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Celebrate a National Holiday with Anglo Welsh

Celebrate a National Holiday with Anglo Welsh

Saints days and national holidays are a great excuse to get together with friends and family to enjoy some quality time out.

What better way to celebrate than to take a holiday on Britain’s beautiful canal network, enjoying a peaceful rural escape or visiting an exciting waterside town or city.

Here at Anglo Welsh we love to celebrate feast days and national holidays, so we’ve put together some ideas for the best celebratory destinations afloat.

St David’s Day (1 March) – the feast day of St David, the patron saint of Wales falls on 1 March, the date of St David’s death in 589 AD, and it’s a public holiday in Wales.  Saint David was a Celtic monk and the Archbishop of Wales.  He spread the word of Christianity across Wales.  The feast has been celebrated since the canonisation of David in the 12th century, by the wearing of leeks (Saint David’s symbol) and daffodils (the symbol of Wales).  Traditional Welsh food is eaten, including cawl (a traditional Welsh soup made with lamb or beef and potatoes, swedes, carrots – and of course leeks) and Welsh rarebit (cheese sauce on toast).

To celebrate afloat, take a trip from our canal boat holiday base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, and glide across the towering Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which this year celebrates 10 years of World Heritage Status.

Or you could travel along the Leek Branch of the Caldon Canal to Leek in Staffordshire. Departing from our canal boat hire base at Great Heywood, you’d reach Leek in around 18 hours, travelling just over 30 miles and passing through 27 locks.

St Patrick’s Day (17 March) – Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was actually born in Roman Britain, sometime in the late 300s AD.  Saint Patrick’s Day started as a religious celebration in the 17th century to commemorate the life of Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. This ‘Feast Day’ always took place on the anniversary of Patrick’s death, which was believed to be March 17, 461 AD. In 1903, the Feast Day became a national holiday in Ireland. These days, Saint Patrick’s Day is so popular it’s thought to be celebrated in more countries than any other national festival. Festivities include boisterous parades, Gaelic marching bands, Irish jigs, dressing up as leprechauns in shamrock hats and drinking lots of Guinness.

As we can’t ship you out to the Emerald Isle on board one of our boats, instead we are celebrating St Patrick’s Day by offering savings of £100 on all new bookings made and paid for by 17 March, regardless of the actual dates you choose for your holiday.  And for extra touch of Irish-themed hospitality, we’ll welcome you on board with eight complimentary cans of Guinness.

St George’s Day (23 April 2019) – St George, the patron Saint of England, has captivated the imaginations of the British since the Crusades and the Hundred Years’ War. He was born sometime around the year 280 in what is now Turkey and became a Roman soldier famous for slaying a dragon.  According to legend, the only well in the town of Silene (in modern day Libya) was guarded by a dragon, who demanded a human to be sacrificed in exchange for water.  On the day St George visited, a princess had been chosen for the sacrifice, so to save her he slayed the dragon and gave the people access to water.  St George’s Day falls on the anniversary of his death on 23 April 303, when he was executed for being a Christian.  The flag of England with a red cross over a white background represents the St George’s Cross.  Although it’s no longer a national holiday, people still like to celebrate the day with parades, Morris Dancers, flag flying, Punch and Judy shows and by eating fish and chips!

To celebrate St George’s Day afloat, take to the water with St George’s Cross flags flying and head to Oxford Castle to climb the Saxon St George’s Tower and enjoy amazing panoramic views over the historic City of Oxford.  From our canal boat holiday rental base on the River Thames at Oxford, it takes just three-and-a-half hours, passing through four locks to reach moorings in Oxford City Centre, just a ten-minute walk from Oxford Castle & Prison.

Or book a break from our Tardebigge base on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove and head to the Black Country Museum to enjoy some traditional 1930s cooked fish and chips. The journey to the Black Country Museum takes around eight hours and passes through three locks.

 

 

Easter (Good Friday 19 April 2019, Easter Monday 22 April 2019) – On Easter Sunday, Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead after his crucifixion and burial, usually by going to Church.  Easter is always celebrated on the Sunday immediately following the Paschal Full Moon, which can fall anywhere between 22 March and 25 April.  Easter eggs symbolise new life and the resurrection of Christ.

Easter is a great time to get afloat and explore the countryside as it bursts into life with new leaves, daffodils, bluebells, spring lambs and nesting birds and waterside attractions host special Easter holiday activities.  For example, the canalside Cadbury World, home to the World’s biggest chocolate shop, will host an ‘Easter Eggstavaganza’ with a stage show starring Mr Cadbury’s Parrot, as well as an Easter Egg Trail. Cadbury World is just two hours away from our canal boat hire base at Tardebigge.

Or visit Bath Theatre Royal’s famous Egg Theatre.  Setting off from our canal boat hire base at Brassknocker Basin just outside Bath, you can reach Bath City Centre in just four hours, passing through six locks.

May Day (6 May 2019) – the roots of May Day (1 May) can be traced back to the Dark Ages when the ancient Celts divided their year by four major festivals, including ‘Beltane’ or ‘the fire of Bel’, representing the first day of summer.  May Day is associated with fun, revelry and fertility.  The day would be marked with maypole dancing, the selection of the May Queen and the dancing figure of the Jack-in-the-Green at the head of a procession, a relic from when our ancestors worshipped trees.  In the 16th century, the pagan May Day celebrations were banned by Church and State and Oliver Cromwell later passed legislation which saw the end of village maypoles.  Dancing did not return to village greens until the restoration of Charles II.  Today, some of the old customs have survived, including Morris dancing, maypole dancing and the crowning of a May queen.

The first May Bank Holiday is a great time to take to the water and enjoy Spring sunshine and verdant green trees, fields and hedgerows.  May Day celebrations take place each year at Bancroft Basin in Stratford upon Avon, which can be reached in six hours from our canal boat hire base at Wootton Wawen.  And the St Richard’s Canal Festival takes place the first May bank holiday each year at Vines Park, alongside the Droitwich Barge Canal.  Droitwich can be reached from our canal boat holiday base at Tardebigge in 11 hours.

Whitsun Late May Bank Holiday (27 May 2019) – in the past Whit Monday was a day off after Whit Sunday (which falls seven Sundays after Easter), commemorating the gift of the Holy Spirit to the followers of Jesus on the Day of Pentecost. After the disciples received the Holy Spirit in the form of flames, they began to out and preach about Jesus. In 1971 the Banking and Financial Dealings Act changed the date of the holiday to make it fall on the last Monday of May, rather than on the day after Whit Sunday.

Christians have traditionally taken part in Whit walks at Whitsun. Hundreds of footpaths and walking routes intersect with the canals, for example in Cheshire, the 16.5 mile long Eddisbury Way meets the Shropshire Union Canal close to Williamsons Bridge, four-and-a-half miles from our canal boat rental base at Bunbury.  And the Shropshire Way meets the Llangollen Canal at Spark’s Bridge, close to the historic town of Whitchurch, six miles from our canal boat hire base at Whixall.

 

 

August Bank Holiday (26 August 2019) – also known as the Summer Bank Holiday, this falls on the last Monday of August, except in Scotland when it falls on the first Monday in August.  In 1871, Sir John Lubbock introduced the Bank Holidays Act, starting the concept of holidays with pay.  He designated four in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and five in Scotland, including a Summer Bank Holiday.

Escape crowded airports, congested roads and engineering works on the railways with a holiday afloat on the canals.  Pottering along at just four miles an hour, soaking up the last of the summer sun, a holiday on Britain’s beautiful waterways is a great way to relax and see the countryside, as well as visit waterside attractions hosting special bank holiday events.  For example, setting off from our canal boat hire base at Stockton on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, you can reach moorings close to Warwick Castle in around seven hours, travelling through 20 locks.  Over the August bank holiday weekend, Warwick Castle will be hosting its spectacular Dragon Slayer event, with fearless fire jousting, perilous stunt riding and epic battles with live actors, pyrotechnics and fireworks.

St. Andrews Day (30 November) – St Andrew’s Day is a public holiday in Scotland.  St Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland, is considered to be Jesus’ first disciple. He was crucified on 30 November 60AD by order of the Roman governor Aegeas. He was tied to an X-shaped cross, represented by the white cross on the Scottish flag, the Saltire.  St Andrews Day celebrations have been taking place in Scotland for over a thousand years.  Today people celebrate by attending a ceilidh, by eating Cullen skink or lamb and by displaying the flag of St Andrew.

 

 

Christmas & New Year – Christmas is both a sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon.  Christians celebrate 25 December as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus, but celebrating the middle of winter has long been a celebration around the world.  For example, in Scandinavia, the Norse celebrated Yule from 21 December, the winter solstice, through January.

Festivals and celebrations marking the beginning of the calendar have been around for thousands of years.  Some are linked to agricultural or astronomical events. In Egypt for example, the year began with the annual flooding of the Nile, which coincided with the rising of the star Sirius.

Britain’s canals can offer a great antidote to the hustle and bustle of Christmas.  We offer winter cruising* from four of our bases, giving you the chance to enjoy cosy evenings afloat, visit waterside pubs with roaring log fires, and wake-up to frosty towpaths and crisp clean air.

Whether it’s a snug boat for two or a family break for ten, celebrating Christmas or New Year afloat offers a great getaway.  It’s free to moor almost anywhere on the network, so a narrowboat could provide the perfect base to enjoy new year celebrations in waterside towns and cities like Birmingham or Stratford upon Avon.

All our boats have central heating, hot water, televisions and DVD players.  Some also have multi-fuel stoves.  So, whatever the weather, it’s always nice and cosy on board.

*Winter cruising routes can be affected by stoppages and closures as a result of winter maintenance work

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Top 10 canal stories – as told by our bases

Top 10 canal stories

To celebrate the New Year, and a new cruising season just around the corner, we’ve picked the brains of our boat yard managers across the country, to find some of the most interesting, quirky and unusual stories on our waterways.  We hope you find them fun and inspiring for when you plan your new holiday afloat!

 

 

  1. Keep an eye out for the Water Buffalo at Napton – From our canal boat hire base at Stockton on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, it takes just over two hours to cruise to the village of Napton, where alongside the Oxford Canal, a herd of Water Buffalo can often be seen grazing. In 1999, the Buffalo Farm at Chapel Green started milking 20 ‘Bubalus Bubalis’, a species native across Asia, and it’s now home to 140 cows and 100 young buffalo. If you fancy sampling some of their produce, Napton Village Stores sells the farm’s Buffalo burgers, sausages, meatballs, steaks and ice cream.  On a midweek break, from Napton you can continue on to Fenny Compton, travelling a total of 20 hours there and back from Stockton and passing through 12 locks each way.  On a week’s break you can travel on to Cropredy.
  2. Enjoy the most heart-stopping boat trip in Britain – The World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is a stone’s throw away from our canal boat hire base at Trevor in North Wales. This magnificent feat of engineering was built over 200 years by canal engineers Thomas Telford and William Jessop.  Incredibly, ox blood was added to the lime mortar which binds the structure’s masonry together (forming 18 titanic brick pillars), following an ancient superstition that the blood of a strong animal would strengthen a structure.  And sugar was boiled with Welsh flannel then mixed with tar to seal the cast joints of the structure’s cast iron trough, which carries the Llangollen Canal 127 feet above the Dee Valley.  With not even a handrail on the north side, when travelling across by canal boat, it’s probably the most heart-stopping and exhilarating experience on the canal network!  On a short break from Trevor, you can glide across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and travel on to Ellesmere and back.  On a week’s break, you can continue on to the historic market town of Whitchurch, cruising for a total of 24 hours and passing through two locks each way.
  3. Spot the mysterious barrel roofed lock cottages on the Stratford Canal – The southern section of the pretty Stratford Canal, running from Bancroft Basin in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon up to the village of Lapworth, is characterised by split bridges with gaps for the tow ropes of boat horses and a series of curious barrel roofed lock cottages. The reason for these quirky structures is actually purely practical – engineers building the canal knew more about building bridges than houses so when they turned their hand to building dwellings for the lock keepers, they adapted their skills, producing barrel-shaped roofs. On a short break from our canal boat hire base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal near Henley-in-Arden, you can travel to Stratford and back, cruising for a total of 12 hours and passing through 17 locks each way.  On a week’s break you can travel the Birmingham Mini Ring, cruising for 35 hours and negotiating 83 locks.
  4. Look out for World War II pill boxes on the K&A – Following the British Expeditionary Forces’ evacuation from Dunkirk, and the prospect of imminent German invasion, General Sir Edmund Ironside, Commander-in-chief of the Home Forces created a series of static defence lines, one of which was the Kennet & Avon Canal from Reading to Bristol, named GHQ Stop Line Blue. Pill boxes and tank traps designed by the War Office were built along the canal and manned by the home guard.  Today there are still a large number of pillboxes lining the canal, including one at next to Avoncliff Aqueduct, one at Rotherstone in Devizes, one at Freewarren Bridge at Crofton and two between the canal and the railway line at Hungerford Common.  From our canal boat rental base at Sydney Wharf in Bath, it takes just over three hours to reach Avoncliff Aqueduct, great for a short break.  From Bath, it takes around 29 hours to reach Hungerford, passing through 61 locks along the way – perfect for a 10-day or two-week break.
  5. Visit the birthplace of the canal restoration movement – At the top of the mighty 30-lock Tardebigge Flight on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, a plaque commemorates the famous meeting between Tom Rolt and Robert Aickman, which took place aboard Rolt’s Narrowboat ‘Cressy’, moored just above Tardebigge Top Lock. Rolt and Aickman were the passion and brains behind the formation of the Inland Waterways (IWA) in 1946. Their aim was to keep Britain’s canal network navigable and it is thanks to this incredible movement that the canals are in the fantastic shape that they are today, with over 3,000 miles of navigable waterways available to explore.  Our narrowboat hire base at Tardebigge is next to the Top Lock.  On a short break from here, it’s best to head north to Lapworth or Birmingham.  On a week’s break, you could travel the Droitwich or Stourport Ring, which includes the Tardebigge Flight.
  6. Navigate the Harecastle Tunnel – The Harecastle Tunnel on the Trent & Mersey Canal in Staffordshire links Kidsgrove and Tunstall. But there are actually two tunnels here built 40 years apart by two famous canal engineers – James Brindley and Thomas Telford.  The earlier Brindley tunnel fell into disrepair is long closed, but the Telford tunnel is still used to this day.  At 1.5 miles long, it is one of the longest canal tunnels in Britain and takes around 40 minutes to navigate.  There is only space for one boat to pass through at one time, so you may have to wait to enter.  The tunnel keeper instructs boaters when to go through and what to do.  Back when the tunnel was first built it didn’t have a towpath and so boats had to be ‘legged’ through.  This involves laying a plank of wood across the bows and having people lying across it to literally walk the walls.  From our canal boat hire base on the Trent & Mersey Canal at Great Haywood it takes around 12 hours, travelling 22 miles and passing through 18 locks to reach the south end of the Harecastle Tunnel.  From there, on a week or more away, you can continue on to complete the Four Counties Ring, travelling a total of 110 miles and travelling through 94 locks.
  7. Watch out for the dazzling canalside murals at Oxford – in north Oxford, the Oxford Canal is crossed by two bridges with large canalside walls. Three years ago, spurred on by the horrified comments of Timothy West and Prunella Scales when seeing the graffiti here on one of their ‘Great Canal Journeys’ for Channel 4, the local community set about creating four striking murals to improve the environment, reflecting the area’s history and wildlife of the canal.  From our canal boat hire base on the Thames at Oxford, it takes just over an hour to reach Duke’s Cut Lock, the gateway to the Oxford Canal right next to the two bridges.  On a midweek break, you can continue north along the Oxford Canal to Lower Heyford, cruising a total of 18 hours and passing through 14 locks each way.  On a week’s break, you can travel on to Banbury, cruising for a total of 30 hours and passing through 21 locks each way.
  8. Have a pint at the Shroppie Fly – originally a canalside cheese warehouse, the popular Shroppie Fly pub on the Shropshire Union Canal in the picturesque village of Audlem, has a narrowboat as a bar. The name of the pub pays tribute to a type of narrowboat designed for speed in the early days of the canal – particularly important when transporting cheese and fresh farm produce to town and city markets.  Fly-boats were the Amazon Prime of their day, with fine lines to help them to glide easily through water and specially selected elite boatmen and horses to maximise speed, they ran non-stop, day and night.  From our canal boat hire base on the Shropshire Union Canal at Bunbury it takes around five hours to reach Audlem, passing through seven locks to the wharf and passing Nantwich along the way – perfect for a short break.  On a week’s holiday from Bunbury, you can continue on to the Caldon Canal, cruising a total of 48 hours and travelling through 104 locks.
  9. Read the lock wall poem in Bath – a poem created by Jessica Kashdan-Brown has been stencilled into the wall of Lock 13 near Pulteney Road in Bath. The equivalent of 820 full bath tubs of water drains from the lock on each descent, gradually revealing the poem to boaters and gongoozlers.  Lock 13 (also known as Bath Top Lock) is just five minutes by boat from our canal boat hire base at Sydney Wharf.  From there, you can travel through the six locks that make up the Bath flight and reach moorings in Bath City Centre in just two hours.  Experienced boaters can travel on along the Bristol Avon to Bristol’s Floating Harbour, travelling through another seven locks and cruising for a further six hours.

Cruise through a lake on the Staffs & Worcs Canal – Tixall Wide is a beautiful wide stretch of waterway close to the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal’s junction with the Trent & Mersey.  Permission to build the canal was granted by the local landowner Thomas Clifford, on condition that the canal was made wide enough to look like a lake so that it didn’t spoil the view from his house.  Today, over 250 years later, Tixall Wide is home to an abundance of wildlife and is a great place to moor up for the night.  It’s just over a mile away from our narrowboat rental base at Great Haywood, on the junction of the Staffs & Worcs and Trent & Mersey Canal.  On a short break, you can cruise on from Tixall Wide to the village of Gailey and back, travelling a total of 26 miles and passing through 12 locks each way.  On a week’s break, you can travel on to Market Drayton, home of the gingerbread man or complete the Black Country Ring, which takes narrowboat holiday-makers on a 45-hour waterway odyssey, cruising a total of 75 miles and passing through 79.

 

 

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UK’s most impressive Aqueducts and Viaducts

Aim high: The most impressive aqueducts on the canals of England and Wales

 

There are few things as magical as drifting on a canal boat high above another waterway or even a road or railway, waving to the world below. Aqueducts offer some of the most incredible moments of any canal boat holiday, from enjoying sweeping views across verdant countryside to admiring the incredible feats of historic engineering many of them represent. As your narrowboat crosses an aqueduct and you calmly watch the world passing below, you will feel transported in body and mind.

Here, to help you plan your next narrowboat holiday route with Anglo Welsh, we list the most impressive canal aqueducts to look out for in England and Wales:

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

Arguably the most awe-inspiring of any aqueduct in England and Wales, the Pontcysyllte carries the Llangollen canal a jaw-dropping 126-ft above the River Dee. It offers traversing canal boats and towpath walkers sweeping views along the stunning river valley in each direction. Located at Trevor in North Wales, the Grade I* listed aqueduct achieved World Heritage status in 2009.

Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Trevor

Dundas Aqueduct

Situated on a stunning stretch of the Kennet and Avon Canal between Bath and Bradford-upon-Avon, this beautiful stone structure was completed in 1810 by John Rennie. It carries narrowboats across the River Avon as well as Brunel’s Great Western Railway and is now designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Monkton Combe

Barton Swing Aqueduct

The first and only swing aqueduct in the world carries the Bridgewater Canal across the much larger Manchester Ship Canal. Now a Grade II* listed building, this feat of Victorian civil engineering opened in 1893 consisting of a channel that can be sealed off at each end to form a 235-feet long and 18 feet wide tank. Holding 800 tons of water, it swings on a pivot on an island in the middle of the Ship Canal.

Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Bunbury

Marple Aqueduct

The highest canal aqueduct in England, this incredible triple arched structure carries the Peak Forest Canal 90-feet above the River Goyt near Marple. Designed by Benjamin Outram and opened in 1800, the Grade I listed construction and ancient monument which sits at the bottom of one of the steepest lock flights in Britain, comprising 16 locks.

Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Bunbury

Dowley Gap Aqueduct

Also known as the Seven Arches Aqueduct, this beautiful Grade II edifice takes the Leeds and Liverpool Canal across the River Aire, between Saltaire and Bingley. Designed by the famous engineer James Brindley, the 245-year-old aqueduct runs for 131 yards over seven stone arches, as its second name suggests.

Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Silsden

Engine Arm Aqueduct

Built in 1825 by engineer Thomas Telford, this 52-ft long elegant cast-iron structure carries the Engine Arm Canal across the Birmingham Canal Navigation (BCN) New Main Line near Smethwick. The aqueduct was designed to transfer water from Edgbaston Reservoir to ensure the West Midland canal network was topped up.

Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Tardebigge

Chirk Aqueduct

This 70-ft high aqueduct, built between 1796 and 1801 by Thomas Telford and William Jessop carries the Llangollen Canal across the luscious Ceiriog Valley straddling England and Wales. Despite its scale and beauty with 10 masonry arches, the Chirk Aqueduct is often overshadowed by its near neighbor the Pontcysyllte but is included within the World Heritage Site which stretches from Chirk to the Horseshoe Falls in Llangollen itself.

Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Trevor

Cosgrove Aqueduct

This cast iron aqueduct built in 1811 carries the Grand Union Canal 40-ft above the idyllic River Great Ouse at Cosgrove. Originally known as the Iron Trunk, the aqueduct was built in iron to replace a previous stone aqueduct that had failed.

Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Oxford or Stockton

Edstone Aqueduct

The longest cast iron aqueduct in England, the Edstone is one of three aqueducts on a four mile stretch of the Stratford-upon-Avon canal in Warwickshire. Stretching for 475-ft, the Edstone crosses a road, a busy railway line and the track of another former railway near Bearley. Opened in 1816, the aqueduct is notable for the fact its towpath is at the level of the canal bottom so walkers crossing it can watch the narrowboats motor past at waist height.

Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Wootton Wawen

 

If you would like further advice on the best routes for a canal boat holiday to take in some of these aqueducts and other marvels of our canal network, please don’t hesitate to contact our team on 0117 304 1122 or via our website: www.anglowelsh.co.uk/Contact-Us.

 

 

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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?

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.

Anglo Welsh. So much more than narrowboats

...but don't just take our word for it

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