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Best spring days out canal boating

Best spring days out boating on the canals in England and Wales

If you’re looking for a great day out this spring, why not hire a canal boat for the day and enjoy cruising through the countryside.

You can enjoy seeing the spring blossom on the trees and hedges, spring lambs playing in the fields, ducklings, goslings and cygnets on the water, and bluebells in canalside woodlands.

We offer canal boat day boat hire from six of our bases, from just £99 per day for up to 10 people.

Tuition is included and our day boats are equipped with the things you need for a day afloat, including a kettle, cooker, fridge and toilet. Our day boats are pet-friendly too.

Here’s a guide to our top five day boat hire destinations on the canals in England and Wales this spring:

1. Float across The Stream in the Sky

On a day afloat from Trevor on the Llangollen Canal, you can cruise across to the World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct to Chirk and back.  As you cross, you’ll be 38 metres high above the Dee Valley with amazing views of the spring countryside. You can stop to enjoy a drink or a meal at the Bridge Inn at Chirk Bank or the Poacher’s Pocket at Gledrid.  The journey to Chirk and back takes five hours.

2. Potter through the Warwickshire countryside to Wilmcote

From Wootton Wawen you can cruise south along the Stratford Canal to the village of Wilmcote and back.  The journey will take you across the Edstone Aqueduct, the longest aqueduct in England, with views across the Warwickshire countryside.  From moorings at the top of the Wilmcote flight, it’s a short walk into the village to the Mary Arden Inn.  The journey to Wilmcote and back takes five hours.

3. Cruise through the Staffordshire countryside to Rugeley

From Great Haywood, near Stafford, you can cruise along the Trent & Mersey Canal to the historic market town of Rugeley and back.  You’ll pass through the Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Along the way, you can stop for a drink or a meal at the Wolseley Arms at Wolseley Bridge.  The journey to Rugeley and back takes six hours.

4. Boat through the Bath Valley to Brassknocker Basin

From Bradford on Avon, on the Kennet & Avon Canal in Wiltshire, you can cruise through the Bath Valley to Brassknocker Basin and back. Along the way you’ll pass over the magnificent Bath stone aqueducts at Avoncliff and Dundas.  You can stop for lunch at the canalside Cross Guns pub next to Avoncliff Aqueduct or the Angelfish Restaurant at Brassknocker Basin.  The journey there and back travels nine miles and takes around four hours.  There’s just one lock to pass through each way.

5. Navigate through the Cheshire countryside to Nantwich

On a day out from Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal near Tarporley, you can cruise to Nantwich and back.  The lock-free journey takes you past the canalside Barbridge Inn. And across the impressive Nantwich Aqueduct, with panoramic views across the town.  The journey to Nantwich and back takes around six hours.

6. Travel slowly through the Shropshire countryside to historic Whitchurch

From Whixall on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal, you can reach the historic market town of Whitchurch.  You’ll pass the Hadley Farm Café along the way and there’s a good choice of places to eat in Whitchurch, including the Black Bear pub.  The journey to Whitchurch and back takes around five hours.

To find out more and to book one of our day boats, go to https://www.anglowelsh.co.uk/our-boats/our-dayboat-fleet/

Or call us on 0117 304 1122.

To find out more about visiting the canal network, go to https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/

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Best August bank holiday boating breaks

Top 10 short break canal boat holidays

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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Making the most of your boat trip across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

Boat trips across the Poncysyllte Aqueduct

One of our Little Star Pontcysyllte Aqueduct trip boat skippers and commentary providers describes some of the highlights of the trip and ways to make the most of a visit to this UNESCO world heritage site.

Our Little Star trip boat takes passengers across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, to experience incredible views across the beautiful Dee Valley.

What are the journey highlights?

Probably the most breath-taking moment is just as you pass the Ash trees on the right of the aqueduct and suddenly a panoramic view of the Dee Valley and the beautiful 17th century Cysylltau Bridge, known locally as ‘The Bont’ opens up beneath you. Meanwhile, on the other side the magnificent Cefn Railway viaduct is coming into view; if you’re lucky, you’ll see a train going across the Viaduct! People also find the process of turning the 70ft trip boat fascinating and seeing the lift bridge in operation.

Personally, I’ve got a soft spot for the Fron (pronounced ‘Vron’) Embankment just over the other side of the aqueduct.  It’s a surreal structure made from the spoil excavated when the canal tunnels were built, now lined with trees home to many types of birds, including gold crests, woodpeckers, nut hatches and chaffinches.

Birds fly beneath you!

Crossing the aqueduct as often as I do, you’d have thought you might start taking it all for granted; but one thing that always brings me back into the moment as I’m guiding boats across the aqueduct is the jackdaws that roost under the arches. Often they’ll swoop out from underneath the boat as we are driving along. Birds flying underneath boats, suspended 126 feet above a roaring river. If that ever feels ‘normal’ then I’ll know it’s time to find a new job!

What else can I do when I visit Pontcysyllte Aqueduct?

As well as seeing the aqueduct and the spectacular views of the Dee Valley from the trip boat, people love to experience crossing it on foot, and to enjoy a meal or a drink at the Aqueduct Inn perched up the hill overlooking the canal in Froncysyllte.

The Pontcysyllte Chapel Tea Rooms at Trevor Basin do excellent breakfasts, lunches and cream teas so it’s well worth planning a visit there too.

You can also walk down the steps to the bottom of the valley to see the Aqueduct from below, which really brings home the scale of the structure and the achievements of the canal engineers.

Another option is to head up the hill to the fascinating historic village of Cefn Mawr to see the aqueduct from above. Once the site of iron works, coal mines and brick and tile works, it’s full of little alleyways, steps and stair cases and there some great viewpoints looking out across the valley, with glimpses of the Aqueduct.

Parking at the site

The best place to park to enjoy one our boat trips and visit the Canal & River Trust’s Pontcysyllte Aqueduct Visitor Centre is the public ‘pay and display’ car park at Acrefair, Wrexham, LL14 3SG.  The car park is open daily from 8am to 8pm.

Make sure you put the car park postcode in your Sat Nav or Google maps, rather than simply ‘Pontcysyllte Aqueduct’ to ensure you arrive in the right place

When do the boat trips run?

From 29 March until 30 October 2024 trips depart daily at 11am, 12 noon, 1.30pm, 2.30pm and 3.30pm from Canal Wharf, Trevor, Llangollen LL20 7TT.

The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is closed from 2nd January 2024 and reopens in the Spring.

How do I book a boat trip aboard Little Star?

For more information about Little Star and to book ahead, go to Little Star – Anglo Welsh Ltd or call us on 0117 304 1122.

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Top 9 canal boat holiday staycations

Canal boat holidays on the Llangollen Canal

Britain’s beautiful canal network provides the perfect destination for a Staycation afloat in 2024.

Whether it’s the appeal of pottering slowly through the countryside, watching out for wildlife and stopping off at canalside pubs. Or the lure of an exciting waterside attraction in a vibrant waterfront city destination, our canal boats provide a floating holiday home experience and the chance to curate your own unique adventure afloat.

To help plan your next UK waterway-getaway, here are our Top 9 narrowboat holidays for the year ahead:

  1. Take an Oxford ‘His Dark Materials’ mini-break – from our base on the River Thames near Oxford, you can enjoy a Thames boating holiday.  You can reach overnight moorings at Hythe Bridge in just three hours. From there, it’s just a short walk into Oxford’s city centre for the chance to explore dozens of historic sites.  These include the Bodleian Library, Lyra’s home in the BBC’s drama series ‘His Dark Materials’, based on Philip Pullman’s book ‘Northern Lights’.  Just seeing this incredible building from the outside is a bucket list experience, but adults and children aged 11 and over can also explore the museum, home to nine million books across over 100 miles of shelves.  The Museum also houses a number of fascinating maps, including the 14th century ‘The Bodleian Map’, the oldest surviving map of Great Britain.
  2. Watch out for wildlife on the Montgomery Canal – from Whixall Marina, on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire, it takes around six hours to reach Frankton Junction, where the Llangollen Canal meets the Montgomery Canal. This beautiful canal, which runs for 38 miles between England and Wales, is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) on both sides of the border.  The entire length in Wales is also recognised as a Special Area of Conservation, making it one of the most important sites for wildlife in Europe.  Currently only around half the Montgomery Canal is navigable, including a seven-mile section from Frankton Junction to Gronwyn Wharf.  From Whixall, the journey to Gronwyn Wharf and back takes around 20 hours, travelling through 34 miles of beautiful countryside.  The route takes you through 16 locks (eight each way).  Along the way, you can enjoy looking out for many types of waterway birds, animals and insects. As well as the shy nocturnal otter and critically endangered water vole.
  3. Navigate the Four Counties Ring – on a week’s break from Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal in Staffordshire, you can travel round the ‘Four Counties Ring’. Cruising sections of the Trent & Mersey, Shropshire Union and Staffordshire & Worcestershire canals, this popular circuit takes boaters on a 110-mile, 60-hour, 94-lock canal boat holiday odyssey.  You’ll pass through some of the most beautiful landscapes in England, including the Peak District, the rolling Cheshire Plains and the Potteries.  Highlights along the way include Wedgewood Pottery in Stoke on Trent and the 1.5 mile long Harecastle Tunnel.  You’ll also encounter the flight of 31 locks between Middlewich and Kidsgrove known as ‘Heartbreak Hill’. You’ll visit the Roman town of Middlewich and the historic market town of Market Drayton, home of the gingerbread man.
  4. Climb aboard the SS Great Britain in Bristol’s Floating Harbour – from our base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Bath, it takes around eight hours, passing through 12 locks, to reach moorings in Bristol’s Floating Harbour. Once there you can moor up to explore the harbour and Brunel’s SS Great Britain, the ship that changed the world. *NB this route is recommended route for experienced boaters and overnight mooring fees will apply
  5. Visit the Orangutans at Chester Zoo – from Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire it takes around seven hours, passing through nine locks to reach the ancient City of Chester. Chester is home to the award-winning Chester Zoo, with over 20,000 animals from 500 species, including a family of Sumatran orangutans.  Sumatran orangutans are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature with fewer than 14,000 surviving in the wild.  At Chester Zoo, you can find out more about these fascinating animals and how to help to prevent their extinction.
  6. Glide across ‘The Stream in the Sky’ to the Shropshire Lake District – just 10 minutes from our base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, you’ll reach the incredible Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. One of The Seven Wonders of the Waterways, the aqueduct’s carries the canal 38 metres high above the Dee Valley on 19 stone pillars.  In 2009 the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct was added to the UNESCO World Heritage site list, putting it on a par with the Pyramids and Taj Mahal.  On a short break from Trevor, you can cross the aqueduct and then continue east to reach the Ellesmere, in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District.  The journey to Ellesmere and back takes around six hours and passes through just two locks.
  7. Travel round the Warwickshire Ring – on a 10-day or two week break from our base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal in Warwickshire, you can cruise the Warwickshire Ring. Travelling sections of the Grand Union, Oxford, Coventry and Birmingham & Fazeley canals, the Warwickshire Ring covers 104 miles, passes through 120 locks and takes around 60 hours to navigate.  You’ll pass through miles of countryside, with fields and ancient meadows and the occasional sleepy village. And you’ll also travel through the vibrant city centre waterfronts of Birmingham.  Destination highlights  include the pretty canal village of Braunston and the flight of 21 locks at Hatton. You can also visit Warwick Castle and Birmingham’s Brindleyplace. The whole trip from Wootton Wawen takes around 46 hours and passes through 118 locks.
  8. Cruise to the Yorkshire Dales National Park – on a short break from Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire, you can travel to Gargrave on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.  The journey there and back takes 13 hours and passes through six locks. This scenic route is perfect for beginners and you through the historic town of Skipton.  There you can explore the town’s medieval stone castle and extensive woodlands managed by the Woodland Trust.  Once at Gargrave, there are pubs to enjoy, including the popular Mason’s Arms.  And it’s easy to access to the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the Pennine Way walking trail.
  9. See a play in Shakespeare’s Stratford – from Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal, it’s a six-hour, 17-lock cruise journey through the Warwickshire countryside to reach moorings at Bancroft Basin.  This is in the heart of Stratford-upon-Avon, just a stone’s throw from the Royal Shakespeare and Swan theatres. As well as enjoying the town’s lively markets, shops, restaurants and museums, you can can take in a play at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.  2024’s programme includes ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’ and ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor’.

Click here to check availability and book, or call us on 0117 304 1122.

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Best pet friendly canal boat holidays

Best pet friendly canal boat holidays

Narrowboats provide a floating holiday home so it’s possible to take all sorts of pets on the canals.

Canal boat holidays are especially great for dogs, with plenty of towpath walks and dog-friendly canalside pubs to visit. Over the years, we’ve accommodated many other kinds of pets, including rabbits, cats, hamsters, caged birds and goldfish.

First pets go for free on all our holidays, and we charge a £25 supplement for a second pet on a short break, £35 for a week.

Guide dogs go free of charge. We allow a maximum of two pets, plus a guide dog, but all bedding and pet facilities must be provided by the owner(s).

We recommend our cruiser stern boats for holidays with a dog, as there’s more room ‘on deck’ for the dog and the rest of the family to enjoy watching the world go by.

Now for some do’s and don’ts

Do bring your dog’s bed to help them feel at home and don’t leave your dog unattended on board.

Do pack your poo bags.

Don’t let your dog swim in the canals, especially when there are ducklings, signets, goslings and other water bird chicks about.

To celebrate, here’s a guide to our top 7 destinations for animal lovers:

  1. Cruise to Cannock Chase for acres of dog walking trails – on a short break from our base on the Trent & Mersey Canal at Great Haywood in Staffordshire, you can easily reach Cannock Chase Forest where there are miles of walking trails enjoy, as well as a dog activity trail. Once a Royal Forest, Cannock Chase is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with over 6,800 hectares of landscapes to explore.  There are mixed deciduous woodlands, coniferous plantations and healthlands.  These habitats are home to a wide variety of animals and insects, including a herd of fallow deer, a number of rare and endangered birds, including migrant nightjars, as well as butterflies, bats and reptiles.  The Wolseley Centre and Nature Reserve is next to Wolseley Bridge is just two miles and two locks from Great Haywood, and offers a great gateway to Cannock Chase.
  2. Cruise to the foot of the Caen Hill Flight – from our base at Monkton Combe on the Kennet & Avon Canal you can travel to Foxhangers Wharf, at the foot of the Caen Hill flight of locks in Devizes. Along the way, you’ll pass through miles of peaceful Wiltshire countryside, with a series of villages and dog-friendly country pubs to visit along the way.  These include The Cross Guns at Avoncliff, the Barge Inn at Bradford on Avon and the Barge Inn at Seend.  Once at Caen Hill, you can moor up and explore the flight and its large side ponds, which provide a fantastic haven for wildlife.  Full of fish, the side ponds provide an ideal habitat for dragonflies, butterflies and many types of water birds.  You can look out for swans, ducks, geese, coots, moorhens, herons and cormorants.  The journey to Foxhangers Wharf and back takes around 19 hours, passing through 16 locks (eight each way).
  3. Cruise to Ellesmere for some heron spotting – on a short break from our base on the Llangollen Canal at Trevor in North Wales, you can cruise to the Shropshire Lake District. The journey to the medieval market town of Ellesmere takes around seven hours, passing through just two locks.  You’ll also cross over the magnificent Pontcysyllte and Chirk aqueducts.  Moscow Island on The Mere in Ellesmere is home to the Heron Watch Scheme, where cameras allow visitors to watch the birds build nests and raise chicks.  And there are plenty of woodland walks and trails to follow with your dog.
  4. Explore the gardens and the ancient topiary at Packwood House – from Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal near Henley-in-Arden, it’s a seven-mile, 31-lock and 10-hour journey to Lapworth Lock No 6.  From there, it’s a half-mile walk to the National Trust’s Packwood House, where there are miles of woodland and countryside walks to enjoy. Dogs are welcome at Packwood on leads on public footpaths across the estate, on the café terrace and in the barnyard.  The house and formal gardens are only for humans.
  5. Boat to the historic village of Wrenbury and back – from our base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire it takes around six hours, passing through 11 locks, to reach Wrenbury Mill on the Llangollen Canal. The journey takes you along 10 miles of waterway through quintessential Cheshire farmland and countryside.  The historic village of Wrenbury, which is on the South Cheshire Way offers lots of countryside walks.  It’s also a registered conservation area with plenty of wildlife to watch out for, particularly in the gardens of the Grade II listed St Margaret’s Church. There’s a choice of dog friendly pubs to visit, including the canalside Dusty Miller, and the Cotton Arms in the village of Wrenbury.
  6. Cruise along the River Thames into the Cotswolds – from our Oxford base on the River Thames, on a four-night mid-week break you can take a tranquil nine-hour, seven-lock Thames boating holiday to the pretty market town of Lechlade on the edge of the Cotswolds. Along the way, you’ll travel through miles of peaceful Oxfordshire countryside, with plenty of dog walking opportunities.  Places to visit include the village of Radcot with its 800-year old bridge across the Thames and dog-friendly bar in the Ye Olde Swan Hotel. And Kelmscott with its Grade I listed Kelmscott Manor, once the Cotswold retreat of William Morris, and popular Plough Inn.
  7. Watch out for wildlife on the Montgomery Canal – from Whixall Marina in Shropshire, it takes around six hours to reach Frankton Junction, where the Llangollen Canal meets the Montgomery Canal. This beautiful canal runs for 38 miles between England and Wales.  It is recognised as a Special Area of Conservation, making it one of the most important sites for wildlife in Europe.  Currently only around half the Montgomery Canal is navigable, including a seven-mile section from Frankton Junction to Gronwyn Wharf.  From Whixall, the journey to Gronwyn Wharf and back takes around 20 hours. You’ll travel through 34 miles of beautiful countryside and passing through 16 locks (eight each way).  Along the way, you can look out for many types of waterway birds, animals and insects.  These include dragonflies, damselflies, otters, Daubenton’s bats skimming over the water at dusk, and the critically endangered water vole.

Click here to check availability and book, or call us on 0117 304 1122.

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Best February half term canal boat holiday destinations

Best February half term canal boat holiday destinations

Travelling at an environmentally-friendly, four-miles-an-hour, a narrowboat journey can take you to a great choice of exciting waterside destinations this February half term.

All our boats have central heating, and some also have multi-fuel stoves, so it’s always nice and cosy on board.

Here’s a guide to our top five destinations on a family canal boat holiday this February half term:

  1. Travel into Birmingham to visit the Sea Life Centre – from our canal boat holiday hire base at Tardebigge it takes five hours to cruise along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal into the centre of Birmingham. With no locks to pass through along the way, it’s a great route for narrowboat holiday novices.  You can moor up in Gas Street Basin to enjoy the City’s many shops, galleries, museums and attractions, including the National Sea Life Centre in Brindleyplace.
  2. Visit the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon – from our base at on the Stratford Canal at Wootton Wawen, near Henley-in-Arden in Warwickshire, it’s a picturesque six-hour cruise through the Warwickshire countryside to Shakespeare’s Stratford. Once there, you can moor up in Bancroft Basin and visit Stratford’s museums, theatres, restaurants and shops, including the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
  3. Swap the water for the Steam Railway at Llangollen – from Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, it takes just two hours to cruise to the beautiful town of Llangollen, on the edge of the Berwyn Mountains.  Once there, you can moor up and take time to explore this pretty town which offers plenty of places to eat and visit, including the Llangollen Steam Railway.
  4. Discover Britain’s Secret Nuclear Bunker – from Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire, it takes around three-and-a-half hours, travelling nine miles and passing through just two locks, to reach moorings close to the Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker Museum.  This fascinating blast-proof underground bunker was once one of the nation’s most secret defence sites.
  5. Cruise to Waterworld for Tropical Aqua Park – heading north from Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal near Stafford, you can reach the Festival Park in Stoke on Trent in around 13 hours. From there it’s a 10-minute walk to Waterworld, where you can enjoy 30 thrill seeking rides, including the legendary Thunderbolt.

Click here to book or call us on 0117 304 1122.

NB Winter maintence work on the canals can lead to route closures.

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Best canal boat holidays for beginners

Short break canal boat holidays on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire

Every year more people experience the delights of holidaying on Britain’s beautiful inland waterways network.

You don’t have to be an expert and you don’t need a licence to steer a canal boat.  It’s easy for first-timers to learn to operate our boats and as part of all our narrowboat holiday packages, we provide hirers with expert boat steering tuition.

With our nationally accredited handover, we’ll make sure you’re comfortable and in control before you set off.  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 list of our top 7 short break narrow boat holidays for newcomers for 2024 to get you started:

  1. 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 and back offers a fantastic short break holiday for beginners.  The route includes the experience of travelling across the incredible UNESCO World Heritage status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, with jaw-dropping panoramic views of the Dee Valley 38 metres below.
  2. Dip your toe in the water at Bath – from our Bath base on the Kennet & Avon Canal, it takes just four hours to cruise to the lovely market town of Bradford on Avon, with just one lock to pass through. Skirting the southern foothills of the Cotswolds, the route passes over two stunning Bath stone aqueducts and past the popular Cross Guns Inn at Avoncliff.  Bradford on Avon is an architectural treasure chest with many beautiful buildings, including the magnificent 14th century monastic stone Tithe Barn.
  3. 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 and passing through just five locks.  At Fradley, take time to enjoy refreshments at the Canalside Café or The Swan Inn and follow the woodland trail around the Fradley Pool Nature Reserve.
  4. Take to the tiller along the Thames – from our Oxford narrowboat hire base at Eynsham near Witney, you can enjoy a Thames boating holiday. It takes just over three hours, passing through four locks to reach Oxford City centre moorings and many of the locks along the Thames are manned, so there’s often help on hand for newcomers.  Once in Oxford, you can take time to explore all that this fascinating city has to offer, including the famous Bodleian Library, Carfax Tower, Ashmolean Museum and traditional pubs like the Lamb & Flag, steeped in literary and film history.
  5. Cruise up 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 in Cheshire. The route passes through glorious English countryside and villages with historic local pubs, including The Ring O’Bells at Christleton and The Shady Oak at Bates Mill Bridge.  Once in Chester, take time to explore this cosmopolitan ancient city, with its Roman Amphitheatre, city walls, Chester Rows shops, 1,000-year old cathedral, racecourse and award-winning Zoo.
  6. Test the waters on the Leeds & Liverpool – setting off from Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire, the journey to Gargrave travels 12 miles with just three locks to pass through, and takes around 6½ hours. Along the way, you’ll pass through the historic town of Skipton, with one of best preserved medieval castles in England.  Once at Gargrave, there are plenty of pubs, including The Mason’s Arms and Cross Keys Inn, and as it’s on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, there’s also over 680 square miles of some of England’s finest walking country to explore.
  7. 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 in 16 hours, with just two locks to pass through. The route passes Whixall Moss nature reserve and Ellesmere, also known as the Shropshire Lake District, where visitors can enjoy strolling round the Mere’s Victorian gardens, woodland paths and historic castle.  At Chirk, where the Llangollen Canal encounters the Welsh border, there’s a choice of canal side pubs and the National Trust’s Chirk Castle, one of several medieval marcher fortresses built on the Welsh-English border.

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

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Canal boat holidays on the Llangollen Canal

Canal boat holidays on the Llangollen Canal
Breathtaking views, historic market towns and havens for wildlife

The beautiful 41-mile long Llangollen Canal crosses the border between England and Wales, and links the Eisteddfod town of Llangollen in Denbighshire with the Shropshire Union Canal, just north of Nantwich in Cheshire.

The scenery varies from rural sheep pastures and ancient peat mosses, to tree-lined lakes and the dramatic foothills of Snowdonia.

In 2009, an 11-mile section of the waterway from Gledrid Bridge to the Horseshoe Falls in Llangollen – including the incredible Pontcysyllte and Chirk aqueducts – was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO.

Soaring 35 metres above the rushing waters of the River Dee, which tumble out of Snowdonia, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is truly one of the wonders of the waterways.

Built by the great canal engineers Thomas Telford and William Jessop, the aqueduct was completed in 1805. Supported by 18 giant pillars, it’s the longest and highest aqueduct in Britain, carrying a 307-metre long iron trough water passage for a single narrowboat and a towpath for pedestrians, with an exhilarating sheer drop on one side!

Short break canal boat holidays on the Llangollen Canal

Passing through just two locks, the 14-hour journey from our base at on the Llangollen Canal at Trevor to the Shropshire market town of Ellesmere and back, offers a fantastic short break holiday for beginners.

Setting off from Trevor Basin, the spectacular Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, with its jaw-dropping panoramic views of the Dee Valley below, is just 10 minutes away.

Next it’s a lift bridge and The Aqueduct Inn at Froncysyllte serving excellent food, then on through Whitehouse Tunnel followed by Chirk Tunnel, before crossing Chirk Aqueduct.

Soon after the aqueduct, you’ll reach the Bridge Inn at Chirk Bank, Poachers Pocket pub at Gledrid, and the Lion Quays waterside restaurant at Moreton – all good places to moor up for the night.

Four miles later at Frankton Junction the Montgomery Canal meets the Llangollen Canal and after another three miles, the canal passes by the Canal & River Trust’s Ellesmere Canal Yard, which dates back to the early 1800s.

At Ellesmere there are plenty of visitor moorings, giving you the chance to explore this pretty market town with a mix of Tudor, Georgian and Victorian buildings, as well as its famous Mere with woodland walks.

There’s a range of places to eat and drink at Ellesmere, including The White Hart pub and The Red Lion coaching inn.

Week long holidays on the Llangollen Canal

On a week’s holidayfrom Trevor, you can travel on from Ellesmere to Wrenbury and back, cruising a total of 66 miles through 24 locks, and taking around 32 hours.

The route passes through Whixall Moss nature reserve then the historic market town of Whitchurch, known for its clock makers, including J B Joyce & Co, the oldest maker of tower clocks in the world, established there in 1782.

When in Whitchurch, look out for half-timbered buildings, fair trade independent shops and restaurants, way-marked circular walks, water voles at Staggs Brook, woodpeckers at Brown Moss nature reserve, a selection of Roman burial vases in the Civic Centre and a Joyce clock in the tower of St Alkmund’s Grade I Listed Georgian Church. And there are numerous pubs to choose from, including the award-winning Black Bear.

Six miles further east, having passed through the Grindley Brook Staircase of Locks with lockside café and stores, you’ll reach Wrenbury. The centre of the village is a conservation area with a range of historic houses and the 16th century St Margaret’s Church overlooking the village green. There is a Post Office with general stores and two pubs, the canalside Dusty Miller in a converted corn mill, and The Cotton Arms.

On returning to Trevor, if time allows you could take the two-hour journey on to the ancient Welsh town of Llangollen and moor up in Llangollen Basin to explore the town. Things to see include the famous Dee Bridge built by Bishop Trevor in 1345, the Llangollen Steam Railway, Plas Newydd house and gardens, Horseshoe Falls, plus many independent shops and places to eat, including the popular Corn Mill with stunning river and mountain views.

Two week canal boat holidays from Trevor

On a two week break from Trevor, boaters can continue on from Wrenbury to Barbridge, where the Llangollen meets the Shropshire Union Canal, and then tackle the Four Counties Ring.

This epic canal journey, travelling through Cheshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire and the West Midlands, covers 110 miles and 94 locks, and takes around 55 cruising hours. The total cruising time from Trevor is 97 hours, passing through 136 locks.

Travelling anti-clockwise around the Ring, at Barbridge you can head south down the Shropshire Union Canal to its junction with the Staffs & Worcs Canal at Aldersley. Along the way, the route passes through the historic market town of Market Drayton, home of the gingerbread man, and a series of villages with excellent pubs, including The Hartley Arms at Wheaton Ashton and the Royal Oak at Gnosnall.

At Aldersley, the route heads north east again along the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal to Great Haywood, where you’ll start travelling up the Trent & Mersey Canal. Places of interest along this section include the National Trust’s Shugborough Estate with extensive riverside gardens, the 2,675-metre long Harecastle Tunnel and the Wedgewood Museum at Stoke on Trent.

At Middlewich, the ring turns west back towards Barbridge, travelling along the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal.

Click here to make a booking or to get friendly advice on canal holidays, please call our Booking Office on 0117 304 1122.

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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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