By Matt Lucas Stern, boat yard manager at Wootton Wawen
The canals and our boat yard are quieter during the winter months, but not too quiet here at Wootton Wawen as we continue to offer canal boat hire for winter cruising.
Although some of our routes will be affected by winter maintenance on the canals, which this year will include spot dredging on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, there are no works planned for the Stratford Canal, so our immediate routes remain open.
As the canals are even more peaceful during the winter months they can offer a great way to get away over Christmas. We still see plenty of wildlife here during the winter, including many hedgerow birds like black birds, great tits and robins, as well as plenty of ducks, coots, moorhens, geese, herons and swans, including a couple of resident Australian black swans.
Stratford is probably the most popular Christmas and New Year destination from our boat yard. The Christmas lights, carol singers and markets make it a very special place to be over the festive period.
Alternatively, boaters can head north from our boat yard and find a choice of pubs with roaring log fires and Christmas menus, including the popular Crabmill at Preston Bagot and the Fleur de Lys at Lowsonford. And the Yew Tree Farm Shopping Village and Café here at Wootton Wawen is always a fun place to visit during the Christmas build-up. It’s great for stocking up on Christmas lunch goodies.
I live aboard my boat here at Wootton Wawen with my dog Caesar, so as well as working by the water I’m also lucky enough to live on the water too. Caesar is a miniature English bull terrier who is 14 months old. He seems to love the life on the canal and walking along the towpath. But he is terrified of ducks!
A dog is a great addition to your crew on any narrowboating holiday as they will enjoy it just as much as you. Just make sure you keep a close eye on them – Caesar floats about as well as a stone.
I have a 1993 Mike Heywood narrowboat with a Lister air-cooled mid-engine. I’ve started to rebuild my boat’s traditional boat man’s cabin as a homage of the old ways on the canal network. But there’s plenty of scumbling and roses and castles left to go yet!
With careful planning, my boat stays cosy and warm even during the coldest nights. I have gas central heating – just like all our hire boats. I also have a multi-fuel stove, something which some of our hire boats also have, including our luxury Heritage Class boat ‘Poppy’.
‘Poppy’ arrived here at Wootton Wawen at the beginning of the 2018 boating season. Since then she has consistently wowed her hirers with the extra space and facilities she provides for holiday groups of up to four people. She’s 66ft long – so almost as long as our 12-berth boats. She has two cabins which can either be configured as doubles or singles and she also has two bathrooms with full size showers.
Anglo Welsh has a history of supporting the military (we offer 15 per cent off our holidays to all service personnel) and we wanted to do something special for the Chelsea Pensioners. So as well as naming our Heritage Class boat ‘Poppy’ we have pledged 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.
And from next March, we’ll be adding ‘Collingwood’ to our Wootton Wawen fleet – the first of four new luxury Admiral Class boats. She will be 57ft and will offer spacious accommodation for two people. We look forward to welcoming her here next Spring!
From our canal boat hire base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal, it’s a delightful six-hour, 17-lock cruise journey through the beautiful Warwickshire countryside to overnight moorings at Bancroft Basin in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon.
From there, it’s a short walk to the town’s theatres, shops, restaurants and museums with the chance to enjoy some special activities this Easter. So why not step aboard your own floating holiday home to enjoy a family canal boat holiday adventure afloat, watching the countryside burst into life with spring lambs, busy birds, daffodils and hedgerow blossom as you cruise gently through the countryside to Shakespeare’s Stratford.
We’ve put together a list of the top 5 things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon when you get there on your narrowboat holiday:
Take part in a live theatre hunt at Shakespeare’s birthplace. This Easter (31 March to 15 April), as well as exploring Shakespeare’s home where he was born and grew up, children visiting Shakespeare’s Birthplace can take part in a fun interactive treasure hunt in the gardens, with music and comedy, led by the Museum’s in-house actors Shakespeare Aloud.
Pick up some tasty treats at the market. Stratford’s vibrant markets are an important part of the town’s history and atmosphere. Every Friday and Saturday, markets are held in Rother Street offering a range of international street food and fresh produce stalls, as well as clothing, accessories, flowers and gifts. And the Waterside Market will re-open on Easter Sunday 1 April and Bank Holiday Monday 2 April, offering a wide range of top quality products, delicious street food, plus street entertainers to delight the children.
See Christopher Ecclestone play Macbeth at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. On his return home from battle, Macbeth hears the disturbing prophecies of three witches and sets out on the path to murder. From 21 March to 18 September, Christopher Ecclestone will play Macbeth and Niamh Cusack Lady Macbeth in ‘The Scottish Play’ at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Mess with mad machines at the Museum of Mechanical Art & Design. The bizarre machine-infested MAD Museum in Stratford-upon-Avon has over 100 pieces of Kinetic Art and Automata from artists around the World. The mechanical art is loud, fun and interactive and kids are encouraged to press buttons and be hands-on with the machines on display, subtly teaching them about design, physics and maths. Over the Easter holidays (30 March to 15 April) the MAD Museum will be open every day from 10am to 5.30pm.
Enjoy waterside dining at Carluccio’s. Offering stunning views across the River Avon in Stratford, Carluccio’s Italian restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. With plenty of tasty treats for both adults and children to choose from – including Crispy Calamari, Lasagne Tradizionale and Chicken Milanese – it’s the perfect place to land after a day’s boating or sight-seeing.
To book a holiday or break on any of Anglo Welsh’s fleet, call our friendly booking team on 0117 304 1122.
Celebrate Shakespeare and the start of summer at Stratford’s 2017 River Festival
Few towns are more quintessentially English than Stratford-upon-Avon, and there is no better way to celebrate Shakespeare than the annual River Festival in the Bard of Avon’s home town.
Stratford’s 2017 River Festival takes place on Saturday July 1st and Sunday July 2nd, the eighth edition of an event that is close to everybody’s canal-loving heart at Anglo Welsh. For two whole days every summer the riverside comes alive and this year’s festival promises more free events and fun activities than ever.
Last year more than 60,000 people enjoyed world-class entertainment at this award-winning festival on Stratford’s riverside. In the best tradition of English festivities there really is something for everyone, including live music on the Bandstand and Acoustic Stage, fun activities in the Family Zone, artisan craft markets and a mouth-watering selection of food and drink on global food stands.
As befits one of Britain’s biggest canal festivals there will also be a spectacular display of narrowboats, not least Anglo Welsh’s 67ft, 6-berth ‘Summer’, a high spec Bond Class boat that by popular consensus is among the finest narrowboat hires available anywhere on the UK’s waterways.
‘Summer’ will arrive at Stratford-upon-Avon after a leisurely short cruise from Anglo Welsh’s nearby base at Wootton Wawen, Henley-In-Arden, a popular starting point for narrowboat holidays on the Avon Ring, the Warwickshire Ring, Stratford Canal and the Grand Union Canal, among others.
Aside from narrowboats and natural beauty, the highlight of a fabulous two-day River Festival will be a spectacular firework display on the Saturday night. We can’t wait!
And as an extra incentive we will be offering a 20% discount for Anglo Welsh customers who book their Anglo Welsh holiday at the festival!
To book a canal holiday from Wootton Wawen or any of Anglo Welsh’s 11 bases at prime waterway locations, please call our friendly booking team on 0117 304 1122.
Terms and conditions apply. Only available on Anglo Welsh boats, excluding Silsden boats.
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.