We are offering discounts of up to 20% on our holidays departing in August 2022. To celebrate, reservations manager Emma Lovell, has put together a guide to our top family canal boat holiday destinations this summer.
Canal boat holidays are great for families, offering the change to experience life afloat exploring Britain’s beautiful canal network. Along the way, you can watch out for wildlife and stop off at exciting waterside destinations.
Our narrowboats are like floating holiday cottages, with everything you need for a self-catering staycation afloat. This includes comfy beds, hot water, TV, WiFi, well-stocked kitchens, showers and flushing toilets.
To celebrate our offer, we’ve listed our Top 9 family destinations this summer, all suitable for beginners:
1. Enjoy a free theatre performance in Stratford-upon-Avon
Setting out from our base at Wootton Wawen, it’s a delightful six-hour journey through the Warwickshire countryside to Bancroft Basin, in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon. The journey along the Stratford Canal passes through 17 locks. From Bancroft Basin, it’s a short walk to the Dell, an outdoor stage in Avonbank Gardens. A series of free outdoor theatre performances are taking place in the Dell this summer. These include the Merchant of Venice performed by the Edinburgh Graduate Theatre Group, 27-28 August.
2. Visit the National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham
Cruising from our canal boat hire base at Tardebigge, it’s a five-hour journey to Birmingham City Centre. You’ll cruise along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal to find moorings at Gas Street Basin. From there Brindleyplace, home to the National Sea life Centre, is a short walk away. Here you can experience the UK’s only 360 degree Ocean Tunnel, see the Penguin Ice Adventure and meet the UK’s first Sea Otters.
3. Take a Thames boating holiday and visit the quirky Pitt Rivers Museum
From our Oxford base, it’s a tranquil three-hour cruise along the River Thames to moorings at Hythe Bridge. This is the perfect base for exploring Oxford’s city centre. One of the City’s most popular attractions is the fascinating Pitt Rivers Museum. Here thousands of archaeological and ethnographic objects from all over the world are on display. Some of the most famous exhibits include a 17th Witch Bottle and an 11-metre high totem pole.
4. See the new penguin chicks at Chester Zoo
Setting off from our narrowboat rental base at Bunbury, it takes seven hours to reach the ancient City of Chester. The journey along the Shropshire Union Canal passes through nine locks. Once there, you ca visit the award-winning Chester Zoo. The Zoo is home to 21,314 animals from 500 species, including nine adorable new penguin chicks born there.
5. Watch the Wars of the Roses Show at Warwick Castle
On a narrowboat holiday departing from our Stockton base, it’s a seven-hour journey to Warwick. You’ll travel along the Grand Union Canal, passing through 20 locks along the way. Once there, you can visit the magnificent medieval Warwick Castle on the banks of the River Avon. The Castle offers a fantastic family day out with ramparts to climb, the Castle Dungeon, Great Hall and Kingmaker Exhibition to explore. There’s also soaring birds of prey and trebuchet firing displays to watch. And this summer there will also be daily live Wars of the Roses shows, recreating the historic jousting battles of the 15th century.
6. Travel across the Stream in the Sky to Ellesmere
Departing from our Trevor base on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, you can reach the Shropshire town of Ellesmere in seven hours. Along the way, you’ll travel across the UNESCO World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. This incredible structure, also known as ‘The Stream in the Sky’, carries the canal 38 metres high above the Dee Valley. Once at Ellesmere, in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District, you can take time to explore the Mere. The Mere has Victorian gardens, woodland paths, historic castle and lots of wildlife.
7. Meet historic characters at the Black Country Living Museum
Navigating from our Tardebigge base, it’s an eight-hour journey to the Black Country Living Museum. The route travels along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal and passes through three locks. Visitors to the Museum this summer will find history brought to life by historic characters, telling the story of what it was like to live and work in one of the first industrial landscapes in Britain. Families can enjoy watching live demonstrations, taking part in old fashioned street games, visiting the vintage cinema, and enjoying traditional fish and chips.
8. Visit the Caen Hill flight of locks at Devizes
From our base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Monkton Combe near Bath, it takes around nine hours to reach the base of the Caen Hill flight. The journey travels 15 miles and passes through eight locks. The breath-taking sight of the 16 locks in a row, part of a total of 29 locks, is truly one of the most spectacular of Britain’s inland waterways. The historic market town of Devizes is a short walk away, with its Wadworth Brewery Visitor Centre and famous shire horses making daily deliveries. Devizes also has a great range of independent shops, pubs and restaurants, including the Bear Hotel.
9. Get close to nature at Fradley Pool Nature Reserve
Setting off from our Great Haywood base near Stafford, it takes around six hours to reach Fradley Junction. The journey travels 12 miles along the Trent & Mersey Canal, and passes through five locks. Picturesque Fradley, offers visitors guided walks, a café, two pubs and Fradley Pool Nature Reserve, home to an abundance of wildlife. Along the way, you’ll pass the National Trust’s Shugborough Estate and Cannock Chase. As well as a number of rural family-friendly canalside pubs, including the Wolseley Arms near Rugeley.
Our modern narrowboats are like floating holiday cottages, with hot water, central heating, showers, flushing toilets, comfortable beds and fully equipped kitchens.
In our galley kitchens, you’ll find a sink with hot and cold running water, a cooker with four gas hobs, and an oven/grill beneath. There’s a fridge with a small freezer compartment, a larder, work tops, pots, pans, kettle, cutlery and crockery. Many of our canal boats also have a microwave. So, while the space is relatively small, it’s easy to cook simple and healthy meals on board.
To provide inspiration for your next holiday afloat, we asked some of our experienced narrowboat holiday-makers and colleagues who live on board their own boats, for their favourite recipes afloat.
Stan Cullimore’s Venison Ragu with Tagliatelle
Stan Cullimore was a member of the 80’s band The Housemartins. Now a journalist and children’s author, Stan has been enjoying regular narrow boat holidays for years.
Cooking time: around 1 hr
500g venison mince*
400g chopped tomatoes (tinned)
2 x medium carrots
1 x large onion
1 x bulb of fennel
handful of fresh tarragon (or a large pinch if dried)
200ml beef stock
200 ml red wine
dollop of tomato puree
75g of Tagliatelle per person
*If you prefer, you can replace the venison with pork, beef or Quorn mince. And use vegetable stock instead of beef stock.
Put the venison mince into a frying pan with some olive oil and brown for a few minutes. Whilst it is sizzling away, chop the carrots, onion and fennel.
Remove the mince from the pan, leaving the juices behind. Place the meat to one side in a bowl. Place the chopped vegetables in the pan with the meat juices. Heat and allow to soften for a few minutes.
Return the meat to the pan, with the vegetables, and allow this marvellous mixture to bubble away gently. Add the chopped tomatoes. Stir in the stock, red wine and tomato puree. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
Finely chop the tarragon (if fresh), the chilli and the garlic. Add to the pan. Place a lid on the pan, turn down the heat and leave to simmer for at least 40 minutes. By now, you should have an open bottle of red wine to hand which is still quite full. Pour yourself a glass, sit back and relax. The hard work is over, it’s time to kick back, chill out and enjoy the smells wafting from the cooker. Mmm. Should be good.
Twelve minutes before the ragu is due to be ready, fill the kettle, boil it, then put the pasta on to cook. Should take around ten minutes, but read the pasta packet for details.
Finally, plate up the pasta, spoon a large portion of ragu on top and munch away. With that and another glass of red in hand, you are definitely living your best boat life.
Kevin Yarwood’s Cauliflower, Broccoli & Tomato Gratin
Kevin is our base manager at Great Haywood. He lives aboard his own narrowboat with his wife and two children.
Cooking time: around 40 minutes
1 head each of broccoli and cauliflower, cut into small florets
4 large tomatoes sliced
6 tablespoons grated Parmesan
180g of cream cheese
150ml tub of sour cream
200ml tub crème fraiche
2 teaspoons of English mustard
2 handfuls of grated cheese
bunch of finely chopped spring onions
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Pre heat oven at gas mark 6
Put florets into a pan of boiling water and simmer for 5 minutes
Drain and put into a roasting tin
Mix all topping ingredients together season with salt and black pepper
Spread the mix over the florets
Top with sliced tomatoes and sprinkle over the Parmesan
Bake for 30 minutes, until bubbling and browned on top
Serve with a crisp mixed salad and garlic bread
*This recipe is vegetarian but can be made vegan by exchanging the cheese and dairy products to vegan alternatives.
Matt Lucas Stern’s Scotch Egg Recipe
Matt is our operations manager, and he lives on board his own narrowboat at Wootton Wawen.
“Scotch eggs are great for a cruise on the boat, as you can have them hot in the evening with a salad, and any left-over eggs can be eaten cold the next day, when you are on the move. These home-made scotch eggs are soft boiled, making them far better than the dry ones you buy.”
Cooking time: around 45 minutes
70g pack of Panko breadcrumbs
720g sausage meat
salt & pepper
To soft boil the eggs
Boil a pan of water with a small amount of vinegar.
When on a rolling boil, lower your free range eggs in to the water making sure they are covered by the water.
Time for 6 minutes for soft boiled, longer for harder centres. When time is up, cool immediately in a bowl of cold water and peel and set aside.
To make the outer casing
Mix 180g of sausage meat per egg with pinch of salt, a generous amount of cracked pepper, a pinch of thyme, a tablespoon roughly chopped parsley and a teaspoon of Dijon mustard.
Flatten out the mix and wrap each egg in the sausage meat mixture.
To finish the egg
Preheat oven at gas mark 6.
Make an egg wash dip by whisking an egg and preparing a Panko breadcrumb bath.
Dip the egg and sausage meat ball in the egg first, then the breadcrumbs. Do this twice for an extra crispy outer crust.
Put eggs on a non-stick baking sheet and spray with a small mist of light oil. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, or until crispy and golden brown.
Bridget Harrison’s Mars Bar Crunch
Bridget writes for The Times and has been going on regular family holidays on board boats for over 30 years.
“This is an easy recipe that kids can do alone, and makes delicious snacks that you can hand out at tea time, or as rewards to any crew driving or doing locks. But be warned, they are very moreish!”
6 Mars bars
200g Rice Crispies
Cut the butter and Mars bars into chunks and melt in a saucepan over a low heat until liquid.
Put the Rice Crispies in a bowl and add the Mars bar /butter mixture.
Stir well until they are combined. Tip into a baking dish and press down until firm.
Pop in the fridge if you have room, but you may not on the boat, so it’s fine to leave on top also.
When the mixture is set, turn out and cut into squares and store in a Tupperware box.
Howard Fisher’s Bread & Butter Pudding
Howard Fisher has been on a canal boat holiday almost every year for the last 50 years, including around 15 with Anglo Welsh.
“This is for a pudding I’ve made for years. It has been modified over the years, but it always disappears, no matter how much I make!”
6 small slices bread and butter
and optionally 2 tablespoons marmalade
Heat oven to 175°C (Gas mark 6)
Grease dish and line with 3 slices of bread and butter.
Sprinkle with currants, sugar and grated nutmeg. Spoon over marmalade if using.
Britain’s peaceful 3,000 mile network of inland waterways provides the perfect staycation destination for 2022.
Emma Lovell, reservations manager for Anglo Welsh, says:
“Pottering slowly through the countryside at just four miles per hour, watching out for wildlife, is a great way to relax.
“Narrow boat holidays offer a self-contained floating holiday home experience, and the chance for hirers to navigate their very own adventure afloat. It’s free to moor up almost anywhere, so boaters can stop off at canalside pubs, villages and waterside destinations along the way.”
Here’s a guide to our Top 10 narrow boat holidays for 2022:
1. Cruise to the World Heritage Site at Saltaire – from our narrowboat holiday base at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, you can reach Saltaire on a short break. The journey to Sir Titus Salt’s famous Victorian industrial model town takes seven hours and passing through 11 locks. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Salt built the textile Mill and entire village for his mill workers, all in a beautiful Italianate style. Places to visit at Saltaire include the magnificent Salt’s Mill, displaying many examples of the work of Bradford born artist David Hockney.
2. Complete the Four Counties Ring – on a week’s break from our canal boat hire base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire, you can access the fabulous Four Counties Ring. The journey takes you on a 58-hour waterway odyssey, passing through 96 locks. The four counties travelled through are Staffordshire, the West Midlands, Cheshire and Shropshire. Highlights include: the 2670-metre long Harecastle Tunnel on the Trent & Mersey Canal and views of the rolling Cheshire Plains on the Shropshire Union Canal.
3. Step back in time at the Black Country Museum – on a short break from our Tardebigge base on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal you can reach the Black Country Museum. It’s an eight-hour, three-lock journey to moorings outside the 26-acre open-air site. Here you can meet costumed characters explaining what it was like to live and work in one of the world’s most heavily industrialised landscapes. There are period shops and homes to explore, the ‘Bottle & Glass Inn’, a 1912 school lesson and traditionally cooked 1930’s-style fish and chips. There are also vintage tram and bus rides and the chance to take a trip ‘into the thick’ to experience life in an 1850’s coal mine.
4. Glide across ‘The Stream in the Sky’ – from our boat yard on the Llangollen Canal 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 Chirk Aqueduct, and on to Ellesmere, in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District. The journey to Ellesmere and back takes around 14 hours, passing through two locks each way.
5. Take a Thames cruise to Henley – on a week’s break from our canal boat hire base close to Oxford, you can enjoy a Thames boating holiday to the historic town of Henley and back. The journey to Henley passes through 19 locks and takes around 16 cruising hours. Places to stop off at along the way include: the City of Oxford, packed with architectural treasures, including the magnificent Bodleian Library. You can also visit Abingdon with its popular riverside pub, the Nag’s Head. And Wallingford with its Castle Gardens dating back to Saxon times, and Agatha Christie Trail. Henley is home to the River & Rowing Museum and a choice of riverside pubs.
6. Navigate to the Eisteddfod town of Llangollen – on a week’s break from Anglo Welsh’s canal boat rental base at Whixall Marina, you can cruise through the Shropshire Lake District and the Welsh mountains to Llangollen and back. The journey to Llangollen takes around 12 hours and passes through just two locks. It includes an 11-mile section of the Llangollen Canal, running from Gledrid Bridge to the Horseshoe Falls in Llangollen. Here stand the incredible Pontcysyllte and Chirk aqueducts and the section was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2009. Once in Llangollen, you can moor up to enjoy exploring this beautiful Eisteddfod town, nestled in the Berwyn Mountains.
7. Float through the Avon Valley and up the Caen Hill Flight – from our base at Monkton Combe on the Kennet & Avon Canal near Bath, it takes around 19 hours to reach Pewsey Wharf. The route, which is perfect for a week away, takes you through 37 locks each way, including the 29 locks of the Caen Hill Flight at Devizes. This journey also takes you across two dramatic Bath stone aqueducts at Dundas and Avoncliff. And 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.
8. Travel through the Warwickshire countryside to Fenny Compton – on a short break from our base at Stockton, boaters can cruise through the countryside to the pretty canalside village of Fenny Compton. 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 and Napton Village Stores selling produce from the nearby buffalo farm, including Buffalo burgers, sausages, meatballs, steaks and ice cream. From there, the route winds gently on through the countryside, with a series of locks to negotiate along the way. The journey to Fenny Compton and back takes around 20 hours, passing through 24 locks (12 each way).
9. Cruise into the Peak District – on a week’s break from our base at Great Haywood near Stafford, you can travel into the Peak District. It takes around 20 hours to reach Froghall Basin, passing through 35 locks. The route takes you along the Trent & Mersey Canal to Stoke on Trent, where it transfers onto the Caldon Canal. Beautiful stretches of unspoilt countryside soon open up as you chug gently out of Stoke, with moorlands, woodlands and an abundance of wildlife to enjoy.
10. Navigate the Avon Ring – on a two-week break from our base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal, you can navigate the Avon Ring. This epic journey covers 108 miles and passes through 130 locks. You will navigate sections of the River Avon, River Severn, Worcestershire & Birmingham Canal and the Stratford Canal. Highlights along the way include: Stratford upon Avon, the birthplace of Shakespeare; Tewkesbury and its 12th-century abbey; and the 30 locks at Tardebigge.
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.
Anglo Welsh. So much more than narrowboats
...but don't just take our word for it
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