As part of our 55 year anniversary celebrations, we’ve been speaking to long term narrowboat holiday-maker Howard Fisher.
How many canal boat holidays have you been on?
At least one almost every year since 1971, including around 15 with Anglo Welsh.
Where did you go on your first narrowboat holiday?
My first inland waterways holiday was in 1971 with three school friends. We hired a small river cruiser from Barbridge, and we travelled to Llangollen and back. We quickly realised a narrowboat would be a much better way of travelling the canals. So, in March 1973 we hired a 56ft narrowboat ‘Stirling’ from Anglo Welsh’s Great Haywood base. That time I was with seven friends and we travelled anti-clockwise round the Four Counties Ring.
What do you like most about narrowboat holidays?
It’s a great way to see the bits of towns and cities that you’d otherwise miss. I much prefer the urban stretches to countryside – though on a fine evening, a quiet and secluded country mooring is hard to beat. I also find the structures you encounter fascinating, and marvel at the ingenuity of the original builders. In 2004 we travelled through the incredible 5km long Standedge Tunnel on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, which takes you deep beneath the Pennines.
What was your most memorable journey?
Back in the summer of 1975, when I was involved with the canal club at university, we hired two 50ft eight berth boats from Middlewich. The crew changed each week, with a core of us staying all three weeks. We travelled a large circle, including the tidal section of the River Trent, then right across the North Eastern canals to Leeds. Then we went along the Leeds & Liverpool and Bridgewater Canal to Anderton. We went down the Anderton Lift (where the lift operator was surprised we only wanted single tickets), along the River Weaver and out onto the Manchester Ship Canal to Ellesmere Port. Then back to Middlewich via Chester.
That trip took a fair bit of organising. For example, we had to arrange for a British Waterways crew to rendezvous with us to reconstruct the lock gear at Ellesmere Port, as it was semi-derelict back then. Also, things didn’t go according to plan when we misunderstood the lock keeper’s instructions regarding the channel out to the deeper water of the Manchester Ship Canal. On exiting the lock in the wake of a passing ship, we managed to get marooned on a mud bank. A tug had to pull us off.
The trip up the Trent required a ludicrously early start, motoring solidly for eight hours to get to Keadby at the right point of the tide. One of the boat’s engines overheated, and we spent some time travelling tied together with just a single engine.
What was your favourite narrowboat holiday?
In 1978 we completed the London Ring, cruising through central London on the Regent’s Canal, going around the East End canals, and returning along the tidal Thames. They didn’t need to raise Tower Bridge for us, but it’s fantastic to drive a narrowboat along the Thames past all the landmarks. This was before the London docks were redeveloped, so the east End was nothing like the posh area it is now.
How have canal boat holidays changed over the years?
The thing that hits you is just how many boats there are these days, including so many houseboats. Back in the 70’s you could cruise for most of a day only meeting a handful of other boats. The canals are kept better maintained than they used to be, but water levels can still be a problem. For example, it took us several attempts over a few years before we finally succeeded in navigating the Cheshire Ring.
What were the reasons for moving from being a hirer to an owner?
As retirement beckoned, the freedom of going as and when, and knowing that once the fixed costs were paid, staying longer didn’t cost extra, pushed four of us (two couples) to jointly buy a boat. The boat is fitted out exactly as we want it, including an expresso machine, bread-maker, food mixer and washing machine!
Any tips for newcomers to canal boat holidays ahead of their first trip?
Listen to the instructions on how to operate the boat, and ask the hire company to take you through a lock and show how it works. After packing, throw out half what you packed as you won’t need it. Enjoy yourselves!
By Emma Lovell, Anglo Welsh’s Reservations Manager
Britain’s 3,000-mile network of inland waterways, which winds its way through thousands of miles of beautiful countryside, offers a great way to relax and connect with nature.
Research shows people feel happier by water and towpaths provide great places to exercise, so a canal boat holiday can help boost your physical and mental health and wellbeing.
Whether it’s the rolling Cheshire Plains of the Shropshire Union, the dramatic Welsh mountains on the Llangollen or the prehistoric chalk landscapes of the Kennet & Avon Canal, from your floating holiday home you can enjoy cruising through a wide variety of landscapes.
Here are our top 10 Cruises through the countryside for 2020:
1. Navigate through the Forest of Arden to Hatton & back – from our narrowboat hire base at Wootton Wawen, on the Stratford Canal near Henley-in-Arden, it takes around eight hours, travelling through 17 locks to reach the base of the Hatton Flight of Locks. The journey takes you along the Stratford Canal through farmland and the remains of the Forest of Arden to Kingswood Junction. Once there, the route transfers onto the Grand Union Canal and passes through Shrewley Tunnel before reaching the base of the Flight of 21 locks at Hatton.
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 reach the beautiful Caldon Canal and travel into the Peak District. The journey first takes you up to Stoke on Trent and, once on the Caldon, through gently rolling hills and wooded valley of the beautiful River Churnet, with the chance to spot kingfishers, herons, woodpeckers and otters. The journey from Great Haywood to Froghall and back takes around 43 hours, travelling a total of 72 miles and passing through 70 locks.
3. Take a Thames boating holiday to Lechlade, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – from our narrowboat rental base on the River Thames at Oxford, it’s a tranquil nine-hour, seven-lock cruise west to the pretty market town of Lechlade, situated in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the edge of the Cotswolds. Along the way, you’ll travel through miles of peaceful Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire countryside, passing the village of Radcot with its 800-year old bridge across the Thames, and Kelmscott Manor, once the Cotswold retreat of William Morris. This journey is perfect for a four night mid-week or seven day holiday.
4. Travel round the Stourport Ring through idyllic stretches of Worcestershire countryside – on a week’s break from our canal boat rental base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, you can travel round the Stourport Ring. This popular circuit takes boaters on an 84-mile, 114-lock journey, in around 44 cruising hours. Much of the route is rural, cruising sections of the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal, Worcester & Birmingham Canal Navigation, River Severn, Birmingham Canal Main Line and Stourbridge canals. Highlights include: Kinver Edge with its extensive woodlands and National Trust Holy Austin Rock Houses; idyllic stretches of Worcestershire countryside along the River Severn; and the dramatic flight of 30 locks at Tardebigge, climbing two-and-a-quarter miles with spectacular views of the open countryside all around.
5. Cruise to the gateway of the Yorkshire Dales and explore the ancient woods at Skipton Castle – from our canal boat hire base at 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. 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.
6. Float through the Avon Valley to Caen Hill and back – on a short break from our canal boat rental base at Bath on the Kennet & Avon Canal, it takes around 10½ hours to reach Foxhangers Wharf, at the bottom of the Caen Hill Flight of Locks at Devizes, perfect for a three or four night short break. Along the way, you’ll pass through 16 locks (eight each way), over two dramatic Bath stone aqueducts at Dundas and Avoncliff, through Bradford on Avon with a good choice of shops, and miles of peaceful countryside.
7. Cruise through the Shropshire countryside to Nantwich and back – from our canal boat rental base at Whixall Marina, on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire, it takes around 13 hours, passing through 19 locks, to reach the historic town of Nantwich. Along the way, the route will transfer onto the Shropshire Union Canal at Barbridge, travelling through the Shropshire and Cheshire countryside. At Nantwich, you’ll travel across the impressive Grade II* listed Nantwich Aqueduct, designed by the famous canal engineer Thomas Telford, to enjoy panoramic views across the town.
8. Navigate the Four Counties Ring for stunning views of the Cheshire Plains – on a week’s break from our canal boat rental base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire, you can travel round the popular Four Counties Ring, one of the most rural canal cruising circuits. Travelling for around 58 hours and passing through 96 locks, this route takes canal boat holiday-makers through the counties of Staffordshire, the West Midlands, Cheshire and Shropshire and travels sections of the Trent & Mersey, Staffordshire & Worcestershire and Shropshire Union canals. Highlights include: panoramic views from the flight of 31 locks between Middlewich and Kidsgrove on the Trent & Mersey Canal; stunning views of the rolling Cheshire Plains on the Shropshire Union Canal; acres of farmland on the Middlewich Branch; and wildlife spotting at Tixall Wide on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal.
9. Cruise to the Shropshire Lake District – from our narrowboat hire 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 and other wildlife. 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 two magnificent aqueducts, including the famous UNESCO World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. This Wonder of the Waterways, carries the Llangollen Canal 38 metres high above the Dee valley, with magnificent views of the valley and Welsh Mountains beyond.
10. Travel through the Northamptonshire countryside to Stoke Bruerne – on a mid-week (four night) break from our canal boat hire base at Stockton, on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, narrowboat holiday-makers can cruise to the pretty Northamptonshire village of Stoke Bruerne and back. The journey takes around 12 hours, travelling 28 mostly rural miles and passes through 16 locks, as well as through the 2,813-metre long Blisworth Tunnel.
Anglo Welsh Heritage Class – Supporting the Chelsea Pensioners
Anglo Welsh Heritage Class – the best of both worlds
Anglo Welsh now offers two luxury four-berth ‘Heritage Class’ boats for hire: ‘Poppy’ on the Stratford Canal at Wootton Wawen; and ‘Lily’ on the Llangollen Canal at Trevor.
These beautiful luxury canal boats offer all the very best in modern narrowboat facilities, as well as some extra special heritage features.
Facilities on board these spacious boats with semi-traditional sterns include: central heating; LED lighting; two full-size shower rooms; spacious beds with sprung mattresses; a fully fitted galley; TV; DVD; and WiFi.
Heritage features include: port holes; side doors; a Belfast sink; brass fittings; tongue and grove dark stained woodwork; ivory coloured ceilings; and a cratch cover above the front deck for extra protection against the elements when needed.
In partnership with our Sponsor ‘Panda Sanctuaries’ we will continue to expand the Heritage fleet over the coming years.
Proud to support the Chelsea Pensioners
Anglo Welsh is supporting the Chelsea Pensioners by pledging to give £10 to The Royal Hospital Chelsea and Chelsea Pensioner’s Active Ageing Appeal for every booking made on ‘Poppy’ between 1 November 2019 and 1 November 2020.
Allan McLaren of The Chelsea Pensioners explains: “War and conflict take their toll on a soldier’s body and mind. Mental and physical scars often only surface in later years.
“The Royal Hospital Chelsea and the Chelsea Pensioners are delighted Anglo Welsh have chosen to support our Active Aging Appeal. Your support will help The Royal Hospital Chelsea provide the best possible care for those willing to risk their lives yesterday to give us the freedom we enjoy today. Our new activity centre will enable more Pensioners to stay active, pursue hobbies and interests every day to enhance their mental and physical well-being and combat isolation.”
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct celebrates 10 years of World Heritage Status
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct celebrates 10 years of World Heritage Status
This year, Britain’s highest and longest aqueduct, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and 11 miles of the Llangollen Canal, will celebrate 10 years of World Heritage Status designation, giving it membership of an elite club of sites, including the Taj Mahal and the Pyramids.
Since the designation, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct has become a ‘Must Do’ destination for thousands of international tourists and visitor numbers have quadrupled, with nearly half a million people viewing the ‘Stream in the Sky’ and the Trevor Basin Visitor Centre in 2018.
The aqueduct has also become a regular media star, hosting lots of TV programmes, including ‘Bargain Hunt’, ‘Antiques Road Trip’, ‘Lost Railway Walks’, ‘Escape to the Country’, CBBC and several news broadcasts.
To mark this important milestone, The Canal & River Trust charity in Wales, Glandwr Cymru, will be working with local partners to organise 12 months of celebrations, including a new photography competition, a specially-brewed beer, spectacular luminaire structure lighting, an ‘Under the Arches’ celebration and other community events.
Lynda Slater, Trevor Basin visitor centre manager with the Canal & River Trust, says: “The World Heritage Status has made a world of difference to this spectacular structure and the 11 miles of Llangollen Canal which surround it. The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct has gone from being a national treasure to a tourist destination of international significance.“
The Llangollen Canal is one of the most popular canals in the country with hire boaters. With the opportunity to cruise over two stunning aqueducts at Pontcysyllte and Chirk, and meander through the beautiful Welsh countryside, it is a hot favourite with people wanting to spend their holiday time on the waterways.
Our canal boat hire base at Trevor Basin has long been one of our most popular departure points, and from April this year, we will also be offering narrowboat hire from our new boat yard at Whixall Marina, on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire.
2019 Short breaks (three or four nights) from Trevor and Whixall start at £495 on a boat for four people, £705 for a week.
We also offer day boat hire from Trevor, just a five minutes by boat from the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. Prices start at £120 for a day boat for up to 10 people.
Pontcysyllte Fact File
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Llangollen Canal became a World Heritage Site on 27 June, 2009.
Pontcysyllte is pronounced – ‘pont-cuss-ull-teh’ meaning ‘the bridge that joins’
The Pontcysyllte is a Grade I listed building, a scheduled ancient monument and forms the centrepiece of the 11 mile World Heritage Site.
The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’, compiled over 60 years ago by Robert Aickman, co-founder of the Inland Waterways Association, and published in his book Know Your Waterways.
The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct was constructed by Thomas Telford and William Jessop between 1796 and 1805 during the Industrial Revolution to enable slate and limestone to be moved from quarries in North Wales to the Midlands and beyond.
The aqueduct measures a record-breaking 1,000 ft (307m) long and at its highest point it is 126 ft (38.4m) above the River Dee.
A cast iron trough, which holds 330,000 gallons (1.5 million litres) of water, is 11ft wide and 5ft 3ins deep. It is emptied by pulling out a giant plug in the centre and takes two hours to drain.
With not even a handrail on the north side, when travelling across by canal boat, it’s probably the most heart-stopping and exhilarating experience on the canal network!
There are 19 elegant arches and 18 slender sandstone piers, each with a 45ft span.
To keep the aqueduct as light as possible, the slender masonry piers are partly hollow and taper at their summit.
Incredibly, ox blood was added to the lime mortar which binds the structure’s masonry together, following an ancient superstition that the blood of a strong animal would strengthen a structure. And sugar was boiled with Welsh flannel then mixed with tar to seal the cast joints of the structure’s cast iron trough.
Visitors come from all over the world, with Australians and Japanese heading the international league table. Signing the centre’s visitor book last year were tourists from 52 countries from faraway places such as Zambia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and the Philippines, as well as most European nations.
Repairs to the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct handrail are among eight vital maintenance projects being undertaken by the Canal & River Trust along the Welsh Border canals this winter.
We’re opening a new canal boat hire base at Whixall
From next Spring, we are delighted to offer canal boat hire from our new narrowboat rental base at Whixall Marina, on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire.
From this popular marina, surrounded by beautiful Shropshire countryside, it takes just 30 minutes to reach the main line of the Llangollen Canal, offering a fantastic range of cruising destinations.
On a short break (three or four nights) canal boat holiday-makers can head west along the Llangollen Canal to Ellesmere and the Shropshire Lake District, or you can travel on to Chirk with its magnificent aqueduct, 459-yard long tunnel, choice of canalside pubs and access to the National Trust’s Medieval Chirk Castle.
On a week’s holiday, boaters heading west can cross the awesome World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and travel on to the pretty Eisteddfod town of Llangollen on the edge of the Berwyn Mountains.
Heading east, you can reach the pretty historic town of Whitchurch in less than four hours, where there’s a selection of independent shops and places to eat, including the Wheatsheaf Hotel and the award-winning Black Bear pub.
From Whitchurch, it takes around nine hours, passing through 19 locks to reach Hurleston Junction, where the Llangollen Canal meets the Shropshire Union Canal. From here, if you’re on a week’s holiday you can head to Nantwich, Market Drayton or Chester, or on a 10-day or two-week break, you can tackle the Four Counties Ring.
Why choose Whixall?
It offers easy access to the beautiful Llangollen Canal, one of the most popular waterways on the network and home to the incredible World Heritage site of the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.
Whixall offers a range of routes, from easy lock-free cruising short breaks perfect for beginners, to epic journey cruising rings for more experienced canal boat holiday-makers on longer breaks
Buried deep in the Shropshire Countryside, holidays starting from Whixall offer the chance to visit the Fenn’s, Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses national nature reserve, home to an abundance of wildlife, including 29 species of dragonfly and damselfly, 670 species of moth, 32 species of butterfly and 166 species of wetland birds.
As well as a choice of standard boats, we’re offering a range of luxury canal boats from Whixall, including the 4 berth Constellation Class boat ‘Aquila’, the 6 berth Constellation Class boat ‘Perseus’ and the Constellation 12 berth boat ‘Andromeda’. We are also introducing a brand-new Constellation 10 berth Class in 2019, which will feature the new boat ‘Gemini’ based at Whixall. The popular Weir Class will also receive a brand-new addition to the fleet and ‘Grafton’ will cruise from Whixall in the new year.
Whixall Marina has a café on site and the popular Dog & Bull pub is just a few miles away at Coton.
By road, Whixall is 27 miles from Chester, 30 miles from Stoke-on-Trent, 34 miles from Stafford, 57 miles from Manchester, 52 miles from Liverpool and 60 miles from Birmingham, putting it within easy reach for narrowboat holiday-makers travelling from the North West and Midlands.
This week Anglo Welsh’s narrowboat ‘Butterfly’ appeared on BBC One’s popular ‘Antiques Road Trip’, taking presenter Catherine Southon across the awesome Pontcysyllte Aqueduct on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales.
To celebrate, we’ve put together a list of our Top 6 moments in the spotlight over the last 12 months:
The Antiques Road Trip visited Trevor. Back in April, presenter Catherine Southon boarded our 62ft-long narrowboat ‘Butterfly’ at Trevor to film an episode of this BBC One favourite. Based at our canal boat hire base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, ‘Butterfly’ is one of our popular Trent II Class narrowboats, offering flexible accommodation for up to eight people. If you missed it, the episode (screened on Wednesday 19 September at 4.30pm) can be found on the BBC iPlayer until 18 October. Image c/o Antiques Road Trip – STV Productions/BBC.
Globalmouse Travels visited the Kennet & Avon Canal. Last summer, Nichola West (AKA Globalmouse), currently ranked number two in Vuelio’s ‘Top 10 UK Family Travel Blogs’, enjoyed an Anglo Welsh family narrowboat holiday aboard ‘Selwood’. Setting off from our canal boat rental base at Bath, she travelled with her three children to Bradford on Avon and back over the August bank holiday. Describing their first night afloat in her review (published Sep 2017) she says: “It felt lovely mooring up on the side of the bank, hammering in pegs to tie-up our boat…on this quiet bit of the Kennet and Avon Canal. We cooked up pasta in our lovely little kitchen and listened to the gentle sounds of the river as we played card games afterwards and headed off to bed.”
Jasper Winn wrote the last chapter of ‘Water Ways’ aboard Summer. At the end of last year, the writer and slow adventurer Jasper Winn took to the water aboard Anglo Welsh’s 67ft Bond Class narrowboat ‘Summer’ to write the final chapter of ‘Water Ways’. Published in July by Profile Books, ‘Water Ways’ is a mix of travel, history and nature writing, in which Winn describes his year-long adventure exploring Britain’s waterways on foot and by bike, in a kayak and on narrowboats. ‘Summer’, based at our canal boat hire centre at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal in Warwickshire, features in the final chapter.
John Craven cruised along the Llangollen Canal. Last October, the BBC’s Countryfile Magazine featured an article by veteran presenter John Craven recounting his holiday aboard our beautiful 67ft Bond Class boat for up to six people ‘Askrigg’. John set off from our canal boat rental base at Trevor for a short break with his two eldest grandsons, Charlie and Oliver, and said: “It had been an exhilarating, slow-motion few days. We had glided though breath-taking countryside while being overtaken by walkers and their dogs, joggers, cyclists and kayakers. Many peaceful hours of travelling had been dotted with moments of tension…as I tried to master the skills needed for a method of transportation that hasn’t changed in centuries. We agreed it had been far more than just a short holiday. The Llangollen Canal had given us an experience we’d never forget.”
The Daily Telegraph recommended Tardebigge. Earlier this month, Daily Telegraph travel writer Sarah Baxter listed ‘Cruise the canals like you are in Venice’ as one of her ’30 amazing weekend breaks to extend the British Summer’. The article explains that our canal boat hire base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove if a five hour, lock free cruise from Birmingham’s centre where you can “use your boat as a hotel…or pootle along some of the 100 navigable miles of urban waterways”.
The Times recommended Wootton Wawen. In July, the Sunday Times Weekend magazine travel section suggested taking a canal trip through Shakespeare country as part of its ’30 great British mini-breaks’ feature. The article highlights the opportunity to cruise along the Stratford Canal from our canal boat hire base at Wootton Wawen, reaching moorings by the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford upon Avon in just six hours, perfect for exploring “Bard-related sites such as Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and Shakespeare’s Birthplace”.
Anglo Welsh offers winter cruising* from six bases, giving narrowboat holidaymakers the chance to celebrate Christmas or New Year afloat, joining in the festive celebrations at exciting waterside towns and cities and stopping off at rural pubs with roaring log fires.
From a cosy boat for two to a party boat for 10, we’ve got a range of boats to choose from. Christmas prices start at £470 for a short break (three or four nights), weekly hire from £670.
All our boats have central heating, hot water, WiFi, TV and DVD players and some also have multi-fuel stoves, so it’s always warm and cosy on board.
Here are our Top 6 festive destinations for 2016/17:
1. Wonder at the Animal Lanterns at Chester Zoo – from our Bunbury base on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire, it’s a seven-hour, nine-lock journey to the historic walled city of Chester. With 3D Christmas Lights, Christmas parades, a sparkly Christmas Market with dozens of gift and festive-fare filled chalets, carol concerts at Chester Cathedral and the magical ‘Lanterns at Chester Zoo’ event, Chester is a great place to celebrate Christmas.
2. Visit the award-winning Christmas market in Bath – from our base in the historic town of Bradford on Avon on the edge of the Cotswolds, it’s a delightful six-hour cruise along the beautiful Kennet & Avon Canal to moorings close to the centre of World Heritage city Bath. With an award-winning Christmas market, carol services at Bath Abbey, stunning Georgian architecture, world class museums and top restaurants, Bath is a fantastic place to get Christmassy!
3. Watch a panto in Birmingham – With its famous German Christmas Market, ice rink and big wheel, excellent shopping, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, National Sea Life Centre, incredible new library and Christmas shows, including ‘Treasure Island’ at the Birmingham Rep and ‘Dick Whittington’ at the Hippodrome, Birmingham is a great place to visit at Christmas time. City centre moorings at Gas Street Basin, close to Brindleyplace, can be reached in just five hours from our narrowboat hire base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal.
4. Enjoy the Christmas Festival at Stratford upon Avon – from our base at Wootton Wawen near Warwick, it’s a picturesque six-hour cruise through the Warwickshire countryside to Shakespeare’s Stratford. Once there, boaters can moor up in the town’s canal basin to enjoy the marvellous Christmas lights, Christmas markets, Christmas grotto with the Real Father Christmas (from 24 Nov), intriguing Ebenezer Scrooge Grotto (from 28 Dec), carol singers, traditional pubs, ghost walks, museums, shops, Swan Theatre and cosy restaurants.
5. Experience a ‘Santa Special’ at the Llangollen Railway – our canal boat hire base at Trevor on the beautiful Llangollen Canal in North Wales is just minutes away from the incredible 40m high and 30m long Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. As a World Heritage designation, this incredible feat of Industrial Revolution engineering has been put on a par with the Taj Mahal, Great Wall of China and the Pyramids. On a short break from our narrowboat holiday base at Trevor, boaters can reach the pretty town of Llangollen, nestled in the hills, to enjoy Christmas celebrations at the Llangollen Railway, which is running ‘Santa Specials’ on 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18, 22, 23 and 24 December.
6. See an Outdoor Christmas Nativity in Market Drayton – from our Great Haywood base at the junction of the Staffordshire & Worcestershire and Trent & Mersey canals in Staffordshire, on a week’s cruise, canal boat holidaymakers can travel to Market Drayton in North Shropshire. Said to be home of the Gingerbread man, this historic market town offers visitors lively street markets, beautiful architecture and the ‘Buttercross to Bethlehem’ outdoor nativity acted by people and animals, to be held in the Buttercross stone portico in Cheshire Street, 18 December at 4.30pm.
To make a booking or to get friendly advice on canal holidays, please call our Booking Office on 0117 304 1122.
*Winter cruising routes can be affected by stoppages and closures as a result of winter maintenance work.
Becca Strong, Admin Manager at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal, tells us why the canal life is in her blood…
Alongside picturesque routes and stylish narrowboats, Anglo Welsh is also renowned for the calibre and commitment of its dedicated staff. ‘Vocation’ is the watchword for a professional team who not only live and breathe canals but are rooted in their local communities. The dynamic duo at the helm at Trevor in Llangollen, North Wales are no exception. Base Manager Matt Anderson first joined Anglo Welsh as a 13 year-old Saturday boy in the mid ‘90s, but he is a narrowboat novice compared to his partner and Trevor’s Admin Manager Becca Strong!
“I grew up in a canal side house alongside the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, a stone’s throw from Trevor’s wharf, so you could say that canals and narrowboats are in my blood,” says Becca. “My grandad, dad and brother all worked for British Waterways (now The Canal & River Trust) and I first set foot on a narrowboat when I was just 3 years-old. The local waterways have been a big part of my life ever since, so joining Anglo Welsh in 1994 was a real thrill and a proud day for my family.”
Becca and Matt moved back to Trevor in July 2015 after 1o years managing Anglo Welsh’s Tardebigge base in Worcestershire. “It’s great to be back home where we both started,” says Becca, “and we’re relishing the challenge. Trevor is now Anglo Welsh’s largest base with a fleet of 19 holiday boats, including our new Constellation class ‘Aquarius’, 4 day boats, and 10 full-time staff, all of them genuine canal boat enthusiasts.”
“Everybody at Trevor is looking forward to a busy year and we’re already taking bookings for Valentine’s Day, the February half-term and Mother’s Day. As for the peak summer season, it will be all hands on deck and all boats in the water, so I recommend booking early! The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct’s World Heritage status means we are an international destination these days, so as well as locals we get visitors from the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Scandinavia and even from Holland, where they know a thing or two about canal boats!”
So having being born and raised in the shadow of the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, does Becca have any personal recommendations? “The stretch of canal from Trevor to Llangollen is really stunning with breathtaking views over the valley, beautiful churches, lush countryside and lovely, winding waterways. A crew from ‘Visit Wales’ were here recently filming the aqueduct for ‘The Year of Adventure’ campaign and I can tell you, even seasoned professionals are knocked out by the natural beauty here.
Sailing on a cloud. Broadchurch actor Matthew Gravelle and family on the canals of North East Wales.
The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, nicknamed the ‘Stream in the Sky’, carries the Llangollen Canal 38 metres (126 ft) above the River Dee. Cruising on a narrowboat without even a handrail on the aqueduct’s south side to obstruct your view of the valley below, you will feel like you are suspended in mid-air!Click here for more information on the Trevor base, routes and waterways.
Our team of helpful and friendly canal holiday experts are available to take your booking.
Please call us 0117 304 1122
We offer a range of different types of holidays such as City Breaks, Relaxation Cruises and Popular Destinations
So why choose Anglo Welsh?
More than 55 years providing unique canal boat holidays.
Modern & spacious narrowboat holiday fleet – from 2 to 12 berths.
Wide choice of narrowboat hire locations and canal.
Canal boat holiday routes for novices & experienced boaters.
Flexible holiday booking, no hidden costs.
Family friendly holidays, pets also welcome.