Wonderful canalside pubs worth a visit during any narrowboat holiday
One of the joys of any holiday is whiling away languid hours in the sun with a beer, glass of wine or whatever is your preferred tipple – and canal boat holidays are no exception. Luckily the historic waterways of England and Wales – once main transport thoroughfares – are dotted with welcoming pubs, many of which used to cater for the canal workers of bygone years as they travelled up and down transporting coal and other materials to fuel the industrial revolution. Now of course they cater to a more pleasure-seeking crowd, including those fortunate enough to be enjoying a narrowboat holiday. There are literally dozens of charming pubs where you can stop on your canal trip, but here we list just some of our favourites:
This 16th century inn overlooking a picture perfect stretch of the Kennet and Avon Canal as it snakes its way through a green Cotswold valley is the stuff pub dreams are made of. Stop off enroute to the historic market town of Bradford-upon-Avon and enjoy a refreshing pint in their canalside garden which has lots of outdoor seating meaning you can find space even in the height of summer.
A lovely traditional Staffordshire pub located at the heart of the idyllic Churnet Valley next to the rushing water of a weir. Sitting in the pub garden, watching the narrowboats floating past and steam trains coming and going on the Churnet Valley Railway Line surrounded by the green valley sides, you could be forgiven for thinking you’d been transported back 100 years in time.
This 17th century pub, with its own onsite brew house, has a snug rustic interior where you can warm up while sipping one of their delicious ciders or ales or in summer sit in the canalside garden and admire the gorgeous Warwickshire countryside that surrounds you.
This tiny historic pub, which also runs a camping site, has been run by the same family for more than 100 years. It still boasts the same tables and settles that were in situ when the family took over, with beer often brought up in a jug from the cellar to this day. The multi-award-winning pub was recently given heritage status for its historic importance.
Located in a beautiful 12th century stone building that was originally a monastery, the George Inn has been carefully refurbished by Chef and Brewer to create a stylish welcoming interior with open fires keeping things cosy in winter. Once the sun is shining, enjoy some canalside al fresco beers or sit in the sheltered sun trap of a courtyard.
This 18th century pub, located on the famous Fradley junction of two key canals with a ye olde world charm, offers good beer, fine wine and proper pub grub. It is a great place to sit outside and watch the narrowboats navigating their way between the two historic waterways. And, you’re guaranteed a warm welcome from the owners.
In a charming thatched building, owned and run by the Woodward family since 1877, the Boat Inn offers as warm a welcome now as it did 130 or so years ago, with same open fires still burning through the winter. With ales, ciders and wines to suit every palette, the pub also boasts two eateries with a more informal bistro and Woodwards Restaurant with its gorgeous canalside views.
Sitting on the banks of the Severn with great views of the nearby lock and weir, this rustic pub is a wonderful spot to sit and watch life on the river. The large garden is enlivened by the resident peacocks, chickens, ducks, geese and Sandy the turkey. A small mooring spot is available for passing boats to stop off for some refreshment.
With a history stretching back 800 years when it was originally built as an almshouse, the Trout Inn could reasonably claim to be one of the oldest pubs in the country. It became an inn in 1472 and has continued in that guise, being renamed The Trout Inn in 1704 in recognition of the ancient fishery rights bestowed upon the pub by Royal Charter – it still controls two miles of trout and coarse fishing waters. The pub has been owned and run by Penny Warren for nearly three decades and she has worked hard to preserve its traditional charm, with roaring log fires in winter and a gorgeous riverside garden to enjoy in summer.
This beautiful waterside free house deep in the Shropshire countryside is surrounded by three acres of park-like gardens next to the famous Llangollen Canal. With its tap room and cosy snug warmed by a fire in winter, the Jack Mytton also boasts a sheltered courtyard with seating and a Mediterranean style al fresco bar for hot summer days. There is private mooring space for up to six boats.
The Bay Horse dates back to 1822 and grew in popularity as the industrial revolution saw the local population working the mills soar. Today it remains an idyllic traditional inn with cask ales and hearty food, surrounded by the breath-taking landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales, with a sheltered garden overlooking the canal.
Nearest Anglo Welsh canal boat bases: Whixhall and Bunbury
This lock keeper’s cottage turned pub on the Cheshire-Shropshire border sits right beside a working lock on the Llangollen canal, making it an ideal spot to watch the narrowboats coming and going. The family run pub has a large beer garden and playground and great cask ales often sourced from local breweries, making it popular with boaters, walkers and locals alike.
Since ancient times people have assigned healing properties to water and many recent studies have concluded that time spent by water makes people feel happier and more relaxed.
Water makes up 70 per cent of the human body and around 70 per cent of the Earth, so perhaps it’s not surprising we are drawn to it. In his book ‘Blue Mind’, marine biologist Walter J Nicholls describes the immeasurable sense of peace we feel around water as our “blue mind”, saying “when we are by the water it…cuts us off from the rattle and hum of modern society.”
Last year, The Canal & River Trust, the charity that cares for our 2,000 mile network of canals and rivers, published research that shows spending time by the waterways can make you happier and improve your life satisfaction. And the report shows that the associated benefits of visiting a canal or river increase with the length of visit – with higher levels of happiness and lower levels of anxiety for longer trips.
So why not take the chance to escape the hyper-connected, over-stimulated modern day life by taking a relaxing break on the canals.
We’ve put together our Top 5 reasons why a canal boat holiday can help you relax and unwind:
Escape to the country – there are over 4,000 miles of navigable canals and rivers to explore in Britain, many of them passing through tranquil unspoilt countryside, so a canal boat holiday is a great way to escape from urban living
Connect with nature – Our inland waterways are havens for wildlife, providing homes for many types of birds, plants, animals and insects, so it’s a great way to connect with nature
Slow down – the speed limit on the waterways is just four miles per hour, so you’ll immediately switch into a much more slower pace of life
Bring your pets – interacting with animals is said to reduce anxiety and we welcome one or two pets on all our boats, so you can bring your furry friends along for an extra stress busting boost
Enjoy an outdoor workout – exercise also helps to reduce stress, and with locks to open and close, towpaths to walk, local attractions to explore and plenty of fresh air, a narrowboat holiday can provide an excellent outdoor workout.
Canal revamp! New and improved canals ready for your 2019 narrowboat holidays
While we’ve all been hibernating through the chilly winter months, the Canal and River Trust and its army of passionate volunteers have been hard at work restoring our historic waterways. Most of the canals of England and Wales were built more than two centuries ago as industrial transport routes and it is testament to the incredible engineering of Thomas Telford and others that they have so successfully stood the test of time. But as with any historic structure, they do require constant upkeep and this is where the Canal and River Trust steps up. This charity keeps 2000 miles of canals and rivers open and accessible so they can be enjoyed by boaters, cyclists and walkers alike, more than 200 years after their construction. At Anglo Welsh we work closely with the Canal and River Trust which does amazing work to protect the canals, enabling the rest of us to enjoy these magical waterways which form such an important part of our country’s industrial heritage.
A huge amount of renovation work has been going on over the quiet winter period, so here is our round up of routes reopened or improved for your canal boating pleasure this year:
1) Repairs to the Middlewich branch of Shropshire Union
This beautiful offshoot of the Shropshire Union Canal has reopened following £3million repairs to a major breach of the embankment. Just a year after a section of the 200-year-old embankment collapsed into the River Wheelock below, canal boats can once again explore this lovely 10-mile long waterway which connects the Shropshire Union Canal at Barbridge Junction to the Trent & Mersey Canal at Middlewich. Coordinated by the Canal and River Trust, the repair work involved 4,000 tonnes of stone, hundreds of volunteers and two major civil engineering companies. Narrowboat holidaymakers who want to explore the nearly revamped Middlewich branch can reach it most easily from our Bunbury base but it can also be accessed from Trevor and Great Haywood.
2)The Marple Flight reopens on Peak Forest Canal
The stunning Marple flight and aqueduct – the highest canal aqueduct in England – have been closed to narrowboats, walkers and cyclists on and off since September 2017. More than 90 pieces of restoration work have been carried out over the famous Marple flight of 16 locks over the last 18 months but it is now accessible to canal barges once again. There are few routes more beautiful for a canal boat holiday than crossing the incredible triple arched aqueduct that 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 sits at the bottom of one of the steepest lock flights in Britain. Since 2015, this part of the Peak Forest Canal has been a Green Flag Award winner, the Marple Aqueduct itself winning a Heritage Green Award in 2017. The nearest Anglo Welsh canal boat base is Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal.
3)Caldon Canal from Stoke on Trent to Froghall
The Caldon Canal has undergone a £157,000 winter makeover during which vital maintenance and repair work has been completed. This 240-year-old canal, which runs from the urban surroundings of Stoke on Trent into the idyllic countryside of the Churnet Valley to Froghall, has had three lock gates replaced and repairs to several bridges, lock chambers and walkways. Thousands of fish and other wildlife had to be rescued and transported to other section of the canal before the areas under repair were drained. Thanks to the repair works, some of which are ongoing, narrowboats, cyclists and walkers can continue to enjoy the tranquillity of the Caldon Canal for many years to come. For those planning a narrowboat holiday who wish to take in this route, the nearest Anglo Welsh base Great Haywood.
4) Macclesfield Canal
The Macclesfield Canal in Cheshire has undergone a £1.4million makeover this winter. The project involved extensive dredging to deepen the canal channel between Macclesfield and the canal’s junction with the Trent & Mersey Canal, near Kidsgrove. There was also work to repair leaks, masonry, gates, sluices and washwalls. Dedicated volunteers from the Macclesfield Canal Society and other voluntary groups saved the Canal and River Trust more than £80,000 by giving up their free time to clear away unwanted vegetation and repair the towpaths. Originally built to transport coal during the Industrial Revolution, the 200-year-old waterway was the first canal in the country to gain a coveted Green Flag Award, acknowledging it as a quality green space. The 28 mile Macclesfield Canal is part of the popular 100 mile Cheshire canal cruising ring, which offers boaters a wonderful combination of rural Cheshire scenery and the urban waterways of Greater Manchester. If you wish to visit during your next narrowboat holiday, the nearest Anglo Welsh base is Bunbury.
5) Llangollen and Montgomery Canals restoration work
The stunning Welsh border canals of Llangollen and Montgomery are undergoing £300,000 of restoration work, due for completion at the end of March. The crowning jewel of Britain’s canals, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which soars a jaw-dropping 126-ft above the River Dee, is having its handrails repaired while several sections of the lock will be drained for new lock gates to be installed and walls fixed. The 200-year-old Llangollen Canal, with its 11 mile stretch of World Heritage Site winding through picture perfect countryside, is one of the most popular canals in the country, so it is vital to the Canal and River Trust to keep it in a good state. Anyone planning a canal barge holiday this year who wants to explore the Llangollen can start out from Anglo Welsh’s Trevor base right next to the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.
6) Shropshire Union Canal repairs
The stunning Shropshire Union Canal – affectionately known as the Shroppie – is benefitting from more than £600,000 of repairs which started last November and are likely to last until the end of March. The work on the 66-mile canal which snakes through unspoilt Shropshire, Cheshire and Staffordshire countryside will see 11 lock gates replaced and brickwork, masonry, lock ladder and culvert repairs. Due to its overwhelmingly rural setting, the Shroppie is one of the most popular canals with narrowboaters up and down the country as well as cyclists, walkers, canoes, fishing enthusiasts and more, so it gets a lot of use making the repairs all the more important. For anyone planning their canal holiday who wants to experience the loveliness of the Shropshire Union, setting off from the Anglo Welsh bases at Bunbury or Great Haywood will get you there.
7) Kennet and Avon Canal work
Nearly £450,000 was invested into repairs to the Kennet and Avon Canal this winter with work due to completion in April. Projects at half a dozen locations along the 87-mile waterway will see giant lock gates replaced, historic canal walls rebuilt and other elements of the engineering restored. The 200-year-old canal which twists and turns through Berkshire, Wiltshire and Somerset until it reaches the beautiful city of Bath is a favourite for canal boat holidays. Anglo Welsh has two bases along this wonderful waterway, in Bath itself and a few miles up the canal nestled among the Cotswold Hills in Monkton Combe from where you can easily reach other picturesque towns such as Bradford upon Avon and Devizes.
If you want to stay up to date with all the latest canal restoration works or check that the journey you are planning has no stoppages or closures, go to www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/notices.
Plan your Easter canal boat holiday: The best waterway routes for kids
It’s finally getting a little bit lighter and there is hope that winter may not last forever.
In fact, it is the perfect time to cheer yourself out of any winter blues by planning your next narrowboat trip. With the school Easter break now just a few weeks away, why not treat the whole family to a canal boat holiday this year. Kids love the novelty of being on the water just as much as adults and all our narrowboats are designed to be family friendly. You could even bring your pets!
To help, we’ve had a think about the best canal boat holiday routes to do with children.
We’ve chosen varied waterway journeys that combine rural beauty and tranquility with more urban settings that are packed with family friendly activities to keep the kids entertained throughout. No more of those, ‘Mum/Dad, I’m boooored,’ comments.
Tardebigge to Birmingham
Set in the heart of rural Worcestershire, Tardebigge offers an idyllic starting point for any canal boat cruise. The base sits at the top of an impressive lock ladder climbing 220 feet, offering wonderful views over the surrounding countryside.
If you are heading towards Birmingham you have a relaxing lock free five-hour cruise north along the Worcester and Birmingham Canal through rolling fields, woodland and quiet villages with welcoming pubs.
On the outskirts of the ‘City of canals’ as Birmingham is romantically labelled, you’ll pass through Bourneville where the canal takes you within touching distance of the old Cadbury chocolate factory. Now Cadbury World, this celebration of all things chocolate is a guaranteed hit with the kids.
Continue to the historic Gas Street Basin right in the city centre, from where you can access all Birmingham’s most famous attractions including the National Sea Life Centre, which is a great day out for the whole family.
To ease you into boating life gently there is a long stretch with no locks, passing through tranquil meadows and the pretty villages of Weston, Salt and Sandon which boast good pubs for a pit stop. After a few more miles, you reach your first lock at Aston, then proceed through more luscious countryside to the historic market town of Stone, which has some great canalside pubs, restaurants and a monthly farmers market.
It is then just seven miles until you reach the towns that make up Stoke on Trent and The Potteries. At Barlaston, you pass the Wedgewood factory with its World of Wedgewood visitor centre offering factory tours, a museum and craft and decorating studios where visitors can test out their talent on the pottery wheel.
The last few miles before you branch off east on the Caldon Canal in Stoke on Trent are dominated by old factories and warehouses, brick furnaces alongside more modern buildings. The Caldon Canal will take you into the picturesque Churnet Valley to Froghall. Here the kids are in for a real treat for it is just a short bus ride to Alton Towers, the UK’s biggest theme park, just make sure you book your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment!
Bunbury to Chester
The Shropshire Union Canal is renowned to be one of the most unspoilt scenic of canals, making it a favourite with narrowboaters from all over the UK.
From Bunbury, cruise north across the expansive open country of the Cheshire Plain past the medieval ruins of Beeston Castle looking down from its rocky crag which offers views all the way to the Pennines. Run by English Heritage and surrounded by a 40-acre woodland park, this is a great place to take the kids. Stop off for refreshment at the canal side Shady Oak Pub, next to Bate’s Mill Bridge, before heading north again.
The canal snakes its way through more green and pleasant farmland until reaching Christleton, a charming village on the edge of Chester with a traditional green surrounded by historic houses.
But most people will be impatient to get to Chester itself, one of the most beautiful cities in the UK, steeped in history. The canal takes you right into the centre of the city, with its cluster of 700-year-old buildings, great shops, restaurants and cafes, and stunning sandstone cathedral all encircled by the imposing medieval city walls.
Take the children to Chester Zoo where you can admire more than 21,000 endangered and exotic animals in the 125 acres of beautiful gardens. This is said to be the most visited tourist attraction in the UK outside of London.
The canal proceeds through gentle Warwickshire countryside until reaching elegant Royal Leamington Spa with its fine examples of Regency and Victorian architecture and ornate parks like Jephson Gardens. The Leamington Spa Spy Mission Trail is a great way to keep the kids entertained while you explore the town.
From here it is a stone’s throw to Warwick itself, with its unique combination of medieval, Queen Anne and Victorian buildings, all overlooked by the enormity of Warwick Castle. Taking you back in time more than 1000 years with its castle ruins, gruesome dungeons, live bird of prey displays and Horrible Histories maze, you could easily spend the whole day at the castle. But make sure you leave time to explore the historic delights of the town itself including the 14th century Lord Leicester Hospital, St Mary’s Church and The Mill Garden on the banks of the River Avon.
*Monkton Combe to Bristol
From Monkton Combe on the Kennet and Avon Canal you skirt the tail end of the Cotswold Hills to reach the famously beautiful city of Bath which, as a tourist honeypot, has plenty of family friendly activities from mini golf to glass making.
In Bath, you leave the canal to join the wider flowing waters of the River Avon which winds its way through gorgeous countryside first to Saltford, where the riverside Jolly Sailor Pub makes a good stop off, then on towards Bristol.
On the outskirts of the city you will pass Beese’s Riverside Bar and Tea Gardens with its idyllic secretive setting on the riverbank hemmed in by woodland. Try and ensure you’re hungry – or thirsty – so you have an excuse to stop.
After this the city begins to close in upon the river as you enter the old industrial area before turning off at Feeder Road to lock into the historic floating harbor. You can then cruise right into Bristol’s vibrant centre where you are within easy walking distance of the hugely popular We The Curious (formerly At-Bristol) science centre, the incredible SS Great Britain or M Shed with its varied exhibits, all designed to appeal to the little ones. If that’s not enough, catch a bus or taxi to Clifton where you can take the children to Bristol Zoo, with its 400 species of rare animals, 12 acres of gardens, water play area and aerial ropes course ending in an exciting zip wire.
*This route is only recommended for experienced boaters due to the tidal River.
On Sunday 7 April 2019 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:
All aboard! New narrowboats being introduced for 2019 canal holidays
Winter is behind us and that means the new canal boat holiday season is finally here! We’ve been hard at work over winter to ensure the best possible choice of narrowboats for your 2019 canal adventures. So, we are excited to announce the launch of a series of new canal barges this season which will ensure we continue to offer an unbeatable range of narrowboat holidays for all our guests.
Here’s an introduction to the beautiful new narrowboats that will be gracing our historic waterways in coming months:
Heritage Class expands with Poppy at Wootton Wawen
After the huge success of our first ‘Heritage Class’ canal barge Lily which was launched last year, we are thrilled to be expanding the fleet with Poppy. The Heritage Class boats are designed and built in the style of the narrowboats of the past, with traditional livery, round portholes, wooden interiors with brass fittings and a fuel fire. However, don’t be fooled by the boats’ old-fashioned appearance, they are still fitted out with all the modern features needed to ensure your comfort and convenience from central heating to full size shower rooms, TV, DVD and WiFi. The Heritage Class boats offer the best of both worlds.
With two bedrooms offering four berths, a fully equipped galley – or kitchen in landlubber speak – dining area and lounge, Poppy is perfect for families and groups of friends wanting to drift back in time to a bygone era along the canals of England and Wales.
Constellation Class welcomes three news boats, Gemini, Scorpius and Sagittarius
This Constellation class has proven so popular since its creation in 2016, it has expanded very year and 2019 is now exception. This year will see the introduction of three new canal barges that each sleep up to 10 guests across four bedrooms so are idea for larger group holidays.
The Constellation Class narrowboats boast light modern interiors, comfy leather seats in the lounge and fully equipped galley kitchens with a cooker and hobs, fridge-freezer and microwave. With so much space for sleeping and storage, the large Constellation Class boats are popular for longer canal boat trips of a week or more.
Weir Class grows with Grafton at Whixall Marina
The smaller Weir Class boats which sleep just two to four people have been a big hit with couples wanting a relaxing, romantic break. Grafton will be launched at Whixall Marina on the lovely Shropshire Union Canal on Friday, 5th April. With its one double bedroom, bathroom and kitchen-living space, measuring just 48-ft in length, Grafton, like the other Weir class narrowboats are much easier to handle and maneouvre than some of their larger counterparts making them great starter boats. They are also a good choice in peak season when the canals get very busy and space is at a premium.
All the Anglo Welsh narrowboats are designed to provide a perfect floating holiday home for families, couples and friends who want to explore the canals of England and Wales without compromising on comfort and convenience. The holiday hire narrowboats have gas ovens, bridges, TV, DVD players, central heating and kitchens equipped with everything needed to cook and enjoy a meal for everyone onboard. Bedding, towels, tea towels and bottled gas is provided. Some boats have additional features such as microwaves, sofas, dressing tables so always check the layout and specifications of the vessel before booking to ensure it has everything you need.
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
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:
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.
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.
We offer a range of different types of holidays such as City Breaks, Relaxation Cruises and Popular Destinations
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.