Summer holiday season is almost upon us and what better way to spend it then hiring a narrowboat and floating gently along a beautiful historic canal.
If you are planning a canal boat holiday this summer, it is worth doing some research into the many fun events and attractions you could reach by narrowboat.
Our historic waterways come alive during the summer holiday season so wherever you want your canal boat hire to start from, we can guarantee there will be something fun or interesting within easy cruising distance.
With so much to see and do along the canals, there is something for every generation to enjoy. So, if you are planning a canal barge holiday for the whole family, don’t worry, there will be plenty to keep the kids entertained.
Here are a few of our top choices for summer holiday fun along the canals this year:
A little earlier than most school summer holidays but worth including just the same as each year Bath Carnival bring the streets of this historic city to life in a colourful celebration of diverse world cultures. Flamboyant floats, costumes, music and dancing thrill the crowds and leave the whole city wanting to party.
Bristol’s harbourside plays host to the city’s biggest free festival which combines art, music and performance while showcasing the city’s maritime heritage. The floating harbour is lined by stages and stalls selling fantastic local food and drink with live music, shows, workshops, boat trips and more fun for all the family.
Dig out your favourite superhero costume and geek out at the UK’s biggest pop-culture event. Comic Con returns to Manchester with a blockbuster weekend of special guests including Guardians of the Galaxy’s Michael Rooker as well as TV, movies, comic books and cosplay that can be enjoyed by parents and children alike.
Admire this historic feat of engineering while sipping on afternoon tea and wolfing down delicious dainty sandwiches and cakes in a perfect afternoon out. The special ‘afternoon tea experiences’ include a look around the magnificent 144-year-old boat lift followed by a boat trip on the River Weaver and a delicious afternoon tea in the lift view marquee.
The famous Gifford Circus will be bringing its new show Xanadu to Stonor Park in Henley. Inspired by the 70s flower power movement, the new show promises to be a spectacular evening of incredible acrobatics, jaw-dropping aerial tricks alongside clowns, musicians and even horses. Enter the magic wonderland that is Gifford’s Big Top and wait to fall under their spell.
Enjoy one of the Bard’s masterpieces in the dramatic open air surroundings of Oxford Castle and Prison’s courtyard. There is tragedy and comedy on offer depending on your preference. Tomahawk Theatre presents Macbeth from 1st to 27th July while Siege Theatre performs Twelfth Night from 29th July to 10th August.
After the popularity of the monthly market, World of Wedgewood is extending it into a two-day celebration of mouth-watering food and drink and artisan crafts. More than 50 stalls will be showcasing the best edible delights from local suppliers alongside hand-crafted products to a backdrop of great live music throughout the weekend.
The museum at Ellesmere Port is hosting a special day to pay homage to the special role of horses in the history of the waterways. Go along to see boats being towed along the canal by horses in the traditional style as well as lots of other horse related activities.
Treat yourself to some of the best live classical music you’ll ever hear with one of these two amazing Oxford Prom concerts, both featuring virtuoso pianist Maki Sekiya. The first, the Hall of Fame Classic concert at University Church of St Mary the Virgin will showcase Beethoven and Shostakovich. The second, The Magic of Mozart, held at the same venue, will, as the name suggests celebrate the work of the Austrian musical genius.
Chester Zoo is doing its bit to foster the next generation of David Attenboroughs with weekly clubs throughout the holidays for children aged 5 to 8, exploring different types of wildlife: 20 July, Feathery Friends; 27 July, Brilliant Bugs; 3 August, Pond Creatures; 17th August, Mammal Detectives. It is also a great chance for mum and dad to do a bit of sightseeing in peace and quiet.
Great Northern Square has been transformed by a giant sandpit containing 50 tonnes of sand and wood rounds which will keep children happy for hours. The sandpit provides the focal point for a whole summer of family friendly activities such as markets, play sessions, yogathons and more.
With over 100 rides and a 15 acre zoo, Drayton Manor is a theme park the whole family can enjoy and it is hosting a ‘summer of fun’ throughout the holidays. It even boasts Thomas Land where younger children can spend a day meeting Thomas and his friends and testing out rides like Bertie Bus and Toby’s Tram Express. With special events and family activities to be announced throughout the summer, Drayton really does have every age group covered.
Nearest Anglo Welsh canal boat hire base: Tardebigge
This temple to chocolate making is presenting a special show throughout the summer starring a living, breathing version of Freddo, which is a guaranteed hit with the little ones. The show, included in the normal ticket price, invites you to set sail with Captain Freddo and learn what it takes to become a pirate on the Seven Seas. Lean how to walk and talk like a pirate, or risk walking the plank!
National Sealife Centre, daily until Sunday, 8th September, Birmingham Canal Navigations Mainline or Gas Street Canal Basin
This awe-inspiring Norman Foster-designed aquarium where you can see more than 60 strange, beautiful and fascinating creatures of the deep, is hosting a special ‘Pirates and Mermaids’ underwater treasure hunt adventure to keep the kids entertained this summer.
Experience the UK’s biggest birds of prey show at one of the best preserved medieval castles in Britain. Kids and adults alike will be wowed as up to 70 birds of prey take to the skies in an action packed dynamic display of aerial avian acrobatics. The shows will take place daily throughout the summer and into Autumn.
This magnificent medieval castle hosts a series of re-enactment events throughout summer which will transport you back centuries to witness dramatic episodes from British history. On the 20th to 21st July you can experience life as it would have been in Skipton during the Wars of the Roses, on the 3rd to 4th of August you can watch the Civil War Regiment prepare for battle against the Parliamentarian army and on the 17th to 18th August watch 12 century knights display their fighting prowess.
Plan your canal boat holiday for 2019: Beautiful spring cruising routes
There is no prettier time of year in Britain than the spring. As the crocuses, primroses and daffodils start to flower and lambs gambol through green fields, this is the perfect time to hop aboard a narrowboat for a relaxing canal holiday.
The best spring canal routes are the ones which showcase the loveliness of the British countryside.
The canals of England and Wales are at their most scenic and serene at this magical time of year when there is far less traffic on our historic waterways than in the peak summer holiday season. Those who opt for a spring narrowboat holiday will face far less queuing at locks or waiting patiently at one-way stretches and enjoy the ultimate escape.
So, take advantage of the lengthening days and warmer weather during this tranquil season to plan your perfect narrowboat holiday.
To help, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most beautiful spring cruising routes on the canals of England and Wales:
The canal continues towards Devizes on the edge of the rolling Wiltshire Downs where you must ascend the dramatic Caen Hill Locks, a flight of 16 locks offering great views from the top. The market town of Devizes boasts more than 500 listed buildings as well as some independent shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs.
From the newly revamped marina, you can travel easily onto the Llangollen Canal which snakes through the gorgeous border country that straddles England and Wales.
You first pass through the market town of Ellesmere, aptly named for the series of lakes which surround it which were formed by glacial compression at the end of the last Ice Age.
Beyond that, the canal meanders west through luscious surroundings, to reach the Chirk Aqueduct which takes you across the border into north Wales and is quickly followed by the atmospheric 459-yard single width Chirk Tunnel.
Next is arguably the most spectacular sight of all the canals of England and Wales, Thomas Telford’s masterpiece, the soaring Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. This crowning jewel of historic waterway engineering completed in 1805, spans more than 1000 feet at a tremulous height of 126-ft above the River Dee, offering passing boats sweeping views of the river valley in each direction. It is the highest canal aqueduct in the world.
After this the canal twists and turns clinging to the edge of the dramatic Welsh hills, with far reaching views across the valley, until it reaches the pretty town of Llangollen, steeped in myth and legend overlooked by hilltop ruins of Dinas Bran Castle.
Stratford-on-Avon to Warwick
Step back in time and cruise through Shakespeare’s England, taking in the unspoilt Warwickshire countryside and its array of wonderful waterside pubs. From our base at Wootton Wawen you can reach the birthplace of the famed playwright in just a day or two, wander its cobbled streets and admire the cluster of Tudor buildings.
Travel back past the canal base through bucolic farmland, copses of oak and sycamore, quaint villages and past idyllic country pubs. Heading north the Stratford Canal takes boats over the longest aqueduct in England, the Edstone Aqueduct.
You can moor up at the rustic Fleur-de-Lys at Lowsonford which offers passersby a great selection of real ales and pub grub to be enjoyed in its large canalside garden.
Continue through open countryside to join the Grand Union Canal which leads past more idyllic villages and pubs with a ye olde world charm including the Tom O’ The Wood in Rowington. It is then just five miles through the famous ‘Hatton Flight’ of 21 locks on to the centre of Warwick itself, built around its formidable medieval castle.
Bunbury to Market Drayton and beyond
The Shropshire Union canal takes narrowboats across miles of quintessentially English countryside, dotted with dozens of isolated canalside pubs which once served the commercial traffic that used this main route between the midlands and north west.
This makes it a particularly scenic and tranquil route to cruise, starting at the Anglo Welsh base in Bunbury and heading south towards Market Drayton.
Due to its rural loveliness ‘the Shroppie’, as it is affectionately known, is a favourite with narrowboaters up and down the country so can get very crowded in the summer making spring the perfect time to explore it.
From Bunbury, you cross the Cheshire Plain, thronging with dairy cattle and sheep enjoying its rich pastures, past historic Nantwich, before ascending the Audlem Flight of locks towards pretty Market Drayton.
Shortly after leaving the town and passing through the deep cutting at Woodseaves, you’ll be treated to a great view of The Wrekin, a huge hill more than 15 miles away.
The canal then proceeds south east through the unspoilt undulating Shropshire countryside of fields, hills and wooded valleys with stretches where there are no towns for miles, towards Wolverhampton.
Silsden to Skipton and beyond
One of England’s last surviving wildernesses, the Yorkshire Dales are a treat at any time of year but in the spring their looming hills and river valleys are at their most beautiful.
Heading west out of Silsden, a town dating back to Saxon times, the canal passes through enchanting Yorkshire stone-built villages of Kildwick and Farnhill into a densely wooded area famous for its bluebells which carpet the area in late April. If you’re lucky you may even spot a deer.
Motor on through Bradley, a typical ‘mill village’ with a cricket field and a country pub then to Skipton, known as the ‘Gateway to the Dales’ which boasts a market four days a week. You could then choose to continue through classic Dales countryside, above the River Aire, to reach more delightful villages such as Gargrave and the flight of locks at Bank Newton which are lauded as the most beautiful locks on the whole canal system.
Get a first-hand insight into why canal boat holidays are such an enjoyable way to slow down and unwind when 20 canal bases across England and Wales offer visitors the chance to jump aboard for free. Narrowboat hire companies including Anglo Welsh will be hosting short boat trips from 11am to 4pm. We will be running boat rides from our bases in Trevor, Bunbury, Great Haywood, Wootton Wawen and Tardebigge. No booking is required.
Taking place in Little Venice since 1983, the Inland Waterway Association’s Canalway Calvacade is one of the biggest and best canal festivals in the UK. Hundreds of narrowboats and other canal craft decorated with bunting line up along the Grand Union and Regents Canal providing the backdrop to a weekend of live music, dancing and fabulous food and drink. A highlight is the boat ‘pageant’ which sees boats competing for the best décor with a different theme each year.
Thousands of visitors descend upon Skipton over the May Bank Holiday to see dozens of decorated narrowboats line the canal basin and surrounding towpaths. There will be a full programme of entertainment over three days with children’s activites and rides, as well as craft stalls and delicious food and drink.
Launched in 2007, this family festival which takes place across Vines Park in Droitwich and the historic town centre, has grown to include street markets and exhibitions, live entertainment and a vintage car rally alongside the canal boat gathering. The festival culminates with ‘The Great Droitwich Duck Race’ at 4.30pm on the Monday afternoon.
This celebration of canals, community and the environment brings hundreds of traditional narrowboats and other craft from different eras together from across the country. At least 20,000 visitors come to Rickmansworth to enjoy the boats, music, performances, displays and colourful range of traders.
Britain’s biggest inland waterways festival with more than 27,000 visitors last year, the Crick Boat Show bring together over 280 exhibitors, dozens of boats of all ages, dimensions and styles, talks by boating experts, boat trips and boat handling taster sessions all topped off with great live music and food and drink to get everyone in a celebratory mood. Now in its 20th year, this boat show is a great day out for all the family.
This is a must visit for anyone who loves boats in all their forms, with three days of ‘simply messing about in boats’ in this beautiful lake next to the River Thames. Visitors can admire classic boats, wooden boats, fibre glass boats, motor boats, sailing boats and much more with boat trips and rides. For any members of the family less keen on boats, there is also a vintage vehicle rally and many more land-based activities to enjoy.
Enjoy live music on the canalside main stage to the backdrop of hundreds of narrowboats. Fringe music events can also be enjoyed in up to 15 venues dotted across the town over three days as well as Morris dancing performances, a Celidh night, craft workshops and a rich variety of stalls celebrating Middlewich’s heritage.
Narrow boats, including one of our own from Anglo Welsh, congregate from far and wide to enjoy the live music, craft stalls, market traders and food and drink sellers which bring the banks of the River Avon to life over two fun-filled days. The live music and street performances are topped off by a spectacular illuminated boat parade and firework display on the Saturday night.
Live music, arts and crafts, fairground rides and of course boat trips are just some of the reasons to visit the Burnley Canal Festival. The town’s historic waterside blossoms with a busy programme of performances and workshops for all ages from puppet making to circus skills, alongside a tempting array of food and drink stalls.
This festival sees a whole host of family friendly activities line the banks of the River Soar. A narrowboat rally provides a colourful backdrop to the event where visitors can enjoy boat trips, live music and attractions such as a petting zoo, as well as a bustling street food market.
Usually at the end of July, this one-day festival celebrates canal life, conservation, the countryside and the traditional rural crafts. Along the canal an eclectic mix of working, historical and trade boats display their wares alongside the colourful pleasure boats which visit to soak up the festival atmosphere. Old English crafts can be admired alongside food and drink stalls all to a backdrop of live folk and country music and performance.
This canalside festival brings together live music, art and crafts, a dog show, boat rides, walks, talks, films, fairground rides and some healthy competition in the form of the ‘canal Olympics’. Canal boats line up to sell their wares or simply look decorative. All the money raised at the event will towards a community narrowboat restoration project.
Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Oxford
If you would like further advice on getting to any of these, or other, events, please don’t hesitate to contact our team on 0117 304 1122 or via our website: www.anglowelsh.co.uk/Contact-Us.
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 winter we are offering winter cruising* from seven of our canal boat hire bases, giving narrowboat holiday-makers the chance to can set sail to a choice of exciting waterside towns and cities, all offering special festive events and fantastic Christmas shopping opportunities.
From a cosy narrowboat for two to a family canal boat for 12, all our boats have central heating, hot water, WiFi, TV and DVD players, so it’s always warm, cosy and welcoming on board. Some of our boats also come with multi-fuel stoves for that extra injection of winter warmth.
Our winter cruising hire boat yards offer a choice of routes, so this winter, whether you want to head to a fun-filled festive destination or escape from it all in a quiet rural backwater, Christmas on the canals offers a very special experience.
Christmas prices start at £495 for a short break, £705 for a week.
Here are our Top 6 festive destinations for 2018:
Ride the Big Wheel in Birmingham – from our narrowboat hire base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, it’s a five-hour, lock-free cruise to reach city centre moorings. From here you can use your canal boat as a base to enjoy some of the many exciting Christmas events in Britain’s exciting second city, including incredible shopping at the Mailbox and Bull Ring, the Frankfurt Christmas Market at Victoria Square (15 Nov to 23 Dec) and indoor ice rink and big wheel on New Canal Street (15 Nov to 27 Jan).
Enjoy an Elf Adventure at Trentham Shopping Village – from our canal boat hire base at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal in Staffordshire, it takes around 10 hours to reach Trentham, travelling 13 miles and passing through 13 locks along the way. Once there, you can moor up and explore the beautiful Trentham Gardens with its enchanting woodland fairy trail, and visit Trentham Shopping Village where the Elf Adventure Challenge gives families the chance to take part in festive themed games, join in the music and listen to Elves tell their tales (selected dates from 15 to 24 Dec).
Revel in swash-buckling Panto fun at Theatre Royal Bath – it takes just two hours to reach moorings in Bath City Centre from our narrowboat hire base, Sydney Wharf, on the Kennet & Avon Canal. From our base at Monkton Combe at Brassknocker Basin, the cruise is a short four-hour cruise. From there, it’s a 15-minute stroll into the City where the Peter Pan family pantomime will be on at the Theatre Royal (13 Dec to 13 Jan), as well as carols by candlelight at Bath Abbey, skating on the outdoor Bath on Ice rink.
Be transported to Lapland aboard the Llangollen Steam Railway – from our canal boat hire base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, on a short break narrowboat holiday-makers can travel to the pretty town of Llangollen and back, home of the Llangollen Steam Railway. The Railway will be running Santa Christmas Specials on selected dates from Sat 1 Dec to Mon 24 Dec, offering the chance to board a specially decorated steam train travelling from Llangollen Station to Carrog – temporarily renamed Lapland for Santa’s visit. On board children receive a special gift and grown-ups can look forward to a mince pie and tipple from Santa’s Little Helpers.
Visit the Real Father Christmas in Stratford upon Avon – it’s a picturesque six-hour cruise to Shakespeare’s Stratford from our narrowboat hire base at Wootton Wawen, near Henley-in-Arden in Warwickshire. Once there, you can moor up in Bancroft Basin to enjoy all the festive fun dealt out each year by the home of Bard, including stunning Christmas lights, fantastic markets, atmospheric carol singers and, at Magic Alley ‘The most authentic Father Christmas in the country’.
Go skiing at Etruria – from our canal boat rental base at Great Haywood in Staffordshire, on a week’s break boaters can travel north up the Trent & Mersey Canal to Etruria in Stoke-on-Trent. The journey takes around 11 hours, travelling 18 miles and passing through 18 locks. Once at Etruria, you can moor up to enjoy a choice of family activities, including the Tropical waters of the Waterworld Aqua Park and the much colder dry ski slopes of the Stoke Ski Centre.
*Winter cruising routes can be affected by stoppages and closures as a result of winter maintenance work
Our 2,000-mile network of navigable canals and rivers pass through some of the most picturesque scenery and exciting towns and cities in Britain, offering canal boat holiday-makers the chance to set sail on an inspiring travel adventure closer to home.
To give you an idea of what you can experience, here at Anglo Welsh we’ve put our heads together to come up with our Top 5 “international” themed canal boat adventures:
Cruise the canals like you are in Venice – with more canals than Venice, Birmingham offers narrowboat holiday-makers the chance glide through Britain’s vibrant second city and moor up in its centre for some sight-seeing. The Pre-Raphaelite collection in Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery is the best in the World and there’s even a couple of Canalettos on display (though they are paintings of Warwick Castle rather than the Grand Canal). From our canal boat hire base on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal at Tardebigge near Bromsgrove, it takes just five hours to reach Birmingham City Centre.
Travel the Kennet & Avon like you are in the Loire Valley – the beautiful Avon Valley in Bath and Wiltshire offers a mini version of France’s stunning Loire Valley. With historic sites like Bath Abbey and the Tithe Barn in Bradford on Avon, gourmet experiences like the Ivy Bath Brasserie and Michelin starred Olive Tree in Bath, nature trails in the ancient Savernake Forest and even a Vineyard at Pewsey, a cruise along the Kennet & Avon Canal can provide canal boat holiday-makers with a fantastic cultural and natural environment escape.
Glide through the Peak District like you are in the Appalachians – the picturesque Caldon Canal in Staffordshire takes narrowboat holiday-makers into the Peak District, for an Appalachian-style experience. On a week’s break from our narrowboat hire base at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal, it’s a 43-hour return journey to Froghall Basin and back, travelling a total of 72 miles through 72 locks. After connecting onto the Caldon Canal at Etruria in Stoke on Trent, the journey passes through gently rolling hills and wooded areas and into ever more remote countryside, with plenty of wildlife to watch out for.
Voyage like you are on the Canal du Midi – from our narrowboat rental base at Oxford, you can enjoy a fabulous Thames boating holiday, passing historic riverside towns and villages, and fortresses at Oxford and Windsor, rivalling the charm of the Canal du Midi in southern France. And with restaurants like the three Michelin-starred Waterside at Bray and Le Clos at Wallingford serving top class French cuisine, the gastronomy can be matched too! On a 10-day break from our Oxford base, boaters can voyage to Windsor and back, travelling a total of 148 miles, passing through 52 locks and cruising for around 46 hours.
Visit Roman ruins like you are in the Eternal City – from our Bunbury canal boat hire base on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire, it’s a seven-hour, nine-lock journey to the ancient city of Chester, once a stronghold of the Roman Empire. With the largest Roman amphitheatre and biggest Roman fort in Britain to explore, plus extensive city walls to walk, blink and you might imagine you’re in Rome! Award-winning tours provide exclusive access to remains in basements with guides dressed up as Roman soldiers. And there are some lovely Italian restaurants to dine at in Chester, including The Yard and La Fattoria, so you don’t have to compromise on the quality of your pasta or pizza.
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 Top 8 short break narrow boat holidays for newcomers for 2019 to get you started:
Head to Birmingham lock-free – with no locks between our canal boat rental base at Tardebigge and Birmingham City Centre, this five-hour cruise is perfect for novice canal boaters. The first half of the journey passes through fields, woodlands and sleepy villages before becoming more urbanised. Once you reach the centre of Birmingham, there are over-night moorings at Gas Street Basin, with easy access to Brindley Place waterside restaurants, the Sea Life Centre, glitzy Mailbox shopping and other leading attractions.
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 and passing through Chirk Tunnel.
Dip your toe in the water at Bath – from our canal boat rental base at Sydney Wharf on the Kennet & Avon Canal in Bath, 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.
Float gently along to Fradley – from our boat yard at 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 a wander around the Fradley Pool Nature Reserve, where a woodland trail and boardwalk offers a delightful tour of the reserve.
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 City centre moorings in Oxford and many of the locks along the Thames are manned, so there’s often help on hand for newcomers. Once in Oxford, you take time to explore 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.
Cruise up the Shroppie to historic Chester – it’s a seven-hour, nine-lock journey to the ancient city of Chester from our Bunbury canal boat hire 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.
Test the waters on the Leeds & Liverpool – setting off from our Silsden base on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire, the journey to Gargrave travels 12 miles through just three locks, 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.
Cross the border into Wales surrounded by breath-taking scenery – from our new canal boat hire base at Whixall Marina on the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire, on a short break narrowboat holiday-makers can cruise to Chirk and back in 16 hours, encountering just two locks. 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.
To book your first holiday with us, call our friendly booking team on 0117 304 1122.
We feel better by the water – Since ancient times, people have assigned healing properties to water and today we still turn to water for a sense of calm. With hundreds of miles of tranquil unspoilt countryside to cruise gently through, a canal boat holiday is an excellent way to unwind.
Our canals are in great shape – With over £1billion invested since the turn of the Millennium, Britain’s beautiful canal network is in better shape than ever so it’s the perfect time to dip your toe in the water.
You don’t need to be an expert – A licence isn’t required to steer a narrowboat and boat steering tuition is provided as part of our holiday packages, so it couldn’t be easier to get afloat.
Ditch those tablets – Boating offers plenty of activities to keep idle hands busy – steering the boat, working the locks and planning the route, so iPad addicts are happy to take a break from their screens.
Pop into a pub – There are hundreds of waterside pubs to enjoy along our canals and rivers, many of them historic inns, welcoming families with traditional pub grub.
It’s like a floating safari – Our inland waterways are havens for wildlife providing homes for many types of birds, plants, animals and insects, so narrowboat holiday-makers can enjoy watching out for wildlife along the way.
Enjoy an outdoor workout – Working the locks, exploring local attractions, walking the towpaths and being out in the fresh air make a narrowboat holiday great for keeping fit.
You can take your dog – We welcome dogs on all our boats so you don’t have to leave your furry friend behind and rack-up doggy care bills.
Go for the greener way – As soon as you swap your car for a boat, you’ll be using a third of the fuel and emitting a sixth of the pollution so as well as enjoying the environment, you’ll be kinder to it.
Take a floating history lesson – Britain’s canal network is a ‘working heritage’ made up of thousands of historic structures, which were often world-firsts on the global civil engineering stage – like the incredible Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in North Wales, now a World Heritage site.
To book a holiday or break on any of Anglo Welsh’s fleet, call our friendly booking team on 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.