Top 8 places to celebrate Halloween on a canal boat 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.
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
Top 8 February Half Term canal boat holiday destinations
WINTER HALF TERM CANAL BOAT HOLIDAY DESTINATIONS
Give boredom the push-off and take to the water this winter.
Emma Lovell, Anglo Welsh’s Reservations Manager, believes a narrowboat holiday is the perfect solution for winter break for all the family.
Whether you’re planning a half-term holiday or a winter mini break, this time of year can be tricky. The weather is unpredictable and if it’s cold or raining you can end up spending a fortune on indoor activities to keep everyone amused.
That’s why a narrowboat holiday is a great choice. First off, you can pick a boat which suits your group – from a cosy boat for two to a larger boat for 12 and many size options between – so no problem if you want to invite grandma, your aunties, cousins or friends.
Secondly, everyone can have a role, so there’s no need to be bored. You’ll need a skipper to steer the boat, while the crew can plan the route, open and close the locks, look out for other boats, mooring spaces and wildlife, as well as places to eat and visit.
Thirdly we can guarantee no airport delays, no cancelled trains and no motorway closures. Some parts of the canal network might be closed for winter maintenance in advance – but we can advise you about these when we are planning your route.
Travelling at a pleasing, and environmentally-friendly, four-miles-an-hour, your scenery will change continuously and, depending on where you travel to and from, you can moor in the heart of vibrant cities like Birmingham and Bath, pretty market towns like Whitchurch and Stratford upon Avon, or hundreds of picture perfect villages up and down the country.
Personally I think cosying up on one of our boats (all of which have central heating and some multi-fuel stoves too) is particularly wonderful when the weather is challenging. And as you travel leisurely from place to place, it’s a great opportunity to bond together as a family and reconnect with your kids. The boats do have WiFi – but you don’t need to tell anyone!
For a bit of inspiration, I’ve listed my top five activities and indoor destinations you can reach from our bases;
Travel into Birmingham for culture and the Sea Life Centre – from our canal boat holiday hire base at Tardebigge it takes five hours to cruise into the centre of Birmingham. With no locks to pass through along the way, it’s a great route for narrowboat holiday novices. You can moor up in Gas Street Basin to enjoy the City’s many shops, galleries, museums and attractions such as Sea Life Centre in Brindleyplace.
Look up Shakespeare in Stratford upon Avon – from our narrowboat rental base at on the Stratford Canal at Wootton Wawen, near Henley-in-Arden in Warwickshire, it’s a picturesque six-hour cruise through the Warwickshire countryside to Shakespeare’s Stratford. Once there, you can moor up in Bancroft Basin and visit all five connected sites which tell the full story on the Bard.
Swap the water forthe Steam Railway at Llangollen – from our canal boat rental base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, it takes just two hours to cruise to the beautiful town of Llangollen, on the edge of the Berwyn Mountains. Once there, you can moor up and take time to explore this pretty town which offers plenty of places to eat and the Llangollen Steam Railway.
Discover Britain’s Secret Nuclear Bunker – from our canal boat rental base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire, it takes around three-and-a-half hours, travelling nine miles and passing through just two locks, to reach moorings close to the Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker Museum. This fascinating blast-proof underground bunker was once one of the nation’s most secret defence sites.
Cruise to Waterworld for Tropical Aqua Park – heading north from our narrowboat rental base at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal near Stafford, you can reach the Festival Park in Stoke on Trent in around 13 hours. From there it’s a 10-minute walk to Waterworld, where you can enjoy a range of thrill seeking rides, including white knuckle flumes, raft rides, and the legendary Thunderbolt.
Summer holiday season is almost upon us and what better way to spend it then hiring a narrowboat and floating gently along a beautiful historic canal.
If you are planning a canal boat holiday this summer, it is worth doing some research into the many fun events and attractions you could reach by narrowboat.
Our historic waterways come alive during the summer holiday season so wherever you want your canal boat hire to start from, we can guarantee there will be something fun or interesting within easy cruising distance.
With so much to see and do along the canals, there is something for every generation to enjoy. So, if you are planning a canal barge holiday for the whole family, don’t worry, there will be plenty to keep the kids entertained.
Here are a few of our top choices for summer holiday fun along the canals this year:
Nearest Anglo Welsh canal boat hire bases: Bath and Monkton Combe
A little earlier than most school summer holidays but worth including just the same as each year Bath Carnival bring the streets of this historic city to life in a colourful celebration of diverse world cultures. Flamboyant floats, costumes, music and dancing thrill the crowds and leave the whole city wanting to party.
Bristol Harbour Festival, Friday 19th to Sunday 21st July, River Avon
Nearest Anglo Welsh canal boat hire base: Bath
Bristol’s harbourside plays host to the city’s biggest free festival which combines art, music and performance while showcasing the city’s maritime heritage. The floating harbour is lined by stages and stalls selling fantastic local food and drink with live music, shows, workshops, boat trips and more fun for all the family.
Manchester MCM Comic Con, Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th July, Bridgewater Canal
Nearest Anglo Welsh canal boat hire base: Bunbury
Dig out your favourite superhero costume and geek out at the UK’s biggest pop-culture event. Comic Con returns to Manchester with a blockbuster weekend of special guests including Guardians of the Galaxy’s Michael Rooker as well as TV, movies, comic books and cosplay that can be enjoyed by parents and children alike.
Afternoon tea at Anderton Boat Lift, Sunday 28th July, the Trent & Mersey Canal
Nearest Anglo Welsh canal boat hire base: Bunbury and Great Haywood
Admire this historic feat of engineering while sipping on afternoon tea and wolfing down delicious dainty sandwiches and cakes in a perfect afternoon out. The special ‘afternoon tea experiences’ include a look around the magnificent 144-year-old boat lift followed by a boat trip on the River Weaver and a delicious afternoon tea in the lift view marquee.
Gifford Circus at Stonor Park, Thursday 25th July to Monday 29th July, River Thames
Nearest Anglo Welsh canal boat hire base: Oxford
The famous Gifford Circus will be bringing its new show Xanadu to Stonor Park in Henley. Inspired by the 70s flower power movement, the new show promises to be a spectacular evening of incredible acrobatics, jaw-dropping aerial tricks alongside clowns, musicians and even horses. Enter the magic wonderland that is Gifford’s Big Top and wait to fall under their spell.
The Oxford Shakespeare Festival, running until Saturday 10th August, River Thames
Nearest AngloWelsh canal boat hire base: Oxford
Enjoy one of the Bard’s masterpieces in the dramatic open air surroundings of Oxford Castle and Prison’s courtyard. There is tragedy and comedy on offer depending on your preference. Tomahawk Theatre presents Macbeth from 1st to 27th July while Siege Theatre performs Twelfth Night from 29th July to 10th August.
Summer festival at World of Wedgwood, Saturday, 10th and Sunday 11th August, Trent & Mersey Canal
Nearest Anglo Welsh canal boat hire base: Great Haywood
After the popularity of the monthly market, World of Wedgewood is extending it into a two-day celebration of mouth-watering food and drink and artisan crafts. More than 50 stalls will be showcasing the best edible delights from local suppliers alongside hand-crafted products to a backdrop of great live music throughout the weekend.
National Waterways Museum, Horses at work day, Sunday, 11 August, Llangollen Canal
Nearest Anglo Welsh canal boat hire bases: Whixall and Trevor
The museum at Ellesmere Port is hosting a special day to pay homage to the special role of horses in the history of the waterways. Go along to see boats being towed along the canal by horses in the traditional style as well as lots of other horse related activities.
The Oxford Proms, Saturday, 10th August and Thursday, 15th August, River Thames
Nearest Anglo Welsh canal boat hire base: Oxford
Treat yourself to some of the best live classical music you’ll ever hear with one of these two amazing Oxford Prom concerts, both featuring virtuoso pianist Maki Sekiya. The first, the Hall of Fame Classic concert at University Church of St Mary the Virgin will showcase Beethoven and Shostakovich. The second, The Magic of Mozart, held at the same venue, will, as the name suggests celebrate the work of the Austrian musical genius.
Chester Zoo Little Explorers Outdoor Adventure Club, various dates from 20th July to 17th August, Shropshire Union Canal
Nearest Anglo Welsh canal boat hire base: Bunbury
Chester Zoo is doing its bit to foster the next generation of David Attenboroughs with weekly clubs throughout the holidays for children aged 5 to 8, exploring different types of wildlife: 20 July, Feathery Friends; 27 July, Brilliant Bugs; 3 August, Pond Creatures; 17th August, Mammal Detectives. It is also a great chance for mum and dad to do a bit of sightseeing in peace and quiet.
On the Beach’s Great Northern Summer, running until Saturday, 31st August, Bridgewater Canal
Nearest Anglo Welsh canal boat hire base: Bunbury
Great Northern Square has been transformed by a giant sandpit containing 50 tonnes of sand and wood rounds which will keep children happy for hours. The sandpit provides the focal point for a whole summer of family friendly activities such as markets, play sessions, yogathons and more.
Drayton Manor Theme Park Summer of Fun, Saturday 20th July to Sunday 1st September, Birmingham & Fazeley Canal
Nearest Anglo Welsh canal boat hire base: Great Haywood
With over 100 rides and a 15 acre zoo, Drayton Manor is a theme park the whole family can enjoy and it is hosting a ‘summer of fun’ throughout the holidays. It even boasts Thomas Land where younger children can spend a day meeting Thomas and his friends and testing out rides like Bertie Bus and Toby’s Tram Express. With special events and family activities to be announced throughout the summer, Drayton really does have every age group covered.
Cadbury World, Freddo’s Treasure Trove Stage Show, Saturday, 20th July to Sunday 1st September, Worcester & Birmingham Canal
Nearest Anglo Welsh canal boat hire base: Tardebigge
This temple to chocolate making is presenting a special show throughout the summer starring a living, breathing version of Freddo, which is a guaranteed hit with the little ones. The show, included in the normal ticket price, invites you to set sail with Captain Freddo and learn what it takes to become a pirate on the Seven Seas. Lean how to walk and talk like a pirate, or risk walking the plank!
National Sealife Centre, daily until Sunday, 8th September, Birmingham Canal Navigations Mainline or Gas Street Canal Basin
Nearest Anglo Welsh canal boat hire base: Tardebigge and Great Haywood
This awe-inspiring Norman Foster-designed aquarium where you can see more than 60 strange, beautiful and fascinating creatures of the deep, is hosting a special ‘Pirates and Mermaids’ underwater treasure hunt adventure to keep the kids entertained this summer.
Warwick Castle Falconer’s Quest, daily until Sunday, 3rd November, Grand Union Canal
Nearest Anglo Welsh canal boat hire base: Stockton and Wootton Wawen
Experience the UK’s biggest birds of prey show at one of the best preserved medieval castles in Britain. Kids and adults alike will be wowed as up to 70 birds of prey take to the skies in an action packed dynamic display of aerial avian acrobatics. The shows will take place daily throughout the summer and into Autumn.
Skipton Castle re-enactment events, weekends throughout summer, Leeds & Liverpool Canal
Nearest Anglo Welsh canal boat hire base: Silsden
This magnificent medieval castle hosts a series of re-enactment events throughout summer which will transport you back centuries to witness dramatic episodes from British history. On the 20th to 21st July you can experience life as it would have been in Skipton during the Wars of the Roses, on the 3rd to 4th of August you can watch the Civil War Regiment prepare for battle against the Parliamentarian army and on the 17th to 18th August watch 12 century knights display their fighting prowess.
Take to the water this Easter, and cruise through the beautiful Spring countryside, adorned with new leaves, fragrant blossom, delightful daffodils, playful spring lambs and chirping birds.
You can cruise gently along aboard your own floating holiday home to enjoy an outdoor family adventure, stopping-off along the way to visit waterside destinations hosting special Easter holiday activities.
From medieval fortresses, battles and jousting, to Easter egg decorating, hunting and (of course) eating, here are our Top 10 Easter canal boat holiday family destinations:
Visit the World’s biggest Cadbury shop at Cadbury World – apparently, if you placed all the Cadbury Creme Eggs made in a year from end to end, they would stretch from Bournville to Sydney, Australia! This Easter, you can discover more amazing chocolate facts, and buy some Creme Eggs at the World’s biggest Cadbury shop, at Cadbury World at Bournville, right next to the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. From our canal boat hire base at Tardebigge, near Bromsgrove in Worcestershire, it takes just two hours to reach moorings outside Cadbury World, and three more lock-free hours to reach Birmingham City Centre.
Have an ‘Eggstraordinary Easter Eggventure’ at the University of Oxford’s Natural History Museum – from our Oxford base, it’s a tranquil three-hour cruise along the River Thames to moorings at Hythe Bridge, perfect for exploring Oxford’s city centre, including the University of Oxford Natural History Museum, which is hosting an Easter egg hunting trail, 6-22 April. Housed in a stunning Victorian neo-Gothic building, Oxford’s Natural History Museum is home to an internationally significant collection of natural history specimens, including T-rex skeletons, the Oxford Dodo, whale skeletons, British bird displays, dinosaur fossils and the 4.5 billion-year-old Nantan meteorite.
Enjoy a Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt at Chirk Castle – from our narrowboat hire base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, it takes just over an hour to reach Chirk, passing over the incredible Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which this year celebrates 10 years of World Heritage Status. Once moored-up, it’s a half-hour walk up to the National Trust’s stunning medieval fortress, Chirk Castle, where over the Easter Weekend (19-22 April), children can follow the Easter Trail, solve the clues and win a Cadbury chocolate prize.
Watch medieval jousting at the Royal Armouries Museum – from our base at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, on a week’s holiday, canal boat holiday-makers can travel to Leeds and back, cruising for a total of 34 hours and passing through 56 locks. Over the Easter weekend (19-22 April) the waterside Royal Armouries Museum will be hosting its spectacular International Jousting event, where four teams of knights from the UK, Poland, the USA and Canada will battle for honour and trophies.
Tour the Roman Baths by Torchlight – from our canal boat rental base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Brassknocker Basin just outside Bath it takes around four hours, passing through six locks to reach Bath City Centre, just a short walk away from the Roman Baths Museum. Over the Easter Weekend (19-22 April), the Museum will be hosting torchlit evening openings (6pm-8pm), giving visitors the chance to see the remarkably preserved remains of one of the greatest religious spas of the ancient world in a different light. Easter evening visitors can also enjoy live music, impromptu performances from the Natural Theatre Company and a drink in a pop-up Prosecco Bar.
See the World’s oldest working steam engines – on a week’s holiday from our narrowboat hire base at Sydney Wharf, you can travel along the beautiful Kennet & Avon Canal to Crofton, near Marlborough, to visit the Crofton Pumping Station. Over the Easter Weekend (20-22 April), the Easter Steam Event allows visitors to witness the work of the oldest working steam engines in the world, still performing the job they were built to do. The two beam engines, one of which is an original 200-year old Boulton & Watt, are both fed by a hand-stoked, coal fired Lancashire boiler. The journey to Crofton takes around 23 hours, cruising 40 miles and passing through 47 locks.
Join the annual Easter Boat Gathering at Ellesmere Port – over the Easter Weekend (19-22 April), the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire celebrates the start of the Summer boating season with a large boat gathering, live music and the Shropshire Boatmen telling waterway stories in song. From our canal boat hire base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire, it takes 10 hours to reach Ellesmere Port, travelling 21 miles through 12 locks, and passing through the ancient City of Chester along the way.
Do some Easter egg decorating at Mary Arden’s Farm – from our base at Wootton Wawen on the pretty Stratford Canal, it takes around an hour-and-a-half to reach the village of Wilmcote, home to Mary Arden’s Farm, where Shakespeare’s mother grew up. Over the Easter holidays, as well as experiencing the sights, sounds and smells of a Tudor farm, visitors can enjoy decorating eggs with traditional Tudor designs at Mary Arden’s Farm. On a short break, you can continue on to Bancroft Basin in the Centre of Stratford to visit waterside eateries, Shakespeare’s Birthplace and the famous Swan Theatre.
Explore the Eggcellent Easter Trail at Trentham Monkey Forest – during the Easter holidays (15-26 April), visitors to Trentham Monkey Forest, where monkeys live in total freedom, can walk amongst the monkeys and follow the Easter Woodland Trail to find a hidden word to gain entry to a prize draw. From our boatyard at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal near Stafford, it takes approximately 10 hours to reach Stoke bottom lock No. 36, a short walk away from Trentham Monkey Forest. The journey cruises 13 miles and passes through 13 locks.
Take a Guided Walk at the Battle of Bosworth Museum – from our canal boat hire base at Stockton on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, it takes around 18 hours, travelling 44 miles and passing through seven locks, to reach Sutton Cheney, close to the Bosworth Heritage Centre & Country Park. Here, where King Richard III famously lost his crown to Henry Tudor in 1485, visitors to the multi-award-winning Bosworth Battlefield Experience can enjoy hands-on displays and guided walks to find out more about medieval warfare, how the battle unfolded and the impact of the powerful Tudor dynasty.
Plan your Easter canal boat holiday: The best waterway routes for kids
It’s finally getting a little bit lighter and there is hope that winter may not last forever.
In fact, it is the perfect time to cheer yourself out of any winter blues by planning your next narrowboat trip. With the school Easter break now just a few weeks away, why not treat the whole family to a canal boat holiday this year. Kids love the novelty of being on the water just as much as adults and all our narrowboats are designed to be family friendly. You could even bring your pets!
To help, we’ve had a think about the best canal boat holiday routes to do with children.
We’ve chosen varied waterway journeys that combine rural beauty and tranquility with more urban settings that are packed with family friendly activities to keep the kids entertained throughout. No more of those, ‘Mum/Dad, I’m boooored,’ comments.
Tardebigge to Birmingham
Set in the heart of rural Worcestershire, Tardebigge offers an idyllic starting point for any canal boat cruise. The base sits at the top of an impressive lock ladder climbing 220 feet, offering wonderful views over the surrounding countryside.
If you are heading towards Birmingham you have a relaxing lock free five-hour cruise north along the Worcester and Birmingham Canal through rolling fields, woodland and quiet villages with welcoming pubs.
On the outskirts of the ‘City of canals’ as Birmingham is romantically labelled, you’ll pass through Bourneville where the canal takes you within touching distance of the old Cadbury chocolate factory. Now Cadbury World, this celebration of all things chocolate is a guaranteed hit with the kids.
Continue to the historic Gas Street Basin right in the city centre, from where you can access all Birmingham’s most famous attractions including the National Sea Life Centre, which is a great day out for the whole family.
Great Haywood to Froghall
Jump aboard a narrowboat at Great Haywood and head north west on the Trent and Mersey canal, following the River Trent valley.
To ease you into boating life gently there is a long stretch with no locks, passing through tranquil meadows and the pretty villages of Weston, Salt and Sandon which boast good pubs for a pit stop. After a few more miles, you reach your first lock at Aston, then proceed through more luscious countryside to the historic market town of Stone, which has some great canalside pubs, restaurants and a monthly farmers market.
It is then just seven miles until you reach the towns that make up Stoke on Trent and The Potteries. At Barlaston, you pass the Wedgewood factory with its World of Wedgewood visitor centre offering factory tours, a museum and craft and decorating studios where visitors can test out their talent on the pottery wheel.
The last few miles before you branch off east on the Caldon Canal in Stoke on Trent are dominated by old factories and warehouses, brick furnaces alongside more modern buildings. The Caldon Canal will take you into the picturesque Churnet Valley to Froghall. Here the kids are in for a real treat for it is just a short bus ride to Alton Towers, the UK’s biggest theme park, just make sure you book your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment!
Bunbury to Chester
The Shropshire Union Canal is renowned to be one of the most unspoilt scenic of canals, making it a favourite with narrowboaters from all over the UK.
From Bunbury, cruise north across the expansive open country of the Cheshire Plain past the medieval ruins of Beeston Castle looking down from its rocky crag which offers views all the way to the Pennines. Run by English Heritage and surrounded by a 40-acre woodland park, this is a great place to take the kids. Stop off for refreshment at the canal side Shady Oak Pub, next to Bate’s Mill Bridge, before heading north again.
The canal snakes its way through more green and pleasant farmland until reaching Christleton, a charming village on the edge of Chester with a traditional green surrounded by historic houses.
But most people will be impatient to get to Chester itself, one of the most beautiful cities in the UK, steeped in history. The canal takes you right into the centre of the city, with its cluster of 700-year-old buildings, great shops, restaurants and cafes, and stunning sandstone cathedral all encircled by the imposing medieval city walls.
Take the children to Chester Zoo where you can admire more than 21,000 endangered and exotic animals in the 125 acres of beautiful gardens. This is said to be the most visited tourist attraction in the UK outside of London.
Stockton to Warwick
Leaving our Stockton base, the Grand Union Canal descends through the Stockton Locks to reach the village of Long Itchington where you can reward your hard work at one of the two canalside pub, the Two Boats Inn and The Cuttle Inn.
The canal proceeds through gentle Warwickshire countryside until reaching elegant Royal Leamington Spa with its fine examples of Regency and Victorian architecture and ornate parks like Jephson Gardens. The Leamington Spa Spy Mission Trail is a great way to keep the kids entertained while you explore the town.
From here it is a stone’s throw to Warwick itself, with its unique combination of medieval, Queen Anne and Victorian buildings, all overlooked by the enormity of Warwick Castle. Taking you back in time more than 1000 years with its castle ruins, gruesome dungeons, live bird of prey displays and Horrible Histories maze, you could easily spend the whole day at the castle. But make sure you leave time to explore the historic delights of the town itself including the 14th century Lord Leicester Hospital, St Mary’s Church and The Mill Garden on the banks of the River Avon.
*Monkton Combe to Bristol
From Monkton Combe on the Kennet and Avon Canal you skirt the tail end of the Cotswold Hills to reach the famously beautiful city of Bath which, as a tourist honeypot, has plenty of family friendly activities from mini golf to glass making.
In Bath, you leave the canal to join the wider flowing waters of the River Avon which winds its way through gorgeous countryside first to Saltford, where the riverside Jolly Sailor Pub makes a good stop off, then on towards Bristol.
On the outskirts of the city you will pass Beese’s Riverside Bar and Tea Gardens with its idyllic secretive setting on the riverbank hemmed in by woodland. Try and ensure you’re hungry – or thirsty – so you have an excuse to stop.
After this the city begins to close in upon the river as you enter the old industrial area before turning off at Feeder Road to lock into the historic floating harbor. You can then cruise right into Bristol’s vibrant centre where you are within easy walking distance of the hugely popular We The Curious (formerly At-Bristol) science centre, the incredible SS Great Britain or M Shed with its varied exhibits, all designed to appeal to the little ones. If that’s not enough, catch a bus or taxi to Clifton where you can take the children to Bristol Zoo, with its 400 species of rare animals, 12 acres of gardens, water play area and aerial ropes course ending in an exciting zip wire.
*This route is only recommended for experienced boaters due to the tidal River.
Visit the Rock Houses at Kinver Edge. From our Tardebigge base on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, it’s a 20-hour, 37-mile, 32-lock journey to Kinver on the Staffordshire & Worcester Canal, close to the National Trust’s Holy Austin Rock Houses. Said to be the last occupied cave-dwellings in England, these houses dug into the base of the sandstone escarpment were inhabited until the 1960s. Kinver is on the route of the Stourport Ring, which can be tackled on a week’s holiday from Tardebigge, travelling a total of 76 miles via Birmingham, Kidderminster, Stourport and Worcester.
Explore creatures of the night at the Pitt Rivers Museum. From our Oxford base, it’s a tranquil three-hour cruise along the River Thames to moorings at Hythe Bridge, perfect for a short break exploring Oxford, including the extraordinary Pitt Rivers Museum. This Museum is home to one of the world’s finest collection of anthropology and archaeology, including shrunken heads from the Amazon and the famous ‘witch in a bottle’. From Monday 23 to Wednesday 25 October, 1-4pm the Pitt Rivers will be hosting special October Half Term activities ‘Bats, Cats, Witches and Charms’, exploring creatures of the night, magic charms and solving mysteries.
Travel across ‘The Stream in the Sky’ to the Shropshire Lake District. Just five minutes from our canal boat hire base on the Llangollen Canal at Trevor in North Wales, the incredible Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is truly one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’. Its cast iron trough is carried 38 metres high above the Dee Valley on 19 hollow pillars and in 2009 it was granted World Heritage status, putting it on an equal footing with the Taj Mahal. On a short break from Trevor, boaters can cross the aqueduct and head east to the Ellesmere Lakes, also known as the Shropshire Lake District.
Enjoy 1,000 years of history at Warwick Castle. From our Stockton base on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, Warwick and its magnificent medieval castle is a day’s cruise away. Developed from the original castle built by William the Conqueror in 1068, Warwick Castle offers visitors ‘flight of the eagle’ shows, trebuchet firing displays, Horrible Histories Maze, Kingmaker exhibition, Castle Dungeon tour, Princess Tour and ramparts to climb. Over the October Half Term holiday (21-31 October), special Haunted Castle activities include the spectacular Fire Joust, spooktacular shows at the Dead Centre Stage, the search for magic potions at The Witches Tower and a Halloween Trail.
Cruise to the spectacular flight of locks at Devizes. From our base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at in Bath, it’s a 10-hour, eight-lock cruise to Fox Hanger Wharf at the base of the mighty Caen Hill flight of 29 locks at Devizes, one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’. Once here, the historic market town of Devizes is a short walk away, with its Wadworth Brewery Visitor Centre and famous shire horses making daily deliveries, plus a range of shops, pubs and restaurants, including the ‘Peppermill Restaurant’ and the historic Bear Hotel. Along the way, narrowboat holiday-makers can stop off to explore the beautiful river and canalside town of Bradford on Avon, home to the magnificent 14th monastic stone Tithe Barn, with its amazing timber cruck roof.
Visit Shakespeare’s Birthplace. From our base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal in Henley in Arden, it’s a delightful six-hour, 17-lock cruise journey through the Warwickshire countryside to Bancroft Basin, in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon. From here, it’s a short walk to a range of shops, restaurants, pubs, cafes and museum’s, including Shakespeare’s Birthplace on Henley Street. Visitors to the Museum can walk in Shakespeare’s footsteps and explore the house where he was born, grew up and spent the first five years of his marriage, hearing tales of Shakespeare’s family life and enjoying live theatre on demand.
Discover the World of Wedgwood. From our hire boat yard at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal in Staffordshire, it’s a 14-mile, 12-lock journey to the wonderful ‘World of Wedgwood’ at Trentham Lock. Here an interactive visitor centre celebrates British craftsmanship with the Wedgewood Museum, Factory Tour, shopping, food and special family activities, including ‘Spooky Pottery Painting’ over the October Half Term holiday (23-29 October).
See David Hockney’s paintings at Salts Mill. From our base at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire, it takes seven hours to reach Sir Titus Salt’s model town at Saltaire, now a World Heritage Site. Here, the Yorkshire industrialist Sir Titus Salt built a textile mill and village to house his workers by the River Aire. Today, the ‘1853 Gallery’ at Salts Mill is houses a permanent exhibition of over 300 works by the Bradford born artist David Hockney, including his ‘Arrival of Spring’ series.
Experience the ‘Enchantment of Chester Zoo’. From our base at Bunbury, Chester Zoo is an eight-hour journey, travelling 15 miles through the rolling Cheshire landscape and the centre of the historic city of Chester, and passing through 10 locks. Over the October Half Term holiday (21-31 October) ‘The Enchantment at Chester Zoo’ event encourages families to help break the sorcerer’s spell to send the zoo to sleep, seeking out moths, sloths, giraffes and orangutans to gather clues and save the Zoo!
To book a holiday or break on any of Anglo Welsh’s fleet, call our friendly Booking Team on 0117 304 1122.
We offer a range of different types of holidays such as City Breaks, Relaxation Cruises and Popular Destinations
So why choose Anglo Welsh?
Over 55 years providing unique canal boat holidays in England and Wales.
Modern and spacious narrowboat and wide beam barge hire – from 2 to 12 berths.
Wide choice of narrowboat hire locations and canal boat holiday destinations.
Canal boat holiday routes for novices & experienced boaters.
Flexible holiday booking, no hidden costs.
Family friendly and pet friendly holidays.
Great days out on the water.
Luxury canal boat hire and Thames boating holidays.
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