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Best August bank holiday boating breaks

Top 10 short break canal boat holidays

The August bank holiday weekend is a great time to take to the water for a boating break

Canals and rivers take narrowboat holiday-makers through some of Britain’s best-loved countryside, and into the heart of some our most famous waterside towns and cities.

Canal boat holidays are great for families, bringing everyone together for an adventure afloat.  From steering the boat and working the locks, to planning the route and watching out for wildlife, there’s plenty to get involved in.

Pets are welcome aboard all our boats, so all the family can enjoy a relaxing staycation together.  And there’s everything you need on board for a self-catering holiday afloat if you want to keep your costs down.

There are hundreds of waterside destinations in England and Wales to choose from.  To celebrate the upcoming August bank holiday, we’ve put together a guide to our top 10 weekend boating breaks.

1. Cruise along the Llangollen Canal to Ellesmere

On a weekend away from Trevor in North Wales, you can cruise to Ellesmere, in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District.  The journey takes you across the UNESCO World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, 39 metres high above the Dee valley. At Ellesmere, you can moor up to explore this historic market town and its ancient mere, with woodland walks and places to eat.  The journey to Ellesmere takes around seven hours, crosses two aqueducts, and passes through two locks and two tunnels.

2. Navigate the Stratford Canal to Stratford-upon-Avon

From Wootton Wawen it takes around six hours to cruise along the Stratford Canal to Shakespeare’s Stratford.  The route takes you through the Warwickshire countryside to reach overnight moorings in Bancroft Basin in the heart of Stratford upon Avon.  Once there, you can walk to top attractions, including the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and Shakespeare’s Birthplace.  There are 17 locks to pass through along the way, and you’ll cross the impressive Edstone Aqueduct, the longest aqueduct in England.

3. Take a Thames boating holiday to Oxford

From our Oxford base on the River Thames at Eynsham, it takes just over three hours to reach Oxford City centre.  There are just four locks to pass through along the way and some are manned, offering help to newcomers.  Along the way, you’ll pass through Wolvercote, home of the popular riverside Trout Inn.  Once in Oxford, you take time to explore the city, including the Bodleian Library, Carfax Tower and Oxford Castle.

4. Travel along the Trent & Mersey Canal to Fradley

From Great Haywood, you can head south along the Trent & Mersey Canal to Fradley Junction.  The journey takes around five hours, travelling 12 miles through the Staffordshire countryside.  There are just five locks to pass through, and you’ll pass canalside pubs at Wolseley and Rugeley.  At Fradley, you can enjoy refreshments at the Canalside Café or The Swan Inn. And you can take a wildlife-spotting walk along the woodland trail and boardwalk at Fradley Pool Nature Reserve.

5. Cruise along the Shropshire Union Canal to Chester

On a weekend away, from Bunbury you can navigate to the ancient city of Chester.  Cruising along the Shropshire Union Canal, the route passes through beautiful Cheshire countryside and a series of canalside villages.  There are historic local pubs along the way, including The Ring O’Bells at Christleton and The Shady Oak at Bates Mill Bridge.  Once in Chester, you can to explore some of the City’s attractions, including the Roman Amphitheatre, city walls and Chester Rows shops. The journey to Chester takes around seven hours and passes through nine locks.

6. Float along the Kennet & Avon Canal to Bradford on Avon

From our base at Sydney Wharf near Bath, it takes just four hours to reach the lovely market town of Bradford on Avon. There’s just one lock to pass through and stunning Bath stone aqueducts to glide across at Dundas and Avoncliff.  You’ll pass a series of canalside pubs along the way, including The George at Bathampton and Cross Guns at Avoncliff.  Once in Bradford on Avon, you can moor up to visit Historic England’s medieval Tithe Barn.  And there’s a great choice of places to eat, including the riverside Timbrell’s Yard.

7. Cruise along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal to Gargrave

From Silsden, you can cruise through the Yorkshire countryside to Gargrave on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.  The route travels 12 miles and passes through Skipton, home to the medieval Skipton Castle and Woods.  At Gargrave, there are plenty of pubs to enjoy, including The Mason’s Arms and Cross Keys Inn.  The route to Gargrave passes through three locks, and takes around 6½ hours.

8. Glide along the Llangollen Canal to Chirk

On a weekend break from Whixall Marina in Shropshire, you can cruise through the countryside to Chirk, on the border between England and Wales.  The journey takes around eight hours and passes through just two locks.  Along the way, you’ll pass Whixall Moss nature reserve and the historic market town of Ellesmere. At Chirk, there’s a choice of canalside pubs and the National Trust’s medieval Chirk Castle to visit.

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

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Best spring canal boat holidays

Best spring canal boat holiday breaks in 2024

Experience a spring break on Britain’s beautiful canal network and see the countryside bursting with new life

Spring is a glorious time to celebrate the rich and diverse wildlife living in Britain.

Kevin Yarwood, manager at our Great Haywood base, explains:

“Our beautiful inland waterways weave through the countryside taking in woodlands, farmland, nature reserves and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Travelling along at just four miles per hour on a canal boat holiday, there’s always something special to look out for.

“In spring, when the countryside is bursting with new life, there’s no better way to see waterside trees and hedges covered blossom, nest-building birds, ducklings bobbing on the water, spring lambs playing in the fields, and carpets of bluebells in waterside woodlands.”

To celebrate Britain’s natural environment, we’ve put together a guide to our best spring canal boat holiday destinations:

  1. Navigate through Shakespeare country and Warwickshire farmland 

    From our narrowboat hire base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal near Henley-in-Arden, it takes around six hours, travelling through 17 locks to reach Stratford-upon-Avon. Travelling over the Edstone Aqueduct and on through the pretty Warwickshire countryside, with spring lambs playing in the fields alongside the canal, boaters can stop off to visit Mary Arden’s Tudor Farm in the canalside village of Wilmcote, where Shakespeare’s mother grew up.  Once in Stratford, there are overnight moorings in Bancroft Basin, perfect for enjoying all that Shakespeare’s birthplace has to offer, including riverside parks, theatres, shops, restaurants and museums.

  2. Cruise into the Peak District spotting kingfishers along the way

    On a week’s break from our barge hire base on the Trent & Mersey Canal at Great Haywood in Staffordshire, you can easily reach the beautiful Caldon Canal and travel into the Peak District. The journey takes boaters up to Stoke on Trent, passing Wedgewood World along the way, and, once on the Caldon, through gently rolling hills and wooded areas alongside the beautiful River Churnet.  Here there’s the chance to spot kingfishers, herons, jays and woodpeckers, as well as otters which have recently returned to the area.  The return journey along the Caldon to Froghall takes around 43 hours, travelling a total of 72 miles and passing through 70 locks.

  3. Cruise to Ellesmere to catch a glimpse of a heron chick

    On a short break from our base on the Llangollen Canal at Trevor in North Wales, on a short break (three or four nights) you can cruise to the Shropshire Lake District, teeming with water birds. The journey to the medieval market town of Ellesmere, in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District, takes around seven hours, passing through just two locks and over the Pontcysyllte and Chirk aqueducts.  Formed thousands of years ago by the melting of the glaciers during the retreating ice age, the meres of the Shropshire Lake District, including The Mere at Ellesmere are particularly beautiful in Spring.  And every Spring, Moscow Island on The Mere is home to the Heron Watch Scheme, with cameras allow visitors to watch the birds build nests and raise chicks.

  4. Cruise to the gateway of the Yorkshire Dales and explore the ancient woods at Skipton Castle

    From Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire, it takes just over three hours to reach Skipton, the ‘Gateway to the Dales’, with its medieval fortress and acres of woodland trails to explore. For nearly 1,000 years Skipton Castle 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.

  5. Drift through the beautiful prehistoric Vale of Pewsey

    From our base at Monkton Combe on the Kennet & Avon Canal just outside Bath, it takes around 19 hours to reach Pewsey Wharf, perfect for a week afloat. Along the way, you’ll pass through miles of peaceful Wiltshire countryside, with a series of waterside villages and country pubs to visit along the way.  Highlights on this route include: the mighty Caen Hill Flight of 29 locks at Devizes; cruising along the edge of the ancient Savernake Forest; and the beautiful Vale of Pewsey, part of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and home to prehistoric Avebury.  The journey to Pewsey and back takes around 38 hours, passing through 74 locks (37 each way).

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

    From Whixall, on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire , it takes around 12 hours to reach the pretty town of Llangollen. Along the way, you’ll travel through the beautiful Shropshire Lake District and across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’ and now a UNESCO World Heritage site.  Once in Llangollen, you can moor up to enjoy exploring this pretty town nestled on the edge of the Berwyn Mountains, including its regular markets packed with local produce, choice of independent shops and restaurants, steam railway and famous Horseshoe Falls.  The journey to Llangollen and back passes through just four locks (two each way).

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

    On a week’s break from Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire, you can travel round the popular Four Counties Ring. Travelling for around 58 hours and passing through 96 locks, this route takes you through the counties of Staffordshire, the West Midlands, Cheshire and Shropshire and travels sections of the Trent & Mersey, Staffordshire & Worcestershire and Shropshire Union canals.  Rural highlights include: panoramic views from the flight of 31 locks (also known as ‘Heartbreak Hill’) between Middlewich and Kidsgrove on the Trent & Mersey Canal; views of the rolling Cheshire Plains on the Shropshire Union Canal; acres of farmland on the Middlewich Branch; wildlife spotting at Tixall Wide on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal; and the National Trust’s Shugborough Hall with its extensive waterside gardens.

  8. Take a Thames boating holiday to Abingdon and listen out for cuckoos calling

    From our Oxford barge hire base on the River Thames, it takes around five hours, passing through six locks and travelling 15 miles to reach the historic riverside market town of Abingdon – perfect for a short break Thames boating holiday. As well as cruising through the outskirts of the ancient City of Oxford, you’ll pass through beautiful stretches of Oxfordshire countryside, with lush meadows, stretches of bluebells woodlands alongside the river and the chance to hear cuckoos calling.  Once moored up at Abingdon, you can enjoy exploring riverside walks, parks and eateries, including the popular waterside Nag’s Head.

Click here to check availability and book.

The Canal & River Trust as produced a Spotters Guide to Waterway Wildlife.

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Canal boat holidays on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal

The Bingley Five Rise Locks on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal

Enjoy stunning scenery, the Yorkshire Dales, Pennine Way, industrial history, remote beauty, rugged hills, wooded valleys, mills and moors.

At 127 miles, the Leeds & Liverpool Canal is the longest single canal in the country. Completed in 1816, this mighty waterway crosses the Pennines and links the wide waterways of Yorkshire with those of Lancashire and the River Mersey.

From the vibrant centres of Leeds, Liverpool, Wigan and Burnley, to the awe-inspiring vast areas of open space of the moorlands at the canal’s summit and the peace of the wooded Aire Valley, the scenery of this canal varies dramatically.

The Leeds & Liverpool main line has 93 locks and two tunnels, there are two more locks on the seven-mile long Leigh Branch and eight on the seven-mile Rufford Branch. The waterway was recently extended by the construction of the Liverpool Link, taking boaters right into the heart of the city, passing in front of the Three Graces to moor in Salthouse Dock.

And it boasts two of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’ – the famous Bingley Five Rise Locks near Bradford and the awesome Burnley Embankment, carrying the canal high above the town.

Weekend/3-night breaks from Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal

Skipton, Gargrave & the Yorkshire Dales and back (23 Miles, 6 locks, 12.5 hours)

Travelling in the direction of Liverpool along the canal from Silsden, you’ll first pass canalside warehouses, enjoying views of Airedale’s steep green hills.  There’s a series of historic swing bridges along this section of the canal, each needing to be unlocked and lifted.  Within two miles, the canal passes through the village of Kildwick, with its 17th century coaching inn, The White Lion.

Next you’ll continue along the valley of the River Aire, with stunning views of the surrounding countryside.  Two miles later the village of Bradley has an excellent pub – the Slaters Arms, serving homemade food and real ale. A mile later, the route passes the Bay Horse pub at Snaygill, before reaching the outskirts of Skipton.  Here a little arm (the Springs Branch) branches off the canal to moorings outside Skipton Castle.  Dating back to 1090, this motte and bailey castle is one of the best preserved medieval castles in England, and is well worth a visit. Skipton also offers visitors a range of places to eat, including The Yorkshire Rose pub, Royal Shepherd, French Bistro des Amis, Bean Loved coffee bar and Cock & Bottle pub. Heading west out of Skipton, you’ll travel a further three miles through the hills to Gargrave.  There are three locks to pass through before reaching moorings and a winding hole in the centre of the village. Gargrave is on the River Aire on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, where you can access 680 square miles of some of England’s finest walking country.  In Gargrave there are plenty of pubs, including The Mason’s Arms.  There are also shops and a post office.

Bingley, Saltaire and back (18 Miles, 22 locks, 13.5 hours)

It takes around 3.5 hours to reach the top of the Bingley Five Rise locks, one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways.  These cavernous chambers raise (or lower) boats 18 metres.  They open directly from one to another, with the top gate of one forming the bottom of the next. It takes around one-and-a-half hours to pass through and there are lock keepers on hand to help.  On the way to Bingley from Silsden, you’ll pass through a series of swing bridges, Stockbridge and Riddlesden, with the National Trust’s East Riddlesden Hall not far from the canal.  A few miles after Bingley, you’ll reach the UNESCO World Heritage town Saltaire, near Shipley.  It was founded in 1851 by Sir Titus Salt, a leading industrialist in the woollen industry.  Salt wanted his workforce to be healthier, happier and more productive, so he moved his five mills to a new green site away from the overcrowded town centre of Bradford.  The mills were housed in beautiful Italianate buildings. And he built stone houses for his workers with community facilities, including a hospital, library, school and park.  Today, Saltaire is a popular tourist destination with shops, restaurants, cafes and galleries, including the wonderful David Hockney Gallery.

Mid-week/4-night breaks from Silsden

East Marton and back (32 miles, 24 locks, 19 hours)

Follow the weekend route to Skipton and Gargrave then continue west to the historic market town of Barnoldswick.  This beautiful rural stretch along the Yorkshire Dales has mountain views in the distance.  At Bank Newton there are seven locks to travel through which take you up on to the Pennines.  Two-and-a-half miles later you’ll reach East Marton you’ll find the Abbot’s Harbour Restaurant and a medieval church. Continue on to turn soon after South Field Bridge no.159.

Week-long/7-day holidays from Silsden

Barnoldswick and back (38 miles, 30 locks, 22 hours)

Travelling in the direction of Liverpool along the canal from Silsden, you’ll first pass canalside warehouses, enjoying views of Airedale’s steep green hills.  There’s a series of historic swing bridges along this section of the canal, each needing to be unlocked and lifted.  Within two miles, the canal passes through the village of Kildwick, with its 17th century coaching inn, The White Lion.

Next you’ll continue along the valley of the River Aire, with stunning views of the surrounding countryside.  Two miles later the village of Bradley has an excellent pub – the Slaters Arms, serving homemade food and real ale. A mile later, the route passes the Bay Horse pub at Snaygill, before reaching the outskirts of Skipton.  Here a little arm (the Springs Branch) branches off the canal to moorings outside Skipton Castle.  Dating back to 1090, this motte and bailey castle is one of the best preserved medieval castles in England, and is well worth a visit. Skipton also offers visitors a range of places to eat, including The Yorkshire Rose pub, Royal Shepherd, French Bistro des Amis, Bean Loved coffee bar and Cock & Bottle pub. Heading west out of Skipton, you’ll travel a further three miles through the hills to Gargrave.  There are three locks to pass through before reaching moorings and a winding hole in the centre of the village. Gargrave is on the River Aire on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, where you can access 680 square miles of some of England’s finest walking country.  In Gargrave there are plenty of pubs, including The Mason’s Arms.  There are also shops and a post office.

After Gargrave you’ll cruise alongside the Yorkshire Dales with mountain views in the distance. At Bank Newton there are seven locks to travel through which take you up on to the Pennines.  Two-and-a-half miles later you’ll reach East Marton you’ll find the Abbot’s Harbour Restaurant and a medieval church. After the three locks at Greenberfield you’ll reach Barnoldswick with a couple of large supermarkets within walking distance.  There’s a choice of places to eat, including The Fountain Inn. The Pendle Way connects to the canal at Cockshott Bridge no. 152.  Turn your boat at the winding hole just before Long Ing Bridge no.153.

Foulridge Tunnel & back (48 miles, 30 locks, 24 hours)

Follow the route above to Barnoldswick and continue on, soon reaching the canalside Anchor Inn at Salterforth.  Next it’s Foulridge Wharf before the entrance to the 1.49km long Foulridge Tunnel. Passage through the tunnel works on a traffic light system which allows each boat 20 minutes to get to the other end. After the tunnel, you can turn around just after Wanless Bridge no.145 to head back to Silsden.

Apperley Bridge and back (27 miles, 32 locks, 20.5 hours)

It takes around 3.5 hours to reach the top of the Bingley Five Rise locks, one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways.  These cavernous chambers raise (or lower) boats 18 metres.  They open directly from one to another, with the top gate of one forming the bottom of the next. It takes around one-and-a-half hours to pass through and there are lock keepers on hand to help.  On the way to Bingley from Silsden, you’ll pass through a series of swing bridges, Stockbridge and Riddlesden, with the National Trust’s East Riddlesden Hall not far from the canal.  A few miles after Bingley, you’ll reach the UNESCO World Heritage town Saltaire, near Shipley.  It was founded in 1851 by Sir Titus Salt, a leading industrialist in the woollen industry.  Salt wanted his workforce to be healthier, happier and more productive, so he moved his five mills to a new green site away from the overcrowded town centre of Bradford.  The mills were housed in beautiful Italianate buildings. And he built stone houses for his workers with community facilities, including a hospital, library, school and park.  Today, Saltaire is a popular tourist destination with shops, restaurants, cafes and galleries, including the wonderful David Hockney Gallery. After Saltaire, you’ll go through Shipley with Ring O ’Bells pub and Waterside Restaurant & Bar.  Five miles later you’ll reach Apperley Bridge, with a fish and chip shop and choice of pubs including The Stansfield and Dog & Gun.  There’s also at café at the marina.

Leeds and back (44 miles, 54 locks, 32 hours)

Follow the route to Apperley Bridge and continue following the Aire Valley to Leeds.  You’ll pass through Rodley, home to the Canalside Rodley Barge pub, The Railway Inn and The Owl Inn. Soon after you’ll reach the canalside Abbey Inn and the three locks at Newlay.  Less than a mile later you’ll go through Forge three locks and then you’ll reach Kirkstall with Cistercian Abbey ruins and Abbey House Museum. The canalside West End House pub is next to Wyther Bridge no.223.  Cruise on into the vibrant waterside city of Leeds, and moor up in Leeds Dock.  From there you can visit the waterside Royal Armouries Museum and walk to visit the Victorian shopping arcades and many great places to eat out.

10-day route from Silsden

Burnley and back (63 miles, 44 locks, 32 hours)

Follow the week-long route to Foulridge Tunnel. Passage through the tunnel works on a traffic light system which allows each boat 20 minutes to get to the other end. A mile after the Foulridge Tunnel, you’ll encounter Barrowford Top Lock – a flight of seven – and begin your descent from the summit level, with views of old stone farms and distant mountains to enjoy. Soon after, Barrowford offers shops, fish & chips, restaurants and pubs, including The White Bear Inn.  At the Pendle Heritage Centre you’ll find an exhibition on the famous Pendle Witches.  There’s also a tea room overlooking the beautifully restored 18th century walled garden, the Pendle Art Gallery, and access to the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Pendle Hill. Continuing along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, you’ll enter the outskirts of the large industrial town of Burnley. The waterway was once the main artery for Burnley and its industries and the area around Bridge 130, known as the Weaver’s Triangle, is one of the best preserved 19th century industrial districts in the country.  The three-quarters of a mile long Burnley Embankment, considered to be one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’, carries the canal 60 feet high across part of the town, offering boaters panoramic views. There are plenty of pubs in Burnley, including The Inn on the Wharf in a weaver’s warehouse, several art centres and the Queen Street Mill Textile Museum, now Britain’s only working 19th century weaving mill. Turn at Burnley Wharf.

Two-week routes from Silsden

Wigan and back (135 miles, 72 locks, 60 hours)

Follow the route to Burnley.  After passing through Gannow Tunnel (559 yards long), the canal travels on through the Calder Valley and alongside the M65 motorway for a time. Hapton is the next village after Burnley, with its popular Hapton Inn.  Then you’ll go through three swing bridges as the canal travels through neat green fields bordered by drystone walls, before reaching Clayton-le-Moors (a suburb of Accrington) three miles later. The canal now twists and turns on through Church, with the parish church of St James right on the banks of the canal, marking the central point of the canal. Just over a mile later, after more dramatic bends, the canal passes over the M65 using a concrete aqueduct, before arriving at Rishton, a small town that grew up around the cotton mills in the 19th century. There’s a choice of places to eat here, including Indian restaurants, fish & chips, The Rishton Arms and The Walmsley Arms.

Two miles on and the canal enters the outskirts of Blackburn, passing canopied wharves at Eanam, now converted for businesses and a pub. There’s plenty to do in Blackburn, including a visit to the cathedral with its striking 13ft sculpture of ‘Christ the Worker’ by John Hayward. The Museum & Art Gallery has a series of rooms demonstrating the development of the textile industry using full size working models. And there’s a choice of curry houses, including Thira Restaurant. It takes several hours to pass through Blackburn, but there are distant views of Darwen Hill and Witton Country Park to enjoy along the way. And everywhere there are mills, mainly redundant but a reminder of the town’s cotton history. A flight of six locks (the Blackburn locks) carry the canal nearly 55ft up on the western edge of town to 400ft above sea level with excellent views. The suburb of Cherry Tree is next, with a good range of shops and take-aways.

As the canal leaves Blackburn, it crosses a high embankment and then curls round a steep and thickly wooded valley. A mile later, the canal passes through the village of Riley Green with its excellent Royal Oak pub providing award-winning cask ales and a large menu of British pub food. Hoghton Tower is close by, a 16th century fortified hilltop mansion, noted for its dungeons, doll’s houses, picturesque gardens and magnificent banqueting hall. Just over a mile and a half later, now in a secluded wooded valley, the canal passes through Withnell Fold, a small estate village built to house workers at the canalside paper mills which once functioned there. On the opposite side of the canal is a nature reserve which has developed in the old filter beds and now provides habitats for waterlilies, dragonflies, newts and frogs. Just over a mile of beautiful scenery later, you’ll reach the top of the Johnson’s Hill flight of seven locks.  The Top Lock pub is here and a boatyard with boaters’ facilities.

Soon after the canal travels under the M61 motorway and along the edge of Chorley, passing some large textile mills. The Prince of Wales pub is a short walk from Bridge 75A and The Lock & Quay. It’s also well worth visiting a bakery to try a Chorley cake, similar to the Eccles cake but sweeter and fruitier. Close to three wooded miles further, the canal reaches Adlington with a good range of shops, pubs, including The (Bottom) Spinners Arms, and a popular café at the White Bear Marina, Rivington. Here you can turn and head back to Silsden.

Sowerby Bridge & back (123 miles, 132 locks, 75 hours)

Cruise along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal to Leeds and transfer onto the Aire & Calder Navigation to continue on to Sowerby Bridge in Calderdale, passing through Wakefield and Brighouse along the way.

Follow the week long route to Leeds. Then continue heading east along the Aire & Calder Navigation to Castleford Junction. There are lots of pubs in Castleford, including The Boat Inn, The Anchor and The Junction. Continue on, passing the Canal & River Trust’s Stanley Ferry Workshops where they make locks gates.  The Stanley Ferry pub is canalside here. At Fall Ing Junction you’ll transfer onto the Calder & Hebble Navigation. You’ll go through Wakefield with its canalside Ruddy Duck and Navigation Inn and the waterside Hepworth Wakefield Gallery. The journey will take you on through Horbury, Shepley Bridge (The Ship Inn), Mirfield (The Navigation Tavern), Cooper Bridge, Brighouse (Jeremy’s at The Boat House and The Richard Oastler on Bethel Street), Elland (The Barge & Barrell), and Salterhebble (The Watermill).  At Sowerby Bridge you can turn and then moor up to visit The Moorings pub and explore this historic market town in Calderdale.

Click here to book a canal boat holiday on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal from Silsden, or call us on 0117 304 1122.

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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).

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Seven reasons to take a boating holiday on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal

Canal barge hire on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal at Silsden

At 127 miles, the Leeds & Liverpool Canal is the longest single canal in the country.  Opened in 1816, it crosses the Pennines and links the wide waterways of Yorkshire with those of Lancashire and the River Mersey.

From Silsden, on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire, Anglo Welsh offers the choice of 17 narrowboats and six wide beam boats for hire.

To celebrate canal boat holidays in the area, we’ve listed our top 7 reasons to take a boating holiday on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal:

1. It’s good for your wellbeing

Research by the Canal & River Trust shows spending time by the waterways can make you happier and reduce anxiety.  Cruising through the countryside, canal boat holiday-makers on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal can relax and unwind aboard their floating holiday home.

2. It’s the perfect way to enjoy stunning scenery

Travelling at just four-miles-an-hour means boaters get the chance to soak up the stunning scenery, including the rugged hills of the Yorkshire Dales and the woodlands of the Aire Valley.

3. It’s like a floating safari

Canals are havens for wildlife, so there’s always something special to see.  As well as water birds such as moorhens, coots, swans and ducks, boaters can look out for kingfishers, damselflies, dragonflies, woodland birds and bats skimming the water at dusk.

4. There are plenty of pubs!

There are dozens of canalside pubs to enjoy along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, including the Narrow Boat at Skipton and the Bay Horse at Snaygill.  Many date back to the days when canals were the transport arteries of the Industrial Revolution, providing hospitality for the working boat men and women, and their horses.

5. You can bring your pets

Anglo Welsh welcomes a wide variety of pets on board, so it’s a staycation that all the family can enjoy.  As well as dogs, rabbits, hamsters, tortoises, lizards and goldfish have also enjoyed canal boat holidays on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal.

6. History is all around you

Britain’s canal network is a working heritage made up of thousands of historic structures, including the Bingley Five Rise staircase of locks on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal near Bradford.  Listed as one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’, these cavernous locks raise (or lower) boats by 18 metres.

7. You don’t need to be an expert

A licence isn’t required to steer a canal boat, and tuition is provided as part of Anglo Welsh’s holiday hire. There’s a choice of short break holidays for beginners to enjoy on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal.

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Wide beam canal boat hire on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal

Wide beam canal boat hire on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal

Janet, office manager of our Silsden canal boat hire base, on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal near Keighley in West Yorkshire, outlines the variety of boats and routes available from our newest boat yard.

Embarking on a canal boat holiday from Silsden, offers the chance to enjoy the stunning scenery of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal.  From vibrant city centres, industrial history and mills, to rugged hills, wooded valleys and moors, there’s a wide variety of landscapes to see.

Here at Silsden, we offer the choice of 18 narrowboats and six wide beam boats for hire.  Our narrowboats for hire range in size from boats for five, up to nine people.  And our wide beam boats offer flexible accommodation for up to eight people, with en-suite bedrooms, spacious lounges and even wood burning stoves.

The Leeds & Liverpool Canal is the longest single canal in the country

At 127 miles, with 93 locks and two tunnels, the Leeds & Liverpool Canal is the longest single canal in the country.  It crosses the Pennines and links the wide waterways of Yorkshire with those of Lancashire and the River Mersey.

The scenery of this historic waterway varies dramatically. It takes canal boat holiday-makers into the heart of the vibrant centres of Leeds, Liverpool, Wigan and Burnley.  And through awe-inspiring vast areas of open space, including the moorlands at the canal’s summit, and the woodlands of the Aire Valley.

Silsden offers a great choice of destinations.

On a short break or week long canal boat holiday from Silsden, there are dozens of destinations to choose from.  Here are two of our most popular routes:

1. Take a short break to Gargrave, on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales

On a short break from Silsden, you can head west towards Liverpool to the pretty village of Gargrave.  This is a great route for beginners, with the journey to Gargrave taking around seven hours and passing through just three locks.

Heading away from Silsden, you’ll first pass canalside warehouses, enjoying views of Airedale’s steep green hills.  There’s a series of historic swing bridges along this section of the canal, each needing to be unlocked and lifted.  Within two miles, the canal passes through the village of Kildwick, with its 17th century coaching inn, The White Lion.

Next you’ll continue along the valley of the River Aire, with stunning views of the surrounding countryside.  Two miles later the village of Bradley has an excellent pub – the Slaters Arms, serving homemade food and real ale.

Visit Skipton and its medieval castle

A mile later, the route passes the Bay Horse pub at Snaygill, before reaching the outskirts of Skipton.  Here a little arm (the Springs Branch) branches off the canal to moorings outside Skipton Castle.  Dating back to 1090, this motte and bailey castle is one of the best preserved medieval castles in England, and is well worth a visit.

Skipton also offers visitors a range of places to eat, including The Yorkshire Rose pub, Royal Shepherd, French Bistro des Amis, Bean Loved coffee bar and Cock & Bottle pub.

Heading west out of Skipton, you’ll travel a further three miles through the hills to Gargrave.  There are three locks to pass through before reaching moorings and a winding hole in the centre of the village.

Gargrave is on the River Aire on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, where you can access 680 square miles of some of England’s finest walking country.  In Gargrave there are plenty of pubs, including The Mason’s Arms.  There are also shops and a post office.

2. Enjoy a week afloat, visiting Saltaire and Leeds afloat

Heading east from Silsden, on a week’s break you can cruise to Leeds and back. The journey to Leeds takes around 17 cruising hours and passes through 28 locks. Destinations along the way include:

The famous Bingley Five staircase, one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’

These cavernous locks raise (or lower) boats 18 metres.  They open directly from one to another, with the top gate of one forming the bottom of the next. It takes around one-and-a-half hours to pass through and there are lock keepers on hand to help.

The World Heritage model town at Saltaire

The fascinating model town at Saltaire, near Bradford, is a UNESCO World Heritage site.  It was founded in 1851 by Sir Titus Salt, a leading industrialist in the woollen industry.  Salt wanted his workforce to be healthier, happier and more productive, so he moved his five mills to a new green site away from the overcrowded town centre of Bradford.  The mills were housed in beautiful Italianate buildings. And he built neat stone houses for his workers with community facilities, including a hospital, library, school and park.

Today, Saltaire is a popular tourist destination with shops, restaurants, cafes and galleries, including the wonderful David Hockney Gallery

The Royal Armouries in Leeds

The best place to moor up to enjoy visiting the Royal Armouries in Leeds, and other city centre attractions, is Leeds Dock. The Royal Armouries is home to the national collection of arms and armour.  There are thousands of objects from across the world to admire across nine galleries.  Some of the most famous objects include: Henry VIII’s ‘Horned Helmet’; and the ‘Swords of Middle Earth’, based on the prop weapons used in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Hobbit’ movies.

For more information about our Leeds & Liverpool Canal destinations, go to: Stan Cullimore reviews his widebeam boat holiday on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal – Anglo Welsh Ltd

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Take to the water this Easter for a family adventure afloat

Best Easter canal boat holidays in England and Wales

Britain’s beautiful 3,000-mile network of inland waterways offer the chance to 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.

Our self-drive narrowboat holidays provide a floating holiday home to enjoy an outdoor family adventure, exploring the countryside and stopping-off at waterside destinations along the way.

From medieval fortresses and battlefield skirmishes, to chocolate making and quizzes, we’ve put together our Top 6 Easter canal boat holiday family destinations:

  1. Explore the World’s biggest Cadbury shop at Cadbury World – From our canal boat hire base on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal at Tardebigge, near Bromsgrove in Worcestershire, you can reach the home of the World’s biggest Cadbury shop. This Easter, canal boat holiday-makers can explore Cadbury World and the historic village of Bournville, enjoy chocolate making, as well as visit the Cadbury Café and the World’s biggest Cadbury shop.  Cadbury World’s Easter Stage Show runs from 1st-16th April, where visitors can enjoy a brand-new pirate-themed adventure alongside Mr Cadbury’s Parrot.
  2. Explore 480 acres of parkland 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 UNESCO World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct along the way. Once moored-up at Chirk, it’s a half-hour walk up to the National Trust’s Chirk Castle, one of several medieval marcher fortresses built on the Welsh-English border.  Today it’s the only one of Edward I’s marcher fortresses still inhabited, with lavishly furnished rooms to explore, as well as the Adam Tower, complete with its two-level dungeons, medieval toilets and murder holes.  The Castle has over 480 acres of parkland to explore, with trails, ancient trees, wildflowers, birds and bugs.
  3. Enjoy thrilling rides at Drayton Manor Theme Park – from our canal boat hire base on the Trent & Mersey Canal at Great Haywood in Staffordshire, it’s a relaxing 11-hour cruise to Turret Bridge on the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal, which leads to the front door of Drayton Manor Theme Park & Zoo. Once there, boaters can moor up to enjoy a thrilling day with family favourites like The Carousel and Bounty Pirate Ship, to the adrenaline pumping Shockwave stand up roller coaster or the heart stopping 54m drop tower Apocalypse.  There’s also a 15-acre Zoo to explore, home to dozens of animals from across the world and Thomas World with over 25 rides and attractions.
  4. Visit the Tudor Power & Glory exhibition at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds – from our narrowboat rental 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. Once there, boaters can moor up to visit the waterside Royal Armouries Museum and from 7th-10th April, enjoy its action-packed Medieval Easter. Three teams will bring history to life with a spectacular jousting competition in a battle for honour and trophies.
  5. Cruise to the Welsh Mountains along the Llangollen Canal – on a week’s break from our narrowboat rental base at Whixall on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal, canal boat holiday-makers can cruise the Llangollen Canal to the pretty town of Llangollen and back, travelling a total of 50 miles in around 24 hours and passing through just four locks (two each way). Along the way, the canal takes boaters over two dramatic aqueducts, including the UNESCO World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, with spectacular views across the Dee Valley.  Once in Llangollen, boaters can moor up and enjoy exploring Llangollen, nestled on the edge of the Berwyn Mountains, including its regular markets, choice of independent shops and restaurants, steam railway and famous Horseshoe Falls
  6. Join the annual Easter Boat Gathering at Ellesmere Port – over the Easter Weekend (7th -10th April), the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire celebrates the official start of the summer boating season with a large boat gathering, live music, workshop tours, historic boats and museum activities. 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.
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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.

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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

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