The city of Birmingham has more canals than Venice, so it’s not surprising that eight of the 13 venues for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games are on or very close to a canal.
Taking place from 28 July to 8 August, the Games will see around 4,500 athletes from 72 nations and territories compete in 19 different sports and eight Parasports. To celebrate the opportunity to visit the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and their venues on a narrowboat holiday, we’ve published our Top 8 Games destinations afloat:
1. Travel the Birmingham Mini Ring from Tardebigge
From our Tardebigge base on the Worcestershire & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, you can navigate the Birmingham Mini Ring. This circuit takes you into the heart of Birmingham, travelling sections of the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal, Birmingham Canal Old Main Line, Tame Valley Canal and Wyrley & Essington Canal. The route travels 45 miles, passes through 49 locks and takes around 27 cruising hours. Games venues on or close by the route include: Birmingham Arena next to the Birmingham Canal Old Line (Gymnastics); Alexander Stadium next to the Tame Valley Canal at Perry Barr (Athletics); and Sandwell Aquatics Centre close to the Tame Valley Canal (Diving and Swimming).
From our canal boat hire base at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal near Stafford, Cannock Chase Forest is less than two hours away. The journey to over-moorings at Rugeley navigates five miles of the Trent & Mersey Canal and passes through two locks. Cannock Chase Forest will be used for the Mountain Biking event.
From our narrow boat hire base on the Grand Union Canal at Stockton, it takes 15 hours to reach Coventry Basin, travelling 36 miles and passing through seven locks. The route navigates up the North Oxford Canal and joins the Coventry Canal at Hawkesbury Junction. Coventry Stadium will be hosting the Judo, Rugby Sevens and Wrestling events.
4. Navigate to the Alexander Stadium from Tardebigge
It takes around 13 hours, travelling 28 miles and passing through eight locks to reach Perry Barr Top Lock from our Tardebigge base. The journey begins on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, and transfers onto the Birmingham Canal Navigations at Worcester Bar. Alexander Stadium will host the Athletics events.
From our base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal, it takes around 12 hours, cruising 14 miles and passing through 38 locks to reach moorings at Saltisford in Warwick. Myton Fields, the other side of the river to St. Nicholas Park will be used for the Birmingham 2022 Cycling Road Race.
6. Travel round the Stourport Ring from Tardebigge
From our Tardebigge base, on a week’s break you can navigate the Stourport Ring. The journey passes through 118 locks and takes around 44 hours. It takes in sections of: the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal; Worcester & Birmingham Canal Navigation; the River Severn; Birmingham Canal Main Line; and Stourbridge canals. It takes boaters close to Egbaston Stadium, where the Cricket T20 will take place, and the Birmingham Arena where the Gymnastics will take place.
7. Cruise to Victoria Park in Leamington Spa from Stockton
From our Stockton base on the Grand Union Canal it takes around seven hours, travelling seven miles and passing through 20 locks to reach Frost’s Wharf in Leamington. Victoria Park in Leamington Spa will host the Lawn Bowls and Para Lawn Bowls events.
From our Stockton base you can navigate the Warwickshire Ring. This popular circuit travels 104 miles, passes through 94 locks and takes around 53 hours. It can be done in a week, but it’s best to allow 10 days or two weeks so that you’ll have time to visit places along the way. The Warwickshire Ring travels sections of the Grand Union Canal (passing through Leamington Spa and Warwick), the Coventry Canal and Birmingham & Fazeley Canal. Games venues on or close by the route include: Birmingham Arena (Gymnastics); Edgbaston Stadium (Cricket); Coventry Stadium and Arena (Judo, Rugby Sevens, Wrestling); St Nicholas Park in Warwick (Cycling Road Race); and Victoria Park in Leamington Spa (Lawn Bowls).
Try narrowboating for free at an Anglo Welsh Open Day
On Thursday 2 June 2022, the first day of the bank holiday weekend celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, we are hosting open days at four of our narrowboat hire bases, offering you the chance to try canal boating for free!
The events will run from 10am to 4pm, so come and visit us to take a free short trip on a skippered day boat, ask our expert staff for advice on all things boating, learn what to expect from a canal boat holiday and enter a competition to win a free day boat trip!
The open days will take place at:
– Whixall on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire;
– Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire;
– Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal in Staffordshire; and
Emma Lovell, reservations manager for Anglo Welsh, explains:
“We are looking forward to welcoming visitors to our open days to enjoy spending time by the water and a free taster session on aboard one of our day boats.
“No booking is required and trips will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.”
Here at Anglo Welsh, we offer day boat hire with prices starting at £10 per person. It’s a great opportunity for those new to canal boating to get the hang of steering, mooring up and working the locks. All day boats are equipped with cutlery, crockery, a kettle, fridge, cooker and a toilet. Day boats are suitable for up to 10 passengers. Up to two dogs are welcome on board, but they do count as passengers.
Celebrate National Pet Month with a Canal Boat Holiday
To celebrate National Pet Month, here at Anglo Welsh we are waiving our second pet price of £25 – £35, on canal boat holidays booked to depart throughout April. To claim this offer, please quote ‘National Pet Month’ when booking!
Your first pet already goes free as part of all our holiday packages. Narrowboat holidays are especially great for dogs – with plenty of towpath walks and dog-friendly canalside pubs.
As well as dogs, we’ve accommodated many other kinds of pets aboard our floating holiday homes, including cats, guinea pigs, tortoises, lizards, caged birds and even goldfish.
To celebrate our April offer, we’ve listed our Top 7 short break staycations for dog owners this Spring:
Cruise along the Trent & Mersey Canal to Cannock Chase – From our barge hire base at Great Haywood in Staffordshire, you can visit Cannock Chase Forest, with miles of walking trails and a special 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. The Wolseley Centre and Nature Reserve is next to the Trent & Mersey Canal at Wolseley Bridge and offers a great gateway to Cannock Chase.
Navigate the River Thames to Lechlade – From our narrowboat hire base on the River Thames at our Oxford base, you can cruise west to the pretty market town of Lechlade on the edge of the Cotswolds. Along the way, you’ll pass through miles of peaceful Oxfordshire countryside, with plenty of dog walking locations. In the village of Radcot, there’s a dog-friendly bar in the Ye Olde Swan Hotel, and at Lechlade there’s a choice of dog-friendly pubs, including the Swan Inn.
Float along the Kennet & Avon Canal to Caen Hill – From our canal boat rental base at Monkton Combe near Bath, you can travel to Foxhanger Wharf, at the bottom of the Caen Hill flight of locks at Devizes. Along the way, you’ll pass through miles of peaceful Wiltshire countryside, with a series of charming villages and dog-friendly country pubs to visit along the way. These include: 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 of 29 locks, one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways.
Cruise the Leeds & Liverpool Canal to Saltaire –From our canal boat hire base at Silsden in West Yorkshire, you can reach Saltaire, near Bradford. This World Heritage Site was founded on the banks of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in 1851 by Sir Titus Salt, as a place for his woollen mill to operate and workers to live. Today, Salts Mill has a number of galleries, including the David Hockney Gallery with portraits of the artist’s beloved Dachshunds, Stanley and Boogie. The nearby Hirst Wood Nature Reserve is a great place to exercise your dog, with a dog friendly café nearby for refreshments.
Navigate the Llangollen Canal to Ellesmere – From our narrowboat hire base at Trevor in North Wales, you can cruise to the stunning Shropshire Lake District. Along the way, you’ll pass over the UNESCO World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and a series of dog-friendly pubs, including The Bridge Inn at Chirk Bank. When you reach Ellesmere, there are lots of walking trails to choose from, including waterside routes at The Mere.
Take the Stratford Canal to Packwood House – From our canal boat rental base at Wootton Wawen in Warwickshire, you can cruise to the National Trust’s beautiful Packwood House. Packwood’s magnificent gardens include herbaceous borders, a Kitchen Garden, Memorial Orchard, wildflower meadows and 350-year old Yew Garden. Dogs are welcome at Packwood on public footpaths across the estate, on the café terrace and in the barnyard.
Cruise the Shropshire Union & Llangollen canals to Wrenbury – From our base at Bunbury in Cheshire, you can reach the historic village of Wrenbury. The South Cheshire Way passes through it, so there are lots of countryside walks to enjoy. And there’s a choice of pubs to visit, including the dog-friendly canalside Dusty Miller.
Book your pet-friendly boating holiday by calling our Booking Team on 0117 304 1122. Please note: pets are not permitted on soft furnishings on board, so please bring along their own beds and blankets.
Anglo Welsh win Bronze award for ‘Self Catering Accommodation of the Year’
We were delighted to receive the Bronze award for ‘Self Catering Accommodation of the Year’ at the 2022 West Midlands Tourism Awards.
Our marketing and bookings team attended the event at the stunning Coombe Abbey in Coventry and enjoyed celebrating the West Midlands tourism industry with other finalists.
Gabby Wood, marketing co-ordinator for Anglo Welsh, says:
“Narrowboat holidays are a fun and unique way to explore the West Midlands and we are so proud to have been recognised for the staycations we provide on the canals.
We had a fantastic time meeting other finalists. It was so great to learn more about the variety of visitor attractions, accommodation and hospitality venues available to tourists in the West Midlands. It’s been a challenging few years for the tourism industry, but it was inspiring and motivating to see the resilience of everyone and to be congratulated for our hard work.
We want to give a special mention to the staff at our boatyards who work extremely hard to keep the boats on top form and who always go out of their way to ensure customers enjoy their narrowboat holiday.”
Interested in exploring the West Midlands by narrowboat? We offer boat hire from locations at Wootton Wawen, Tardebigge and Great Haywood. Our canal boats range from 2-berths to 12-berths and all have well-equipped kitchens, fresh water flushing toilets, hot water showers, comfortable beds, TVs, DVD players and WiFi, and are all pet friendly.
These boats offer extra space and facilities, as well as exacting standards of craftsmanship, comfort and finish. They will have accommodation for up to four people in two cabins (which can be made up as either doubles or singles), and two spacious bathrooms. They will have a substantial saloon area with a large TV, WiFi, multi-fuel stove, full radiator central heating, and a spacious kitchen with modern fittings and LED lighting.
Their striking blue and gold livery has been designed with Admiral Nelson in mind, in memory of our late Director Tim Nelson Parker, an incredible character who was devoted to the canals.
We launched our first Admiral Class boats in 2020, building on the popularity of our Heritage, Constellation and Bond Class luxury canal boats. All these boats offer increased space per person, and particularly high standards of comfort and finish.
2022 Admiral Class prices start at £875 for short break, £1,210 for a week.
Here’s a list of all our luxury narrow boats available to hire at our various bases in 2022:
· Bath – Codrington (four berth Admiral Class), Pheonix (four berth Constellation Class), Gloria (four berth Bond Class), Silvia (six berth Bond Class), Bradbury (six berth Bond Class), Sagittarius (10 berth Constellation Class) and Langton (12-berth Bond Class).
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.
Anglo Welsh’s reservations manager Emma Lovell offers a guide to the best winter cruising destinations this Christmas.
This winter, we are offering winter cruising* from eight of our narrowboat hire bases, giving you the chance to spend Christmas or New Year on the canals.
The canals are quieter during the winter months and people tend to make shorter journeys. Winter canal boat hire is about enjoying being close to the water and visiting canalside pubs and attractions, rather than travelling lots of miles each day.
From a cosy narrowboat for two to a family canal boat for 12, all our boats have central heating, hot water, WiFi, TV and DVD players, so it’s always nice and warm on board. Some of our boats also come with multi-fuel stoves for some extra special winter warmth, and there’s plenty of storage room on board, so you can bring lots of warm and wet weather clothing.
Some routes will be affected at times by the Canal & River Trust’s annual winter maintenance work, but we can provide information on any planned route closures at the time of booking.
Here’s our guide to our Top 8 narrowboat holidays for Christmas 2021:
1. Float to through the Warwickshire countryside to Stratford upon Avon – from our narrowboat rental base on the Stratford Canal at Wootton Wawen in Warwickshire, it’s a six-hour cruise to Stratford upon Avon. The journey takes you through the Warwickshire countryside, passing through 17 locks along the way. Once in Stratford, you can moor up in Bancroft Basin, just a short walk from this popular tourist town’s excellent choice of theatres, restaurants, markets and museums.
2. Experience Christmas in the World Heritage City of Bath – on a short break from our canal boat hire base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Monkton Combe, you can reach moorings in Bath City Centre in around four cruising hours. The route takes you along a section of the Avon Valley and up the Bath flight of six locks. From moorings close to Pulteney Bridge, you can enjoy exploring this beautiful City, including the Roman Baths and medieval Bath Abbey.
3. Cruise through the Staffordshire countryside to Fradley – heading south from our base at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal, you can reach Fradley Junction in around five hours. The journey passes through five locks and 12 peaceful miles of Staffordshire countryside, including the Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Places to enjoy along the way include The Wolseley Centre run by the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, the Wolseley Arms pub and the village of Handsacre with its ‘The Old Peculiar’ pub. Once at Fradley, refreshments are available at the Canalside Café or The Swan Inn, and there are walking trails at the Fradley Pool Nature Reserve.
4. Travel through the Shropshire Lake District to Ellesmere – from our base at Whixall on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire, it takes around four hours to reach the historic town of Ellesmere. Along the way, the route passes Lyneal Moss and Colemere Country Park. Once at Ellesmere, there’s a choice of independent shops and restaurants, as well as formal gardens, woods and castle grounds to explore.
5. Navigate into the centre of Birmingham – from our base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, it takes around five hours to boat into the heart of Birmingham. Boasting more canals than Venice and with preparations underway to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games, it’s a great time to visit Britain’s vibrant second city. And there are no locks to pass through along the way, so this is also a good route for canal boat holiday beginners.
6. Visit the ancient city of Chester afloat – from our base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal near Tarporley, it’s a seven-hour cruise through the Cheshire countryside to Chester. Once there, you can visit the City’s famous 700-year old two-tired shopping galleries – the Rows. And you can also take time to explore Chester’s Roman City Walls, Amphitheatre, riverside gardens and sparkling city centre Christmas lights.
7. Cruise to the Eisteddfod town of Llangollen – from our base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, it takes around two hours to cruise to Llangollen. There you can moor up in Llangollen Basin and enjoy visiting this beautiful town nestled in the Berwyn Mountains. Things to visit include the Llangollen Steam Railway, Plas Newydd house and gardens and the Horseshoe Falls. There’s a great choice of independent shops and places to eat, including the popular Corn Mill with stunning river and mountain views.
8. Enjoy Christmas in historic Bradford on Avon – on a short break from our narrow boat hire base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Sydney Wharf, you can cruise to the historic market town of Bradford on Avon. The journey takes around four hours and passes through just one lock. Bradford on Avon, situated on the southern edge of the Cotswolds, has beautiful limestone buildings echoing those of nearby Bath. It is packed with historic buildings, including the 14th century Tithe Barn and 15th century chapel of St Mary Tory, with amazing views across the town. There’s a great choice of independent shops and places to eat to choose from.
*NB Winter maintenance work can affect some routes at certain times. Customers are advised to check at the time of booking.
As part of our 55 year anniversary celebrations, we’ve been speaking to long term narrowboat holiday-maker Howard Fisher.
How many canal boat holidays have you been on?
At least one almost every year since 1971, including around 15 with Anglo Welsh.
Where did you go on your first narrowboat holiday?
My first inland waterways holiday was in 1971 with three school friends. We hired a small river cruiser from Barbridge, and we travelled to Llangollen and back. We quickly realised a narrowboat would be a much better way of travelling the canals. So, in March 1973 we hired a 56ft narrowboat ‘Stirling’ from Anglo Welsh’s Great Haywood base. That time I was with seven friends and we travelled anti-clockwise round the Four Counties Ring.
What do you like most about narrowboat holidays?
It’s a great way to see the bits of towns and cities that you’d otherwise miss. I much prefer the urban stretches to countryside – though on a fine evening, a quiet and secluded country mooring is hard to beat. I also find the structures you encounter fascinating, and marvel at the ingenuity of the original builders. In 2004 we travelled through the incredible 5km long Standedge Tunnel on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, which takes you deep beneath the Pennines.
What was your most memorable journey?
Back in the summer of 1975, when I was involved with the canal club at university, we hired two 50ft eight berth boats from Middlewich. The crew changed each week, with a core of us staying all three weeks. We travelled a large circle, including the tidal section of the River Trent, then right across the North Eastern canals to Leeds. Then we went along the Leeds & Liverpool and Bridgewater Canal to Anderton. We went down the Anderton Lift (where the lift operator was surprised we only wanted single tickets), along the River Weaver and out onto the Manchester Ship Canal to Ellesmere Port. Then back to Middlewich via Chester.
That trip took a fair bit of organising. For example, we had to arrange for a British Waterways crew to rendezvous with us to reconstruct the lock gear at Ellesmere Port, as it was semi-derelict back then. Also, things didn’t go according to plan when we misunderstood the lock keeper’s instructions regarding the channel out to the deeper water of the Manchester Ship Canal. On exiting the lock in the wake of a passing ship, we managed to get marooned on a mud bank. A tug had to pull us off.
The trip up the Trent required a ludicrously early start, motoring solidly for eight hours to get to Keadby at the right point of the tide. One of the boat’s engines overheated, and we spent some time travelling tied together with just a single engine.
What was your favourite narrowboat holiday?
In 1978 we completed the London Ring, cruising through central London on the Regent’s Canal, going around the East End canals, and returning along the tidal Thames. They didn’t need to raise Tower Bridge for us, but it’s fantastic to drive a narrowboat along the Thames past all the landmarks. This was before the London docks were redeveloped, so the east End was nothing like the posh area it is now.
How have canal boat holidays changed over the years?
The thing that hits you is just how many boats there are these days, including so many houseboats. Back in the 70’s you could cruise for most of a day only meeting a handful of other boats. The canals are kept better maintained than they used to be, but water levels can still be a problem. For example, it took us several attempts over a few years before we finally succeeded in navigating the Cheshire Ring.
What were the reasons for moving from being a hirer to an owner?
As retirement beckoned, the freedom of going as and when, and knowing that once the fixed costs were paid, staying longer didn’t cost extra, pushed four of us (two couples) to jointly buy a boat. The boat is fitted out exactly as we want it, including an expresso machine, bread-maker, food mixer and washing machine!
Any tips for newcomers to canal boat holidays ahead of their first trip?
Listen to the instructions on how to operate the boat, and ask the hire company to take you through a lock and show how it works. After packing, throw out half what you packed as you won’t need it. Enjoy yourselves!
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.
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