Top 7 week-long canal boat cruises through the countryside this Autumn

Best Autumn canal boat holidays

This Autumn adventure afloat on a canal cruise through the countryside, enjoying the beautiful colours in the trees and hedgerows that line our canals and rivers.

Canal boat holidays are a great way to connect with nature.  You can watch-out for plant, animal and bird life along the way, including the hedgerow fruits and berries enjoyed by birds and small mammals.

To celebrate the Autumn colours along the canals, we’ve put together a guide to our top seven week-long cruises through the countryside:

1. Cruise through the Shropshire countryside to Whitchurch

On a week’s break from our canal boat hire centre at Trevor in North Wales, you can travel along the Llangollen Canal to Whitchurch and back.  Along the way, you’ll cross the UNESCO World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, with amazing views of the Dee Valley.  Then it’s on through the Shropshire countryside, passing through Ellesmere, in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District.  Once at Whitchurch, you can moor up to explore the Shropshire Wildlife Trust’s Greenfields Nature Reserve, with woodland walks and the chance to spot water voles. The journey from Trevor to Whitchurch and back takes 24 hours and passes through four locks (two each way).

2. Navigate through the Yorkshire countryside to Foulridge Tunnel

On a week’s break from Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire, you can cruise through the Yorkshire countryside to Foulridge Tunnel.  The journey takes you through a series of historic towns and villages, including Skipton, with its medieval castle and acres of woodland trails to explore. And East Marton with access to the Pennine Way National Trail. The journey from Silsden to Foulridge and back takes 26 hours and passes through 30 locks (15 each way).

3. Boat through the Cheshire countryside to Red Bull Wharf

On a week’s break from Bunbury, you can cruise through the Cheshire countryside to Red Bull Wharf and back.  The route will take you along the rural Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal, which runs from Barbridge Junction to Middlewich.  This peaceful 10-mile long waterways passing through the pretty village of Church Minshull, with its popular Badger Inn gastro pub. The journey from Bunbury to Red Bull Wharf and back travels 53 miles and passes through 70 locks (35 each way).

4. Meander through the Oxfordshire countryside to Wallingford

On a week’s break from our Oxford canal boat hire base, you can cruise along the River Thames to the historic market town of Wallingford. The journey passes through miles of peaceful Oxfordshire countryside, waterside meadows and woodlands.  As well as the City of Oxford, there’s a series of riverside towns and villages to visit along the way, including the historic market town of Abingdon. It takes around 18 hours to cruise from our Oxford base at Eynsham to Wallingford and back, passing through 22 locks (11 each way).

5. Wend your way through the Wiltshire countryside to the Vale of Pewsey

On a week’s break from Monkton Combe on the Kennet & Avon Canal near Bath you can reach Pewsey Wharf.  The journey takes you up the 29 locks of the Caen Hill Flight, one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways. And through the beautiful Vale of Pewsey, part of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  Places to visit along the way include the historic market towns of Bradford on Avon and Devizes. It takes around 38 hours to cruise from Monkton Combe to Pewsey and back, passing through 74 locks (37 each way).

6. Journey to Llangollen North Wales and visit the Horsehoe Falls

On a week’s break from Whixall Marina, on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire, you can reach the historic town of Llangollen on the edge of the Berwyn Mountains.  Along the way, you’ll travel through the Shropshire countryside to Ellesmere, with its beautiful Mere and woodland walks. You’ll cruise across the magnificent Pontcysyllte and Chirk aqueducts, enjoying incredible views of the Welsh Mountains. At Llangollen, nestled in the Berwyn Mountains, you can visit the famous Horseshoe Falls. The journey from Whixall to Llangollen and back takes around 24 hours and passes through four locks (two each way).

7. Meander along the Ashby Canal SSSI

From our Stockton base on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, you can travel up the North Oxford Canal and transfer onto the tranquil Ashby Canal.  This 22-mile long lock-free waterway meanders through the Leicestershire countryside from Marston Junction to Snarestone.  The six miles from Carlton Bridge 44 to Snarestone are designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for their aquatic plans. The journey from Stockton to Snarestone and back takes 44 hours and passes through 14 locks (seven each way).

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Seven reasons to take a boating holiday on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal

Canal barge hire on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal at Silsden

At 127 miles, the Leeds & Liverpool Canal is the longest single canal in the country.  Opened in 1816, it crosses the Pennines and links the wide waterways of Yorkshire with those of Lancashire and the River Mersey.

From Silsden, on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire, Anglo Welsh offers the choice of 18 narrowboats and six wide beam boats for hire.

To celebrate canal boat holidays in the area, we’ve listed our top 7 reasons to take a boating holiday on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal:

1. It’s good for your wellbeing

Research by the Canal & River Trust shows spending time by the waterways can make you happier and reduce anxiety.  Cruising through the countryside, canal boat holiday-makers on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal can relax and unwind aboard their floating holiday home.

2. It’s the perfect way to enjoy stunning scenery

Travelling at just four-miles-an-hour means boaters get the chance to soak up the stunning scenery, including the rugged hills of the Yorkshire Dales and the woodlands of the Aire Valley.

3. It’s like a floating safari

Canals are havens for wildlife, so there’s always something special to see.  As well as water birds such as moorhens, coots, swans and ducks, boaters can look out for kingfishers, damselflies, dragonflies, woodland birds and bats skimming the water at dusk.

4. There are plenty of pubs!

There are dozens of canalside pubs to enjoy along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, including the Narrow Boat at Skipton and the Bay Horse at Snaygill.  Many date back to the days when canals were the transport arteries of the Industrial Revolution, providing hospitality for the working boat men and women, and their horses.

5. You can bring your pets

Anglo Welsh welcomes a wide variety of pets on board, so it’s a staycation that all the family can enjoy.  As well as dogs, rabbits, hamsters, tortoises, lizards and goldfish have also enjoyed canal boat holidays on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal.

6. History is all around you

Britain’s canal network is a working heritage made up of thousands of historic structures, including the Bingley Five Rise staircase of locks on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal near Bradford.  Listed as one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’, these cavernous locks raise (or lower) boats by 18 metres.

7. You don’t need to be an expert

A licence isn’t required to steer a canal boat, and tuition is provided as part of Anglo Welsh’s holiday hire. There’s a choice of short break holidays for beginners to enjoy on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal.

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Top 9 summer canal boat holidays for beginners

Best Summer canal boat holidays for beginners

Every year more people take the plunge and set sail on an adventure afloat on Britain’s beautiful inland waterways network.

You don’t need a licence to steer a canal boat and it’s easy for first-timers to learn to operate our boats.

As part of our narrowboat hire, we provide you with expert boat steering tuition. And our series of ‘How to’ videos give step by step instruction on everything from switching the boat engine on to the best way to tie your ropes when mooring up.

We’ve also published guides to ‘What to pack on your narrowboat holiday’, and ‘Tips for narrowboat holiday beginners’.

When you arrive at one of our boat yards, we’ll take you through our nationally accredited handover. And we’ll make sure you’re comfortable and in control before you set off.  As well as our Youtube videos, there is a manual on board every boat if you need to check on anything.  And our engineering teams are on hand 24 hours a day to help over the phone, or come out to you if you need them.

So, if you’ve thought about taking a canal boat holiday, but you’re not sure where to begin, here’s a guide to our top 9 summer short breaks for beginners:

1. Head to Birmingham lock-free

With no locks between our canal boat rental base at Tardebigge and Birmingham City Centre, this five-hour cruise is perfect for novice canal boaters.  The first half of the journey passes through fields, woods and villages, before gradually becoming more urbanised.  Once you reach the centre of Birmingham, there are over-night moorings at Gas Street Basin, with easy access to Brindleyplace waterside restaurants, Sea Life Centre, glitzy Mailbox shopping and other leading attractions.

2. Learn the ropes on the Llangollen

Passing through stunning North Wales landscapes, the Llangollen Canal is one of the most popular on the network.  With just two locks along the way, the seven-hour journey from our boat yard at Trevor to Ellesmere offers a fantastic short break holiday for beginners.  The route includes the experience of travelling across the incredible UNESCO World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, with jaw-dropping panoramic views of the Dee Valley 38 metres below.

3. Dip your toe in the water at Bath

From our base at Sydney Wharf on the Kennet & Avon Canal in Bath, it takes just four hours to cruise 10 miles to the lovely market town of Bradford on Avon. There’s just one lock to pass through and two stunning Bath stone aqueducts to glide across.  And there are popular canalside pubs to, including The George at Bathampton, Cross Guns at Avoncliff and Barge Inn at Bradford on Avon.

4. Float gently along to Fradley

From Great Haywood, you can head south along the Trent & Mersey Canal to Fradley Junction, where the Coventry Canal meets the Trent & Mersey.  The journey takes around five hours, travelling 12 peaceful miles through the Staffordshire countryside.  There are just five locks to pass through, and you’ll pass canalside pubs at Wolseley and Rugeley.  At Fradley, you can enjoy refreshments at the Canalside Café or The Swan Inn.  And you can enjoy spotting wildlife along the woodland trail and boardwalk at Fradley Pool Nature Reserve.

5. Take to the tiller along the Thames

From our Oxford base at Eynsham, you can enjoy a Thames boating holiday.  It takes just over three hours, passing through four locks to reach City centre moorings in Oxford.  Many of the locks along the Thames are manned, so there’s often help on hand for newcomers.  Once in Oxford, you take time to explore the city, including the famous Bodleian Library, Carfax Tower and Ashmolean Museum.

6. Navigate the Shroppie to historic Chester

It’s a seven-hour, nine-lock journey to the ancient city of Chester from our Bunbury base on the Shropshire Union Canal.  The route passes through the beautiful Cheshire countryside and villages.  There are historic local pubs to enjoy along the way, including The Ring O’Bells at Christleton and The Shady Oak at Bates Mill Bridge.  Once in Chester, you can take time to explore this cosmopolitan ancient city.  Attractions include: a Roman Amphitheatre and city walls, Chester Rows shops, 1,000-year old cathedral, racecourse and award-winning Zoo.

7. Cruise along two canals to Hillmorton

From our Stockton base, it takes around seven hours to cruise to the pretty canal village of Hillmorton.  Starting on the Grand Union Canal, you’ll transfer onto the North Oxford Canal at Braunston. Along the way, you’ll pass Napton on the Hill, with its popular Kings Head pub. And the canal village of Braunston, home to a choice of places to eat, including the historic Admiral Nelson.  The journey to Hillmorton passes through just six locks, including the three locks at Hillmorton, where lock keepers are on hand to help. And there’s a choice of pubs at Hillmorton, including the Stag & Pheasant.

8. Test the waters on the Leeds & Liverpool

Setting off from Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire, the journey to Gargrave and back is nice and easy for beginners.  The route travels 12 miles through the Yorkshire countryside.  It passes through just three locks, and takes around 6½ hours.  Along the way, you’ll pass through Skipton, home to one of the best preserved medieval castles in England.  At Gargrave, there are plenty of pubs, including The Mason’s Arms and Cross Keys Inn.  Gargrave is on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, with over 680 square miles of some of England’s finest walking country to explore.

9. Cross the border into Wales surrounded by breath-taking scenery

From Whixall Marina on the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire, on a short break you can cruise to Chirk and back.  The journey to Chirk takes around eight hours and passes through just two locks.  The route passes Whixall Moss nature reserve and historic Ellesmere, in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District. At Chirk, where the Llangollen Canal crosses the Welsh border, there’s a choice of canalside pubs and the National Trust’s medieval Chirk Castle to visit.

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Be Inspired

We offer a range of different types of holidays such as City Breaks, Relaxation Cruises and Popular Destinations

So why choose Anglo Welsh?

Over 55 years providing unique canal boat holidays in England and Wales.
Modern and spacious narrowboat and wide beam barge hire – from 2 to 12 berths.
Wide choice of narrowboat hire locations and canal boat holiday destinations.
Canal boat holiday routes for novices & experienced boaters.
Flexible holiday booking, no hidden costs.
Family friendly and pet friendly holidays.
Great days out on the water.
Luxury canal boat hire and Thames boating holidays.

Anglo Welsh. So much more than narrowboats

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


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