across ‘The Stream in the Sky’ to the Shropshire Lake District – just 10 minutes from our base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, you’ll reach the incredible Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. One of The Seven Wonders of the Waterways, the aqueduct’s carries the canal 38 metres high above the Dee Valley on 19 stone pillars.  In 2009 the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct was added to the UNESCO World Heritage site list, putting it on a par with the Pyramids and Taj Mahal.  On a short break from Trevor, you can cross the aqueduct and then continue east to reach the Ellesmere, in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District.  The journey to Ellesmere and back takes around six hours and passes through just two locks.
  7. Travel round the Warwickshire Ring – on a 10-day or two week break from our base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal in Warwickshire, you can cruise the Warwickshire Ring. Travelling 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.  You’ll pass through miles of countryside, with fields and ancient meadows and the occasional sleepy village. And you’ll also travel through the vibrant city centre waterfronts of Birmingham.  Destination highlights  include the pretty canal village of Braunston and the flight of 21 locks at Hatton. You can also visit Warwick Castle and Birmingham’s Brindleyplace. The whole trip from Wootton Wawen takes around 46 hours and passes through 118 locks.
  8. Cruise to the Yorkshire Dales National Park – on a short break from Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire, you can travel to Gargrave on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.  The journey there and back takes 13 hours and passes through six locks. This scenic route is perfect for beginners and you through the historic town of Skipton.  There you can explore the town’s medieval stone castle and extensive woodlands managed by the Woodland Trust.  Once at Gargrave, there are pubs to enjoy, including the popular Mason’s Arms.  And it’s easy to access to the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the Pennine Way walking trail.
  9. See a play in Shakespeare’s Stratford – from Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal, it’s a six-hour, 17-lock cruise journey through the Warwickshire countryside to reach moorings at Bancroft Basin.  This is in the heart of Stratford-upon-Avon, just a stone’s throw from the Royal Shakespeare and Swan theatres. As well as enjoying the town’s lively markets, shops, restaurants and museums, you can can take in a play at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.  2024’s programme includes ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’ and ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor’.

Click here to check availability and book, or call us on 0117 304 1122.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Canal boat holidays on the Grand Union Canal

Canal boat holiday Grand Union Canal

Visit the incredible medieval castle at Warwick, the mighty flight of locks at Hatton and peaceful villages with traditional pubs

Built to transport goods between London and Birmingham, today the Grand Union Canal is alive with pleasure boats, walkers, cyclists and wildlife.

Stretching 137 miles through 166 locks, the Grand Union Canal emerged as a result of the amalgamation of several independent waterways.

It cuts across the country from the River Thames at Brentford in London to the Digbeth Branch canal in the heart of Birmingham, taking boaters up through the rolling Chiltern Hills, rural Northamptonshire and Warwickshire.

Along the way, it has a series of branches, including the Paddington, Slough, Wendover, Aylesbury, Leicester and Northampton arms.

Some of its most dramatic features include the magnificent Iron Trunk Aqueduct carrying the canal over the River Ouse in Buckinghamshire, the 2,795-metre long Blisworth Tunnel in Northamptonshire and the Hatton Flight of 21 Locks in Warwickshire.

Just some of the canal’s key destinations are the county town of Warwick with its jaw-dropping castle on the banks of the River Avon, and the charming canal villages of Braunston and Stoke Bruerne.

On a short break from Wootton Wawen you can travel to Hatton and back

On a short break (three or four nights) from our narrowboat hire base at Wootton Wawen in Warwickshire, you can head north along the Stratford Canal to connect with the Grand Union Canal at Lapworth.  You can then cruise along the Grand Union Canal to the base of the Hatton Flight of 21 locks and walk up to the Hatton Locks cafe.

On a week’s break from Wootton Wawen you can travel to Warwick and back

On a week’s holiday from Wootton Wawen you can spend more time exploring the Grand Union Canal.

You can travel up the Hatton flight and on to Warwick. The journey to Warwick from Wootton Wawen travels 14 miles, passes through 38 locks and takes around 12 hours.

There’s a choice of moorings available for visiting Warwick and its magnificent medieval castle, which dates back to William the Conqueror. And the county town of Warwick itself has a vibrant market place hosting a variety of shops, pubs and cafes, as well as half a dozen museums, including the Yeomanry Museum.

On a 10-day or two-week holiday from Wootton Wawen you can cruise the Warwickshire Ring

The mighty Warwickshire Ring is perfect for more experienced boaters on a 10-day or two-week break. From Wootton Wawen, the journey time is 59 hours, travelling through 128 locks.

First head north up the Stratford Canal, passing through two locks at Preston Bagot, with a barrel roof cottage at lock number 37.

Next the canal passes close to the tiny hamlet of Yarningdale Common, with another barrel roof cottage at lock 34 and the Grade II* listed Yarningdale Aqueduct.

At the village of Lowsonford, the canalside Fleur de Lys pub is well worth a visit, renowned for its home-made pies.

Several locks, barrel roofed cottages and miles later, the canal passes beneath the noisy M40 motorway. After another five locks, and boaters reach Lapworth junction where they can take the Lapworth link to connect onto the broad Grand Union Canal at Kingswood Junction.

To travel clockwise around the ring, boaters turn left and head north. The Heart of England Way meets the canal here at Kingswood Bridge, and it’s just over a miles walk to the National Trust’s Baddesley Clinton stunning moated manor house in the heart of the Forest of Arden from here.

Soon after, the canal passes the Black Boy and King’s Arms pubs at Heronfield, and then reaches the Knowle flight of five wide locks, which raise the canal by 12.5 metres. The town of Knowle is a short walk away, with a supermarket and choice of pubs.

Soon after, the canal passes beneath the M42 motorway, and continues north past the Boat Inn at Catherine de Barnes, before entering the urban outskirts of Birmingham at Solihull.

Six miles later, boaters reach the six locks at Camp Hill and then Bordesley Junction. From here it’s just half a mile to moorings at Typhoo Basin, close to Warwick Bar in the centre of Birmingham.

There’s so much to do in Birmingham – theatres, art galleries, museums, concert halls, restaurants and shops, but the City’s award-winning Thinktank Science Museum, with its exciting Spitfire and Marine Worlds galleries, is close by.

Next turn back to Bordesley Junction and head up the Birmingham & Warwick Junction Canal, which connects with the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal at Salford Junction. From there begin heading east, still in a very urban environment for another four miles until the Hare & Hounds pub at the bottom of the Minworth flight of three locks.

Now back in the countryside, the route passes the White Horse at Cudworth, where the Cudworth flight of 11 locks starts. The Dog & Doublet pub is next to Lock 9 of the flight and there are moorings soon after, with access to Kingsbury Water Park, offering 600 acres of country park to explore.

The Heart of England Way follows the line of the canal here for several miles and passes the RSPB’s Middleton Lakes Nature Reserve, great for a spot of birdwatching.

Fazeley is next with its choice of pubs – the Plough and Three Tuns, plus a short bus or taxi ride to Drayton Manor Theme Park if you fancy a change of pace!

The Coventry Canal meets the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal here, taking boaters travelling the Warwickshire Ring east through Tamworth to Alvecote with its Samuel Barlow pub, the ruins of Alvecote Benedictine Priory and the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust’s Alvecote Pools nature reserve.

Now heading south, the canal passes beneath the M42 and past the Pooley Visitor & Heritage Centre, displaying mining memorabilia and offering waymarked paths around woodland and spoil heaps.

Then it’s on through the village of Polesworth, a good place to stop and re-stock with shops, and Bulls Head, Red Lion and Royal Oak pubs.

The canal becomes very rural for a while, passing Hoo Hill obelisk which marks the site of the Chapel of Leonard at Hoo, demolished in 1538 by Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries.

Atherstone is the next town, with a flight of six locks, choice of shops and pubs, including the Kings Head.

The canal continues south, lock-free for the next 11 miles. The Anchor at Hartsmill is the next canalside pub on route and soon after the canal becomes more urban again as it winds its way through Nuneaton, before meeting its junction with the Ashby-de-la-Zouch Canal at Bedworth.

Two miles later, the Coventry Canal meets the North Oxford Canal at Hawkesbury Junction, where Warwickshire Ring travellers being heading south down the Oxford Canal. The route soon passes under the M69 motorway and through the pretty village of Ansty, with its Rose & Castle pub.

Three miles later, it’s worth stopping at Brinklow to visit the remains of Brinklow Castle, a Norman earthwork motte and bailey fortress, and Brinklow Arches to the south of the village, a canal aqueduct built during the Imperial Period. There are also a number of pubs in the village, including The Raven and White Lion.

The canal then passes through the 186-metre long Newbold Tunnel, past the Barley Mow and Boat pubs, becoming more urban again as it travels through the town of Rugby. Boaters soon reach the Bell & Barge pub and Tesco store at Brownsover, and then the village of Hillmorton, with its flight of three locks, plus Old Royal Oak and Stag & Pheasant pubs.

After Hillmorton, the canal cuts through open countryside again, and is lock-free to the Braunston Turn, where the Oxford Canal merges with the Grand Union Canal. The historic village of Braunston, in the heart of the canal network, is a great place to stop with a marina, boatyard, fish and chip shop, and plenty of pubs including the Admiral Nelson.

Eleven miles and nine locks later, the canal reaches Napton Junction where the Oxford Canal splits off and heads south.

The Warwick Ring continues along the Grand Union Canal towards Birmingham, soon reaching the three locks at Calcutt. The next two miles are on one level until the route reaches Stockton Top Lock, the peak of a flight of 13 locks taking the canal to the village of Long Itchington, who’s six pubs host a popular annual beer festival.

The next four miles remain rural and just before Leamington Spa is reached, the canal passes by the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust’s Lea Valley Nature Reserve, with family-friendly activity trails.

There are plenty of visitor moorings in Royal Leamington Spa, giving boaters the chance to enjoy some of this historic spa town’s attractions, including its impressive Georgian and Edwardian architecture, Royal Pump Rooms Museum, Loft Theatre, Welches Meadow Nature Reserve, and excellent choice of shops and restaurants.

Next it’s the beautiful country town of Warwick, with its jaw-dropping medieval castle on the banks of the River Avon, dating back to William the Conqueror. Warwick Castle offers a fantastic day out with ramparts to climb, birds of prey and trebuchet firing displays, Horrible Histories Maze, landscaped gardens, Castle Dungeon and daily history team tours.

Warwick itself has a vibrant market place hosting a variety of shops, pubs and cafes and a thriving Saturday market, as well as a popular racecourse, Yeomanry Museum, Lord Leycester Hospital Museum, Queen’s Own Hussars Museum & Master’s Garden, St John’s House Museum and Warwickshire Museum.

Heading out of Warwick, boaters soon encounter Hatton Bottom Lock and the start of the epic Hatton Flight of 21 locks, traditionally known as the ‘Stairway to Heaven’, which raises boats up by nearly 45 metres along a two mile stretch of the canal. Just below the Top lock, boaters will find the Hatton Locks Café for welcome refreshment!

It’s another four miles back to Lapworth from Hatton, passing through the Shrewley and Rowington tunnels, before heading back down the Stratford Canal to Wootton Wawen.

Click here to book or call our friendly booking team on 0117 304 1122.

Tags: , , , , ,

Top 8 places to celebrate Halloween on a canal boat holiday

Best destinations to celebrate Halloween on a barge holiday

Canal boat holidays offer the chance to enjoy a family staycation afloat this October Half Term, spending time together and visiting waterside destinations hosting spooky Halloween events.

Your floating holiday cottage will be equipped with the key comforts of home, including central heating and hot water, so it’s always nice and cosy on board.

All our boats also have fully equipped kitchens, so you can enjoy a self-catering holiday afloat.

To celebrate the October Half Term holiday, we’ve put together a guide to our top 8 narrowboat holiday destinations hosting Halloween events*:

1. Take The Sinister Side of Shakespeare Walking Tour’ in Stratford-upon-Avon

From our basw on the Stratford Canal at Wootton Wawen, it takes around six hours to reach moorings in the centre of Shakespeare’s Stratford.  You can book online to experience ‘The Sinister Side of Shakespeare’s Stratford Walking Tour’ where you’ll learn about the town’s infamous witches, and discover the real-life tragedies that inspired Shakespeare.  The journey to Stratford and back takes around 12 hours and passes through 24 locks (12 each way).

2. Explore the ‘Half Term Halloween Trail’ at Chirk Castle

From Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, you can reach Chirk Bank in around one-and-a-half hours.  From there it takes around 30 minutes to walk up to the National Trust’s Chirk Castle, where you can take part in a ‘Half Term Halloween Trail’, 21-31 October 2023.  The event sends you on a quest to protect the castle from the evil spirits, elves and goblins that lurk around. The journey from Trevor to Chirk and back takes around three hours, and passes over the UNESCO World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct along the way.

3. Get spooked at a ‘Halloween Night’ at the Black Country Living Museum

On a short break from Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal you can reach the Black Country Living Museum.  On Saturday 23, Friday 29 and Saturday 30 October, the Museum will host special ‘Halloween Nights’, giving you the chance to trick-or-treat your way round spooky streets, spot fantastical characters and dress-up to go to the monster’s ball.  The journey from Tardebigge to the Black Country Living Museum and back takes 16 hours and passes through six locks (three each way).

4. Follow the Halloween Trail at Chester Zoo

On a short break from Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal, you can reach Chester, home of the award-winning Chester Zoo.  This October, Chester Zoo which is home to over 27,000 animals, will be hosting an interactive Halloween Trail across its 128 acres of zoological gardens.  The journey from Bunbury to Chester and back takes around 14 hours and passes through 18 locks (nine each way).

5. See ‘The Lost Boys’ at the Shugborough Estate outdoor cinema event

Our base on the Trent & Mersey Canal at Great Haywood is less than an hour’s cruise away from the National Trust’s Shugborough Estate.  At 7.30pm on Tuesday 31 October, the Estate is hosting an outdoor screening of the vampire classic ‘The Lost Boys’, starring Kiefer Sutherland.

6. Experience Warwick Castle’s ‘Haunted Castle’ event

On a short break from Stockton on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, you can reach moorings close to Warwick Castle.  From 21 October to 5 November, the Castle’s ‘Haunted Castle’ event features a series of spooky experiences, including the Castle Dungeon and the Horrible Histories Maze.  The journey from Stockton takes seven hours and passes through 20 locks.

7. Go on a Spooky Tour at Oxford Castle

On a short break from our Oxford base on the River Thames at Eynsham you can reach overnight moorings in Oxford City Centre.  From there, it’s a short walk to Oxford Castle where from 16-31 October 2023 you can experience an evening Spooky guided tour of the 1,000 year-old haunted castle.  From our Oxford base, it takes three-and a-half-hours, passing through three locks to reach moorings in Oxford city centre.

8. Visit Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein in Bath ‘After Dark’

On a short break from Monkton Combe, you can reach moorings in Bath City Centre. There you can visit Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein to experience its ‘After Dark – nights to die for’ Halloween event, on from 20-31 October 2023. The experience offers the chance to venture through rooms cloaked in darkness and features live actors, games and special effects.  From our Monkton Combe base it takes four hours, passing through six locks, to reach moorings in Bath City Centre.

*NB Most of the events listed need to be booked in advance via the venue’s website

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Top 6 week-long canal boat cruises through the countryside this Autumn

Best Autumn canal boat holidays

This Autumn adventure afloat on a canal cruise through the countryside, enjoying the beautiful colours in the trees and hedgerows that line our canals and rivers.

Canal boat holidays are a great way to connect with nature.  You can watch-out for plant, animal and bird life along the way, including the hedgerow fruits and berries enjoyed by birds and small mammals.

To celebrate the Autumn colours along the canals, we’ve put together a guide to our top six week-long cruises through the countryside:

1. Cruise through the Shropshire countryside to Whitchurch

On a week’s break from our canal boat hire centre at Trevor in North Wales, you can travel along the Llangollen Canal to Whitchurch and back.  Along the way, you’ll cross the UNESCO World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, with amazing views of the Dee Valley.  Then it’s on through the Shropshire countryside, passing through Ellesmere, in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District.  Once at Whitchurch, you can moor up to explore the Shropshire Wildlife Trust’s Greenfields Nature Reserve, with woodland walks and the chance to spot water voles. The journey from Trevor to Whitchurch and back takes 24 hours and passes through four locks (two each way).

2. Navigate through the Yorkshire countryside to Foulridge Tunnel

On a week’s break from Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire, you can cruise through the Yorkshire countryside to Foulridge Tunnel.  The journey takes you through a series of historic towns and villages, including Skipton, with its medieval castle and acres of woodland trails to explore. And East Marton with access to the Pennine Way National Trail. The journey from Silsden to Foulridge and back takes 26 hours and passes through 30 locks (15 each way).

3. Boat through the Cheshire countryside to Red Bull Wharf

On a week’s break from Bunbury, you can cruise through the Cheshire countryside to Red Bull Wharf and back.  The route will take you along the rural Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal, which runs from Barbridge Junction to Middlewich.  This peaceful 10-mile long waterways passing through the pretty village of Church Minshull, with its popular Badger Inn gastro pub. The journey from Bunbury to Red Bull Wharf and back travels 53 miles and passes through 70 locks (35 each way).

4. Meander through the Oxfordshire countryside to Wallingford

On a week’s break from our Oxford canal boat hire base, you can cruise along the River Thames to the historic market town of Wallingford. The journey passes through miles of peaceful Oxfordshire countryside, waterside meadows and woodlands.  As well as the City of Oxford, there’s a series of riverside towns and villages to visit along the way, including the historic market town of Abingdon. It takes around 18 hours to cruise from our Oxford base at Eynsham to Wallingford and back, passing through 22 locks (11 each way).

5. Wend your way through the Wiltshire countryside to the Vale of Pewsey

On a week’s break from Monkton Combe on the Kennet & Avon Canal near Bath you can reach Pewsey Wharf.  The journey takes you up the 29 locks of the Caen Hill Flight, one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways. And through the beautiful Vale of Pewsey, part of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  Places to visit along the way include the historic market towns of Bradford on Avon and Devizes. It takes around 38 hours to cruise from Monkton Combe to Pewsey and back, passing through 74 locks (37 each way).

6. Journey to Llangollen North Wales and visit the Horsehoe Falls

On a week’s break from Whixall Marina, on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire, you can reach the historic town of Llangollen on the edge of the Berwyn Mountains.  Along the way, you’ll travel through the Shropshire countryside to Ellesmere, with its beautiful Mere and woodland walks. You’ll cruise across the magnificent Pontcysyllte and Chirk aqueducts, enjoying incredible views of the Welsh Mountains. At Llangollen, nestled in the Berwyn Mountains, you can visit the famous Horseshoe Falls. The journey from Whixall to Llangollen and back takes around 24 hours and passes through four locks (two each way).

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Top 10 Spring canal boat holidays 2023

Best Spring canal boat holidays in England and Wales

Spring is a fantastic time to take a narrowboat holiday on Britain’s beautiful inland waterways, when the countryside is bursting with new life.

With blossoming waterside trees and hedges, busy nest-building birds, ducklings bobbing on the water, spring lambs playing in the fields, and carpets of bluebells in waterside woodlands, there’s so much to look out for on a Spring adventure afloat.

To celebrate Spring and the wildlife that makes its home on our canals and rivers, we’ve put together our Top 10 Spring canal boat holiday destinations for 2023:

1. Drift through the beautiful prehistoric Vale of Pewsey

On a week’s break from our canal boat rental base at Monkton Coombe you can cruise through the beautiful Vale of Pewsey, part of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. You’ll travel along the Kennet & Avon Canal passing through miles of peaceful Wiltshire countryside, and a series of villages and country pubs along the way.  You’ll travel up the mighty Caen Hill Flight of 29 locks at Devizes and along the edge of the ancient Savernake Forest and then on through the Vale of Pewsey.  The journey to Pewsey and back takes around 38 hours, passing through 74 locks (37 each way).

2. Cruise to the gateway of the Yorkshire Dales to explore Skipton Castle Woods

From our barge holiday hire base at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal it takes just over three hours to reach Skipton, the ‘Gateway to the Dales’.  Here, Skipton Castle Woods with acres of woodlands trails, is a great place to explore in the Spring.  For nearly a thousand years the woods provided fuel, food and building materials for castle inhabitants.  Today there are at least 18 species of trees flourishing there, and hundreds of flowering plants, including wild orchids and bluebells in the Spring.  The journey along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal to Silsden passes through the typical Yorkshire stone built villages of Kildwick and Farnhill.  And on into a dense wooded area famous for its bluebells and deer.  The journey to Silsden and back travels 13 miles and takes around seven cruising hours.

3. Travel to Llangollen on the edge of the Berwyn Mountains

On a week-long holiday from our canal boat rental base at Whixall Marina, on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire you can reach the pretty town of Llangollen.  Along the way, you’ll travel through the beautiful Shropshire Lake District and across the incredible World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.  Once in Llangollen, you can moor up to enjoy exploring this pretty town nestled on the edge of the Berwyn Mountains. There are regular markets packed with local produce, a choice of independent shops and restaurants, and the famous Horseshoe Falls.  The journey to Llangollen and back takes around 24 cruising hours, and passes through just four locks (two each way).

4. Wend your way to Fradley Pool Nature Reserve

On a short break from our base on the Trent & Mersey Canal at Great Haywood near Stafford, you can reach Fradley Pool Nature Reserve.  Fradley Pool is home to a variety of water birds and it’s a great place to spot bats swooping across the water at dusk.  There are walking trails, sculpture trails, places to picnic and a choice of places to eat and drink, including the historic Swan Inn.  The journey to Fradley and back travels 24 miles, passes through 10 locks (five each way) and takes around 12 hours.

5. Navigate the Four Counties Ring for stunning views of the Cheshire Plains

On a week or 10-day break from our narrowboat rental base at Bunbury you can cruise the popular Four Counties Ring through some of England’s best loved countryside.  The route takes you through the counties of Staffordshire, the West Midlands, Cheshire and Shropshire.  It cruises sections of the Trent & Mersey, Staffordshire & Worcestershire and Shropshire Union canals.  There panoramic views to enjoy from the flight of 31 locks between Middlewich and Kidsgrove on the Trent & Mersey Canal.  And stunning views of the rolling Cheshire Plains on the Shropshire Union Canal.  From Bunbury, completing the Four Counties Ring takes around 58 cruising hours and passes through 96 locks.

6. Take part in #BlossomWatch at Packwood House

On a short break from our Tardebigge base near Bromsgrove, you can cruise to the village of Lapworth, home of the National Trust’s Packwood House.  The route takes you through the Worcestershire countryside along the Worcestershire & Birmingham Canal to Kings Norton Junction.  There you can transfer onto the Stratford Canal to reach the village of Lapworth.  At Packwood House every Spring blossom spreads across the garden and parkland, including on the cherry and apple trees in the orchard.  The National Trust’s #BlossomWatch invites visitors to share pictures of spring blossom on social media.  The journey to Lapworth and back takes around 14 hours.

7. Enjoy bird spotting at Ellesmere in the heart of Shropshire Lake District

From our narrowboat hire base on the Llangollen Canal at Trevor in North Wales, on a short break you can reach the medieval market town of Ellesmere.  Along the way, you’ll cross over the famous Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, 38 metres high above the Dee Valley.  The Mere at Ellesmere is a large lake packed with wildlife.  There are woodland walks, places to eat, drink and picnic, a sculpture trail and adventure playground.  You can spot many of types of birds, including kingfishers, yellow hammers, tree sparrows, lapwing, sand martins and ringed plovers.  There are also wading birds such as curlew, greenshank, godwit and whimbrel, as well as herons using the heronry on Moscow Island.  The journey to Ellesmere and back takes around 14 hours and passes through four locks (two each way).

8. Cruise along the River Thames past riverside woodlands and meadows

On a short break from our Oxford base, you can enjoy a Thames boating holiday to the historic market town of Abingdon.  Along the way, you’ll cruise through the outskirts of the ancient City of Oxford.  Then on through beautiful stretches of Oxfordshire countryside, with lush riverside meadows and the chance to hear cuckoos calling.  There are also riverside woodlands with carpets of bluebells to look out for.  Once moored up at Abingdon, you can enjoy exploring riverside walks, parks and eateries, including the popular waterside Nag’s Head.  The journey to Abingdon and back takes around 10 hours, passing through 12 locks (six each way).

9. Travel through the Northamptonshire countryside to Stoke Bruerne

On a mid-week or week-long break from our base at Stockton, you can cruise to the pretty Northamptonshire village of Stoke Bruerne.  The journey along the Grand Union Canal takes you gently through the countryside and the 2,813-metre long Blisworth Tunnel.  You can moor up in Stoke Bruerne to enjoy a choice of canalside pubs and browsing the intriguing waterway history collections at the Canal Museum.  And there’s a wonderful woodland walk and sculpture trail alongside the canal to explore, with the chance to spot a wide variety of woodland birds.  The journey to Stoke Bruerne and back takes around 25 hours and passes through 34 locks (17 each way).

10. Navigate the Avon Ring through some of England’s best loved countryside

On a 10-day break from Wootton Wawen, you can complete the Avon Ring.  This 109-mile circuit travels through some of the most beautiful countryside in England.  You’ll first travel along the pretty Stratford Canal to Shakespeare’s Stratford.  Here you can transfer onto the River Avon to begin cruising through idyllic countryside, to Evesham and Tewkesbury, with panoramic views of Warwickshire and the Cotswolds beyond.  At Tewkesbury you’ll lock onto the River Severn, and later transfer onto the Worcestershire & Birmingham Canal at Diglis.  Completing the Avon Ring from Wootton Wawen takes around 58 hours and passes through 131 locks.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Top 7 cosy waterside pubs and restaurants to cruise to this winter

Top 7 cosy waterside pubs to cruise to on a canal boat holiday this winter

We offer winter cruising* from seven of our canal boat hire bases – providing the opportunity to cruise gently through the quiet winter countryside and stop off at waterside eateries along the way.

You’ll be snug and warm on board as all our boats have central heating and hot water, and some also have multi-fuel stoves.

We offer narrowboat hire over Christmas and New Year, so you can celebrate the festive season afloat with family and friends.  Or simply escape from it all with your nearest and dearest, aboard your very own floating holiday cottage.

Here’s a guide to our Top 7 waterside pubs and restaurants to cruise to this winter. Please note that winter maintenance on the canals may affect some routes for part of the winter, so do just check with us when you make your booking:

1. Cruise to the Dusty Miller at Wrenbury Mill, Cheshire

From our base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal, it takes around seven hours to reach Wrenbury Mill.  The route travels through 10 miles of the Cheshire countryside, and passes through 11 locks.  You’ll start off on the Shropshire Union Canal, transferring onto the Llangollen Canal at Hurleston Junction.  At Wrenbury Mill you can moor up and enjoy a meal at the Dusty Miller.  They serve traditional pub food, including chicken in a basket and pie of the day. The pub is dog friendly and they have a guide to local walks on their website.

2. Moor up at the Crown Inn near Alvechurch, Worcestershire

From our barge hire base at Tardebigge, it takes one and a half hours to cruise to the canalside Crown Inn.  The journey travels three miles along the Worcestershire & Birmingham Canal.  This lovely country pub offers rustic charm and a great choice food and drink.  From fish and chips, and burgers, to seafood linguine and Chicken Balti, the team at the Crown pride themselves on serving ‘proper food’.

3. Visit the Boathouse overlooking the Mere, Shropshire

Setting out from our base at Whixall, it takes around three-and-a-half hours to reach the historic market town of Ellesmere in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District.  You’ll travel along the beautiful Llangollen Canal, passing a series of lakes, including Cole Mere. Once at Ellesmere, you can moor up and explore the Mere, with its motte and bailey castle, Cremorne Gardens, woodlands and popular Boathouse restaurant over-looking the Mere.

4. Head to the Swan Inn at Fradley Junction, Staffordshire

From our base at Great Haywood it takes around five hours to reach Fradley Junction.  The journey travels along the Trent & Mersey Canal for 12 miles, passing through five locks.  At Fradley, you can moor up next to the historic Swan Inn, serving ‘home cooked honest meals’.  They also have a doggy menu.

5. Visit the Fleur De Lys at Lowsonford, Warwickshire

From our boat yard on the Stratford Canal at Wootton Wawen, it takes around three hours to cruise to the pretty canalside village of Lowsonford.  There you can moor up to visit the Fleur De Lys, a 17th century country pub famous for its pies. Eleven different types of pie are served, accompanied by seasonal vegetables, chunky chips and gravy.  There are gluten free and vegan options, as well as veggie, meat and fish pies.

6. Take refreshment at the Barge Inn at Seend, Wiltshire

From our canal boat hire base at Bath, you can cruise gently through the countryside to the Barge Inn at Seend.  This beautiful pub on the Kennet & Avon Canal offers cosy real fires and classic pub favourites, including great Sunday roasts.  It takes around seven hours to cruise the 17 miles to Seend, passing through four locks along the way.

7. Dine out at the Corn Mill in Llangollen, Denbighshire

From our Trevor base on the Llangollen Canal, it takes around two-and-a-half hours to reach the pretty town of Llangollen, nestled in the Berwyn Mountains.  Once there, you can moor up in Llangollen Basin and take a short walk to the popular Corn Mill pub.  Housed in a 14th century watermill on the banks of the River Dee, there’s a great choice of dishes on offer.  From pumpkin tortellini and a sweet potato curry, to a crispy buttermilk chicken burger and rump steak, all are calorie counted.

*Winter maintenance will affect some of the routes some of the time

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Top 9 October Half Term canal boat holiday destinations

Best October Half Term canal boat holidays

Canal boat holidays offer the chance to set off on a family adventure afloat, working together to steer the boat, work the locks and plan the stops.

You’ll be self-contained on board your very own floating holiday cottage – with the key comforts of home, including hot water, TV, WiFi*, well-stocked kitchens, showers, flushing toilets and central heating.

We’ve put together a guide to our Top 9 narrowboat holiday destinations and Halloween events** this October Half Term holiday:

1. Have some Halloween Fun at Mary Arden’s Farm

From our boat yard on the Stratford Canal at Wootton Wawen, it takes just under two hours to reach moorings close to Mary Arden’s Farm in the village of Wilmcote.  On 25, 27 and 29 October, the home of Shakespeare’s mother, run by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, will be hosting a special ‘Halloween Fun at the Farm’ event.  The event will give families the chance to explore the traditions that people in medieval and Tudor England took part in to keep the spirits at bay.

2. Travel through the Dee Valley by steam train

Setting off from our base on the Llangollen Canal at Trevor in North Wales, it takes just two hours to reach moorings at Llangollen Basin.  From there, you can use your floating holiday cottage as a base to explore the area, including taking a trip on a steam train.  The Llangollen Railway line is located within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).  The Railway is running its Llangollen return service 26-30 October, travelling 10 miles through the Dee Valley, with breath-taking views of some of the most beautiful scenery in Wales.

3. Get spooked at a Halloween Night at the Black Country Living Museum

From our narrowboat hire base on the Worcestershire & Birmingham Canal at Tardebigge, it takes just eight hours, passing through three locks to reach the Black Country Living Museum.  At 6.30pm from 26 to 29 October, the Museum is hosting its Halloween Nights event.  Visitors can follow the trick or treat stations around the 26-acre site, discovering spooky spectacles along the way.

4. Follow the ‘Around the World in 8 Trees’ trail at Shugborough Estate

Our base on the Trent & Mersey Canal at Great Haywood is less than an hour’s cruise away from the National Trust’s magnificent Shugborough Estate.  Across the October Half Term holiday, visitors to the Estate can wander around the gardens following the ‘Around the World in 8 Trees’ trail and the Pumpkin Hunt.

5. Experience Warwick Castle’s ‘Haunted Castle’ event

From our base at Stockton on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, it takes around seven hours, passing through 20 locks, to reach Warwick.  From 22-31 October, the Castle’s ‘Haunted Castle’ event will feature mysterious mazes, eerie entertainment and frightful delights for the whole family.  Visitors can experience the Castle Dungeon, Haunted Hollows Halloween trail and special spooky live shows.

6. Visit the IF Oxford science and ideas Festival

From our Oxford base on the River Thames at Eynsham, it takes just three-and a-half-hours (passing through three locks) to reach overnight moorings in Oxford City Centre.  From there, you can explore some of the many IF Oxford events planned at venues across the City Centre, 6-29 October 2022.  For example, at the Oxford Playhouse on 26 October at 7pm, the ‘Braintastic! Mastering Memory’ interactive science show explores how memories stored in the brain can play tricks on you through a series of memory games and quizzes.

7. Experience the interactive Halloween Trail at Chester Zoo

On a short break from our Bunbury base on the Shropshire Union Canal near Tarporley, you can reach the historic City of Chester, home of the award-winning Chester Zoo.  The journey to Chester cruises 12 miles, passes through 18 locks and takes around seven hours.  From 1-31 October, Chester Zoo will be hosting an interactive Halloween Trail.  You’ll be asked to help Luna the witch to find her lost spell, carefully crafted with the most powerful poisons and venoms from the world of nature.

8. Enjoy an Autumnal Woodland Walk at Chirk Castle

From our canal boat rental base at Whixall, on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal, you can reach Chirk in around eight hours.  The journey passes through just two locks.  From visitor moorings on the canal at Chirk it takes around 30 minutes to walk up to the National Trust’s Chirk Castle.  In the Castle’s beautiful grounds, there’s a 2.5 mile Woodland Walk trail to follow.  The walk has spectacular views of the parkland and takes you past the ancient Sweet Chestnut Tree, dating back over 500 years to the time of King Henry VIII.

9. Explore the Roman Baths by torchlight

From our base at Monkton Combe near Bath, it takes around four hours, passing through six locks, to cruise into Bath City Centre.  From there, you can visit one of Bath’s many museums offering special half term activities, including the Romans Baths ‘Lighting up the Great Bath’ event.  Taking place on 26 October, from 6.30pm to 9pm, this thrilling special event offers the chance to explore the Roman Baths by torchlight and celebrate the Festival of Lights.

*NB Our Silsden boats don’t have WiFi

**NB Most of the events listed need to be booked in advance via the venue’s website

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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?

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.

Anglo Welsh. So much more than narrowboats

...but don't just take our word for it

media-quote-trimmed-1
media-quote-trimmed-2
media-quote-trimmed-3
media-quote-trimmed-4