Top 9 October Half Term Canal Boat Holidays

Autumn is a great time to visit the waterways and get the whole family out in the fresh air to experience an adventure afloat.

You can enjoy seeing the beautiful colours in the trees and hedgerows that line the canals, wake up to misty mornings and visit some of the exciting waterside destinations offering special October Half Term events, many of them Halloween related.

So, whether you are beginner looking for an easy short break route to test the waters, or a seasoned canal boater looking for a longer more challenging route, take a look at our Top 9 spooky half term destinations this October:

  1. Enjoy a Halloween Monster Mash at the National Waterways Museum – from our boat yard on the Shropshire Union Canal at Bunbury, the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port is a 21-mile, 16-lock cruise away, taking narrowboat holiday-makers through the beautiful Cheshire countryside and ancient City of Chester along the way. The Museum’s historic boat collection, docks, warehouses, forge, stables and workers cottages, bring the past vividly to life with costumed characters and guided tours, and on the 27th and 28th of October the Museum will be hosting a special ‘Halloween Monster Mash’ event with a trick or treat promenade performance from the Boaty Theatre Company.
  2. Experience the Ascarium at Birmingham’s Sea Life Centre – from our canal boat hire base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, it’s a five-hour, lock-free journey to moorings at Gas Street Basin in Birmingham City Centre, close to Brindleyplace and its fantastic Sea Life Centre. From the 20th October to the 4th of November, the Sea Life Centre will be hosting its ‘Ascarium’ event, offering visitors the chance to step into the deep and follow an immersive trail past some of the creepiest sea creatures, including the blob fish, goblin sharks and barrel eye fish.
  3. Try Pumpkin Pottery Painting at the World of Wedgewood – on a short break from our canal boat hire base at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal in Staffordshire, canal boat holiday-makers can cruise to the World of Wedgewood in around seven hours, passing through 12 locks and travelling 13 miles. From 27th October to the 4th November, the Museum will be hosting special half term activities, including Halloween pottery painting, a Big Draw competition, Factory Tours and Museum Trails.
  4. Unlock bat mysteries at the University of Oxford’s Natural History Museum – take a Thames boating holiday from our Oxford narrowboat rental base, and you can reach moorings in the centre of Oxford in just three hours, passing through four locks along the way. From there, the University of Oxford’s Natural History Museum is short walk away, where an internationally significant collection of natural history specimens is on display, as well as a special exhibition of the studies of UK bat populations in Wytham Woods. Offering a unique insight into the behaviour of these mysterious night dwellers, ‘Bats: The Mystery Beings’ is on until 8th January 2019.
  5. Make a monstrous Gorgon’s head badge at the Roman Baths Museum – from our barge holiday base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Brassknocker Basin, it’s a four-hour journey, passing through six locks to moorings in the centre of the UNESCO World Heritage City of Bath. Once there, you can explore some of the City’s top attractions, including the Roman Baths where over half term (27th October to 2nd November), as well as learning about this incredible Roman site, families can find out who the Gorgon was and make a Gorgon’s head badge.
  6. Get spooked at Warwick Castle’s Haunted event – in just over seven hours from our canal boat hire base at Stockton on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire you can reach the moorings close to the incredible medieval castle on the banks of the River Avon at Warwick. Over the half term break (20th October to 4th November), the Castle is hosting its ‘Spooktacular Haunted Castle’ event with live shows at the Dead Centre Stage, The Witches Tower, spooky Halloween Trail, Flight of the Eagles displays, Horrible Histories Maze, The Castle Dungeon tour and the Mighty Trebuchet in action.
  7. Find out about the Pendle Witches at Barrowford – from our canal boat rental base at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, it takes around 15 hours, passing through 20 locks and the mile-long Foulridge Tunnel, to reach the village of Barrowford, home to the Pendle Heritage Centre. Here, visitors will find an exhibition on the famous Pendle Witch Trial of 1612 and walking routes into the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Pendle Hill.
  8. Visit the haunted house of Plas Newydd at Llangollen – on a short break from our canal boat hire base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, it takes just two hours to reach the idyllic town of Llangollen, home to the remarkable Plas Newydd House.   In the late 18th century this fascinating stone built house was turned into gothic fantasy by its most famous inhabitants, the Ladies of Llangollen. Today visitors can enjoy exploring enchanting gardens and the fascinating oak carved panelled interiors, said to be haunted by ghostly apparitions and heavy dragging sounds from the upper floors.
  9. Step aboard the SS Great Britain for a Victorian fright-fest – from our narrowboat hire base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Bath, canal boat holiday-makers can travel west to Bristol’s Floating Harbour* in eight hours, passing through 13 locks. Once there boaters can moor up to visit the SS Great Britain and take a night time Spooky Ship Tour, available from 31st October to 3rd November. On these special Halloween tours, goulish guides will take visitors to the darkest nooks and crannies of Brunel’s 175-year old ship to experience eerie sights, sounds and smells and listen to terrible tales told by creepy characters lurking in the shadows. *NB this route is recommended route for experienced boaters and overnight mooring fees will apply.
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Anglo Welsh’s Top 8 October Half Term Breaks

  1. Step back in time at the Black Country Living Museum at Dudley… from our Tardebigge base on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, it’s an eight-hour, three-lock journey to moorings outside the 26-acre open-air Black Country Living Museum. Here visitors can step back in time and meet costumed characters explaining what it was like to live and work in one of the world’s most heavily industrialised landscapes, explore period shops and homes, have a drink in the ‘Bottle & Glass Inn’ and take a ride on a vintage tram or bus. ***For the Kids – enjoy a trip ‘into the thick’ experiencing life in an 1850s coal mine, have a ride on the fun fair, attend a Victorian school lesson and sample the Museum’s famous traditionally cooked Fish & Chips. Special Halloween-themed Half Term activities include critter-themed trails, tales, street games, crafts and a visit to the Quack Doctor who will be cashing in on the dirt and disease of the 19th century!
  2. See the dinosaurs at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History… from our Oxford base, it’s a tranquil three-hour cruise along the River Thames to moorings at Hythe Bridge, perfect for a short break exploring Oxford, including the University’s Museum of Natural History. Housed in a stunning example of neo-Gothic architecture, this fascinating museum holds the University’s internationally significant collections of geological and zoological specimens, including the Oxfordshire dinosaurs, the Dodo and ‘swifts in the tower’. ***For the Kids – the Museum’s October half term activities ‘Through the Lens’ offers the chance to explore the Museum through the eyes of people and animals with exciting activities all about vision and photography. Drop-in sessions run from Mon 24 October to Weds 26 October, 1-4pm.
  3. Drink the magic waters at Bath’s Roman Baths… from our base on the Kennet & Avon Canal in the historic town of Bradford on Avon in Wiltshire, boaters can reach Bath Top Lock in just six hours. From there, it’s a 15-minute walk to Bath City Centre and the fascinating Romans Baths. Constructed around 70 AD to take advantage of the site’s natural hot springs, this magnificent Roman bathing complex and temple built in honour of the goddess of Sulis Minerva, is now one of the best preserved Roman remains in the world. ***For the Kids – meet Roman costumed characters and listen to their ancient stories, see the fearsome Temple Gorgon’s head animation, take a sip of spa water in the Pump Room believed to have healing powers and play the interactive ‘Roman Rush’ tax collecting game. ‘The Big Draw: Ex Libris’ is the Museum’s special half term activity, offering families the chance to learn a bit of Latin and make a Roman bookmark, 24-28 October, 10am-1pm & 2pm-4pm.
  4. Mess with mechanical art in Stratford upon Avon… from our base at Wootton Wawen on the narrow Stratford Canal in Henley in Arden, it’s a delightful six-hour, 17-lock cruise journey through the Warwickshire countryside to Bancroft Basin, in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare. From here, the machine-infested MAD (Mechanical Art & Design) Museum, with over 100 pieces of Kinetic Art and Automata from artists around the World, is within easy reach. ***For the Kids – 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.
  5. Visit rare British livestock breeds at the Shugborough Estate… just a few miles along the Trent & Mersey Canal from our base at Great Haywood, near Stafford, canal boat holiday-makers can stop-off at the stunning Shugborough Historic Estate. Once the home of Lord Patrick Lichfield, this Georgian Manor house with magnificent riverside grounds, is now the UK’s only Complete Working Historic Estate, with working kitchens, dairy, water mill, Brewhouse and Farm, all manned by historic costumed guides. Shugborough is also one of just 20 Rare Breeds Survival Trust Farms in the UK, home to breeds rarer than the Giant Panda, including Boreray sheep and Middle White Pigs. ***For the Kids – ride on the Land Train, visit the Play Park and interactive learning gallery at the Georgian Park Farm, take a woodland walk, watch costumed characters cheese-making, milling, brewing and baking, and see the reconstructed Victorian schoolroom and puppet collection.
  6. Take a trip up ‘The Cathedral of the Canals’ from our base on the Shropshire Union Canal at Bunbury, the incredible Anderton Boat Lift is a nine-hour, 10-lock cruise away. Perched on the banks of the River Weaver Navigation like a giant three-storey high iron spider, the Anderton Boat Lift lifts boats 50ft from the River Weaver Navigation up to the Trent & Mersey Canal in two giant water tanks. No description can adequately convey the sheer scale of this masterpiece of Victorian engineering! ***For the Kids – interactive and cinematic visitor centre, watch the workings of the lift control centre and Edwin Clark boat trips.
  7. Travel across ‘The Stream in the Sky’… just five minutes by boat from our canal boat hire base on the Llangollen Canal at Trevor, the incredible Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is truly one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’. Its cast iron trough is supported on iron arched ribs and carried 38 metres high above the Dee Valley on 19 hollow pillars. In 2009 it was granted World Heritage status, putting it on an equal footing with the Great Barrier Reef and Taj Mahal. On a short break from Trevor, boaters can cross the aqueduct and continue east to reach the Ellesmere Lakes, teaming with wildlife and return back across the aqueduct to Llangollen to visit the town’s historic Steam Railway. ***For the Kids – Take the Halloween Train on 30 October at 6.30pm spooky story telling through the dark and creepy Dee Valley. Book in advance, adult tickets £16, children £10.
  8. Cruise to the Canal Museum at Stoke Bruerne… from our Stockton base on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, the pretty canalside village of Stoke Bruerne with its intriguing Canal Museum, is 13 hours and 17 locks away. Housed in an historic corn mill, the Canal Museum offers a treasure trove of canal curiosities, including fascinating films, canal craft collections, models of working boats and displays all about the history of our waterways, from the great engineers and the navvies who created them to the boat families, leggers and lock keepers who lived and worked on them. While in Stoke Bruerne, visitors can also enjoy waterside pubs, woodland walks, towpath history trails and a wildlife reserve in the former brickworks. ***For the Kids – dress in traditional canal costume, visit the re-creation of a boat builder’s workshop, explore historic working boat ‘Sculptor’, watch early footage of working boats and visit the waterside café.


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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