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Best spring canal boat holidays

Best spring canal boat holiday breaks in 2024

Experience a spring break on Britain’s beautiful canal network and see the countryside bursting with new life

Spring is a glorious time to celebrate the rich and diverse wildlife living in Britain.

Kevin Yarwood, manager at our Great Haywood base, explains:

“Our beautiful inland waterways weave through the countryside taking in woodlands, farmland, nature reserves and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Travelling along at just four miles per hour on a canal boat holiday, there’s always something special to look out for.

“In spring, when the countryside is bursting with new life, there’s no better way to see waterside trees and hedges covered blossom, nest-building birds, ducklings bobbing on the water, spring lambs playing in the fields, and carpets of bluebells in waterside woodlands.”

To celebrate Britain’s natural environment, we’ve put together a guide to our best spring canal boat holiday destinations:

  1. Navigate through Shakespeare country and Warwickshire farmland 

    From our narrowboat hire base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal near Henley-in-Arden, it takes around six hours, travelling through 17 locks to reach Stratford-upon-Avon. Travelling over the Edstone Aqueduct and on through the pretty Warwickshire countryside, with spring lambs playing in the fields alongside the canal, boaters can stop off to visit Mary Arden’s Tudor Farm in the canalside village of Wilmcote, where Shakespeare’s mother grew up.  Once in Stratford, there are overnight moorings in Bancroft Basin, perfect for enjoying all that Shakespeare’s birthplace has to offer, including riverside parks, theatres, shops, restaurants and museums.

  2. Cruise into the Peak District spotting kingfishers along the way

    On a week’s break from our barge hire base on the Trent & Mersey Canal at Great Haywood in Staffordshire, you can easily reach the beautiful Caldon Canal and travel into the Peak District. The journey takes boaters up to Stoke on Trent, passing Wedgewood World along the way, and, once on the Caldon, through gently rolling hills and wooded areas alongside the beautiful River Churnet.  Here there’s the chance to spot kingfishers, herons, jays and woodpeckers, as well as otters which have recently returned to the area.  The return journey along the Caldon to Froghall takes around 43 hours, travelling a total of 72 miles and passing through 70 locks.

  3. Cruise to Ellesmere to catch a glimpse of a heron chick

    On a short break from our base on the Llangollen Canal at Trevor in North Wales, on a short break (three or four nights) you can cruise to the Shropshire Lake District, teeming with water birds. The journey to the medieval market town of Ellesmere, in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District, takes around seven hours, passing through just two locks and over the Pontcysyllte and Chirk aqueducts.  Formed thousands of years ago by the melting of the glaciers during the retreating ice age, the meres of the Shropshire Lake District, including The Mere at Ellesmere are particularly beautiful in Spring.  And every Spring, Moscow Island on The Mere is home to the Heron Watch Scheme, with cameras allow visitors to watch the birds build nests and raise chicks.

  4. Cruise to the gateway of the Yorkshire Dales and explore the ancient woods at Skipton Castle

    From Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire, it takes just over three hours to reach Skipton, the ‘Gateway to the Dales’, with its medieval fortress and acres of woodland trails to explore. For nearly 1,000 years Skipton Castle Woods provided fuel, food and building materials for castle inhabitants.  Today there are at least 18 species of trees flourishing there, and hundreds of flowering plants, including wild orchids and bluebells in the Spring.  The journey along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal to Silsden passes through the typical Yorkshire stone built villages of Kildwick and Farnhill and on into a dense wooded area famous for its bluebells and deer.

  5. Drift through the beautiful prehistoric Vale of Pewsey

    From our base at Monkton Combe on the Kennet & Avon Canal just outside Bath, it takes around 19 hours to reach Pewsey Wharf, perfect for a week afloat. Along the way, you’ll pass through miles of peaceful Wiltshire countryside, with a series of waterside villages and country pubs to visit along the way.  Highlights on this route include: the mighty Caen Hill Flight of 29 locks at Devizes; cruising along the edge of the ancient Savernake Forest; and the beautiful Vale of Pewsey, part of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and home to prehistoric Avebury.  The journey to Pewsey and back takes around 38 hours, passing through 74 locks (37 each way).

  6. Travel to Llangollen on the edge of the Berwyn Mountains

    From Whixall, on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire , it takes around 12 hours to reach the pretty town of Llangollen. Along the way, you’ll travel through the beautiful Shropshire Lake District and across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’ and now a UNESCO World Heritage site.  Once in Llangollen, you can moor up to enjoy exploring this pretty town nestled on the edge of the Berwyn Mountains, including its regular markets packed with local produce, choice of independent shops and restaurants, steam railway and famous Horseshoe Falls.  The journey to Llangollen and back passes through just four locks (two each way).

  7. Navigate the Four Counties Ring for stunning views of the Cheshire Plains  

    On a week’s break from Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire, you can travel round the popular Four Counties Ring. Travelling for around 58 hours and passing through 96 locks, this route takes you through the counties of Staffordshire, the West Midlands, Cheshire and Shropshire and travels sections of the Trent & Mersey, Staffordshire & Worcestershire and Shropshire Union canals.  Rural highlights include: panoramic views from the flight of 31 locks (also known as ‘Heartbreak Hill’) between Middlewich and Kidsgrove on the Trent & Mersey Canal; views of the rolling Cheshire Plains on the Shropshire Union Canal; acres of farmland on the Middlewich Branch; wildlife spotting at Tixall Wide on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal; and the National Trust’s Shugborough Hall with its extensive waterside gardens.

  8. Take a Thames boating holiday to Abingdon and listen out for cuckoos calling

    From our Oxford barge hire base on the River Thames, it takes around five hours, passing through six locks and travelling 15 miles to reach the historic riverside market town of Abingdon – perfect for a short break Thames boating holiday. As well as cruising through the outskirts of the ancient City of Oxford, you’ll pass through beautiful stretches of Oxfordshire countryside, with lush meadows, stretches of bluebells woodlands alongside the river and the chance to hear cuckoos calling.  Once moored up at Abingdon, you can enjoy exploring riverside walks, parks and eateries, including the popular waterside Nag’s Head.

Click here to check availability and book.

The Canal & River Trust as produced a Spotters Guide to Waterway Wildlife.

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Canal boat holidays on the Grand Union Canal

Canal boat holiday Grand Union Canal

Visit the incredible medieval castle at Warwick, the mighty flight of locks at Hatton, quiet countryside and peaceful villages with traditional pubs

Built to transport goods between London and Birmingham, today the Grand Union Canal is alive with pleasure boats, walkers, cyclists and wildlife.

Stretching 137 miles through 166 locks, the Grand Union Canal emerged as a result of the amalgamation of several independent waterways.

It cuts across the country from the River Thames at Brentford in London to the Digbeth Branch canal in the heart of Birmingham, taking boaters up through the rolling Chiltern Hills, rural Northamptonshire and Warwickshire.

Along the way, it has a series of branches, including the Paddington, Slough, Wendover, Aylesbury, Leicester and Northampton arms.

Some of its most dramatic features include the magnificent Iron Trunk Aqueduct carrying the canal over the River Ouse in Buckinghamshire, the 2,795-metre long Blisworth Tunnel in Northamptonshire and the Hatton Flight of 21 Locks in Warwickshire.

Just some of the canal’s key destinations are the county town of Warwick with its jaw-dropping castle on the banks of the River Avon, and the charming canal villages of Braunston and Stoke Bruerne.

On a short break from Wootton Wawen you can travel to Hatton and back

On a short break (three or four nights) from our narrowboat hire base at Wootton Wawen in Warwickshire, you can head north along the Stratford Canal to connect with the Grand Union Canal at Lapworth.  You can then cruise along the Grand Union Canal to the base of the Hatton Flight of 21 locks and walk up to the Hatton Locks cafe.

On a week’s break from Wootton Wawen you can travel to Warwick and back

On a week’s holiday from Wootton Wawen you can spend more time exploring the Grand Union Canal.

You can travel up the Hatton flight and on to Warwick. The journey to Warwick from Wootton Wawen travels 14 miles, passes through 38 locks and takes around 12 hours.

There’s a choice of moorings available for visiting Warwick and its magnificent medieval castle, which dates back to William the Conqueror. And the county town of Warwick itself has a vibrant market place hosting a variety of shops, pubs and cafes, as well as half a dozen museums, including the Yeomanry Museum.

On a 10-day or two-week holiday from Wootton Wawen you can cruise the Warwickshire Ring

The mighty Warwickshire Ring is perfect for more experienced boaters on a 10-day or two-week break. From Wootton Wawen, the journey time is 59 hours, travelling through 128 locks.

First head north up the Stratford Canal, passing through two locks at Preston Bagot, with a barrel roof cottage at lock number 37.

Next the canal passes close to the tiny hamlet of Yarningdale Common, with another barrel roof cottage at lock 34 and the Grade II* listed Yarningdale Aqueduct.

At the village of Lowsonford, the canalside Fleur de Lys pub is well worth a visit, renowned for its home-made pies.

Several locks, barrel roofed cottages and miles later, the canal passes beneath the noisy M40 motorway. After another five locks, and boaters reach Lapworth junction where they can take the Lapworth link to connect onto the broad Grand Union Canal at Kingswood Junction.

To travel clockwise around the ring, boaters turn left and head north. The Heart of England Way meets the canal here at Kingswood Bridge, and it’s just over a miles walk to the National Trust’s Baddesley Clinton stunning moated manor house in the heart of the Forest of Arden from here.

Soon after, the canal passes the Black Boy and King’s Arms pubs at Heronfield, and then reaches the Knowle flight of five wide locks, which raise the canal by 12.5 metres. The town of Knowle is a short walk away, with a supermarket and choice of pubs.

Soon after, the canal passes beneath the M42 motorway, and continues north past the Boat Inn at Catherine de Barnes, before entering the urban outskirts of Birmingham at Solihull.

Six miles later, boaters reach the six locks at Camp Hill and then Bordesley Junction. From here it’s just half a mile to moorings at Typhoo Basin, close to Warwick Bar in the centre of Birmingham.

There’s so much to do in Birmingham – theatres, art galleries, museums, concert halls, restaurants and shops, but the City’s award-winning Thinktank Science Museum, with its exciting Spitfire and Marine Worlds galleries, is close by.

Next turn back to Bordesley Junction and head up the Birmingham & Warwick Junction Canal, which connects with the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal at Salford Junction. From there begin heading east, still in a very urban environment for another four miles until the Hare & Hounds pub at the bottom of the Minworth flight of three locks.

Now back in the countryside, the route passes the White Horse at Cudworth, where the Cudworth flight of 11 locks starts. The Dog & Doublet pub is next to Lock 9 of the flight and there are moorings soon after, with access to Kingsbury Water Park, offering 600 acres of country park to explore.

The Heart of England Way follows the line of the canal here for several miles and passes the RSPB’s Middleton Lakes Nature Reserve, great for a spot of birdwatching.

Fazeley is next with its choice of pubs – the Plough and Three Tuns, plus a short bus or taxi ride to Drayton Manor Theme Park if you fancy a change of pace!

The Coventry Canal meets the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal here, taking boaters travelling the Warwickshire Ring east through Tamworth to Alvecote with its Samuel Barlow pub, the ruins of Alvecote Benedictine Priory and the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust’s Alvecote Pools nature reserve.

Now heading south, the canal passes beneath the M42 and past the Pooley Visitor & Heritage Centre, displaying mining memorabilia and offering waymarked paths around woodland and spoil heaps.

Then it’s on through the village of Polesworth, a good place to stop and re-stock with shops, and Bulls Head, Red Lion and Royal Oak pubs.

The canal becomes very rural for a while, passing Hoo Hill obelisk which marks the site of the Chapel of Leonard at Hoo, demolished in 1538 by Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries.

Atherstone is the next town, with a flight of six locks, choice of shops and pubs, including the Kings Head.

The canal continues south, lock-free for the next 11 miles. The Anchor at Hartsmill is the next canalside pub on route and soon after the canal becomes more urban again as it winds its way through Nuneaton, before meeting its junction with the Ashby-de-la-Zouch Canal at Bedworth.

Two miles later, the Coventry Canal meets the North Oxford Canal at Hawkesbury Junction, where Warwickshire Ring travellers being heading south down the Oxford Canal. The route soon passes under the M69 motorway and through the pretty village of Ansty, with its Rose & Castle pub.

Three miles later, it’s worth stopping at Brinklow to visit the remains of Brinklow Castle, a Norman earthwork motte and bailey fortress, and Brinklow Arches to the south of the village, a canal aqueduct built during the Imperial Period. There are also a number of pubs in the village, including The Raven and White Lion.

The canal then passes through the 186-metre long Newbold Tunnel, past the Barley Mow and Boat pubs, becoming more urban again as it travels through the town of Rugby. Boaters soon reach the Bell & Barge pub and Tesco store at Brownsover, and then the village of Hillmorton, with its flight of three locks, plus Old Royal Oak and Stag & Pheasant pubs.

After Hillmorton, the canal cuts through open countryside again, and is lock-free to the Braunston Turn, where the Oxford Canal merges with the Grand Union Canal. The historic village of Braunston, in the heart of the canal network, is a great place to stop with a marina, boatyard, fish and chip shop, and plenty of pubs including the Admiral Nelson.

Eleven miles and nine locks later, the canal reaches Napton Junction where the Oxford Canal splits off and heads south.

The Warwick Ring continues along the Grand Union Canal towards Birmingham, soon reaching the three locks at Calcutt. The next two miles are on one level until the route reaches Stockton Top Lock, the peak of a flight of 13 locks taking the canal to the village of Long Itchington, who’s six pubs host a popular annual beer festival.

The next four miles remain rural and just before Leamington Spa is reached, the canal passes by the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust’s Lea Valley Nature Reserve, with family-friendly activity trails.

There are plenty of visitor moorings in Royal Leamington Spa, giving boaters the chance to enjoy some of this historic spa town’s attractions, including its impressive Georgian and Edwardian architecture, Royal Pump Rooms Museum, Loft Theatre, Welches Meadow Nature Reserve, and excellent choice of shops and restaurants.

Next it’s the beautiful country town of Warwick, with its jaw-dropping medieval castle on the banks of the River Avon, dating back to William the Conqueror. Warwick Castle offers a fantastic day out with ramparts to climb, birds of prey and trebuchet firing displays, Horrible Histories Maze, landscaped gardens, Castle Dungeon and daily history team tours.

Warwick itself has a vibrant market place hosting a variety of shops, pubs and cafes and a thriving Saturday market, as well as a popular racecourse, Yeomanry Museum, Lord Leycester Hospital Museum, Queen’s Own Hussars Museum & Master’s Garden, St John’s House Museum and Warwickshire Museum.

Heading out of Warwick, boaters soon encounter Hatton Bottom Lock and the start of the epic Hatton Flight of 21 locks, traditionally known as the ‘Stairway to Heaven’, which raises boats up by nearly 45 metres along a two mile stretch of the canal. Just below the Top lock, boaters will find the Hatton Locks Café for welcome refreshment!

It’s another four miles back to Lapworth from Hatton, passing through the Shrewley and Rowington tunnels, before heading back down the Stratford Canal to Wootton Wawen.

Click here to book or call our friendly booking team on 0117 304 1122.

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Canal boat holidays on the Stratford Canal

Canal boat holidays on the Stratford Canal

Shakespeare, barrel roof lock cottages, iron aqueducts and gourmet pubs

The 25-mile long narrow and mostly rural Stratford-upon-Avon Canal links Shakespeare’s Stratford and the River Avon in the south, with the Worcester & Birmingham Canal close to Birmingham in the north, passing through the Forest of Arden along the way.

The southern section of the canal, running from Bancroft Basin in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon up to Lapworth, is characterised by barrel roofed lock cottages and a series of split bridges with gaps for the tow ropes of boat horses.

The northern section has 19 locks running up from Lapworth, and then a 10-mile lock-free level stretch to the canal’s guillotine-gated stop-lock at Kings Norton Junction.

Completed in 1816 at a cost of £297,000, the canal has 54 locks, a 322-metre long tunnel, three high embankments, a reservoir, a large single span brick aqueduct and three cast iron trough aqueducts, all unusually with towpaths at the level of the bottom of the canal.

On a short break canal boat holiday from Wootton Wawen

From our base at Wootton Wawen, a pretty hamlet set within a conservation area, it’s a six-hour, 16-lock journey through the beautiful Warwickshire countryside to Shakespeare’s Stratford – perfect for a short break.

Canal boat holiday-makers head south, first crossing the Grade II* listed Wootton Wawen aqueduct over the A3400 and a few miles later the longer 105-metre long Edstone Aqueduct – which crosses a minor road, the Birmingham and North Warwickshire railway and the track bed of the former Alcester Railway and provides boaters with excellent views of the surrounding countryside.

Next the canal passes the picturesque village of Wilmcote. Canal boat holiday-makers can moor-up above Wilmcote Top Lock and walk into the village to explore Mary Arden’s Farm, the childhood home of Shakespeare’s mother to experience the sights, smells and sounds of a working Tudor farm. Wilmcote is also home to the Mary Arden Inn which dates back to the 1700s.

Continuing south, boaters next negotiate the Wilmcote Flight of 11 locks, taking the canal down the hill into Stratford. Expect “gongoozlers” as you pass through the last two locks and arrive at Bancroft Basin, the perfect place to moor up and enjoy the delights of Stratford-upon-Avon.

Just some of the highlights of this world-famous home of the Bard include the Royal Shakespeare Company’s magnificent Royal Shakespeare Theatre with over 1,000 seats.

There are regular markets, plenty of eateries including Carluccio’s and the Giggling Squid, and a number of museums, including the bizarre MAD Museum of Mechanical Art & Design (described as a mixture of Wallis & Gromit, Heath Robinson and Scrapheap Challenge) and Shakespeare’s Birthplace.

Complete the Warwickshire Ring on a 10-day or two-week break from Wootton Wawen

The mighty Warwickshire Ring is perfect for more experienced boaters on a 10-day or two-week break. From Wootton Wawen, the journey time is 59 hours, travelling through 128 locks.

First head north up the Stratford Canal, passing through two locks at Preston Bagot, with a barrel roof cottage at lock number 37.

Next the canal passes close to the tiny hamlet of Yarningdale Common, with another barrel roof cottage at lock 34 and the Grade II* listed Yarningdale Aqueduct.

At the village of Lowsonford, the canalside Fleur de Lys pub is well worth a visit, renowned for its home-made pies.

Several locks, barrel roofed cottages and miles later, the canal passes beneath the noisy M40 motorway. After another five locks, and boaters reach Lapworth junction where they can take the Lapworth link to connect onto the broad Grand Union Canal at Kingswood Junction.

To travel clockwise around the ring, boaters turn left and head north. The Heart of England Way meets the canal here at Kingswood Bridge, and it’s just over a miles walk to the National Trust’s Baddesley Clinton stunning moated manor house in the heart of the Forest of Arden from here.

Soon after, the canal passes the Black Boy and King’s Arms pubs at Heronfield, and then reaches the Knowle flight of five wide locks, which raise the canal by 12.5 metres. The town of Knowle is a short walk away, with a supermarket and choice of pubs.

Soon after, the canal passes beneath the M42 motorway, and continues north past the Boat Inn at Catherine de Barnes, before entering the urban outskirts of Birmingham at Solihull.

Six miles later, boaters reach the six locks at Camp Hill and then Bordesley Junction. From here it’s just half a mile to moorings at Typhoo Basin, close to Warwick Bar in the centre of Birmingham.

There’s so much to do in Birmingham – theatres, art galleries, museums, concert halls, restaurants and shops, but the City’s award-winning Thinktank Science Museum, with its exciting Spitfire and Marine Worlds galleries, is close by.

Next turn back to Bordesley Junction and head up the Birmingham & Warwick Junction Canal, which connects with the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal at Salford Junction. From there begin heading east, still in a very urban environment for another four miles until the Hare & Hounds pub at the bottom of the Minworth flight of three locks.

Now back in the countryside, the route passes the White Horse at Cudworth, where the Cudworth flight of 11 locks starts. The Dog & Doublet pub is next to Lock 9 of the flight and there are moorings soon after, with access to Kingsbury Water Park, offering 600 acres of country park to explore.

The Heart of England Way follows the line of the canal here for several miles and passes the RSPB’s Middleton Lakes Nature Reserve, great for a spot of birdwatching.

Fazeley is next with its choice of pubs – the Plough and Three Tuns, plus a short bus or taxi ride to Drayton Manor Theme Park if you fancy a change of pace!

The Coventry Canal meets the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal here, taking boaters travelling the Warwickshire Ring east through Tamworth to Alvecote with its Samuel Barlow pub, the ruins of Alvecote Benedictine Priory and the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust’s Alvecote Pools nature reserve.

Now heading south, the canal passes beneath the M42 and past the Pooley Visitor & Heritage Centre, displaying mining memorabilia and offering waymarked paths around woodland and spoil heaps.

Then it’s on through the village of Polesworth, a good place to stop and re-stock with shops, and Bulls Head, Red Lion and Royal Oak pubs.

The canal becomes very rural for a while, passing Hoo Hill obelisk which marks the site of the Chapel of Leonard at Hoo, demolished in 1538 by Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries.

Atherstone is the next town, with a flight of six locks, choice of shops and pubs, including the Kings Head.

The canal continues south, lock-free for the next 11 miles. The Anchor at Hartsmill is the next canalside pub on route and soon after the canal becomes more urban again as it winds its way through Nuneaton, before meeting its junction with the Ashby-de-la-Zouch Canal at Bedworth.

Two miles later, the Coventry Canal meets the North Oxford Canal at Hawkesbury Junction, where Warwickshire Ring travellers being heading south down the Oxford Canal. The route soon passes under the M69 motorway and through the pretty village of Ansty, with its Rose & Castle pub.

Three miles later, it’s worth stopping at Brinklow to visit the remains of Brinklow Castle, a Norman earthwork motte and bailey fortress, and Brinklow Arches to the south of the village, a canal aqueduct built during the Imperial Period. There are also a number of pubs in the village, including The Raven and White Lion.

The canal then passes through the 186-metre long Newbold Tunnel, past the Barley Mow and Boat pubs, becoming more urban again as it travels through the town of Rugby. Boaters soon reach the Bell & Barge pub and Tesco store at Brownsover, and then the village of Hillmorton, with its flight of three locks, plus Old Royal Oak and Stag & Pheasant pubs.

After Hillmorton, the canal cuts through open countryside again, and is lock-free to the Braunston Turn, where the Oxford Canal merges with the Grand Union Canal. The historic village of Braunston, in the heart of the canal network, is a great place to stop with a marina, boatyard, fish and chip shop, and plenty of pubs including the Wheatsheaf and Old Plough

Eleven miles and nine locks later, the canal reaches Napton Junction where the Oxford Canal splits off and heads south.

The Warwick Ring continues along the Grand Union Canal towards Birmingham, soon reaching the three locks at Calcutt. The next two miles are on one level until the route reaches Stockton Top Lock, the peak of a flight of 13 locks taking the canal to the village of Long Itchington, who’s six pubs host a popular annual beer festival.

The next four miles remain rural and just before Leamington Spa is reached, the canal passes by the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust’s Lea Valley Nature Reserve, with family-friendly activity trails.

There are plenty of visitor moorings in Royal Leamington Spa, giving boaters the chance to enjoy some of this historic spa town’s attractions, including its impressive Georgian and Edwardian architecture, Royal Pump Rooms Museum, Loft Theatre, Welches Meadow Nature Reserve, and excellent choice of shops and restaurants.

Next it’s the beautiful country town of Warwick, with its jaw-dropping medieval castle on the banks of the River Avon, dating back to William the Conqueror. Warwick Castle offers a fantastic day out with ramparts to climb, birds of prey and trebuchet firing displays, Horrible Histories Maze, landscaped gardens, Castle Dungeon and daily history team tours.

Warwick itself has a vibrant market place hosting a variety of shops, pubs and cafes and a thriving Saturday market, as well as a popular racecourse, Yeomanry Museum, Lord Leycester Hospital Museum, Queen’s Own Hussars Museum & Master’s Garden, St John’s House Museum and Warwickshire Museum.

Heading out of Warwick, boaters soon encounter Hatton Bottom Lock and the start of the epic Hatton Flight of 21 locks, traditionally known as the ‘Stairway to Heaven’, which raises boats up by nearly 45 metres along a two mile stretch of the canal. Just below the Top lock, boaters will find the Hatton Locks Café for welcome refreshment!

It’s another four miles back to Lapworth from Hatton, passing through the Shrewley and Rowington tunnels, before heading back down the Stratford Canal to Wootton Wawen.

Click here to book a holiday or call our friendly booking team on 0117 304 1122.

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Canal boat holidays on the Llangollen Canal

Canal boat holidays on the Llangollen Canal

Take a boating break on the Llangollen Canal to enjoy breathtaking views, visiting historic market towns and a UNESCO World Heritage site

The beautiful 41-mile long Llangollen Canal crosses the border between England and Wales, and links the Eisteddfod town of Llangollen in Denbighshire with the Shropshire Union Canal, just north of Nantwich in Cheshire.

The scenery varies from rural sheep pastures and ancient peat mosses, to tree-lined lakes and the dramatic foothills of Snowdonia.

In 2009, an 11-mile section of the waterway from Gledrid Bridge to the Horseshoe Falls in Llangollen – including the incredible Pontcysyllte and Chirk aqueducts – was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO.

Soaring 35 metres above the rushing waters of the River Dee, which tumble out of Snowdonia, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is truly one of the wonders of the waterways.

Built by the great canal engineers Thomas Telford and William Jessop, the aqueduct was completed in 1805. Supported by 18 giant pillars, it’s the longest and highest aqueduct in Britain, carrying a 307-metre long iron trough water passage for a single narrowboat and a towpath for pedestrians, with an exhilarating sheer drop on one side!

Short break canal boat holidays on the Llangollen Canal

Passing through just two locks, the 14-hour journey from our base at on the Llangollen Canal at Trevor to the Shropshire market town of Ellesmere and back, offers a fantastic short break holiday for beginners.

Setting off from Trevor Basin, the spectacular Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, with its jaw-dropping panoramic views of the Dee Valley below, is just 10 minutes away.

Next it’s a lift bridge and The Aqueduct Inn at Froncysyllte serving excellent food, then on through Whitehouse Tunnel followed by Chirk Tunnel, before crossing Chirk Aqueduct.

Soon after the aqueduct, you’ll reach the Bridge Inn at Chirk Bank, Poachers Pocket pub at Gledrid, and the Lion Quays waterside restaurant at Moreton – all good places to moor up for the night.

Four miles later at Frankton Junction the Montgomery Canal meets the Llangollen Canal and after another three miles, the canal passes by the Canal & River Trust’s Ellesmere Canal Yard, which dates back to the early 1800s.

At Ellesmere there are plenty of visitor moorings, giving you the chance to explore this pretty market town with a mix of Tudor, Georgian and Victorian buildings, as well as its famous Mere with woodland walks.

There’s a range of places to eat and drink at Ellesmere, including The White Hart pub and The Red Lion coaching inn.

Week long holidays on the Llangollen Canal

On a week’s holidayfrom Trevor, you can travel on from Ellesmere to Wrenbury and back, cruising a total of 66 miles through 24 locks, and taking around 32 hours.

The route passes through Whixall Moss nature reserve then the historic market town of Whitchurch, known for its clock makers, including J B Joyce & Co, the oldest maker of tower clocks in the world, established there in 1782.

When in Whitchurch, look out for half-timbered buildings, fair trade independent shops and restaurants, way-marked circular walks, water voles at Staggs Brook, woodpeckers at Brown Moss nature reserve, a selection of Roman burial vases in the Civic Centre and a Joyce clock in the tower of St Alkmund’s Grade I Listed Georgian Church. And there are numerous pubs to choose from, including the award-winning Black Bear.

Six miles further east, having passed through the Grindley Brook Staircase of Locks with lockside café and stores, you’ll reach Wrenbury. The centre of the village is a conservation area with a range of historic houses and the 16th century St Margaret’s Church overlooking the village green. There is a Post Office with general stores and two pubs, the canalside Dusty Miller in a converted corn mill, and The Cotton Arms.

On returning to Trevor, if time allows you could take the two-hour journey on to the ancient Welsh town of Llangollen and moor up in Llangollen Basin to explore the town. Things to see include the famous Dee Bridge built by Bishop Trevor in 1345, the Llangollen Steam Railway, Plas Newydd house and gardens, Horseshoe Falls, plus many independent shops and places to eat, including the popular Corn Mill with stunning river and mountain views.

Two week canal boat holidays from Trevor

On a two week break from Trevor, boaters can continue on from Wrenbury to Barbridge, where the Llangollen meets the Shropshire Union Canal, and then tackle the Four Counties Ring.

This epic canal journey, travelling through Cheshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire and the West Midlands, covers 110 miles and 94 locks, and takes around 55 cruising hours. The total cruising time from Trevor is 97 hours, passing through 136 locks.

Travelling anti-clockwise around the Ring, at Barbridge you can head south down the Shropshire Union Canal to its junction with the Staffs & Worcs Canal at Aldersley. Along the way, the route passes through the historic market town of Market Drayton, home of the gingerbread man, and a series of villages with excellent pubs, including The Hartley Arms at Wheaton Ashton and the Royal Oak at Gnosnall.

At Aldersley, the route heads north east again along the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal to Great Haywood, where you’ll start travelling up the Trent & Mersey Canal. Places of interest along this section include the National Trust’s Shugborough Estate with extensive riverside gardens, the 2,675-metre long Harecastle Tunnel and the Wedgewood Museum at Stoke on Trent.

At Middlewich, the ring turns west back towards Barbridge, travelling along the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal.

Click here to make a booking or to get friendly advice on canal holidays, please call our Booking Office on 0117 304 1122.

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Explore the Kennet & Avon Canal by canal boat

Canal boat holidays on the Kennet & Avon Canal
From our canal boat hire bases at Bath and Monkton Combe you can enjoy a canal boat holiday on the Kennet & Avon Canal

One of our best-loved canals, the 87-mile long Kennet & Avon Canal links the Bristol Avon with the Thames at Reading, passing through spectacular landscapes and the World Heritage City of Bath.

Soaring aqueducts, prehistoric landscapes and a World Heritage City

From the foothills of the Cotswolds to the North West Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and Vale of Pewsey dotted with pre-historic features, this canal offers the chance to enjoy some of England’s most beautiful countryside.

Completed in 1810, the Kennet & Avon Canal is made up of two lengths of navigable rivers linked by a canal. From Bristol to Bath in the west the route follows the Bristol Avon, and at the eastern end, the River Kennet from Newbury to Reading.

The waterway has 105 locks along its length, including 29 at the dramatic Caen Hill locks in Devizes, as well two stunning Bath stone aqueducts at Avoncliff and Dundas, designed by the pioneering canal engineer John Rennie.

Visit Bath or Bradford on Avon on a short break

From our base at Monkton Combe on the Kennet & Avon Canal in Somerset, Bath Top Lock is a lovely two-hour cruise away – the perfect short break for beginners.

Once moored at Bath Top Lock, you can walk into the centre of the City in just 15 minutes to enjoy all that the World Heritage Status City of Bath has to offer – the ancient Roman Baths, the sweeping line of 30 Grade I listed Georgian terrace houses that make up the Royal Crescent and medieval Bath Abbey with its fascinating ladders of angels climbing up the West front.

Places to eat in Bath include the Italian Sotto Sotto on North Parade and the Green Park Brasserie & Bar at Green Park Station, which often hosts live music in the evenings.

Or set off from our Bath base and head east to Bradford on Avon, skirting the southern foothills of the Cotswolds and passing through the picturesque Avon Valley.

The route goes past the historic Claverton Pumping Station with its 200-year water-driven pump lifting water 48ft from the River Avon to the canal above. And you’ll cross over the amazing Bath stone aqueducts at Dundas and Avoncliff.  There’s a series of historic pubs and waterside eateries to enjoy along the way, including The George at Bathampton and The Cross Guns at Avoncliff.

At historic Bradford on Avon, sometimes described as a ‘mini Bath’, there’s a great choice of places to visit, including the Bradford on Avon Museum and the magnificent medieval Tithe Barn.  There are lots of places to eat and drink, including the popular canalside Barge Inn and Timbrell’s Yard.

You can also cruise to Bristol and back on four night break from our Bath or Monkton Combe bases, but this is recommended for experienced boaters only.

Take a longer holiday and head to Devizes, the Vale of Pewsey, Hungerford and Newbury

On a week’s break from Bath or Monkton Combe, you can travel east to the pretty village of Great Bedwyn and back, passing through tranquil Wiltshire countryside past sleepy villages, and tackling the magnificent Caen Hill flight of locks at Devizes along the way.

Once at Devizes, visitors to this historic market town can enjoy the Wadworth Brewery Visitor Centre with its famous shire horses making daily deliveries, and sample delicious food at some of the town’s independent shops and restaurants, including seasonal favourites at the AA 5* Peppermill Restaurant and the famous Devizes Cheesecake at the Dolcipani Bakery.

Then it’s on through the Vale of Pewsey, passing close to the Avebury Stone Circle, looking out for a Wiltshire White Horse on the hillside and stopping to see the striking painting on the ceiling of The Barge Inn at Honeystreet, with the subject matter reflecting the pub’s proximity to many crop-circles.

At the tiny hamlet of Wootton Rivers on the edge of the ancient Savernake Forest, boaters can stop for refreshment at the pretty thatched Royal Oak pub, soon after reaching the Kennet & Avon’s only tunnel – the 459-metre long Bruce Tunnel.

Then it’s down the Crofton flight and on to Crofton Pumping Station, home to two of the World’s oldest working steam beam engines, and neighbouring Wilton Water, created to supply the pumping station and feed the canal summit, now a haven for wildlife.

On reaching Great Bedwyn, boaters can turn and enjoy a visit to the village’s intriguing Stone Museum and the The Three Tuns pub.

On a two-week break, narrowboat holiday-makers can travel on to Reading, passing through Hungerford with antique shops dotted along its High Street, the village of Kintbury with its Dundas Arms gastro pub and the historic market town of Newbury, with a variety of arts venues including The Corn Exchange and Watermill Theatre, and nearby Highclere Castle, home of Downton Abbey.

For advice on our canal boat holidays, please call our Booking Office on 0117 304 1122.
To make a booking, go to https://www.anglowelsh.co.uk/
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Christmas canal boat holidays at Great Haywood

Christmas canal boat holidays at Great Haywood

By Kevin Yarwood, Manager at Great Haywood

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.

Happy Christmas from the Great Haywood team!

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Enjoy winter christmas cruising with Anglo Welsh

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  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 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.
  4. 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).
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

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Anglo Welsh Heritage Class – Supporting the Chelsea Pensioners

Anglo Welsh Heritage Class – the best of both worlds

Anglo Welsh now offers two luxury four-berth ‘Heritage Class’ boats for hire: ‘Poppy’ on the Stratford Canal at Wootton Wawen; and ‘Lily’ on the Llangollen Canal at Trevor.

These beautiful luxury canal boats offer all the very best in modern narrowboat facilities, as well as some extra special heritage features.

Facilities on board these spacious boats with semi-traditional sterns include: central heating; LED lighting; two full-size shower rooms; spacious beds with sprung mattresses; a fully fitted galley; TV; DVD; and WiFi.

Heritage features include: port holes; side doors; a Belfast sink; brass fittings; tongue and grove dark stained woodwork; ivory coloured ceilings; and a cratch cover above the front deck for extra protection against the elements when needed.

In partnership with our Sponsor ‘Panda Sanctuaries’ we will continue to expand the Heritage fleet over the coming years.

                             Proud to support the Chelsea Pensioners

 

Anglo Welsh is supporting the Chelsea Pensioners by pledging 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.

Allan McLaren of The Chelsea Pensioners explains: “War and conflict take their toll on a soldier’s body and mind.  Mental and physical scars often only surface in later years.

“The Royal Hospital Chelsea and the Chelsea Pensioners are delighted Anglo Welsh have chosen to support our Active Aging Appeal.  Your support will help The Royal Hospital Chelsea provide the best possible care for those willing to risk their lives yesterday to give us the freedom we enjoy today.  Our new activity centre will enable more Pensioners to stay active, pursue hobbies and interests every day to enhance their mental and physical well-being and combat isolation.”

 

For more information about the Appeal, visit https://www.chelsea-pensioners.co.uk/

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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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