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
Britain’s canal network was built by hand more than 200 years ago, and the blood, sweat and tears of countless hours’ work, as well as many more grisly incidents, have left their ghostly mark on the waterways.
Canal users often report strange occurrences along Britain’s 2,000 mile network of canals and rivers, so we’ve put together our Top 8 creepy canal destinations ready for Halloween.
Get the chills in Chester – at Chester’s old Northgate where the canal was dug into part of the town’s moat, a Roman centurion can sometimes be seen guarding the entrance to the city. From our boat yard on the Shropshire Union Canal at Bunbury near Tarporley, it’s a seven hour cruise to Chester, passing through nine locks along the way.
Meet ‘The Man Monkey’ – at Bridge 39 near Norbury, sightings of a hideous black, shaggy coated being are believed to be the ghost of a boatman drowned here in the 19th century. From our narrowboat hire base at Great Haywood, it’s a 36-mile, 14-lock journey to Norbury, which takes around 17 hours.
Watch out for the phantom at Blisworth – at Blisworth Tunnel, near Stoke Bruerne in Northamptonshire, a mysterious candlelit phantom appears at the spot where 14 navvies died in a rock fall during the construction of the tunnel in the late 18th century. From our canal boat hire base at Stockton on the Grand Union Canal, it’s a 13-hour, 17-lock cruise to Stoke Bruerne, passing through the 2,813-metre-long Blisworth Tunnel, the third longest navigable tunnel on the UK canal network.
Steer a course for an aqueduct apparition – on moonlit nights an eerie figure can sometimes be seen gliding along the towpath by the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, a UNESCO World Heritage site on the Llangollen Canal. From our narrowboat hire base at Trevor, the aqueduct is a 10-minute cruise away.
Head for horror at Harecastle Tunnel – a shrieking boggart – the ghost of Kit Crewbucket who was murdered and whose headless corpse was dumped in the canal – is said to inhabit Harecastle Tunnel at Kidsgrove. From our canal boat hire base at Great Haywood, on the Trent & Mersey Canal in Staffordshire, it’s a 22-mile, 18-lock journey to Harecastle Tunnel, which takes around 10 hours.
Listen to cries for help at Lapworth – the ghost of a boatman – who lost his footing on the bridge as he walked back from the Navigation Inn to his working boat in the 1940s, falling through the ice and drowning – can sometimes be heard shouting for help in cold weather. It takes seven hours to travel lock-free to Lapworth from our narrowboat hire base at Tardebigge, on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove.
Aim for Astley if you want to get spooked – at Astley on the Bridgewater Canal, a mysterious grey lady – thought to be the ghost of 18 year-old Ann Mort who died of a broken heart after her parents banished her suitor – appears to be searching for her lost love. From our canal boat hire base at Bunbury, it’s a 58-mile, 11-lock journey to Astley, which takes around 23 hours.
Be prepared for screaming at Betton – at Betton Cutting on the Shropshire Union Canal near Market Drayton, which has always had a dark reputation among boating people, a shrieking spectre has been seen and heard. From our boat yard at Great Haywood in Staffordshire, it’s a 19-hour, 19-lock journey to Market Drayton.
To book a holiday or break on any of Anglo Welsh’s fleet, call our friendly Booking Team on 0117 304 1122.
Autumn is a great time to visit the waterways and get the whole family out in the fresh air to experience an adventure afloat.
You can enjoy seeing the beautiful colours in the trees and hedgerows that line the canals, wake up to misty mornings and visit some of the exciting waterside destinations offering special October Half Term events, many of them Halloween related.
So, whether you are beginner looking for an easy short break route to test the waters, or a seasoned canal boater looking for a longer more challenging route, take a look at our Top 9 spooky half term destinations this October:
Enjoy a Halloween Monster Mash at the National Waterways Museum – from our boat yard on the Shropshire Union Canal at Bunbury, the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port is a 21-mile, 16-lock cruise away, taking narrowboat holiday-makers through the beautiful Cheshire countryside and ancient City of Chester along the way. The Museum’s historic boat collection, docks, warehouses, forge, stables and workers cottages, bring the past vividly to life with costumed characters and guided tours, and on the 27th and 28th of October the Museum will be hosting a special ‘Halloween Monster Mash’ event with a trick or treat promenade performance from the Boaty Theatre Company.
Experience the Ascarium at Birmingham’s Sea Life Centre – from our canal boat hire base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, it’s a five-hour, lock-free journey to moorings at Gas Street Basin in Birmingham City Centre, close to Brindleyplace and its fantastic Sea Life Centre. From the 20th October to the 4th of November, the Sea Life Centre will be hosting its ‘Ascarium’ event, offering visitors the chance to step into the deep and follow an immersive trail past some of the creepiest sea creatures, including the blob fish, goblin sharks and barrel eye fish.
Try Pumpkin Pottery Painting at the World of Wedgewood – on a short break from our canal boat hire base at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal in Staffordshire, canal boat holiday-makers can cruise to the World of Wedgewood in around seven hours, passing through 12 locks and travelling 13 miles. From 27th October to the 4th November, the Museum will be hosting special half term activities, including Halloween pottery painting, a Big Draw competition, Factory Tours and Museum Trails.
Unlock bat mysteries at the University of Oxford’s Natural History Museum – take a Thames boating holiday from our Oxford narrowboat rental base, and you can reach moorings in the centre of Oxford in just three hours, passing through four locks along the way. From there, the University of Oxford’s Natural History Museum is short walk away, where an internationally significant collection of natural history specimens is on display, as well as a special exhibition of the studies of UK bat populations in Wytham Woods. Offering a unique insight into the behaviour of these mysterious night dwellers, ‘Bats: The Mystery Beings’ is on until 8th January 2019.
Make a monstrous Gorgon’s head badge at the Roman Baths Museum – from our barge holiday base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Brassknocker Basin, it’s a four-hour journey, passing through six locks to moorings in the centre of the UNESCO World Heritage City of Bath. Once there, you can explore some of the City’s top attractions, including the Roman Baths where over half term (27th October to 2nd November), as well as learning about this incredible Roman site, families can find out who the Gorgon was and make a Gorgon’s head badge.
Get spooked at Warwick Castle’s Haunted event – in just over seven hours from our canal boat hire base at Stockton on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire you can reach the moorings close to the incredible medieval castle on the banks of the River Avon at Warwick. Over the half term break (20th October to 4th November), the Castle is hosting its ‘Spooktacular Haunted Castle’ event with live shows at the Dead Centre Stage, The Witches Tower, spooky Halloween Trail, Flight of the Eagles displays, Horrible Histories Maze, The Castle Dungeon tour and the Mighty Trebuchet in action.
Find out about the Pendle Witches at Barrowford – from our canal boat rental base at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, it takes around 15 hours, passing through 20 locks and the mile-long Foulridge Tunnel, to reach the village of Barrowford, home to the Pendle Heritage Centre. Here, visitors will find an exhibition on the famous Pendle Witch Trial of 1612 and walking routes into the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Pendle Hill.
Visit the haunted house of Plas Newydd at Llangollen – on a short break from our canal boat hire base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, it takes just two hours to reach the idyllic town of Llangollen, home to the remarkable Plas Newydd House. In the late 18th century this fascinating stone built house was turned into gothic fantasy by its most famous inhabitants, the Ladies of Llangollen. Today visitors can enjoy exploring enchanting gardens and the fascinating oak carved panelled interiors, said to be haunted by ghostly apparitions and heavy dragging sounds from the upper floors.
Step aboard the SS Great Britain for a Victorian fright-fest– from our narrowboat hire base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Bath, canal boat holiday-makers can travel west to Bristol’s Floating Harbour* in eight hours, passing through 13 locks. Once there boaters can moor up to visit the SS Great Britain and take a night time Spooky Ship Tour, available from 31st October to 3rd November. On these special Halloween tours, goulish guides will take visitors to the darkest nooks and crannies of Brunel’s 175-year old ship to experience eerie sights, sounds and smells and listen to terrible tales told by creepy characters lurking in the shadows. *NB this route is recommended route for experienced boaters and overnight mooring fees will apply.
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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