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Canal boat holidays on the Shropshire Union Canal

Week long canal boat holidays from Bunbury in Cheshire
On a canal boat holiday on the Shropshire Union Canal you’ll experience stunning views of the rolling Cheshire countryside, sleepy villages, deep canal cuttings and the chance to visit Chester afloat.

Stretching from Autherley Junction near Wolverhampton in the South, to Ellesmere Port in the North, the charmingly rural Shropshire Union Canal, affectionately referred to as “The Shroppie”, covers 77 miles, including its 10-mile Middlewich Branch and quarter-of-a-mile long River Dee Branch.

There are 47 locks along the main line, four along the Middlewich Branch and three on the River Dee Branch. With long stretches with no towns for miles, the Shropshire Union Canal is great for getting close to nature.

The northern section is a wide waterway, running through the gently rolling Cheshire landscape, while the arrow-straight southern section features long embankments, cuttings and grand bridges, and fewer locks.

These deep mossy cuttings are atmospheric and full of wildlife, giving keen-eyed boaters the chance to spot the flashing blue of a kingfisher in flight, and other waterway wildlife.

Short breaks from Bunbury

On a short break from our canal boat hire base at Bunbury near Tarporley in Cheshire, narrowboat holiday-makers can head north along the Shropshire Union Canal to the historic City of Chester. The 12-mile journey through the rolling Cheshire countryside takes seven hours, passing through 18 locks.

After leaving the base and going through Tilstone Lock, and two more locks at Beeston (Beeston Stone & Beeston Iron), boaters can moor-up just below Wharton’s Lock and walk half-a-mile to English Heritage’s Beeston Castle & Woodland Park, one of the most dramatic ruins in the English landscape.

Continuing along, soon after Wharton’s Lock, boaters come across the canalside Shady Oak pub and two miles later, the Famous Cheshire Ice Cream Farm at Tattenhall is a short walk from the canal.

Soon after the canal becomes less rural, passing through Waverton, and the site of the Battle of Rowton Moor (one of the last major battles of the English Civil War), and then into Christleton with its Cheshire Cat canalside pub and the Ring ‘o’ Bells pub in the village.

Climbing up five more locks along the way (Christleton, Greenfield, Tarvin, Chemistry, and Hoole Lane), the canal passes the Lead Shot Tower site, where during the Napoleonic Wars musket shot was produced by dropping molten lead balls from height, which formed spheres as they fell into a vat of water at the bottom.

Now in the ancient City of Chester, there’s so much to explore, including the City’s Roman Amphitheatre, Museum, City walls, River Dee, Chester Rows, Shops, Chester Cathedral built in 1541, St Johns’, Chester Castle, and racecourse.

For canal boat holiday-makers heading back to Bunbury, there’s a winding hole close to Chester Cathedral at Cow Lane Bridge 123E.

Boaters on a four-night or week-long break can continue down the staircase locks and into Telford’s Basin, then on lock-free for a further eight miles to the end of the Shropshire Union Canal at Ellesmere Port, where the canal meets the Manchester Ship Canal. Alternatively, at the four-mile marker there’s the option to moor-up at Caughall Bridge, and walk half a mile to the award-winning Chester Zoo, with 15,000 animals living in 125 acres of gardens.

At the canal’s terminus, boaters can visit the National Waterways Museum Ellesmere Port, with its historic boat collection, docks, warehouses, forge, stables and workers cottages, recreates homes from the 1830s, 1900s, 1930s and 1950s and brings the past vividly to life with costumed characters and guided tours.

On a week’s holiday from Bunbury

On a week, 10-day or two-week break from Bunbury, boaters can tackle the Four Counties Ring, travelling through Cheshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire and the West Midlands, covering 114 miles and 96 locks, and taking around 58 cruising hours.

After travelling south two miles to Barbridge Junction, with its marina and Olde Barbridge Inn, to travel anti-clockwise around the Ring, boaters should continue to head south down the Shropshire Union Canal to its junction with the Staffs & Worcs Canal at Autherley.

Along the way, the route passes over the Nantwich Aqueduct on the outskirts of Nantwich, home to the stunning timber framed Elizabethan mansion house, Churche’s Mansion.

Two rural miles later, there are two locks at Hack Green, close to the Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker, once one of the nation’s most secret defence sites, and now a fascinating museum.

Three miles on at Audlem, boaters pass the Shroppie Fly pub and Audlem Mill, selling canal gifts, crafts and the locally made Snugbury’s Jersey Ice Cream.

Then the Audlem flight of 15 locks takes boaters 93ft downhill to a lock-free mile, and then another flight of five locks at Adderley.

Boaters next travel through Betton Cutting, passing by Brownills Wood before reaching the historic market town of Market Drayton, home of the gingerbread man.

Next there are five locks at Tyrley, then the canal is lock free for 17 miles, passing through a series of cuttings, embankments and villages with excellent pubs.

Places of note along this 17-mile level stretch include Goldstone Wharf with its Wharf Tavern pub, Staffordshire Wildlife Trust’s Loynton Moss Nature Reserve at Grub Street, the Old Wharf Tearoom at Norbury Junction, the Royal Oak at Gnosnall, and the Hartley Arms and Mottey Meadows Nature Reserve at Wheaton Ashton.

There’s just one lock at Wheaton, then the route is lock-free again for eight miles, passing the Bridge pub at Brewood, going under the M54 motorway and running close to Pendeford Mill Nature Reserve, before meeting Autherley Junction Stop Lock and the southern end of the Shroppie.

On a 10-day or two-week holiday from Bunbury you can complete the Four Counties Ring

To continue the Four Counties Ring, boaters then travel north up the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal to Great Haywood, before transferring onto the Trent & Mersey Canal.

Places of interest along this section include the National Trust’s Shugborough Estate with beautiful riverside gardens, the 2,675-metre long Harecastle Tunnel and the Wedgewood Museum at Stoke on Trent.

At Middlewich, the ring route leaves the Trent & Mersey Canal to head west back to Barbridge, travelling along the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal.

This quiet waterway, which travels peacefully through the Cheshire countryside, has just four locks along its 10-mile length. For refreshments, as well as a choice of canalside pubs at the historic market town of Middlewich, the Badger Inn at Church Minshull, just a short walk from the canal, it’s a popular place to stop.

From Bunbury, the Four Counties Ring will take around 58 hours, passing through 96 locks.

You can also complete the Cheshire Ring on a 10-day or two-week holiday from Bunbury.

Click here to make a booking or call our Booking Office on 0117 304 1122.

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Best pet friendly short break canal boat holidays

Best pet friendly canal boat holiday short breaks

To celebrate National Pet Month, here at Anglo Welsh we are waiving our second pet price of £25 – £35, on canal boat holidays booked to depart throughout April. To claim this offer, please quote ‘National Pet Month’ when booking!

Your first pet already goes free as part of all our holiday packages. Narrowboat holidays are especially great for dogs – with plenty of towpath walks and dog-friendly canalside pubs.

As well as dogs, we’ve accommodated many other kinds of pets aboard our floating holiday homes, including cats, guinea pigs, tortoises, lizards, caged birds and even goldfish.

To celebrate our April offer, we’ve listed our Top 7 short break staycations for dog owners this Spring:

Cruise along the Trent & Mersey Canal to Cannock Chase –  From our barge hire base at Great Haywood in Staffordshire, you can visit Cannock Chase Forest, with miles of walking trails and a special 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.  The Wolseley Centre and Nature Reserve is next to the Trent & Mersey Canal at Wolseley Bridge and offers a great gateway to Cannock Chase.

Navigate the River Thames to Lechlade –  From our narrowboat hire base on the River Thames at our Oxford base, you can cruise west to the pretty market town of Lechlade on the edge of the Cotswolds.  Along the way, you’ll pass through miles of peaceful Oxfordshire countryside, with plenty of dog walking locations. In the village of Radcot, there’s a dog-friendly bar in the Ye Olde Swan Hotel, and at Lechlade there’s a choice of dog-friendly pubs, including the Swan Inn.

Float along the Kennet & Avon Canal to Caen Hill –  From our canal boat rental base at Monkton Combe near Bath, you can travel to Foxhanger Wharf, at the bottom of the Caen Hill flight of locks at Devizes.  Along the way, you’ll pass through miles of peaceful Wiltshire countryside, with a series of charming 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 of 29 locks, one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways.

Cruise the Leeds & Liverpool Canal to Saltaire –  From our canal boat hire base at Silsden in West Yorkshire, you can reach Saltaire, near Bradford.  This World Heritage Site was founded on the banks of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in 1851 by Sir Titus Salt, as a place for his woollen mill to operate and workers to live.  Today, Salts Mill has a number of galleries, including the David Hockney Gallery with portraits of the artist’s beloved Dachshunds, Stanley and Boogie.  The nearby Hirst Wood Nature Reserve is a great place to exercise your dog, with a dog friendly café nearby for refreshments.

Navigate the Llangollen Canal to Ellesmere –  From our narrowboat hire base at Trevor in North Wales, you can cruise to the stunning Shropshire Lake District.  Along the way, you’ll pass over the UNESCO World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and a series of dog-friendly pubs, including The Bridge Inn at Chirk Bank.  When you reach Ellesmere, there are lots of walking trails to choose from, including waterside routes at The Mere.

Take the Stratford Canal to Packwood House –  From our canal boat rental base at Wootton Wawen in Warwickshire, you can cruise to the National Trust’s beautiful Packwood House.  Packwood’s magnificent gardens include herbaceous borders, a Kitchen Garden, Memorial Orchard, wildflower meadows and 350-year old Yew Garden.  Dogs are welcome at Packwood on public footpaths across the estate, on the café terrace and in the barnyard.

Cruise the Shropshire Union & Llangollen canals to Wrenbury –  From our base at Bunbury in Cheshire, you can reach the historic village of Wrenbury.  The South Cheshire Way passes through it, so there are lots of countryside walks to enjoy.  And there’s a choice of pubs to visit, including the dog-friendly canalside Dusty Miller.

Book your pet-friendly boating holiday by calling our Booking Team on 0117 304 1122. Please note: pets are not permitted on soft furnishings on board, so please bring along their own beds and blankets.

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A short break on the Shropshire Union Canal

Canal boat holiday on the Shropshire Union Canal

We spoke to Stan Cullimore about his latest Anglo Welsh narrowboat holiday

Where did you go this time Stan?

We set off from Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire.  We travelled south to Nantwich, and then we went up the Middlewich Arm.  We were really lucky with the weather.  It was great to enjoy the sunshine in pub gardens, as well as on deck and at the tiller.

What appeals to you most about canal boat holidays?

I love being on the water, and I think it’s the perfect antidote to the stress we’ve all experienced over the last year.  Canals are green corridors and when you are on a boat, you are right there at water level with the wildlife.  We sat out on deck each evening enjoying a sundowner and watched bats swooping around us.  We also saw the first swallows of the spring dipping to drink from the canal and lots of baby ducklings.  The sound of birdsong all around you is really lovely.

Where did you stop along the way?

On our first night, we moored up just south of Nantwich Aqueduct and walked to the town square.  There’s a good choice of cafes and restaurants there, and it’s a great place to watch the world go by.  Nantwich is a lovely old town, with lots of historic buildings, including a really pretty row of alms houses.

We also moored between bridges 12 and 13 on the Middlewich Arm, close to Church Minshull.  On the recommendation of a local boater, we took a stroll through a wood full of bluebells and walked on up to a hill beyond with some fantastic views. And we stopped for a drink in the garden of the Badger Inn at Church Minshull.

What were the highlights of this holiday?

One of things I love about canal boat holidays are the unexpected things you find, and people you meet along the way.  On the Middlewich Arm, we spotted a small shelter next to the canal with homemade cakes and cream teas for sale with an honesty box.  And close to Nantwich Aqueduct, we met The Doggie Boat selling all sorts of doggie treats, toys, collars and leads.

Any tips for first narrowboat hirers?

Make sure you’ve got some cash for any canalside ‘honesty box’ purchase opportunities.  As well as cream teas, we’ve found eggs, vegetables and honey for sale in the past.  Frozen sweetcorn and peas are good for feeding ducks and swans along the way.  Defrosted first! Also, I’m thinking about investing in a bat detector for next time.  It would be great to hear the bat echolocation sound waves, and find out which type of bats they are.

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Celebrate a special occasion with a day afloat on your local waterway

Celebrate a special occasion with a day afloat on your local waterway

Bookings manager, Emma Lovell, highlights Anglo Welsh’s Top 6 day boat destinations for 2021.

Whether you are celebrating a special occasion, like Mother’s Day or a birthday, or just looking for a different day out in your local area, our day boats offer the chance to enjoy a relaxing day afloat on your local waterway.

You can cruise gently along, watching out for waterway wildlife, and enjoying a picnic afloat or lunch at a canalside pub along the way.

We offer day boat hire from six of our bases, from just £99 per day for up to 10 people*. Full tuition is included, so you can get the hang of steering, working the locks and mooring up. Cruising hours during the season are from 9am to 4pm.

All our day boats are equipped with the facilities you need for a day afloat – cutlery, crockery, a kettle, cooker, fridge and toilet. There’s indoor and outdoor seating on all our day boats, so whatever the weather, you can enjoy the ever changing view.

And if you’ve ever fancied taking a canal boat holiday, but want to experience what it’s like before committing to a short break or week away, our day boats offer a great way to dip your toe in the water.

To help you plan your day out of the ordinary on one of our beautiful canals, we’ve put together a list of our Top 6 day boat destinations for 2021:

1. Wend your way through the Shropshire countryside to Whitchurch – from our canal boat hire base at Whixall on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire, you can head to the historic market town of Whitchurch on a day afloat. The lock-free journey, which takes just over two hours, travels through six peaceful miles of countryside, passing the medieval Pan Castle. Once at Whitchurch, you can moor up to explore the town with its half-timbered buildings, independent shops and restaurants, way-marked circular walks and Brown Moss nature reserve. Prices aboard our Whixall day boat ‘Julia’ are £99 for up to 10 people on a weekday, £150 on weekends and bank holidays.

2. Potter along the Stratford Canal to Wilmcote – from our narrowboat rental base at Wootton Wawen near Henley-in-Arden in Warwickshire, day boaters can head south along the Stratford Canal. The route takes you across the impressive Edstone Aqueduct and passes through one lock before reaching the historic village of Wilmcote in around two hours. You can moor up above Wilmcote Top Lock and take a short walk into the village, where you’ll find a choice of pubs, and The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s Mary Arden Farm. Prices aboard our Wootton Wawen day boats ‘Dolly’ and ‘Charlie’ are £99 for up to 10 people on a weekday, £150 on weekends and bank holidays.

3. Cruise the Trent & Mersey to Rugeley for some Outstanding Beauty – from our narrowboat hire base at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal near Stafford, on a day out, you can reach the historic market town of Rugeley. The journey travels four miles, passes through two locks and takes around two hours. Along the way, you’ll pass the National Trust’s Shugborough Estate and Cannock Chase Forest, a designated Area of Outstanding Beauty. Once at Rugeley, you can moor up to explore the town or turn at bridge 68 and head back to Wolseley to visit the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust’s Wolseley Centre or lunch at the canalside Wolseley Arms pub. Prices aboard our Great Haywood day boats ‘Daphne’ and ‘Abi’ are £99 on a weekday, £150 on weekends and bank holidays.

4. Travel through the Forest of Arden in Worcestershire – from our canal boat hire base at Tardebigge near Bromsgrove, on a day out you can cruise north along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal to Kings Norton Junction in around two and a half hours. The eight-mile, zero-lock journey passes through the remains of the Forest of Arden, with two canal tunnels along the way, including Wast Hills, which at 2,493 metres long is one of the longest in the country. There’s a choice of pubs along the way, including The Crown or The Weighbridge at Alvechurch, and the Hopwood House at Hopwood. Prices aboard our Tardebigge day boat ‘Emma’ are £99 on a weekday, £150 on weekends and bank holidays. ‘Emma’ can also be hired for a night for two people for £198, plus fuel.

5. Glide across ‘The Stream in the Sky’ for some incredible views – from our canal boat hire base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, it’s less than 10 minutes by water to the incredible World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. Standing at over 38 metres high and stretching for 305 metres across the Dee Valley, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, is truly one of the wonders of the waterways. After travelling across the Aqueduct, enjoying incredible views of the valley below, you can continue on to Glendrid to enjoy lunch at the Poacher’s Inn. This gentle five-mile journey with no locks, also takes you across Chirk Aqueduct and through Whitehouse and Chirk tunnels. Prices aboard our Trevor day boats ‘Jacob’, ‘Daniel’ and ‘Lotty’ are £120 on a weekday, £180 on weekends and bank holidays.

6. Cruise through the Cheshire countryside to Nantwich – from our canal boat rental base at Bunbury Wharf on the Shropshire Union Canal near Tarporley, on a day afloat you can cruise to Nantwich and back. The journey takes you through six peaceful miles of countryside, past the canalside Barbridge Inn and across the impressive Grade II* listed Nantwich Aqueduct with panoramic views across the town. With no locks along the way, the journey to Nantwich takes around two hours. Prices aboard our Bunbury day boat ‘Bella’ are £99 on a weekday, £150 on weekends and bank holidays.

There’s more information about our day hire here https://www.anglowelsh.co.uk/Our-Boats/dayboats

 

*Depending on the date of the booking, please adhere to any relevant coronavirus restrictions that may be in place

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Treat Your Mum to a Day Afloat

This Mother’s Day (11 March 2018), why not spoil your Mum with a relaxing day on the water, enjoying a picnic afloat or pub lunch along the way.

Anglo Welsh offers day boat hire from five of its bases, from just under £10 per person. Full tuition is included, so if you’re new to canal boating, you can get the hang of steering, mooring up and working the locks.

All our day boats are equipped with cutlery, crockery and a kettle and most also have a toilet, cooker and fridge.

Here are our Top 5 day boat destinations to visit afloat for 2018:

  1. Glide across ‘The Stream in the Sky’ – From our canal boat hire base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, it’s less than 10 minutes by water to the incredible World Heritage status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, also known as “The Stream in the Sky”. At over 38 metres high and 305 metres long, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is truly one of the wonders of the waterways, offering stunning views of the Dee Valley below. After travelling across the Aqueduct, boaters can continue on to Glendrid to enjoy lunch at the canalside Poacher’s Inn. This gentle five-mile journey with no locks, also takes canal boat hirers across Chirk Aqueduct and through Whitehouses and Chirk tunnels. Day boat hire from Trevor starts at £120 for up to 10 people, £160 on weekends and bank holidays.
  2. Potter along the Stratford Canal to Wilmcote – From our boat yard at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal near Henley-in-Arden, boaters can head south, crossing the impressive Edstone Aqueduct and passing through one lock, to reach the historic village of Wilmcote – a journey which takes around two hours. Here, day-boaters can moor up above Wilmcote Top Lock and take a short walk into the village to enjoy lunch at The Mary Arden Inn or the Masons Arms, or visit the childhood home of Shakespeare’s mother, Mary Arden’s Farm. Day boat hire from Wootton Wawen starts at £99 for up to 10 people, £140 on weekends and bank holidays.
  3. Travel the Trent & Mersey to Rugeley – From our narrowboat hire base at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal near Stafford, day boaters can cruise four miles, passing through two locks to reach the historic market town of Rugeley. Along the way, day boat hirers pass the National Trust’s stunning Shugborough Estate, and the popular Wolseley Arms pub at Wolseley Bridge. The journey to Rugeley takes around two hours and once there, boaters can moor up to explore the town or turn at bridge 68 and head back to Wolseley to visit the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust’s Wolseley Centre and have lunch at the pub. Day boat hire from Great Haywood starts at £99 for up to 10 people, £140 on weekends and bank holidays.
  4. Cruise ‘The Shroppie’ to Nantwich Aqueduct – From our base at Bunbury Wharf on the Shropshire Union Canal near Tarporley, canal boat hirers can cruise south for six sedate miles, and travel across the impressive Grade II* listed Nantwich Aqueduct with panoramic views across the town. Dating back to 1826, Nantwich Aqueduct, which carries the canal over the A534 Chester Road, was designed by the famous canal engineer Thomas Telford. With no locks along the way, the journey to Nantwich takes around two hours. There are moorings next to the aqueduct and choice of places to eat close to the canal, including Street Nantwich and Firenze Bar & Restaurant on Welsh Row. Day boat hire from Bunbury starts at £99 for up to 10 people, £140 on weekends and bank holidays.
  5. Travel through rural Worcestershire – From our canal boat hire base at Tardebigge near Bromsgrove, day boaters can cruise north along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal to Kings Norton Junction, passing through fields, woods and two tunnels, including one of the longest canal tunnels in the country – Wast Hills. The route, which covers a total of 16 miles there and back, takes boaters past a choice of waterside pubs, including the Weighbridge at Alvechurch and the Hopwood House at Hopwood. There are no locks on this journey and it takes around three hours each way. Day boat hire from Tardebigge starts at £99 for up to 10 people, £140 on weekends and bank holidays.

To book a holiday or break on any of Anglo Welsh’s fleet, call our friendly booking team 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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