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Top 8 Summer Circuits to explore afloat

…by reservations manager Emma Lovell

Cruising rings are great because they offer journeys along different waterways, take in a wide variety of landscapes and bring you back to your narrowboat hire base without having to travel the same way twice.

Some are seriously challenging, with steep flights of locks and long dark tunnels to negotiate, while others are easier and more suitable for canal boat holiday beginners. All offer a wonderful summer holiday adventure and the chance to explore some of Britain’s best loved countryside from your very own floating holiday home.

Here’s a list of our Top eight Summer Circuits to explore:

1. The Black Country Ring – setting off from our canal boat rental base at Great Haywood in Staffordshire or Tardebigge in Worcestershire, this circuit can be done on a week’s holiday. Cruising sections of the Birmingham & Fazeley, Birmingham Main Line, Coventry, Staffordshire & Worcestershire and Trent & Mersey canals, highlights along the way include: Birmingham’s Gas Street Basin; the 21 locks at Wolverhampton; and the waters at Tixall Wide. To complete the Black Country Ring from Tardebigge, you will travel 104 miles, passing through 79 locks, which will take around 53 hours. From Great Haywood it’s 75 miles, 79 locks and takes 43 hours.

2. The Four Counties Ring – departing from our bases at Great Haywood in Staffordshire, Bunbury in Cheshire or Whixall in Shropshire, this popular circuit can be completed in a week. It takes canal boat holiday-makers through the counties of Staffordshire, the West Midlands, Cheshire and Shropshire and highlights along the way include: the 2670-metre long Harecastle Tunnel; flight of 15 locks at Audlem; views of the rolling Cheshire Plains; and the Roman town of Middlewich. To complete the Four Counties Ring from Great Haywood, you will travel 110 miles, pass through 94 locks, which will take around 55 hours. From Bunbury, it will be 115 miles, 96 locks and 58 hours. From Whixall, it’s 137 miles, 132 locks and 86 hours.

3. The Cheshire Ring – cruising out from our narrowboat hire base at Bunbury in Cheshire, this route, which runs through the heart of Manchester and the Peak District via the Ashton, Macclesfield, Peak Forest, Rochdale, Trent & Mersey and Bridgewater canals, can be completed in a week. Highlights along the way include: the incredible Anderton Boat Lift, one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways; stunning views of the Peak District from the Top Lock at Marple on the Peak Forest Canal; and Manchester’s China Town. To complete the Cheshire Ring from Bunbury, you will travel 122 miles and pass through 102 locks, which will take about 86 cruising hours.

4. The Stourport Ring – navigating from our canal boat hire base at Tardebigge in Worcestershire, this ring, which can be completed in a week, takes in sections of the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal, Worcester & Birmingham Canal Navigation, the River Severn, Birmingham Canal Main Line and Stourbridge canals. Highlights include: cruising through central Birmingham; Kinver with its National Trust rock houses; the City of Worcester with its magnificent cathedral; countryside views along the River Severn; and the dramatic flight of 30 locks at Tardebigge, the longest in the country. To complete the Stourport Ring from Tardebigge, you will travel 84 miles and pass through 118 locks in around 52 hours.

5. The Warwickshire Ring – setting off from our canal boat hire base at Stockton in Warwickshire, this circuit which can be done in a week, cruises sections of the Grand Union, Oxford, Coventry and Birmingham & Fazeley canals. Highlights include: the flight of 11 locks into Atherstone; the pretty canal village of Braunston; the awesome flight of 21 locks at Hatton; and Warwick Castle. To complete the Warwickshire Ring from Stockton, you will travel 104 miles and pass through 121 locks in around 56 hours.

6. The Birmingham Mini-Ring – this popular ring can be completed on a four night short break from our base at Tardebigge in Worcestershire. It takes in sections of the Worcester & Birmingham, Birmingham Main Line and Grand Union canals, and highlights include: the historic village of Bournville, home of Cadbury’s chocolate; Gas Street Basin in central Birmingham; and the flight of 13 locks at Farmers Bridge. To complete the Birmingham Mini-Ring from Tardebigge, you will travel 45 miles and pass through 49 locks, which takes around 27 hours.

7. The Avon Ring – canal boat holiday-makers can complete this epic circuit on a two week break from our narrowboat hire base at Tardebigge or Wootton Wawen. Navigating sections of the Stratford Canal, River Avon, River Severn and Worcester & Birmingham Canal, highlights include: Shakespeare’s Stratford; the River Avon with its panoramic views; the charming historic town of Evesham; the Cotswold medieval town of Tewskesbury; the City of Worcester with its magnificent cathedral; and the flight of 30 locks at Tardebigge. To complete the Avon Ring from either Tardebigge or Wootton Wawen, you will travel 109 miles and pass through 131 locks, which will take around 58 hours.

8. The East Midlands Ring – on a two week break from our narrowboat rental base at Stockton boaters can journey round the East Midlands Ring, also known as the Leicester Ring. Travelling sections of the Birmingham & Fazeley, Coventry, Oxford, Trent & Mersey and Grand Union canals, as well as the rivers Soar and Trent, highlights include: Saddlington Tunnel; the Foxton Staircase; the pretty canal village of Stoke Bruerne with its Canal Museum; Blisworth Tunnel; the 11 locks at Atherstone; the City of Coventry; and the historic village of Shardlow. To complete the East Midlands Ring from Stockton, you will travel 170 miles and pass through 107 locks in around 84 hours.

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Winter at Wootton Wawen

By Matt Lucas Stern, boat yard manager at Wootton Wawen

The canals and our boat yard are quieter during the winter months, but not too quiet here at Wootton Wawen as we continue to offer canal boat hire for winter cruising.

Although some of our routes will be affected by winter maintenance on the canals, which this year will include spot dredging on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, there are no works planned for the Stratford Canal, so our immediate routes remain open.

As the canals are even more peaceful during the winter months they can offer a great way to get away over Christmas. We still see plenty of wildlife here during the winter, including many hedgerow birds like black birds, great tits and robins, as well as plenty of ducks, coots, moorhens, geese, herons and swans, including a couple of resident Australian black swans.

Stratford is probably the most popular Christmas and New Year destination from our boat yard.  The Christmas lights, carol singers and markets make it a very special place to be over the festive period.

Alternatively, boaters can head north from our boat yard and find a choice of pubs with roaring log fires and Christmas menus, including the popular Crabmill at Preston Bagot and the Fleur de Lys at Lowsonford.  And the Yew Tree Farm Shopping Village and Café here at Wootton Wawen is always a fun place to visit during the Christmas build-up.  It’s great for stocking up on Christmas lunch goodies.

I live aboard my boat here at Wootton Wawen with my dog Caesar, so as well as working by the water I’m also lucky enough to live on the water too. Caesar is a miniature English bull terrier who is 14 months old.  He seems to love the life on the canal and walking along the towpath. But he is terrified of ducks!

A dog is a great addition to your crew on any narrowboating holiday as they will enjoy it just as much as you.  Just make sure you keep a close eye on them – Caesar floats about as well as a stone.

I have a 1993 Mike Heywood narrowboat with a Lister air-cooled mid-engine. I’ve started to rebuild my boat’s traditional boat man’s cabin as a homage of the old ways on the canal network.  But there’s plenty of scumbling and roses and castles left to go yet!

 

 

With careful planning, my boat stays cosy and warm even during the coldest nights. I have gas central heating – just like all our hire boats.  I also have a multi-fuel stove, something which some of our hire boats also have, including our luxury Heritage Class boat ‘Poppy’.

‘Poppy’ arrived here at Wootton Wawen at the beginning of the 2018 boating season.  Since then she has consistently wowed her hirers with the extra space and facilities she provides for holiday groups of up to four people.  She’s 66ft long – so almost as long as our 12-berth boats.  She has two cabins which can either be configured as doubles or singles and she also has two bathrooms with full size showers.

Anglo Welsh has a history of supporting the military (we offer 15 per cent off our holidays to all service personnel) and we wanted to do something special for the Chelsea Pensioners.  So as well as naming our Heritage Class boat ‘Poppy’ we have pledged to give £10 to The Royal Hospital Chelsea and Chelsea Pensioner’s Active Ageing Appeal for every booking made on ‘Poppy’ between 1 November 2019 and 1 November 2020.

 

And from next March, we’ll be adding ‘Collingwood’ to our Wootton Wawen fleet – the first of four new luxury Admiral Class boats.  She will be 57ft and will offer spacious accommodation for two people.  We look forward to welcoming her here next Spring!

 

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Drifters Open Day 2019

GET AFLOAT AT ONE OF OUR OPEN DAYS

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:

Tardebigge, Worcester & Birmingham Canal

Tardebigge Wharf, Old Wharf

Bromsgrove,

Worcester, B60 1LR

Tel: 01527 873898

Email: tar.base@anglowelsh.co.uk

 

Wootton Wawen, Stratford Canal

Canal Wharf, Wootton Wawen

Henley in Arden

West Midlands, B95 6BZ

Tel: 01564 793427

Email: wwn.base@anglowelsh.co.uk

 

Bunbury, Shropshire Union Canal

Bunbury Lock, Bunbury

Tarporley

Cheshire, CW6 9QB

Tel: 01829 260957

Email: bun.base@anglowelsh.co.uk

 

Trevor, Llangollen Canal

Canal Wharf, Trevor

Llangollen LL20 7TT

Tel: 01978 821749

Email: trevor.base@anglowelsh.co.uk

 

Great Haywood, Staffs & Worcs Canal

Mill Lane, Great Haywood

Stafford, ST18 0RJ

Tel: 01889 881711

Email: grh.base@anglowelsh.co.uk

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

For more information about canal boat holidays for beginners, go to https://www.anglowelsh.co.uk/News/top-12-canal-boating-tips-for-novices

And https://www.anglowelsh.co.uk/News/top-8-canal-boat-holidays-for-beginners

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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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