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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 boating staycation experience

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 the perfect floating holiday home adventure.

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 an eight-mile section from Frankton Junction to Crickheath Basin.  From Whixall, the journey to Crickheath and back takes around 19 hours, travelling through 36 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 many types 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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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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