We offer winter cruising from six of our narrowboat hire bases*, giving you the chance to cruise gently through the countryside, stopping off to explore canalside villages along the way, and to celebrate Christmas and New Year afloat.
The canals are quieter during the winter months and people tend to make shorter journeys. Winter cruising is about enjoying being close to the water and visiting canalside pubs with traditional log fires and other local attractions, rather than travelling lots of miles each day.
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 nice and warm on board. Some of our boats also come with multi-fuel stoves for some extra special winter warmth, and there’s plenty of storage room on board, so you can bring lots of warm and wet weather clothing.
Some of our routes will be affected at times by the Canal & River Trust’s annual winter maintenance work, but here are our Top 6 winter narrowboat holidays for 2020:
1. Cruise through the Staffordshire countryside to Fradley – heading south from our narrowboat holiday hire base at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal in Staffordshire, you’ll reach Fradley Junction in around five hours. The journey passes through five locks and 12 peaceful miles of Staffordshire countryside, including the Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Places to enjoy along the way include The Wolseley Centre run by the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, the Wolseley Arms pub and the village of Handsacre with its pub ‘The Old Peculiar’. Once at Fradley, you’ll find refreshments at the Canalside Café or The Swan Inn, and walking trails at the Fradley Pool Nature Reserve.
2. Travel gently through the Shropshire countryside to historic Whitchurch – from our barge holiday rental base at Whixall on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire, it takes around four hours to reach the pretty historic town of Whitchurch. Along the way, the route passes Whixall Moss, a Mecca for wildlife. Once at Whitchurch, enjoy way-marked walks, Brown Moss nature reserve and a choice of eateries, including the award-winning Black Bear pub.
3. Float to through the Warwickshire countryside to Shakespeare’s Stratford – from our narrowboat rental base at on the Stratford Canal at Wootton Wawen, near Henley-in-Arden in Warwickshire, it’s a picturesque six-hour cruise through the Warwickshire countryside to Shakespeare’s Stratford. Once there, you can moor up in Bancroft Basin in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon to enjoy exploring this historic town, and visiting some of its many pubs, restaurants and cafes.
4. Navigate to the canalside village of Lapworth – from our canal barge holiday hire base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, it takes around seven hours to cruise the historic canal village of Lapworth. With no locks to pass through along the way, it’s a great route for canal boat holiday beginners. Once there, you can moor up for countryside walks along the Heart of England Way, and visit the National Trust’s Packwood House, with beautiful gardens to explore.
5. Visit historic Chester afloat – from our narrowboat hire base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal near Tarporley in Cheshire, it’s a seven-hour cruise through the Cheshire countryside, passing through nine locks, to reach the historic city of Chester. Once moored up at Northgate visitor moorings, you can take time to explore this ancient Cathedral City with Roman City Walls, Amphitheatre, riverside gardens and fabulous City Centre Christmas lights.
6. Cross ‘The Stream in the Sky’ to the Shropshire Lake District – our canal boat rental base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, is a ten minute cruise away from the incredible World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. This magnificent feat of Victorian engineering carries the canal 30 metres high above the Dee Valley, with amazing views to enjoy. On a short break, canal boat holiday-makers can cruise to Ellesmere, in the centre of the Shropshire Lake District, to visit the famous Mere, a haven for wildlife.
*Subject to government guidance and the lifting of relevant restrictions to control the spread of coronavirus, our boat yards are due to reopen on Monday 7 December. If you make a booking, but are legally unable to take your holiday as planned due to a Government coronavirus lockdown, you can transfer your booking with no admin fee or request a refund.
The New Year is a great time to take up new hobbies and activities, to learn a new skill. It is an opportunity for a fresh start.
New Year’s resolutions should not be about self-denial and restrictions but about positive fulfilment, expansion, self-discovery and learning. A new hobby is a wonderful way to boost your wellbeing and re-energise life when things are feeling a little stale.
After the overindulgence of Christmas and New Year’s Eve most of us are seeking some more wholesome interests and activities to nourish our mind, body and soul.
So why not take up narrowboating as your new hobby for 2020!
Any narrowboat holiday veteran will admit to being a little nervous the first time they found themselves in control of their own canal barge but our expert instructors will ensure you have all the knowledge you need to quickly become an adept skipper.
Before you set off from our narrowboat hire base, you will be taught how to start the engine, fill up with water, steer, moor up and work the canal locks. They will also talk you through canal etiquette and rules such as where and when to drive, speeds, how to leave locks behind you, best places to moor up and more.
All our narrowboats have manuals on board for guests to check anything or you can even give our engineering team a ring 24 hours a day for further advice. Since most canal boats cannot move at more than three miles per hour, being at the helm is a relaxing rather than stressful experience.
Once you have experienced the joy of a canal boat holiday for the first time, we’re willing to wager a decent sum, you will be back for more. Here are just some of the reasons why:
A canal boat holiday is a perfect way to explore some of the most beautiful areas of Britain, with more than 2000 miles of navigable waterways snaking their way through unspoilt countryside and historic cities, towns and villages. How far you explore largely dependent on how long you have for your canal boat holiday as narrowboats move at a stately pace, but even a couple of days is enough to cover some ground. As you are always on the move, mooring in a different spot each day with new places and things to admire and explore, there’s no excuse for getting bored.
It is a very calming and mindful experience being on the water, focused on the present moment, whether steering the narrowboat or taking in the gorgeous surroundings. With so many people now suffering from stress, a canal boat holiday is the perfect way to unwind away from the rush and bustle of your day to day existence. The canals crisscross miles of idyllic countryside and are teeming with wildlife so a narrowboat holiday allows you to get outside, be one with nature and breathe the clean air while listening to birdsong. Choose one of the more rural canal routes for a truly tranquil narrowboat holiday experience. Persistent stress is very bad for our health so a canal break in 2020 may be just the thing you need to boost your mental and physical wellbeing.
History geeks dream
The canals are a key part of our nation’s industrial heritage, with the vast majority built more than 200 years ago. They were originally constructed as the most efficient method of transporting large bulky goods prior to the advent of the railways. That is why there is such a high concentration of canals in the old industrial heartlands around the West Midlands and North West. This makes a canal boat holiday a history lover’s dream come true as you are quite literally floating through history. You can admire many historic feats of engineering, from the soaring grandeur of the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, completed in 1805 and the Anderton Boat Lift, completed 1875 to the Dudley Tunnel, completed 1791. Beyond the canals themselves, are the historic villages, towns and cities through which they pass as well as stately homes, castles and museums all of which are easily accessible from the waterways. If you have an interest in the UK’s heritage then a narrowboat holiday is the one for you.
So, don’t bother with self-denial, instead embrace this fantastic new hobby for 2020 and discover the magical world of narrowboating.
Here at Great Haywood, on the Trent & Mersey Canal in Staffordshire, we offer canal boat hire all year round, including holidays over Christmas and New Year.
The canals are much quieter in the winter months and there are lots of historic canalside pubs with roaring log fires to stop off at along the way.
The most popular winter cruise destination from Great Haywood is to travel south along the Trent & Mersey Canal to Fradley Junction. This peaceful 12-mile cruise through the Staffordshire countryside takes around five hours, passing through five locks.
Pubs to visit along the way the Wolseley Arms at Wolseley Bridge and The Old Peculiar in the village of Handsacre. Once at Fradley, boaters can find refreshments at the Canalside Café or The Swan Inn.
Alternatively boaters can travel north along the Trent & Mersey Canal to the market town of Stone, passing through Sandon, home to the Dog & Doublet pub, and Burston, home of The Greyhound.
We are lucky to have a number of great attractions close to us at Great Haywood. For example the National Trust’s Shugborough Estate, where the gardens lead right down to the canal less than a mile from here, has some lovely Christmas events. Visitors can see beautiful Christmas decorations in the Georgian Mansion, Servants’ Quarters and Park Farm House from 30 November to 19 December and book tickets for a spectacular Lantern Parade on Friday 20 and Saturday 21 December.
Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, once a royal hunting forest, and the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust’s Headquarters at The Wolseley Centre are also close to the canal just a few miles away from Great Haywood. Both are wonderful havens for wildlife, with lots to see and do even in the winter months.
We also still see plenty of wildlife on the canal here over the winter, especially woodland and hedgerow birds such as Chaffinch, Robins, Blue and Coal Tits, Jays, Nuthatch, Woodpeckers and our resident pair of swans. We feed the birds all year round, but of course it’s over the winter months that it’s most vital to do so. We provide nutritious wild bird seed, peanuts, fat balls and sesame seeds.
We offer a range of canal boats for hire over the winter, from a cosy narrowboat for two to a family canal boat for 12. They all have central heating, hot water showers, comfortable beds, fully equipped kitchens, WiFi, TV and DVD players, so it’s always nice and warm on board. Our luxury Constellation Class narrowboat for up to six people, ‘Pegasus’ also has a multi-fuel stove.
Over the Christmas week, we’ve got boats going out on the Friday and Saturday before Christmas and while some will return on Christmas Eve, it’s all quiet on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
This year my wife and I will be cooking Christmas lunch aboard our narrowboat for our two children and two Staffordshire Bull Terriers. Cooking Christmas dinner on a canal boat isn’t that different to a normal kitchen except you don’t have a huge amount of worktop space and you need to be careful not to buy too big a turkey, as most ovens are slightly smaller on boats.
This winter we offering winter cruising* from six of our narrowboat hire bases, giving you the chance to celebrate Christmas or New Year on the canals.
Whether you want to head to a festive waterfront destination or escape from it all in a quiet rural backwater, Christmas on the canals offers a very special experience. All our winter canal boat hire bases offer a choice of routes, and plenty of historic rural pubs with roaring log fires to stop off at along the way.
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 nice and warm and cosy on board. Some of our boats also come with multi-fuel stoves for some extra special winter warmth.
Our prices over Christmas and New Year start at start at £495 for a short break (three or four nights) on a boat for four people, weekly hire from £705.
Here are our Top 6 Christmas and New Year breaks afloat for 2019:
Cross ‘The Stream in the Sky’ to the Shropshire Lake District – from our canal boat rental base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, you can travel through the Welsh Mountains by canal boat to Ellesmere and back, passing over the incredible World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct along the way. This magnificent feat of Victorian engineering carries the canal 30 metres high above the Dee Valley, with amazing views to enjoy. Historic pubs to enjoy along the way include The Poacher’s Pocket pub at Gledrid and the Aqueduct Inn at Froncysyllte. Once at Ellesmere, at the centre of the Shropshire Lake District, you can moor up to visit the Mere created 10,000 years ago by the retreating ice age, now home to an abundance of wildlife.
Cruise through the Staffordshire countryside to Fradley – heading south from our narrowboat holiday hire base at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal in Staffordshire, you’ll reach Fradley Junction in five hours. Here the Trent & Mersey Canal meets the Coventry Canal. The journey to Fradley passes through 12 peaceful miles of Staffordshire countryside, and just five locks. Places to enjoy along the way include The Wolseley Centre run by the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, the Wolseley Arms, Cannock Chase Forest and the village of Rugeley with its canalside Mossley Tavern. Once at Fradley, you’ll find refreshments at the Canalside Café or The Swan Inn and walking trails at the Fradley Pool Nature Reserve.
Float to through the Warwickshire countryside to Shakespeare’s Stratford – from our narrowboat rental base at on the Stratford Canal at Wootton Wawen, near Henley-in-Arden in Warwickshire, it’s a picturesque six-hour cruise through the Warwickshire countryside to Shakespeare’s Stratford. Once there, you can moor up in Bancroft Basin in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon to enjoy festive fun in the home of Bard, including twinkling Christmas lights, regular markets, carol singers, Christmas menus at a wide range of restaurants and performances of Shakespeare’s ‘King John’ at the Swan Theatre.
Travel into Birmingham for festive fun afloat – from our canal barge holiday hire base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, it takes just five hours to cruise into the centre of Birmingham. With no locks to pass through along the way, it’s a great route for canal boat holiday beginners. Once there, you can moor up in Gas Street Basin, close to Brindleyplace to enjoy Christmas in Britain’s Second City, including ‘Snow White’ at the Hippodrome, ‘Grandpa’s Great Escape Live’ at the Birmingham Arena (23, 24 & 26 Dec), The Big Wheel and Ice Rink at Centenary Square and the Frankfurt Christmas Market at Victoria Square (until 23 Dec).
Visit historic Chester for some Christmas sparkle – from our narrowboat hire base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal near Tarporley in Cheshire, it takes around seven hours, passing through nine locks, to reach the historic city of Chester. Along the way, the route passes through 12 miles of beautiful Cheshire countryside and the popular Ring O’Bells canalside pub at Christleton. Once moored up at Northgate visitor moorings next to the Roman City Walls, special festive events to enjoy in Chester include performances of Peter Pan at the Storyhouse Theatre, the Christmas Tree Festival at Chester Cathedral, the Lantern Parade at Chester Zoo (until 23 Dec), the Chester Christmas Market (until 22 Dec) as well as fabulous City Centre Christmas lights and sparkling shops at the Grosvenor Shopping Centre.
Cruise through the Shropshire countryside to historic Whitchurch – from our barge holiay rental base at Whixall on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire, it takes around four hours to reach the pretty historic town of Whitchurch. Along the way, the route passes Whixall Moss, a Mecca for wildlife, and Pan Castle just outside Whitchurch. Special Christmas events in Whitchurch include performances of Aladdin in the Civic Centre (26-30 Dec), the Crib Festival at St Alkmund’s Church, sparkling Christmas lights and festive menus at many of the town’s eateries, including the Wheatsheaf Hotel and Black Bear pub.
*NB some of our routes will be affected by winter maintenance work on the canal network.
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.
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