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A canal boat holiday: the perfect way to celebrate an end to lockdown

After so many weeks cooped up within the same four walls, most of us are raring to get out and about again – especially now that summer is here.

Never before have we all so appreciated the joys of being able to move freely and explore new places.

So with foreign travel still restricted, let’s celebrate a relaxation of lockdown rules by becoming tourists within our own green and pleasant land and enjoying a truly memorable ‘staycation’.

The UK has so many fascinating and beautiful places to discover, sometimes the best holidays are the ones closer to home.

One of the best ways to explore new areas of England and Wales and uncover our country’s hidden gems is on a canal boat holiday.

Here are just a few of the reasons why a narrowboat holiday is the perfect way to make the most of being allowed out again:

The right to roam – or float

A canal boat holiday is a journey. By holidaying aboard a narrowboat, you can cruise along the stunning waterways of England and Wales covering new ground each day and taking in a range of landscapes and attractions along the way. After so long confined to one place, a holiday which involves being on the move with constantly changing scenery is particularly appealing. We have 11 narrowboat hire bases scattered across England and Wales all of which offer access to wonderful and varied canal holiday routes. There are easy holiday cruises to historic towns and cities, perfect for those wanting a short weekend break, or longer more challenging circuits for two week canal holidays exploring whole regions.

Soak up the space

There are more than 2,000 miles of canals and rivers winding their way through the luscious landscapes of England and Wales. A canal boat holiday gives you access to amazing open countryside and remote beauty spots difficult to access by any other means. Cruising through these remote and hidden corners of the country offers a feeling of space and freedom you have probably been craving for the last few months. You can moor up and take off on foot or by bicycle to explore the surrounding area, or remain onboard the narrowboat and simply take it all in as you motor along at a stately three miles an hour. Whatever your preference, enjoy those limitless horizons.

Variety is the spice of life

One of the joys of a canal boat holiday is the vast array of different things to see and do. With dozens of different canal holiday routes to choose from, you could opt for a city break or rural tranquility – or both. Canals pass through mountainous landscapes and flood plains, through woods and farm land.  They pass historic villages, stately homes, castles, museums, themes parks, zoos and more. Then there is the range of activities to be enjoyed along the waterways, including walking, cycling, kayaking, paddle boarding, canoeing and fishing. On a canal boat holiday, there really is something for everyone to enjoy.

Bring the pets

We offer pet-friendly holidays at Anglo Welsh so you can bring up to two furry friends along for the ride. If you are craving a much needed break away from home , but don’t want to leave your dog or another much loved pet on their own, you can bring one animal along for free then pay a small fee for a second.

For inspiration and ideas when planning your next canal boat holiday, have a read of our news section where you’ll find blogs covering everything from wildlife along the waterways to what to pack for your narrowboat holiday.

For up to date information from the Canal & River Trust about staying safe on the waterways, go to https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/enjoy-the-waterways/safety-on-our-waterways/coronavirus

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Amazing Canal Facts

Amazing canal facts worth reading ahead of your narrowboat holiday

 

There are more than 2000 miles of navigable canals and rivers throughout England and Wales, making up an intricate network which enables boats to travel the length and breadth of the country. Between them, these inland waterways boast 1,569 locks, 53 tunnels, 3112 bridges, 370 aqueducts and 74 reservoirs. Most were built more than 200 years ago and have fascinating stories to tell as well as featuring many historic feats of engineering which still wow visitors today. This is a large part of what makes a canal boat holiday so magical – a narrowboat takes you on a journey through history and human endeavor.

If you are considering a canal boat holiday, why not first have a read of these amazing canal facts which will only add to the wonder of your cruise along these historic waterways.

1) The oldest working canal in the UK is about 1,900 years old

The Fossdyke Navigation which runs between Lincoln and the River Trent at Torksey was built by the Romans in around AD 120 and is still in use today. Extending 11.3 miles, with one lock, the Fossdyke formed part of a key transport route from Peterborough to York.

It is said to have been used by the invading Danes and the Normans to carry stone to build Lincoln Cathedral in the 11th century. The canal was revamped under King Henry I in 1121 but then fell into disrepair and silted up until, by the 17th century, it was virtually impassable. In 1744 a proper channel was restored and maintained and the canal has remained navigable ever since.

2) The longest canal tunnel in the UK runs for more than 5000 metres – or 3.5 miles

The Standedge Tunnel on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal is the longest, deepest and highest canal tunnel in Britain. Built over 16 years from 1794 to 1811, it stands at 196 metres above sea level, at a depth of 194 metres underneath the Pennines. The canal was closed to traffic in 1943 and re-opened in May 2001. Moor up during your canal boat holiday and learn more about this 19th century wonder of engineering at the Standedge Tunnel and Visitor Centre.

3) Britain’s longest aqueduct extends more than 300 metres – or 1000 ft

Deservedly described as the jewel in the crown of Britain’s canals, the awe-inspiring Pontcysyllte Aqueduct carries narrowboats on the Llangollen Canal at a soaring 38 metres – 126 ft – above the River Dee, offering stunning views of the valley and surrounding hills. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999, the 18-arch aqueduct was designed by legendary civil engineer Thomas Telford and built between 1795 and 1805.

Located right next to the Anglo Welsh narrowboat hire base at Trevor, this is a spectacular way to start or finish a canal boat holiday from this idyllic location.

4) The longest lock flight in the UK is 30 locks long

The Tardebigge lock flight enables Worcester and Birmingham Canal to ascend 67 metres (220 feet) over a 2.25 mile stretch. Built between 1808 and 1815, the lock flight enabled an extension of the canal from Birmingham to the River Severn at Worcester to be completed. Until the lock ladder was constructed, originally with a boat lift in place of the 3.4-metre (11 feet) top lock, the canal only travelled as far the Old Wharf next to Tardebigge Tunnel.

The Canal and River Trust offers a certificate of achievement to any boaters that complete the journey through the 30 locks so why not make it your challenge for your next canal boat holiday. Find out how you can claim yours here.

5) The longest UK canal runs for 137 miles

The Grand Union Canal links London with Birmingham via Milton KeynesNorthampton and Leamington Spa and would take about 74 hours to cruise the whole length non-stop. It winds its way through rolling countryside, idyllic towns and villages with 158 locks and striking historic features including the Iron Trunk Aqueduct, the steep Hatton Lock Flight and The Canal Museum at Stoke Bruerne.

The name of the canal offers a clue as to its origins, for it was not built as one waterway but was the result of connecting existing waterways to create an uninterrupted link between the industrial heartlands of Birmingham and the west midlands with the capital.

The longest canal in Britain built as a single waterway is the Leeds & Liverpool Canal at 127 miles long.

6) The newest canal in the UK was completed in 2002

The Ribble Link canal was opened just 17 years ago to connect the previously isolated Lancaster Canal with the rest of the national inland waterways network. It runs for just four miles from Preston to the River Ribble which then connects to the Leeds and Liverpool canal.

With nine locks, the Ribble Link is tidal so only navigable at certain times with advance booking needed as all boats must be helped through. A link between the Lancaster Canal and the wider canal network was first discussed 200 years ago but due to costs and engineering challenges did not come to fruition until 2000 with the help of a grant from the Millennium Commission.

7) Britain’s shortest canal is just 22 metres – or 72 feet – long

The Wardle Lock Branch of the Trent & Mersey Canal consists of just one 72ft-long lock and a few yards of canal on either side. It was built in 1829 to link the Trent and Mersey Canal with the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal.

8) A cow once swan the whole length of the Foulridge Tunnel

In 1912 a cow named Buttercup fell into the Leeds and Liverpool Canal near the southern end of the tunnel which carries the waterway for a mile under the Lancashire countryside. Rather than climb out of the canal as normal, Buttercup swam all 1500 metres to Foulridge at the northern end. On arrival, Buttercup was revived with brandy by locals drinking at the nearby Hole in the Wall pub.

9) Canals have plugs, literally

In 1978, a group of British Waterways workers who were dredging the Chesterfield Canal pulled up a chain which had a heavy lump of wood attached to the end. As the entire canal between Whitsunday Pie Lock and Retford Town Lock began to empty away into the River Idle, they realised they had pulled out a long forgotten canal plug.

10) There are more boats now on the UK canals than at any other time in history

While Britain’s industrial heydays of 18th and 19th century are generally viewed as the golden age of canals, there are actually more craft on our waterways today. Despite the canals being used by far less commercial traffic, they have become a mecca for pleasure craft and a growing number of people opting for floating homes. There are now around 34,000 boats on Britain’s canals and rivers, which provide homes, workplaces and holidays for millions of people. We are proud that Anglo Welsh can claim to be the proud owners of 160 of these vessels providing wonderful narrowboat holidays for people up and down the country.

 

 

A canal boat holiday takes you back in time. It is a journey through history as you float along waterways constructed in a bygone era of horse-drawn transport.

The vast majority of the canals in England and Wales were built at the dawn of industrialisation as the most efficient way of transporting the raw materials and goods going in and out the new factories.

This makes a narrowboat holiday a history lover’s dream come true as they can admire the antique engineering and the many sights, towns and cities along the routes which have all played notable roles in creating the modern Britain we know today.

To get you started, here we take you on a brief history of the canals of England and Wales.

Early history

While the UK was the first country to develop a nationwide canal network, the Chinese claim the title of being the earlier pioneers of inland waterways, constructing the Grand Canal of China in the 10th century. Most early canals were extensions of natural rivers.

The first canals of England and Wales were built by the Romans who dug the Fossdyke connecting Lincoln to the River Trent around AD50 and the nearby Car Dyke which ran southwards towards Cambridge.

Other early waterways of the medieval and post medieval period were constructed during to shorten, extend or link river routes such as the Exeter Canal, built in 1566 which featured the first pond locks in Britain.

But the golden age of canal building began as the Industrial Revolution took hold during the second half of the 18th century, with the construction of the Bridgewater Canal.

Golden age of canal building

Completed in 1776 under the watchful eye of engineer James Brindley, the Bridgewater Canal connects Runcorn, Manchester and Leigh. It was created in order to carry coal from the Duke of Bridgewater’s mines at Worsley into the industrial heart of Manchester where demand for coal to power the mills was soaring.

The Bridgewater Canal sparked a flurry of canal building during the half century that followed its construction. During an age of horse drawn transport and antiquated mud tracks for roads, the canals provided a highly efficient way to transport large quantities of goods. One horse could pull a canal boat carrying around 30 tonnes of cargo – more than ten times the amount that could be transport via a one horse cart.

The efficiency of the Bridgewater Canal meant the price of coal in Manchester dropped by nearly two thirds within a year of its opening. The waterway repaid the cost of its construction within a few years, proving the viability of canals.

Other industrialists began to follow suit and James Brindley suddenly found himself constantly in demand. He is largely responsible for the ‘Grand Cross’, the two thousand miles of canals linking the four great rivers of England – the Severn, Mersey, Humber and Thames.

There were two key canal building periods, from 1759 to the early 1770s and from 1789 to around 1800 when trains began to dominate.

The famous potter Josiah Wedgewood commissioned the construction of canals to transport his goods from the Staffordshire factories to Manchester and Birmingham. He was instrumental in the building of the Trent and Mersey Canal which was completed in 1777.

The Oxford Canal was completed in 1790, linking the coal mines and factories of the Midlands with London via the Thames while the Ellesmere Canal completed in 1805 and later incorporated into the Chester, MontgomeryShropshire Union and Llangollen canals, helped link the Mersey and the Severn.

Thomas Telford took over from Brindley as the leading canal engineer of the late 18th century designing incredible landmarks including the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct which soars over the River Dee.

The epicenter of canal building was in the industrial West Midlands and North West. Birmingham and the Black Country boasted an intricate network of 160 miles of canals, known as the Birmingham Canal Navigations, most of which survive today.

Funding for the canals was raised largely through private investors keen to reap the promised high returns. But by the end of the 18th century the flurry of canal building was over. Virtually all Britain’s canals were completed by 1815 when attention began to turn to the development of steam powered railway locomotives.

Decline

In the early 19th century the canals continued to be the preferred method for transporting bulky heavy goods while the new railway lines focused on passengers and lighter cargo. But as the century progressed the railways were developed into a national network, out competing the canals in both cargo volumes and speed, forcing tolls down so that the canal companies went into terminal decline.

The emergence of the motorcar in the early 20th century and development of an improved reliable road system was another blow to the commercial appeal of the canals.

As most of the canals fell out of commercial use and the companies that had maintained them shut down or were bought out, the waterways themselves were left to wreck and ruin.

Reinvention

In 1947 under the post-World War II Labour government, Britain’s canal and railway systems were nationalised. In the decades that followed, the canals were gradually restored and reopened, primarily for leisure purposes. Restoration projects have been largely undertaken by enthusiastic volunteer groups and local canal societies and trusts.

The canals are now managed by the Canal and River Trust, the successor to British Waterways, which actively supports many of the ongoing restoration projects. The Inland Waterways Association is a charity which also promotes the ongoing protection and conservation of the canals.

Commercial traffic is still permitted on a few key canal routes but the vast majority of waterways are now enjoyed by pleasure craft such as our own Anglo Welsh narrowboats.

There are said to be more boats using the British canals today than at any other point in their history.

Key sights of historic interest and engineering on the canals

Here are a few of the key sights which represented historic feats of engineering during the golden age of canal building and are still well worth a visit during a canal boat holiday today:

The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, completed in 1805, the Llangollen Canal

Nearest Anglo Welsh narrowboat hire base: Trevor

 

The Anderton Boat Lift, completed 1875, the Trent and Mersey Canal and River Weaver

Nearest Anglo Welsh narrowboat hire base: Bunbury

 

The Barton Swing Aqueduct, built 1893, Bridgewater Canal

Nearest Anglo Welsh narrowboat hire base: Bunbury or Silsden

 

Chirk Aqueduct, completed 1801, Llangollen Canal

Nearest Anglo Welsh narrowboat hire base: Trevor

 

Foxton Inclined Plane, opened 1900 and dismantled 1928, Grand Union Canal

Nearest Anglo Welsh narrowboat hire base: Stockton

 

Dudley Tunnel, completed 1791, Dudley Canal

Nearest Anglo Welsh narrowboat hire base: Great Haywood and Tardebigge

 

Blisworth Tunnel, completed 1805, Grand Union Canal

Nearest Anglo Welsh narrowboat hire base: Stockton

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Beautiful Spring Cruising Routes

Plan your canal boat holiday for 2019: Beautiful spring cruising routes

 

There is no prettier time of year in Britain than the spring. As the crocuses, primroses and daffodils start to flower and lambs gambol through green fields, this is the perfect time to hop aboard a narrowboat for a relaxing canal holiday.

The best spring canal routes are the ones which showcase the loveliness of the British countryside.

The canals of England and Wales are at their most scenic and serene at this magical time of year when there is far less traffic on our historic waterways than in the peak summer holiday season. Those who opt for a spring narrowboat holiday will face far less queuing at locks or waiting patiently at one-way stretches and enjoy the ultimate escape.

So, take advantage of the lengthening days and warmer weather during this tranquil season to plan your perfect narrowboat holiday.

To help, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most beautiful spring cruising routes on the canals of England and Wales:

 

 

Bath to Devizes

From our canal boat base in the stunning city of Bath, with its famous Roman Baths and breathtaking Georgian architecture, you will travel through the green and luscious River Avon valley making the tail end of the Cotswold Hills.

Water meadows are bordered by sloping green fields and woodland, which start to come alive with wild flowers, buds and birdsong in the spring.

The scenic journey between Bath and the lovely riverside town of Bradford on Avon takes canal trippers over two impressive limestone aqueducts at Dundas and Avoncliffe as well as some postcard worthy waterside pubs such as the Cross Guns at Avoncliffe.

The canal continues towards Devizes on the edge of the rolling Wiltshire Downs where you must ascend the dramatic Caen Hill Locks, a flight of 16 locks offering great views from the top. The market town of Devizes boasts more than 500 listed buildings as well as some independent shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs.

 

Whixall to Llangollen

new base for Anglo Welsh this year, located on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in the heart of the Shropshire countryside, bordered by mighty oak trees, Whixall is Britain’s most rural marina.

From the newly revamped marina, you can travel easily onto the Llangollen Canal which snakes through the gorgeous border country that straddles England and Wales.

You first pass through the market town of Ellesmere, aptly named for the series of lakes which surround it which were formed by glacial compression at the end of the last Ice Age.

Beyond that, the canal meanders west through luscious surroundings, to reach the Chirk Aqueduct which takes you across the border into north Wales and is quickly followed by the atmospheric 459-yard single width Chirk Tunnel.

Next is arguably the most spectacular sight of all the canals of England and Wales, Thomas Telford’s masterpiece, the soaring Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. This crowning jewel of historic waterway engineering completed in 1805, spans more than 1000 feet at a tremulous height of 126-ft above the River Dee, offering passing boats sweeping views of the river valley in each direction. It is the highest canal aqueduct in the world.

After this the canal twists and turns clinging to the edge of the dramatic Welsh hills, with far reaching views across the valley, until it reaches the pretty town of Llangollen, steeped in myth and legend overlooked by hilltop ruins of Dinas Bran Castle.

 

Stratford-on-Avon to Warwick

Step back in time and cruise through Shakespeare’s England, taking in the unspoilt Warwickshire countryside and its array of wonderful waterside pubs. From our base at Wootton Wawen you can reach the birthplace of the famed playwright in just a day or two, wander its cobbled streets and admire the cluster of Tudor buildings.

Travel back past the canal base through bucolic farmland, copses of oak and sycamore, quaint villages and past idyllic country pubs. Heading north the Stratford Canal takes boats over the longest aqueduct in England, the Edstone Aqueduct.

You can moor up at the rustic Fleur-de-Lys at Lowsonford which offers passersby a great selection of real ales and pub grub to be enjoyed in its large canalside garden.

Continue through open countryside to join the Grand Union Canal which leads past more idyllic villages and pubs with a ye olde world charm including the Tom O’ The Wood in Rowington. It is then just five miles through the famous ‘Hatton Flight’ of 21 locks on to the centre of Warwick itself, built around its formidable medieval castle.

 

Bunbury to Market Drayton and beyond

The Shropshire Union canal takes narrowboats across miles of quintessentially English countryside, dotted with dozens of isolated canalside pubs which once served the commercial traffic that used this main route between the midlands and north west.

This makes it a particularly scenic and tranquil route to cruise, starting at the Anglo Welsh base in Bunbury and heading south towards Market Drayton.

Due to its rural loveliness ‘the Shroppie’, as it is affectionately known, is a favourite with narrowboaters up and down the country so can get very crowded in the summer making spring the perfect time to explore it.

From Bunbury, you cross the Cheshire Plain, thronging with dairy cattle and sheep enjoying its rich pastures, past historic Nantwich, before ascending the Audlem Flight of locks towards pretty Market Drayton.

Shortly after leaving the town and passing through the deep cutting at Woodseaves, you’ll be treated to a great view of The Wrekin, a huge hill more than 15 miles away.

The canal then proceeds south east through the unspoilt undulating Shropshire countryside of fields, hills and wooded valleys with stretches where there are no towns for miles, towards Wolverhampton.

 

Silsden to Skipton and beyond

One of England’s last surviving wildernesses, the Yorkshire Dales are a treat at any time of year but in the spring their looming hills and river valleys are at their most beautiful.

Heading west out of Silsden, a town dating back to Saxon times, the canal passes through enchanting Yorkshire stone-built villages of Kildwick and Farnhill into a densely wooded area famous for its bluebells which carpet the area in late April. If you’re lucky you may even spot a deer.

Motor on through Bradley, a typical ‘mill village’ with a cricket field and a country pub then to Skipton, known as the ‘Gateway to the Dales’ which boasts a market four days a week. You could then choose to continue through classic Dales countryside, above the River Aire, to reach more delightful villages such as Gargrave and the flight of locks at Bank Newton which are lauded as the most beautiful locks on the whole canal system.

 

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Top 5 international canal adventures

Our 2,000-mile network of navigable canals and rivers pass through some of the most picturesque scenery and exciting towns and cities in Britain, offering canal boat holiday-makers the chance to set sail on an inspiring travel adventure closer to home.

To give you an idea of what you can experience, here at Anglo Welsh we’ve put our heads together to come up with our Top 5 “international” themed canal boat adventures:

  1. Cruise the canals like you are in Venice – with more canals than Venice, Birmingham offers narrowboat holiday-makers the chance glide through Britain’s vibrant second city and moor up in its centre for some sight-seeing. The Pre-Raphaelite collection in Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery is the best in the World and there’s even a couple of Canalettos on display (though they are paintings of Warwick Castle rather than the Grand Canal).  From our canal boat hire base on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal at Tardebigge near Bromsgrove, it takes just five hours to reach Birmingham City Centre.
  2. Travel the Kennet & Avon like you are in the Loire Valley – the beautiful Avon Valley in Bath and Wiltshire offers a mini version of France’s stunning Loire Valley. With historic sites like Bath Abbey and the Tithe Barn in Bradford on Avon, gourmet experiences like the Ivy Bath Brasserie and Michelin starred Olive Tree in Bath, nature trails in the ancient Savernake Forest and even a Vineyard at Pewsey, a cruise along the Kennet & Avon Canal can provide canal boat holiday-makers with a fantastic cultural and natural environment escape.
  3. Glide through the Peak District like you are in the Appalachians – the picturesque Caldon Canal in Staffordshire takes narrowboat holiday-makers into the Peak District, for an Appalachian-style experience. On a week’s break from our narrowboat hire base at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal, it’s a 43-hour return journey to Froghall Basin and back, travelling a total of 72 miles through 72 locks.  After connecting onto the Caldon Canal at Etruria in Stoke on Trent, the journey passes through gently rolling hills and wooded areas and into ever more remote countryside, with plenty of wildlife to watch out for.
  4. Voyage like you are on the Canal du Midi – from our narrowboat rental base at Oxford, you can enjoy a fabulous Thames boating holiday, passing historic riverside towns and villages, and fortresses at Oxford and Windsor, rivalling the charm of the Canal du Midi in southern France. And with restaurants like the three Michelin-starred Waterside at Bray and Le Clos at Wallingford serving top class French cuisine, the gastronomy can be matched too!  On a 10-day break from our Oxford base, boaters can voyage to Windsor and back, travelling a total of 148 miles, passing through 52 locks and cruising for around 46 hours.
  5. Visit Roman ruins like you are in the Eternal City – from our Bunbury canal boat hire base on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire, it’s a seven-hour, nine-lock journey to the ancient city of Chester, once a stronghold of the Roman Empire. With the largest Roman amphitheatre and biggest Roman fort in Britain to explore, plus extensive city walls to walk, blink and you might imagine you’re in Rome!  Award-winning tours provide exclusive access to remains in basements with guides dressed up as Roman soldiers.  And there are some lovely Italian restaurants to dine at in Chester, including The Yard and La Fattoria, so you don’t have to compromise on the quality of your pasta or pizza.

 

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Top 8 canal boat holidays for beginners

Every year more people experience the delights of holidaying on Britain’s beautiful inland waterways network.

You don’t have to be an expert and you don’t need a licence to steer a canal boat.  It’s easy for first-timers to learn to operate our boats and as part of all our narrowboat holiday packages, we provide hirers with expert boat steering tuition.

With our nationally accredited handover, we’ll make sure you’re comfortable and in control before you set off.  There is a manual on board every boat if you need to check on anything and our engineering teams are on hand 24 hours a day to help over the phone or come out to you if you need them.

 

 

So, if you’ve thought about taking a canal boat holiday, but you’re not sure where to begin, here’s a list of Top 8 short break narrow boat holidays for newcomers for 2019 to get you started:

  1. Head to Birmingham lock-free – with no locks between our canal boat rental base at Tardebigge and Birmingham City Centre, this five-hour cruise is perfect for novice canal boaters. The first half of the journey passes through fields, woodlands and sleepy villages before becoming more urbanised.  Once you reach the centre of Birmingham, there are over-night moorings at Gas Street Basin, with easy access to Brindley Place waterside restaurants, the Sea Life Centre, glitzy Mailbox shopping and other leading attractions.
  2. Learn the ropes on the Llangollen – passing through stunning North Wales landscapes, the Llangollen Canal is one of the most popular on the network. With just two locks along the way, the seven-hour journey from our boat yard at Trevor to Ellesmere and back offers a fantastic short break holiday for beginners.  The route includes the experience of travelling across the incredible UNESCO World Heritage status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, with jaw-dropping panoramic views of the Dee Valley 38 metres below and passing through Chirk Tunnel.
  3. Dip your toe in the water at Bath – from our canal boat rental base at Sydney Wharf on the Kennet & Avon Canal in Bath, it takes just four hours to cruise to the lovely market town of Bradford on Avon, with just one lock to pass through. Skirting the southern foothills of the Cotswolds, the route passes over two stunning Bath stone aqueducts and past the popular Cross Guns Inn at Avoncliff.  Bradford on Avon is an architectural treasure chest with many beautiful buildings, including the magnificent 14th century monastic stone Tithe Barn.
  4. Float gently along to Fradley – from our boat yard at Great Haywood, you can head south along the Trent & Mersey Canal to Fradley Junction, where the Coventry Canal meets the Trent & Mersey. The journey takes around five hours, travelling 12 peaceful miles and passing through just five locks.  At Fradley, take time to enjoy refreshments at the Canalside Café or The Swan Inn and a wander around the Fradley Pool Nature Reserve, where a woodland trail and boardwalk offers a delightful tour of the reserve.
  5. Take to the tiller along the Thames – from our Oxford narrowboat hire base at Eynsham near Witney, you can enjoy a Thames boating holiday. It takes just over three hours, passing through four locks to reach City centre moorings in Oxford and many of the locks along the Thames are manned, so there’s often help on hand for newcomers.  Once in Oxford, you take time to explore all that this fascinating city has to offer, including the famous Bodleian Library, Carfax Tower, Ashmolean Museum and traditional pubs like the Lamb & Flag, steeped in literary and film history.
  6. Cruise up the Shroppie to historic Chester – it’s a seven-hour, nine-lock journey to the ancient city of Chester from our Bunbury canal boat hire base on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire. The route passes through glorious English countryside and villages with historic local pubs, including The Ring O’Bells at Christleton and The Shady Oak at Bates Mill Bridge.  Once in Chester, take time to explore this cosmopolitan ancient city, with its Roman Amphitheatre, city walls, Chester Rows shops, 1,000-year old cathedral, racecourse and award-winning Zoo.
  7. Test the waters on the Leeds & Liverpool – setting off from our Silsden base on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire, the journey to Gargrave travels 12 miles through just three locks, and takes around 6½ hours. Along the way, you’ll pass through the historic town of Skipton, with one of best preserved medieval castles in England.  Once at Gargrave, there are plenty of pubs, including The Mason’s Arms and Cross Keys Inn, and as it’s on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, there’s also over 680 square miles of some of England’s finest walking country to explore.
  8. Cross the border into Wales surrounded by breath-taking scenery – from our new canal boat hire base at Whixall Marina on the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire, on a short break narrowboat holiday-makers can cruise to Chirk and back in 16 hours, encountering just two locks. The route passes Whixall Moss nature reserve and Ellesmere, also known as the Shropshire Lake District, where visitors can enjoy strolling round the Mere’s Victorian gardens, woodland paths and historic castle.  At Chirk, where the Llangollen Canal encounters the Welsh border, there’s a choice of canal side pubs and the National Trust’s Chirk Castle, one of several medieval marcher fortresses built on the Welsh-English border.

 

To book your first holiday with us, call our friendly booking team on 0117 304 1122.

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Come Along to One of Our Open Days

On Sunday 15 April 2018 we’re offering free canal boat holiday taster sessions at five of our canal boat hire bases, giving visitors the chance to find out more about what it’s like to enjoy a narrowboat holiday on Britain’s wonderful inland waterway network.

Our events are being held as part of Drifters’ National Open Day, which is supported by the Canal & River Trust. The taster sessions will include free trips on skippered narrowboats, as well as narrowboat tours, holiday discounts and the chance to find out more about our luxury canal boat hire opportunities. No advance booking is required. The events will open at 11am and close at 4pm.

Here’s a list of our narrowboat hire bases hosting events:

Tardebigge, Worcester & Birmingham Canal
Tardebigge Wharf, Old Wharf
Bromsgrove,
Worcester, B60 1LR
Tel: 01527 873898
Email: tar.base@anglowelsh.co.uk

Wootton Wawen, Stratford Canal
Canal Wharf, Wootton Wawen
Henley in Arden
West Midlands, B95 6BZ
Tel: 01564 793427
Email: wwn.base@anglowelsh.co.uk

Bunbury, Shropshire Union Canal
Bunbury Lock, Bunbury
Tarporley
Cheshire, CW6 9QB
Tel: 01829 260957
Email: bun.base@anglowelsh.co.uk

Trevor, Llangollen Canal
Canal Wharf, Trevor
Llangollen LL20 7TT
Tel: 01978 821749
Email: trevor.base@anglowelsh.co.uk

Great Haywood, Staffs & Worcs Canal
Mill Lane, Great Haywood
Stafford, ST18 0RJ
Tel: 01889 881711
Email: grh.base@anglowelsh.co.uk

For information about all the other canal barge holiday open day events taking place across the country, go to www.drifters.co.uk/openday

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High-end boats at low-end prices: save 20% on Constellation & Bond Class holidays this summer

British summertime is often a rollercoaster of highs and lows and this year is proving no different. School holidays (hooray!), seaside showers (boo!), Andy Murray (hooray!), England’s football team (boo!), family picnics (hooray!), motorway traffic jams (boo!).

But one traffic-free tradition you can always rely on is the chance to cruise in style for less on Britain’s waterways courtesy of Anglo Welsh, Britain’s most trusted canal and narrowboat experts for 40 years. We pride ourselves on always offering our customers the summer’s most attractive narrowboat offers, and this year is no exception.

Our exclusive summer 2016 promotion offers 20% off all Constellation and Bond class bookings for holidays and cruises taken before September 4th. The only thing you need to do to secure this incredible offer is to book your narrowboat hire before the end of July**.

The prices are modest, but you will be travelling in handsome style. The customised Bond Class has been an incredibly popular Anglo Welsh hire over the years, while the brand-new Constellation Class combines the proven layout of the Bond with upgraded facilities and attractive new livery. Both classes are available for hire from our 11 bases in prime locations across the inland waterways of England and Welsh, so there’s an Anglo Welsh experience for everyone, whether a 4-berth, 6-berth or 12-berth suits your requirements.

A perfect summer’s day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing and the birds are singing; and naturally, it all feels even more idyllic when you are cruising along a canal with your family or friends. Throw in Anglo Welsh’s fabulous 20% discount on its premium class Constellations and Bond narrowboats, and we’re sure you’ll agree this could be the summer holiday of a lifetime. Hip hip hooray!

To get your 20% discount, call the Booking Office now on 0117 304 1122 and quote ‘reach for the stars’.

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‘Messing about in boats’ – there’s really nothing better!

“Believe me my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” So says Ratty to Mole in Kenneth Grahame’s classic novel ‘The Wind in the Willows’. To which the 150,000 people who take a canal holiday in the UK every year can only respond: “And so say all of us!”

Everyone who hires a narrowboat will have their own passions when it comes to messing about on the water, but with Ratty otherwise engaged, here are a few reasons why the Anglo Welsh team believe waterway holidays are an incomparable experience.

Relaxation. No traffic jams, no customs, no connecting flights, no noisy neighbours. Above all, no stress. Is there any better way to unwind on holiday than to meander along a canal surrounded by England’s green and pleasant land (not forgetting some wonderful Welsh landscapes)?

All the mod cons. The days when canal jaunts meant sleepless nights in uncomfortable cabins are long gone. Anglo Welsh’s fleet of 160 modern narrowboats offer all the creature comforts: fully-equipped kitchens, gas central heating, high spec showers, TVs, bedding, towels, even free wi-fi*.

Kids love canals. A family adventure on a narrowboat is an experience your children, or grandchildren, will cherish for the rest of their lives. Younger kids love pottering about on boats; even teenagers have been known to surrender their mobiles and muck in at the locks. And eating together as a family means leisurely meals on board, not fast food at McDonald’s (though ‘big kids’ often prefer traditional pub lunches in canal-side pubs!).

Doggy heaven. Dogs like canal holidays even more than us humans. Fresh air, new smells, plenty of countryside stops for bracing walks, maybe even the odd swim. Up to two well-behaved dogs are welcome on all of Anglo Welsh boats. Just keep Fido away from the swans!

It’s better than the zoo. Britain’s canals boast a staggering range of habitats and wildlife. Swans, mallard ducks, moorhens, coots, herons, kingfishers; water voles (like the slightly confused ‘Ratty’), otters, frogs; dragonflies, butterflies. No tigers, but no cages either.

No experience, no problem. One of Anglo Welsh’s experienced instructors will show you how to start the engine, fill up with water, steer, slow down, moor up and navigate locks. You’ll be amazed how straightforward it all is.

Location, Location, Location. Anglo Welsh has 11 bases in prime locations across the inland waterways of England and Wales. Our routes pass through rural idylls galore and historical towns and cities like Bath, Oxford, Birmingham and Stratford-upon-Avon.

Something for every budget. Long holidays, 3-day weekends, midweek getaways; 2-4-berths, 5-8 berths, 9-12 berths; there is a narrowboat experience for every type of holidaymaker and for every budget, including money-saving offers for under 12s and over 60s bookings for next season (until the end of Jan 2017), and flotilla discounts, loyalty discounts and armed forces discounts all year round.

And finally, to pinch another quote from ‘The Wind in the Willows’: “Here today, up and off to somewhere else tomorrow! Travel, interest, excitement! The whole world before you, and a horizon that’s always changing!”

*Wi-fi is free up to 1GB per week and subject to the signal.

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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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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