Top 7 week-long canal boat cruises through the countryside this Autumn
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 seven 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).
7. Meander along the Ashby Canal SSSI
From our Stockton base on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, you can travel up the North Oxford Canal and transfer onto the tranquil Ashby Canal. This 22-mile long lock-free waterway meanders through the Leicestershire countryside from Marston Junction to Snarestone. The six miles from Carlton Bridge 44 to Snarestone are designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for their aquatic plans. The journey from Stockton to Snarestone and back takes 44 hours and passes through 14 locks (seven each way).
Seven reasons to take a boating holiday on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal
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 18 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.
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. Travel along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal to Birmingham
With more canals than Venice, exploring Birmingham by boat is one of the best ways to experience Britain’s exciting second city. From our canal boat rental base at Tardebigge, you can cruise into the centre of Birmingham in just five hours. Your journey will begin in the Worcestershire countryside, passing through the remains of the Forest of Arden and a series of tunnels. The route becomes increasingly urban and once in the centre of the city, you can moor up in Gas Street Basin. From there you can walk to visit some of the city’s top attractions, including Birmingham’s Science Museum Thinktank and the Sea Life Centre.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. Boat along the Grand Union Canal to Warwick Castle
From Stockton, you can cruise to Warwick and visit its magnificent castle, said to be Britain’s greatest medieval experience. The route takes you along the Grand Union Canal via Long Itchington and Royal Leamington Spa. There are visitor moorings along the Saltisford Arm, close to the Castle, where this summer War of the Roses Live jousting displays are taking place. The journey to Warwick takes eight hours and passes through 22 locks.
9. 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.
10. 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.
Every year more people take the plunge and set sail on an adventure afloat on Britain’s beautiful inland waterways network.
You don’t need a licence to steer a canal boat and it’s easy for first-timers to learn to operate our boats.
As part of our narrowboat hire, we provide you with expert boat steering tuition. And our series of ‘How to’ videos give step by step instruction on everything from switching the boat engine on to the best way to tie your ropes when mooring up.
When you arrive at one of our boat yards, we’ll take you through our nationally accredited handover. And we’ll make sure you’re comfortable and in control before you set off. As well as our Youtube videos, there is a manual on board every boat if you need to check on anything. And our engineering teams are on hand 24 hours a day to help over the phone, or come out to you if you need them.
So, if you’ve thought about taking a canal boat holiday, but you’re not sure where to begin, here’s a guide to our top 9 summer short breaks for beginners:
1. Head to Birmingham lock-free
With no locks between our canal boat rental base at Tardebigge and Birmingham City Centre, this five-hour cruise is perfect for novice canal boaters. The first half of the journey passes through fields, woods and villages, before gradually becoming more urbanised. Once you reach the centre of Birmingham, there are over-night moorings at Gas Street Basin, with easy access to Brindleyplace waterside restaurants, Sea Life Centre, glitzy Mailbox shopping and other leading attractions.
2. Learn the ropes on the Llangollen
Passing through stunning North Wales landscapes, the Llangollen Canal is one of the most popular on the network. With just two locks along the way, the seven-hour journey from our boat yard at Trevor to Ellesmere offers a fantastic short break holiday for beginners. The route includes the experience of travelling across the incredible UNESCO World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, with jaw-dropping panoramic views of the Dee Valley 38 metres below.
3. Dip your toe in the water at Bath
From our base at Sydney Wharf on the Kennet & Avon Canal in Bath, it takes just four hours to cruise 10 miles to the lovely market town of Bradford on Avon. There’s just one lock to pass through and two stunning Bath stone aqueducts to glide across. And there are popular canalside pubs to, including The George at Bathampton, Cross Guns at Avoncliff and Barge Inn at Bradford on Avon.
4. Float gently along to Fradley
From Great Haywood, you can head south along the Trent & Mersey Canal to Fradley Junction, where the Coventry Canal meets the Trent & Mersey. The journey takes around five hours, travelling 12 peaceful 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 enjoy spotting wildlife along the woodland trail and boardwalk at Fradley Pool Nature Reserve.
5. Take to the tiller along the Thames
From our Oxford base at Eynsham, you can enjoy a Thames boating holiday. It takes just over three hours, passing through four locks to reach City centre moorings in Oxford. Many of the locks along the Thames are manned, so there’s often help on hand for newcomers. Once in Oxford, you take time to explore the city, including the famous Bodleian Library, Carfax Tower and Ashmolean Museum.
6. Navigate the Shroppie to historic Chester
It’s a seven-hour, nine-lock journey to the ancient city of Chester from our Bunbury base on the Shropshire Union Canal. The route passes through the beautiful Cheshire countryside and villages. There are historic local pubs to enjoy along the way, including The Ring O’Bells at Christleton and The Shady Oak at Bates Mill Bridge. Once in Chester, you can take time to explore this cosmopolitan ancient city. Attractions include: a Roman Amphitheatre and city walls, Chester Rows shops, 1,000-year old cathedral, racecourse and award-winning Zoo.
7. Cruise along two canals to Hillmorton
From our Stockton base, it takes around seven hours to cruise to the pretty canal village of Hillmorton. Starting on the Grand Union Canal, you’ll transfer onto the North Oxford Canal at Braunston. Along the way, you’ll pass Napton on the Hill, with its popular Kings Head pub. And the canal village of Braunston, home to a choice of places to eat, including the historic Admiral Nelson. The journey to Hillmorton passes through just six locks, including the three locks at Hillmorton, where lock keepers are on hand to help. And there’s a choice of pubs at Hillmorton, including the Stag & Pheasant.
8. Test the waters on the Leeds & Liverpool
Setting off from Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire, the journey to Gargrave and back is nice and easy for beginners. The route travels 12 miles through the Yorkshire countryside. It passes through just three locks, and takes around 6½ hours. Along the way, you’ll pass through Skipton, home to one of the best preserved medieval castles in England. At Gargrave, there are plenty of pubs, including The Mason’s Arms and Cross Keys Inn. Gargrave is on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, with over 680 square miles of some of England’s finest walking country to explore.
9. Cross the border into Wales surrounded by breath-taking scenery
From Whixall Marina on the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire, on a short break you can cruise to Chirk and back. The journey to Chirk takes around eight hours and passes through just two locks. The route passes Whixall Moss nature reserve and historic Ellesmere, in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District. At Chirk, where the Llangollen Canal crosses the Welsh border, there’s a choice of canalside pubs and the National Trust’s medieval Chirk Castle to visit.
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.
Take to the water this Easter for a family adventure afloat
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Emma Lovell, Anglo Welsh’s reservations manager, gives an overview of the top canal boat holiday destinations in England and Wales for 2023
There are thousands of miles of navigable waterways to explore in England and Wales, offering the chance to set off on your very own adventure afloat.
You can cruise slowly through the countryside, watching out for wildlife and planning your next stop. There’s a choice of hundreds of waterside destinations to visit, from canalside pubs, restaurants and walks, to museums, theatres and festivals.
To celebrate the new boating season ahead, here’s a guide to our Top 10 narrowboat holidays for 2023:
1. See the rhino calf born at Chester Zoo
On a short break from our base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal you can reach the ancient City of Chester, home to the award-winning Chester Zoo. Visitors to Chester Zoo will find over 20,000 animals from 500 species, including Jiya, an endangered greater one-horn rhino calf. Jiya was born to Mum Asha after a 16-month pregnancy in October 2022. The journey to Chester from Bunbury takes around seven hours, and passes through nine locks.
2. Cruise to Lechlade on Thames for a great choice of country walks
Setting off on a mid-week break from our Oxford base, you can take a Thames boating holiday to Lechlade. The pretty historic town of Lechlade has a choice of pubs, including the 16th century Swan Inn and riverside Trout Inn. And you can pick up a guide to six local walks at the Post Office or Library, including information about the history of the area. The journey to Lechlade passes through seven locks and takes around nine hours.
3. Visit Birmingham, home of the Peaky Blinders
From our Tardebigge base near Bromsgrove, it’s an eight-and-a-half hour, three-lock journey to the Black Country Living Museum. Scenes for all five series of the BBC’s epic gangster drama Peaky Blinders were filmed at the 26-acre Museum. As well as walking in the footsteps of the Shelbys, visitors can explore period shops and homes and have a drink in the ‘Bottle & Glass Inn’. You can also sample the Museum’s famous traditionally cooked 1930’s-style fish and chips and take a trip ‘into the thick’ to experience life in an 1850’s coal mine.
4. Visit the Fairport Convention folk festival at Cropredy
On a week’s holiday from Stockton, you can cruise along the Oxford Canal to enjoy the festival of folk and rock music at Cropredy (10-12 August). The journey begins on the Grand Union Canal, soon transferring onto the Oxford Canal at Napton-on-the-Hill. Here, there’s a good choice of pubs, including the Kings Head. From there, the route winds gently on through the countryside, passing through 21 locks along the way. The 12-mile journey to Cropredy takes around 12 hours.
5. Moor up to see a play in Shakespeare’s Stratford
From our base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal, you can reach Stratford upon Avon on a short break. There you can moor up in Bancroft Basin to enjoy the town’s lively markets, shops, restaurants and museums. And you can choose from an exciting theatrical programme, including productions of ‘The Tempest’, ‘Julius Caesar’ and ‘Macbeth’ at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. From Wootton Wawen, it takes around six hours, to reach Shakespeare’s Stratford, passing through 17 locks.
6. Navigate the Four Counties Ring
On a week’s break from our base at Great Haywood in Staffordshire, you can navigate the ‘Four Counties Ring’. This popular circuit will take you along sections of the Trent & Mersey, Shropshire Union and Staffordshire & Worcestershire canals. In total, you’ll cruise 110-miles in around 60 hours, passing through 94 locks. Along the way, you’ll pass through some of the most beautiful landscapes in England, including the Peak District and Cheshire Plains. Highlights include: Wedgewood Pottery in Stoke on Trent; the 1.5 mile long Harecastle Tunnel; the flight of 31 locks at Kidsgrove; the Roman town of Middlewich; and the historic market town of Market Drayton.
7. Pass through the Bingley Five Rise Staircase
From our Silsden base it takes around four hours to reach the Bingley Five Rise Staircase, one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’. Completed in 1774, this spectacular staircase of locks on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal raises (or lowers) boats 18 metres in five massive chambers. The locks open directly from one to another, with the top gate of one forming the bottom gate of the next. On a short break from Silsden, you can continue on to Shipley or Saltaire. On a week’s holiday from Silsden, you can reach Leeds.
8. Glide across ‘The Stream in the Sky’
Departing from our base at Trevor in North Wales, you’ll soon encounter the incredible World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. One of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’, this incredible structure transports canal boats 38 metres high across the Dee Valley. On a short break from Trevor, you can travel cross the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, and continue cruising along the Llangollen Canal to Ellesmere. The Mere at Ellesmere offers visitors woodland walks, places to eat, a sculpture trail and an adventure playground. The journey to Ellesmere takes around seven hours, passing through two locks.
9. Travel up the Caen Hill Flight
On a week’s break from our base at Monkton Combe near Bath, you can reach Pewsey Wharf, travelling up the famous Caen Hill flight of locks along the way. The route, which is perfect for a week away, takes you along the Kennet & Avon Canal through 37 locks, including the 29 locks of the Caen Hill Flight at Devizes. You’ll also cruise across two dramatic Bath stone aqueducts at Dundas and Avoncliff, through the historic market town of Bradford on Avon and the beautiful Vale of Pewsey, part of the West Berkshire Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
10. Experience the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod afloat
Taking a week’s break from Whixall, you can cruise through the Shropshire Lake District to the Eisteddfod town of Llangollen. Every year, thousands of people descend on the pretty town of Llangollen, nestled in the Berwyn Mountains, to celebrate dance, music, costume and culture. The 2023 Eisteddfod is on from 4-9 July. The journey takes around 12 hours and passes through just two locks
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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