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Anglo Welsh hero takes on the world’s toughest rowing challenge for charity

It would be fair to say that Anglo Welsh’s Ian Davies has never been one to shirk a challenge, and the 58-year-old former serviceman has always been a go-getter for charity. In 2009 he drove a one-litre car to Mongolia and in 2013 he swam the Solent. Then just one week after swimming the English Channel in 2014 he was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer.

Ian takes up the story. “I received 18 months of treatment and had a transplant on my 55th birthday. Fortunately, I am now in remission. At the end of 2015 it was time to prove to myself that I was still capable of regaining my fitness and raising funds for people less fortunate than myself, so I entered the DART10, an endurance swim down the River Dart from Totnes to Dittisham.”

“Having completed that I decided that a long-term challenge was the way forward to raise significant monies for some great charities. So how about rowing the Atlantic?!”

Now Ian and a bunch of five hardy mates known as The Atlantic Mavericks are preparing for The Atlantic Challenge, the premier event in ocean rowing that takes competitors more than 3,000 miles west from San Sebastian in La Gomera, Canary Islands to Nelson’s Dockyard English Harbour, Antigua & Barbuda. Not for nothing is it known as “the world’s toughest row”.

The epic race begins in early December, with up to 30 teams participating from around the world. All with the same objective – to take on the unique experience of crossing an ocean in a rowing boat and to raise money for charities.

These days Ian plies his trade as a highly skilled marine engineer at Anglo Welsh’s base in Trevor, North Wales, but as an ex-Warrant Officer in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, he put together his Atlantic Mavericks from the ranks of fellow ex-servicemen.

“It takes a certain kind of person to keep going when faced with blisters, salt rash, sharks and sleep deprivation,” admits Ian. “It’s no surprise then that more people have been into space or climbed Everest than have rowed the Atlantic!”

“Being retired servicemen we are thankful that we have had full and rewarding careers. We have been lucky and made good transitions from military to civilian life, but this is not the case for everyone. We therefore want to support the Royal British Legion in helping those who have been less fortunate, and we also want to support Myeloma UK in their great work combating bone marrow disease.”

Anglo Welsh’s sponsorship will go towards the purchase of vital equipment such as a VHF radio or a desalinator which the crew will use to make all their own water during the arduous Atlantic crossing. “Ian is a valued member of the Anglo Welsh family, and we felt moved by his story and the courageous strength of all the Atlantic Mavericks. We are happy we are able to support the team in such a good cause. We wish them all the best!”

To find out more about The Atlantic Challenge or to sponsor Ian and his team, go to www.atlanticmavericks.com

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Top 10 Woodland Walks to Visit Afloat

Britain’s wonderful canal and river network takes canal boat holiday-makers through some of our nation’s most beautiful countryside, including many woodland areas.

Our woodlands are havens for wildlife – mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, insects, wildflowers and fungi – and ancient woodlands are particularly precious, supporting over 200 of our rarest and most threatened species.

With Spring, and the promise of carpets of bluebells just around the corner, we thought it’s the perfect time to celebrate the best woodland walk destinations afloat:

  1. Explore the ancient woods at Skipton Castle – From our canal boat hire base at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire, it takes just over three hours to reach Skipton with its medieval fortress and acres of woodland trails to explore. For nearly a thousand years Skipton Castle Woods provided fuel, food and building materials for castle inhabitants. There are at least 18 species of trees flourishing here, including Ash, Oak, Hornbeam, Lime, Chestnut, Rowan and Sloe. A combination of standing dead trees, rock fissures for roosting and water for insect-breeding make these woods a fantastic haven for bats and there are hundreds of flowering plants, including wild orchids and bluebells.
  2. Follow the woodland trail at Kinver Edge – From our Tardebigge base on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, it’s a 20-hour, 37-mile, 32-lock journey to Kinver on the Staffordshire & Worcester Canal. At Kinver Edge, managed by the National Trust and home to the famous Holy Austin Rock Houses, there’s an excellent woodland trail perfect for families, with natural play areas along the way and magnificent views across several counties from the Iron Age Hill Fort. Kinver is on the route of the Stourport Ring, which can be tackled on a week’s holiday from Tardebigge, travelling a total of 76 miles via Birmingham, Kidderminster, Stourport and Worcester.
  3. See the ancient Yew at Pendeford Mill Nature Reserve – From our boat yard at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal near Tarporley, it takes 20 hours, travelling 43 miles and passing through 28 locks, to reach Pendeford Visitor Moorings, just outside Wolverhampton. Pendeford Mill Nature Reserve is next to the canal here, offering 60 acres of astonishingly beautiful English countryside to explore, including ancient woodland, home to a Yew tree believed to be over 2,000 years old, as well as oak trees and, in the Spring, snowdrops and bluebells.
  4. Walk up to Bathampton Woods – From Claverton, on the Kennet & Avon Canal near Bath, canal boat holiday-makers can moor close to Claverton Pumping Station and walk across the road bridge into the village of Claverton. From here, lanes and footpaths take walkers up past the American Museum to Bathampton Woods and on to Bathampton Down. With stunning views over Bath and the hills beyond, this route is part of the National Trust’s Bath Skyline Walk. Claverton is just three miles away from our canal boat hire base at Bath.
  5. Discover the woodland sculpture trail at Stoke Bruerne – From our narrowboat hire base at Stockton on the Grand Union Canal in Northamptonshire, it takes 12 hours, travelling 28 miles and passing through 16 locks, to reach the pretty canal village of Stoke Bruerne. Here, as well as choice of canalside pubs and the Canal Museum to visit, there’s a charming woodland walk and sculpture trail to follow.
  6. Explore Hay Wood at Baddesley Clinton – From our base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal in Henley in Arden, an 18-mile, 43-lock, 15-hour journey to the Navigation pub at Kingswood Bridge no 65, close to Baddesley Clinton. Here the Heart of England Way takes walker past the National Trust’s remarkable medieval moated manor house and on to the Midland Link walking trail through the Forestry Commission’s Hay Wood, home to a great diversity of wildlife, including bluebells, foxgloves, Muntjac deer and many woodland birds.
  7. Enjoy a woodland walk at Chirk Castle – From our narrowboat hire base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, it takes just over an hour to reach Chirk, passing over the incredible World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct along the way. There are moorings at the north side of Chirk Tunnel close to where a footpath take walkers up through a series of woods to the National Trust’s Chirk Castle, with spectacular views along the Ceiriog Valley.
  8. Climb to the Wittenham Clumps – From Day’s Lock on the River Thames at Dorchester there’s a footpath to Wittenham Clumps Nature Reserve, made of two chalk hills, upon which sit two clumps of beech trees planted more than 300 years ago. This beautiful reserve has wildflower meadows as well as woodlands, and here are spectacular panoramic views of Oxfordshire from the summit. Connecting footpaths take walkers back down to the River through Little Wittenham Wood and it takes seven hours to reach Day’s Lock from our narrowboat hire base at Oxford on the River Thames, travelling 22 miles and passing through eight locks.
  9. Visit the ancient ‘Big Belly Oak’ at Savernake Forest – At over 4500 acres in size and well over 1,000 years old, Savernake Forest is home to over 7,000 ‘Ancient’, ‘Veteran’ and ‘Notable’ trees, including the Big Belly Oak believed to be over 1,100 years old. The Forest runs close to the Kennet & Avon Canal in Wiltshire and the pretty canal village of Wootton Rivers, makes an excellent starting point for a variety of walks around the Forest. From our narrowboat hire base at Monkton Combe, Wootton Rivers is 35 miles away, a journey which takes 19 hours, passing through 37 locks, including the mighty Caen Hill Flight of 29 locks at Devizes.
  10. Wonder round Deep Hayes Country Park – At Deep Hayes Country Park near the Caldon Canal at Cheddleton in Staffordshire, three large scenic pools are surrounded by way-marked woodland walks criss-crossing a 143-acre area. And there are some lovely pubs to take refreshment at nearby, including the Hollybush at Denford and the Black Lion at Cheddleton. From our boat yard at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal in Staffordshire, it takes 18 hours, travelling 29 miles and passing through 30 locks to reach Cheddleton.

To book a holiday or break on any of Anglo Welsh’s fleet, call our friendly booking team on 0117 304 1122.

 

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Top 5 Castles to Visit Afloat

From Royal weddings, state apartments and banqueting halls to siege towers, murder holes and dungeons, Britain’s beautiful castles bring history to life and make fantastic narrowboat holiday destinations.

Here are our top five castles to visit afloat in 2018:

  1. Explore the magnificent State Apartments at Windsor Castle  from our canal boat hire base on the River Thames near Oxford, it takes three days (travelling 74 miles through 27 locks), to reach Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world and home to The Queen. With over 900 years of Royal history to discover, including Charles II’s magnificent State Apartments with painted ceilings by Antonio Verrio and paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens and Canaletto, Windsor Castle is packed with treasures from the Royal Collection. On 20 November 1992 a fire destroyed or damaged more than 100 rooms at the Castle. Its restoration, particularly the Grand Reception Room and St George’s Hall, is a testament to the incredible skills of some of the finest crafts people in Europe. Today Windsor’s State Apartments are frequently used by members of the Royal Family for events in support of their charities, and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are set to marry in St George’s Chapel in May.
  2. Wonder at Warwick Castle with over 1,000 years of history to explore – from our Stockton boat yard on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, it’s a seven-hour journey, passing through 20 locks, to reach the beautiful historic town of Warwick with its jaw-dropping medieval castle on the banks of the River Avon. Dating back to William the Conqueror, Warwick Castle offers a fantastic day out with ramparts to climb, the Castle Dungeon, Great Hall and Staterooms to explore, the sights, sounds and smells of the medieval period to experience in the Kingmaker exhibition, soaring birds of prey and trebuchet firing displays to watch, the Horrible Histories Maze to navigate and landscaped gardens to tour.
  3. Find out about the siege at Skipton Castle – from our canal boat hire base at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire, it takes just over three hours to reach Skipton with its 900-year old fortress, one of the most complete and best preserved medieval castles in England. The journey takes canal boat holiday-makers through the typical Yorkshire stone built villages of Kildwick and Farnhill and a dense wooded area famous for its bluebells and deer. Once at Skipton, visitors to the castle can explore every corner of this impressive fortress which withstood a three-year siege during the Civil War. Climbing from the depths of the Dungeon to the top of the Watch Tower, with the magnificent Banqueting Hall, Kitchen, Bedchamber and Privy in between, Skipton Castle is certainly a national treasure.
  4. Discover the impenetrable medieval fortress at Chirk – from our narrowboat hire base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, it takes just over an hour to reach Chirk, passing over the incredible World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct along the way. Once safely moored, it’s a half-hour walk up to the National Trust’s Chirk Castle, one of several medieval marcher fortresses built on the Welsh-English border to keep the Welsh under English rule. Started in 1295, Chirk Castle had the most up-to-date defences of the time, with round ‘drum’ towers that allowed archers a wide firing field and created a ‘killing zone’ where the fields of fire overlapped. The towers are wider at ground level and with their five-metre thick walls, were designed to splay outwards – making it difficult for siege towers and battering rams to get close. Today it’s the only one of Edward I’s marcher fortresses still inhabited, with lavishly furnished rooms to explore, as well as the Adam Tower, complete with its two-level dungeons, medieval toilets and murder holes.
  5. Take a guided tour of Oxford Castle – from our Oxford base at Eynsham near Witney, it’s a tranquil three-hour cruise along the River Thames to City Centre moorings at Hythe Bridge, perfect for exploring Oxford and the City’s 11th century earthwork motte-and-bailey castle. Founded by the Norman baron Robert D’Oilly the elder in 1071, most of the fortress was destroyed in the English Civil War and by the 18th century, the remaining buildings had become Oxford’s local prison. Today, tours of the Castle are led by costumed character guides who lead guests up the Saxon St George’s Tower for panoramic views of the city of Oxford, deep underground to the 900-year old crypt, through the austere confines of the 18th century Debtor’s Tower and Prison D-Wing and up the Mound of the castle.

To book a holiday or break on any of Anglo Welsh’s fleet, call our friendly booking team on 0117 304 1122.

 

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Spotlight on the Canals – The Caldon Canal

Explore the Potteries, remote moorlands, tranquil water meadows, dense woodlands, fascinating industrial archaeology, cosy historic pubs and a restored steam railway.

Often described as ‘one of the finest canals in Britain’, the peaceful 17-mile long Caldon Canal runs from the Trent & Mersey Canal at Etruria in Stoke-on-Trent, to Froghall Wharf in the Staffordshire Moorlands.

With 17 locks along its length, the canal passes through moorlands close to Denford, water meadows at Cheddleton and the beautiful wooded Churnet Valley with a restored steam railway running alongside.

In the middle of the Caldon Canal, there’s a 2¼-mile arm towards the historic market town of Leek, and the now derelict 13-mile Uttoxeter extension connects at Froghall.

Opened in 1779, the Caldon Canal was built to carry Peak District limestone for the iron industry and flints for the pottery industry. Freight traffic ceased on the Caldon soon after the railway was constructed alongside, and by the 1960s the canal was virtually unnavigable. But enthusiasts bought the canal back into use by 1974 and the Caldon and Uttoxeter Canals Trust is now working to restore the Uttoxeter branch of the waterway.

On a week’s break

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.

From Great Haywood, boaters should first head north along the Trent & Mersey Canal to Stoke-on-Trent, to connect onto the Caldon Canal at Etruria.

Along the way, the route passes the village of Weston, with its beautiful village pub on the green, The Woolpack run by Marston’s.

Next, canal boat holiday-makers can enjoy views of the imposing Sandon Hall, its 400 acres of rolling parkland, and Grade II* listed Pitt’s Column.

The canal then passes along the outskirts of Burston, where the family-run micro-brewery Greyhound pub is well worth the short walk to, before reaching the old market town of Stone, said to be the food and drink capital of Staffordshire. Here, there are visitor moorings at Westbridge Park, opposite the Swan pub, and a little further along past the Star pub on the left.

Next it’s Meaford Locks, and then the canalside ‘Plume of Feathers’ pub at Barlaston, now run by the actor Neil Morrissey.

At Trentham Lock, boaters can stop-off to explore the World of Wedgwood, with a factory tour, afternoon tea in the Wedgewood tea room, woodland walks and award winning museum housing a UNESCO protected collection of huge historic and cultural significance.

Just under five miles later, after travelling through the Stoke flights of five locks, the canal reaches its junction with the Caldon Canal at Etruria. Here boaters can stop to visit the Etruria Industrial Museum, the last steam-powered potters’ mill in Britain, or the Spode Visitor Centre, the birthplace of bone china.

The Caldon Canal heads away from Stoke, through the two Bedford Street staircase locks, Planet Lock, Hanley Park and then the Ivy House Lift Bridge at Northwood, raised using a Canal & River Trust key.

By now, the canal is beginning to leave the city behind and at the suburban village of Milton there are two canalside pubs to enjoy, the Foxley and the Miners Arms.

Soon after, boaters encounter Engine Lock, one of the deepest on the canal at 12ft and then the Stockton Brook Flight of five locks, taking the canal up another 45ft to its summit level of 486ft. The Sportsman pub and views of delightful woodlands can be enjoyed along the way, as well as the sight of the disused Stoke-to-Leek railway which crosses the canal above the second lock.

Next along the route, the canal passes through the village of Endon, with a couple of shops on the main road, with beautiful stretches of moorland scenery opening up.

At Hazelhurst Junction, where the Leek Branch connects, amid gently rolling hills, the mainline starts its descent via the three Hazelhurst Locks, before being crossed by the Leek Arm on a brick aqueduct overhead.

Soon after, the popular Hollybush Inn at Denford, housed in an old flour mill, offers visitors award winning ales, homemade food, log fires in the winter and a large canalside beer garden for warmer days.

The canal takes boaters past Deep Hayes Country Park, where three large scenic pools are surrounded by way-marked woodland walks. Moorings are provided for boaters who want to stop and explore this beautiful park.

Travelling alongside the River Churnet through beautiful countryside, boaters should look out for kingfishers, herons, jays and woodpeckers, as well as otters which have recently returned to the area.

At Cheddleton, there’s the little Flint Mill Museum to visit on selected weekends, a fish and chip shop, post office, supermarkets, Black Lion pub and Old School Tearooms and Craft Centre, as well as the headquarters of the Churnet Valley Railway. Services operate to Consall Forge and Frogall, on both steam and diesel trains.

After Cheddleton, the canal enters ever more remote countryside and merges with the River Churnet at Oakmeadow Ford Lock, where the valley becomes too narrow for both.

At Consall Forge, once home to forges, furnaces and slitting mills, today boaters will find a peaceful village with its secluded Black Lion pub serving good food and real ales, said to be one of the waterway network’s most iconic pubs.

Here the canal leaves the River Churnet, soon reaching Flint Mill Lock, the canal’s last. After, the channel narrows, woodlands close in and the canal’s sense of isolation grows.

Boaters pass beneath the distinctive Cherry Eye Bridge and soon after reach the 69-metre long Froghall Tunnel, which is unusually narrow and low so many craft are unable to pass through. A winding hole beforehand will accommodate 64ft boats and a loading gauge indicates whether or not you can get through.

If you can squeeze through, the picturesque Froghall Basin is beyond, where tramways once converged, bringing limestone from quarries high in the surrounding hills. Today there’s a café (Hetty’s Tearoom), picnic area, waymarked trails and services for boaters, as well as the restored top lock of the Uttoxeter Canal, with a mooring basin.

NB the Caldon Canal can also be reached from our Bunbury canal boat hire base, with the total journey to Froghall and back taking 48 hours, passing through 104 locks.

On a longer holiday

On a 10-day or two-week break from Great Haywood, boaters can travel the Caldon Canal to Froghall and back, and then continue on round the Four Counties Ring, travelling through Cheshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire and the West Midlands, in around 73 hours and passing through 128 locks.

To travel the ring in an anti-clockwise direction, after returning along the Caldon Canal to Stoke-on-Trent, boaters should continue north along the Trent & Mersey Canal, passing through the mighty one-and-three-quarter-mile long Harecastle Tunnel, before emerging at Kidsgrove, and Harding’s Wood Junction, where the Macclesfield Canal meets the Trent & Mersey.

Here boaters encounter the summit of ‘Heartbreak Hill’ – the series of 31 locks which between Middlewich and Kidsgrove, raise the canal 280ft up from the Cheshire Plains.

Setting off down the hill, the Red Bull flight of six locks are the first to be dealt with, followed by the two Church Locks, one Halls Lock and then three Lawton Locks at Lawton Gate.

The next village is Rode Heath with its Royal Oak pub and Rode Hall, one of Cheshire’s most exquisite country houses, which is open to the public on Wednesdays and bank holidays in the summer months.

The South Cheshire Way crosses the canal at Lower Thurlwood Lock, one of a flight of three, then it’s the two Pierpoint Locks, and then there are two more at Hassall Green, just before the canal passes beneath the M6 motorway.

At Wheelock, where there’s a choice of pubs, including the recently refurbished canalside Cheshire Cheese, there are eight locks to negotiate. It’s worth taking a break here, as from Wheelock, it’s a mile-long walk into the historic town of Sandbach, with regular markets, a Waitrose supermarket and plenty of places to eat and drink, including the Saxon Grill Restaurant at the Crown, next to the Saxon Crosses on the cobbled square in the town centre.

There’s a three-mile break from locks as the canal winds round Ettiley Heath and the Sandbach Flashes, a group of 14 wetlands designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Four miles and another four locks on, the canal reaches the historic market town Middlewich, famous for its salt industry which dates back to medieval times. Here the Four Counties Ring route leaves the Trent & Mersey Canal, heading to Barbridge along the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal.

At this point, boaters on a 10-day or two-week holiday, could take a 20-mile, eight-lock round-trip detour continuing north along the Trent & Mersey Canal, past the Lion Salt Work’s Museum at Marston, to visit the Anderton Boat Lift.This incredible feat of Victorian engineering designed by Edwin Clark, perches on the banks of the River Weaver Navigation like a giant three-story-high spider. Using two huge water tanks with watertight sealable doors, it raises boats 50ft between the Weaver Navigation and the Trent & Mersey Canal.

To book a holiday or break on any of Anglo Welsh’s fleet, call our friendly booking team on 0117 304 1122.

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Top 4 Festive Destinations Afloat

This winter Anglo Welsh is offering winter cruising* from four bases, giving narrowboat holiday-makers the chance to celebrate Christmas or New Year afloat, joining-in the festive celebrations at exciting waterside towns and cities, and stopping off at historic rural pubs with roaring log fires.

From a cosy boat for two to a family boat for 12, all our boats have central heating, hot water, WiFi**, TV and DVD players, so it’s always warm and cosy on board. Christmas prices start at £470 for a short break, £670 for a week.

Here are our top 4 festive destinations for 2017:

  1. Visit Birmingham’s famous German Christmas Market. From our narrowboat hire base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, it’s a five-hour, lock-free cruise to city centre moorings in Gas Street, perfect for exploring Britain’s exciting second city. This Christmas, an exciting range of festive events are planned in Birmingham, including the famous Frankfurt Christmas Market, with great food, warming drinks, traditional gifts and live music – at Victoria Square from 16 November to 24 December. And on the way to Birmingham City Centre, boaters can moor up at Edgbaston to visit the City’s beautiful Botanical Gardens and enjoy their special Illuminated Trail event, on from 29 November to 1 January.
  2. Travel through Shakespeare country to Stratford upon Avon. It’s a picturesque six-hour cruise to Shakespeare’s Stratford from our narrowboat hire base at Wootton Wawen, near Henley-in-Arden in Warwickshire. Once there, boaters can moor up in Bancroft Basin, just a stone’s throw from the Swan Theatre to enjoy the town’s festive celebrations – Christmas lights, markets, grottos, carol singers, and ghost walks, as well as historic pubs, shops, the Swan Theatre, museums and waterside restaurants offering fabulous Christmas Dining opportunities, including The Arden Hotel Waterside Brasserie.
  3. Soar across ‘The Stream in the Sky’ to Ellesmere. From our canal boat hire base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, on a short break narrowboat holiday-makers can travel to Ellesmere and back, passing over the awesome World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. This magnificent feat of Victorian engineering carries the canal 300 metres above the Dee Valley, with incredible panoramic views. Once at Ellesmere, boaters can moor up to explore the Mere, teaming with wildlife, and tuck into festive food at one of the town’s many eateries, like the popular Mereside Boat House restaurant and café.
  4. Cruise along the peaceful Caldon Canal to Froghall Basin. From our boat yard at Great Haywood in Staffordshire, on a week’s break boaters can travel north up the Trent & Mersey Canal to connect with the Caldon Canal at Stoke on Trent. From there, it’s a gentle 12-hour cruise along this peaceful 17-mile long waterway to Froghall Basin and back, travelling through a variety of landscapes. From the urban Potteries to the dense woodlands of the Churnet Valley and windy moorlands near Denford, the scenery is ever-changing. And there are plenty of pubs to enjoy along the way, including the Hollybush Inn at Denford and The Sportsman at Stockton Brook, as well as The Etruria Industrial Museum and Deep Hayes Country Park.

*Winter cruising routes can be affected by stoppages and closures as a result of winter maintenance work.**Wifi subject to signal strength.

To book a holiday or break on any of Anglo Welsh’s fleet, call our friendly Booking Team on 0117 304 1122.

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Anglo Welsh’s Top 9 October Half Term Breaks

  1. Visit the Rock Houses at Kinver Edge. From our Tardebigge base on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, it’s a 20-hour, 37-mile, 32-lock journey to Kinver on the Staffordshire & Worcester Canal, close to the National Trust’s Holy Austin Rock Houses. Said to be the last occupied cave-dwellings in England, these houses dug into the base of the sandstone escarpment were inhabited until the 1960s. Kinver is on the route of the Stourport Ring, which can be tackled on a week’s holiday from Tardebigge, travelling a total of 76 miles via Birmingham, Kidderminster, Stourport and Worcester.
  2. Explore creatures of the night at the Pitt Rivers Museum. From our Oxford base, it’s a tranquil three-hour cruise along the River Thames to moorings at Hythe Bridge, perfect for a short break exploring Oxford, including the extraordinary Pitt Rivers Museum. This Museum is home to one of the world’s finest collection of anthropology and archaeology, including shrunken heads from the Amazon and the famous ‘witch in a bottle’. From Monday 23 to Wednesday 25 October, 1-4pm the Pitt Rivers will be hosting special October Half Term activities ‘Bats, Cats, Witches and Charms’, exploring creatures of the night, magic charms and solving mysteries.
  3. Travel across ‘The Stream in the Sky’ to the Shropshire Lake District. Just five minutes from our canal boat hire base on the Llangollen Canal at Trevor in North Wales, the incredible Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is truly one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’. Its cast iron trough is carried 38 metres high above the Dee Valley on 19 hollow pillars and in 2009 it was granted World Heritage status, putting it on an equal footing with the Taj Mahal. On a short break from Trevor, boaters can cross the aqueduct and head east to the Ellesmere Lakes, also known as the Shropshire Lake District.
  4. Enjoy 1,000 years of history at Warwick Castle. From our Stockton base on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, Warwick and its magnificent medieval castle is a day’s cruise away. Developed from the original castle built by William the Conqueror in 1068, Warwick Castle offers visitors ‘flight of the eagle’ shows, trebuchet firing displays, Horrible Histories Maze, Kingmaker exhibition, Castle Dungeon tour, Princess Tour and ramparts to climb. Over the October Half Term holiday (21-31 October), special Haunted Castle activities include the spectacular Fire Joust, spooktacular shows at the Dead Centre Stage, the search for magic potions at The Witches Tower and a Halloween Trail.
  5. Cruise to the spectacular flight of locks at Devizes. From our base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at in Bath, it’s a 10-hour, eight-lock cruise to Fox Hanger Wharf at the base of the mighty Caen Hill flight of 29 locks at Devizes, one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’. Once here, the historic market town of Devizes is a short walk away, with its Wadworth Brewery Visitor Centre and famous shire horses making daily deliveries, plus a range of shops, pubs and restaurants, including the ‘Peppermill Restaurant’ and the historic Bear Hotel. Along the way, narrowboat holiday-makers can stop off to explore the beautiful river and canalside town of Bradford on Avon, home to the magnificent 14th monastic stone Tithe Barn, with its amazing timber cruck roof.
  6. Visit Shakespeare’s Birthplace. From our base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal in Henley in Arden, it’s a delightful six-hour, 17-lock cruise journey through the Warwickshire countryside to Bancroft Basin, in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon. From here, it’s a short walk to a range of shops, restaurants, pubs, cafes and museum’s, including Shakespeare’s Birthplace on Henley Street. Visitors to the Museum can walk in Shakespeare’s footsteps and explore the house where he was born, grew up and spent the first five years of his marriage, hearing tales of Shakespeare’s family life and enjoying live theatre on demand.
  7. Discover the World of Wedgwood. From our hire boat yard at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal in Staffordshire, it’s a 14-mile, 12-lock journey to the wonderful ‘World of Wedgwood’ at Trentham Lock. Here an interactive visitor centre celebrates British craftsmanship with the Wedgewood Museum, Factory Tour, shopping, food and special family activities, including ‘Spooky Pottery Painting’ over the October Half Term holiday (23-29 October).
  8. See David Hockney’s paintings at Salts Mill. From our base at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire, it takes seven hours to reach Sir Titus Salt’s model town at Saltaire, now a World Heritage Site. Here, the Yorkshire industrialist Sir Titus Salt built a textile mill and village to house his workers by the River Aire. Today, the ‘1853 Gallery’ at Salts Mill is houses a permanent exhibition of over 300 works by the Bradford born artist David Hockney, including his ‘Arrival of Spring’ series.
  9. Experience the ‘Enchantment of Chester Zoo’. From our base at Bunbury, Chester Zoo is an eight-hour journey, travelling 15 miles through the rolling Cheshire landscape and the centre of the historic city of Chester, and passing through 10 locks. Over the October Half Term holiday (21-31 October) ‘The Enchantment at Chester Zoo’ event encourages families to help break the sorcerer’s spell to send the zoo to sleep, seeking out moths, sloths, giraffes and orangutans to gather clues and save the Zoo!

To book a holiday or break on any of Anglo Welsh’s fleet, call our friendly Booking Team on 0117 304 1122.

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Anglo Welsh ‘Canal Adventures 2017’ Instagram Photo Challenge

Share your canal pics with Anglo Welsh and you could win great prizes in our ‘Canal Adventures 2017’ Instagram Photo Challenge.

The waterways of England and Wales are nothing if not a photographer’s dream. Picturesque canals, enchanting towpaths, handsome narrowboats and panoramic landscapes – we’re talking one great big visual adventure crying out to be captured on film.

Now Anglo Welsh is offering every canal lover the chance to share their own best photos of this unique natural world as we launch a visual gallery of the UK’s most stunning waterways. Best of all, by entering our ‘Canal Adventures 2017’ Challenge* you could win our outstanding first prize, a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera worth £300, or in the case of three lucky runners-up, an HP Sprocket Photo Printer worth £100.

Taking part in Anglo Welsh’s 2017 Instagram Photo Challenge couldn’t be easier! All you have to do is:
1) ‘follow’ Anglo Welsh on Instagram and Facebook.
2) upload your photos to these platforms using the hashtag #canaladventures2017
.

To give yourself the best chance of winning a prize your photo should capture the essence of UK canals. We’re looking for stunning views from and of narrowboats, towpaths and waterways, not to mention canal-side landscapes, fauna and flora.

Before you grab your camera – or mobile phone – and set off on your great canal adventure, here are a few photographic tips from Anglo Welsh’s in-house snappers.

  • Lateral thinking. You’re not taking a posed picture in a portrait studio with a nondescript background behind your subject; you’re capturing the beauty of a natural setting. Whether it’s a canal detail, a narrowboat or the skipper, put the subject of your photo off-centre for dramatic effect.
  • Capture the moment. The latest mobile phone cameras are so good you can take spontaneous photos without sacrificing quality. Remember, that kingfisher or otter won’t wait for you to take light readings and set up your tripod!
  • Explore different angles. Photograph those water voles or water lilies down at eye level. Crouch down to get a new perspective on these little living things.
  • Shoot in the shade. Direct sunlight is harsh and makes your subject squint. When shooting in the shade, there are no more harsh shadows, only smooth patterns created by your subject’s natural features.
  • Take lots of photos. Here’s a secret that professional snappers prefer to keep to themselves – the best pictures are the select few that a photographer actually got right. For every perfect image of reflections in the water, sunset behind a canal lock or vintage narrowboats in harmony with their surroundings, there are dozens of blurry, dull photos that never made it off the cutting room floor.
  • Enjoy your canal adventures and remember, by sharing your photos on Instagram and Facebook using the hashtag #canaladventures2017 you could win a Canon EOS 1300D, a top-notch Digital SLR for anyone who loves taking photos of the UK’s beautiful waterways.

If you have any questions about Anglo Welsh’s ‘Canal Adventure 2017’ Challenge, please contact our friendly customer team on 0117 304 1122.

 

Terms and conditions.
– Competition begins 1st May 2017 and closes on 31st August 2017.
– To enter the competition, you must be following Anglo Welsh on Instagram and Facebook and must upload photos to these platforms using the hashtag #canaladventures2017.
– Entrants can be all ages. Under 16s must seek permission from a parent or guardian.
– Entrants can submit as many photos as they like during the competition period.
– Photographs must show typical scenery of UK canals which can be seen whilst aboard a canal boat or on a towpath e.g waterways, canals, narrowboats, landscapes, wildlife, canal-side countryside, etc.
– Photos must be taken and uploaded in 2017, between the above dates.
– The winner will be selected by the judging panel. The judges’ decision is final.
– Prize winners will be announced via Instagram and Facebook on 8th September, 2017.
– First prize is a Canon EOS 1300D worth approx. £300. Three runners-up prizes are an HP Sprocket worth approx. £100 each. The prizes cannot be exchanged or returned. There is no cash equivalent.
– Winner(s) may be contacted by Anglo Welsh if they want to use the images for any advertisement or publication.
– The organiser reserves the right to change or cancel the competition at any time.
– By entering you agree by the rules and are happy for your imagery to be used for marketing purposes by Anglo Welsh Waterway Holidays and their associated companies.
– Members of Anglo Welsh staff plus staff of associated companies are not permitted to enter this competition.

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Spotlight on the Canals – The Stratford Canal

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

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

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

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

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

Best for beginners

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

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

Next the canal passes the picturesque village of Wilmcote. Canal boat holiday-makers can moor-up above Wilmcote Top Lock and walk into the village to explore Mary Arden’s Farm, the childhood home of Shakespeare’s mother to experience the sights, smells and sounds of a working Tudor farm. Wilmcote also has two pubs – the gourmet Mary Arden Inn which dates back to the 1700s, and The Masons Arms, a traditional pub with flagstone floors and real fires.

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

Just some of the highlights of this world-famous home of the Bard include the Royal Shakespeare Company’s magnificent Royal Shakespeare Theatre with over 1,000 seats. In 2017 performances of Anthony & Cleopatra, Julius Caesar and Titus Andronicus are scheduled.

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

Best for experienced boaters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To book a holiday or break on any of Anglo Welsh’s fleet, call our friendly booking team 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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