Spring is a fantastic time to take a narrowboat holiday on Britain’s beautiful inland waterways, when the countryside is bursting with new life.
With blossoming waterside trees and hedges, busy nest-building birds, ducklings bobbing on the water, spring lambs playing in the fields, and carpets of bluebells in waterside woodlands, there’s so much to look out for on a Spring adventure afloat.
To celebrate Spring and the wildlife that makes its home on our canals and rivers, we’ve put together our Top 10 Spring canal boat holiday destinations for 2023:
1. Drift through the beautiful prehistoric Vale of Pewsey
On a week’s break from our canal boat rental base at Monkton Coombe you can cruise through the beautiful Vale of Pewsey, part of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. You’ll travel along the Kennet & Avon Canal passing through miles of peaceful Wiltshire countryside, and a series of villages and country pubs along the way. You’ll travel up the mighty Caen Hill Flight of 29 locks at Devizes and along the edge of the ancient Savernake Forest and then on through the Vale of Pewsey. The journey to Pewsey and back takes around 38 hours, passing through 74 locks (37 each way).
2. Cruise to the gateway of the Yorkshire Dales to explore Skipton Castle Woods
From our barge holiday hire base at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal it takes just over three hours to reach Skipton, the ‘Gateway to the Dales’. Here, Skipton Castle Woods with acres of woodlands trails, is a great place to explore in the Spring. For nearly a thousand years the woods provided fuel, food and building materials for castle inhabitants. Today there are at least 18 species of trees flourishing there, and hundreds of flowering plants, including wild orchids and bluebells in the Spring. The journey along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal to Silsden passes through the typical Yorkshire stone built villages of Kildwick and Farnhill. And on into a dense wooded area famous for its bluebells and deer. The journey to Silsden and back travels 13 miles and takes around seven cruising hours.
3. Travel to Llangollen on the edge of the Berwyn Mountains
On a week-long holiday from our canal boat rental base at Whixall Marina, on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire you can reach the pretty town of Llangollen. Along the way, you’ll travel through the beautiful Shropshire Lake District and across the incredible World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. Once in Llangollen, you can moor up to enjoy exploring this pretty town nestled on the edge of the Berwyn Mountains. There are regular markets packed with local produce, a choice of independent shops and restaurants, and the famous Horseshoe Falls. The journey to Llangollen and back takes around 24 cruising hours, and passes through just four locks (two each way).
4. Wend your way to Fradley Pool Nature Reserve
On a short break from our base on the Trent & Mersey Canal at Great Haywood near Stafford, you can reach Fradley Pool Nature Reserve. Fradley Pool is home to a variety of water birds and it’s a great place to spot bats swooping across the water at dusk. There are walking trails, sculpture trails, places to picnic and a choice of places to eat and drink, including the historic Swan Inn. The journey to Fradley and back travels 24 miles, passes through 10 locks (five each way) and takes around 12 hours.
5. Navigate the Four Counties Ring for stunning views of the Cheshire Plains
On a week or 10-day break from our narrowboat rental base at Bunbury you can cruise the popular Four Counties Ring through some of England’s best loved countryside. The route takes you through the counties of Staffordshire, the West Midlands, Cheshire and Shropshire. It cruises sections of the Trent & Mersey, Staffordshire & Worcestershire and Shropshire Union canals. There panoramic views to enjoy from the flight of 31 locks between Middlewich and Kidsgrove on the Trent & Mersey Canal. And stunning views of the rolling Cheshire Plains on the Shropshire Union Canal. From Bunbury, completing the Four Counties Ring takes around 58 cruising hours and passes through 96 locks.
6. Take part in #BlossomWatch at Packwood House
On a short break from our Tardebigge base near Bromsgrove, you can cruise to the village of Lapworth, home of the National Trust’s Packwood House. The route takes you through the Worcestershire countryside along the Worcestershire & Birmingham Canal to Kings Norton Junction. There you can transfer onto the Stratford Canal to reach the village of Lapworth. At Packwood House every Spring blossom spreads across the garden and parkland, including on the cherry and apple trees in the orchard. The National Trust’s #BlossomWatch invites visitors to share pictures of spring blossom on social media. The journey to Lapworth and back takes around 14 hours.
7. Enjoy bird spotting at Ellesmere in the heart of Shropshire Lake District
From our narrowboat hire base on the Llangollen Canal at Trevor in North Wales, on a short break you can reach the medieval market town of Ellesmere. Along the way, you’ll cross over the famous Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, 38 metres high above the Dee Valley. The Mere at Ellesmere is a large lake packed with wildlife. There are woodland walks, places to eat, drink and picnic, a sculpture trail and adventure playground. You can spot many of types of birds, including kingfishers, yellow hammers, tree sparrows, lapwing, sand martins and ringed plovers. There are also wading birds such as curlew, greenshank, godwit and whimbrel, as well as herons using the heronry on Moscow Island. The journey to Ellesmere and back takes around 14 hours and passes through four locks (two each way).
8. Cruise along the River Thames past riverside woodlands and meadows
On a short break from our Oxford base, you can enjoy a Thames boating holiday to the historic market town of Abingdon. Along the way, you’ll cruise through the outskirts of the ancient City of Oxford. Then on through beautiful stretches of Oxfordshire countryside, with lush riverside meadows and the chance to hear cuckoos calling. There are also riverside woodlands with carpets of bluebells to look out for. Once moored up at Abingdon, you can enjoy exploring riverside walks, parks and eateries, including the popular waterside Nag’s Head. The journey to Abingdon and back takes around 10 hours, passing through 12 locks (six each way).
9. Travel through the Northamptonshire countryside to Stoke Bruerne
On a mid-week or week-long break from our base at Stockton, you can cruise to the pretty Northamptonshire village of Stoke Bruerne. The journey along the Grand Union Canal takes you gently through the countryside and the 2,813-metre long Blisworth Tunnel. You can moor up in Stoke Bruerne to enjoy a choice of canalside pubs and browsing the intriguing waterway history collections at the Canal Museum. And there’s a wonderful woodland walk and sculpture trail alongside the canal to explore, with the chance to spot a wide variety of woodland birds. The journey to Stoke Bruerne and back takes around 25 hours and passes through 34 locks (17 each way).
10. Navigate the Avon Ring through some of England’s best loved countryside
On a 10-day break from Wootton Wawen, you can complete the Avon Ring. This 109-mile circuit travels through some of the most beautiful countryside in England. You’ll first travel along the pretty Stratford Canal to Shakespeare’s Stratford. Here you can transfer onto the River Avon to begin cruising through idyllic countryside, to Evesham and Tewkesbury, with panoramic views of Warwickshire and the Cotswolds beyond. At Tewkesbury you’ll lock onto the River Severn, and later transfer onto the Worcestershire & Birmingham Canal at Diglis. Completing the Avon Ring from Wootton Wawen takes around 58 hours and passes through 131 locks.
Emma Lovell, Anglo Welsh’s reservations manager, gives an overview of the top canal boat holiday destinations in England and Wales for 2023
There are thousands of miles of navigable waterways to explore in England and Wales, offering the chance to set off on your very own adventure afloat.
You can cruise slowly through the countryside, watching out for wildlife and planning your next stop. There’s a choice of hundreds of waterside destinations to visit, from canalside pubs, restaurants and walks, to museums, theatres and festivals.
To celebrate the new boating season ahead, here’s a guide to our Top 10 narrowboat holidays for 2023:
1. See the rhino calf born at Chester Zoo
On a short break from our base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal you can reach the ancient City of Chester, home to the award-winning Chester Zoo. Visitors to Chester Zoo will find over 20,000 animals from 500 species, including Jiya, an endangered greater one-horn rhino calf. Jiya was born to Mum Asha after a 16-month pregnancy in October 2022. The journey to Chester from Bunbury takes around seven hours, and passes through nine locks.
2. Cruise to Lechlade on Thames for a great choice of country walks
Setting off on a mid-week break from our Oxford base, you can take a Thames boating holiday to Lechlade. The pretty historic town of Lechlade has a choice of pubs, including the 16th century Swan Inn and riverside Trout Inn. And you can pick up a guide to six local walks at the Post Office or Library, including information about the history of the area. The journey to Lechlade passes through seven locks and takes around nine hours.
3. Visit Birmingham, home of the Peaky Blinders
From our Tardebigge base near Bromsgrove, it’s an eight-and-a-half hour, three-lock journey to the Black Country Living Museum. Scenes for all five series of the BBC’s epic gangster drama Peaky Blinders were filmed at the 26-acre Museum. As well as walking in the footsteps of the Shelbys, visitors can explore period shops and homes and have a drink in the ‘Bottle & Glass Inn’. You can also sample the Museum’s famous traditionally cooked 1930’s-style fish and chips and take a trip ‘into the thick’ to experience life in an 1850’s coal mine.
4. Visit the Fairport Convention folk festival at Cropredy
On a week’s holiday from Stockton, you can cruise along the Oxford Canal to enjoy the festival of folk and rock music at Cropredy (10-12 August). The journey begins on the Grand Union Canal, soon transferring onto the Oxford Canal at Napton-on-the-Hill. Here, there’s a good choice of pubs, including the Kings Head. From there, the route winds gently on through the countryside, passing through 21 locks along the way. The 12-mile journey to Cropredy takes around 12 hours.
5. Moor up to see a play in Shakespeare’s Stratford
From our base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal, you can reach Stratford upon Avon on a short break. There you can moor up in Bancroft Basin to enjoy the town’s lively markets, shops, restaurants and museums. And you can choose from an exciting theatrical programme, including productions of ‘The Tempest’, ‘Julius Caesar’ and ‘Macbeth’ at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. From Wootton Wawen, it takes around six hours, to reach Shakespeare’s Stratford, passing through 17 locks.
6. Navigate the Four Counties Ring
On a week’s break from our base at Great Haywood in Staffordshire, you can navigate the ‘Four Counties Ring’. This popular circuit will take you along sections of the Trent & Mersey, Shropshire Union and Staffordshire & Worcestershire canals. In total, you’ll cruise 110-miles in around 60 hours, passing through 94 locks. Along the way, you’ll pass through some of the most beautiful landscapes in England, including the Peak District and Cheshire Plains. Highlights include: Wedgewood Pottery in Stoke on Trent; the 1.5 mile long Harecastle Tunnel; the flight of 31 locks at Kidsgrove; the Roman town of Middlewich; and the historic market town of Market Drayton.
7. Pass through the Bingley Five Rise Staircase
From our Silsden base it takes around four hours to reach the Bingley Five Rise Staircase, one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’. Completed in 1774, this spectacular staircase of locks on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal raises (or lowers) boats 18 metres in five massive chambers. The locks open directly from one to another, with the top gate of one forming the bottom gate of the next. On a short break from Silsden, you can continue on to Shipley or Saltaire. On a week’s holiday from Silsden, you can reach Leeds.
8. Glide across ‘The Stream in the Sky’
Departing from our base at Trevor in North Wales, you’ll soon encounter the incredible World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. One of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’, this incredible structure transports canal boats 38 metres high across the Dee Valley. On a short break from Trevor, you can travel cross the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, and continue cruising along the Llangollen Canal to Ellesmere. The Mere at Ellesmere offers visitors woodland walks, places to eat, a sculpture trail and an adventure playground. The journey to Ellesmere takes around seven hours, passing through two locks.
9. Travel up the Caen Hill Flight
On a week’s break from our base at Monkton Combe near Bath, you can reach Pewsey Wharf, travelling up the famous Caen Hill flight of locks along the way. The route, which is perfect for a week away, takes you along the Kennet & Avon Canal through 37 locks, including the 29 locks of the Caen Hill Flight at Devizes. You’ll also cruise across two dramatic Bath stone aqueducts at Dundas and Avoncliff, through the historic market town of Bradford on Avon and the beautiful Vale of Pewsey, part of the West Berkshire Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
10. Experience the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod afloat
Taking a week’s break from Whixall, you can cruise through the Shropshire Lake District to the Eisteddfod town of Llangollen. Every year, thousands of people descend on the pretty town of Llangollen, nestled in the Berwyn Mountains, to celebrate dance, music, costume and culture. The 2023 Eisteddfod is on from 4-9 July. The journey takes around 12 hours and passes through just two locks
Top 7 cosy waterside pubs and restaurants to cruise to this winter
We offer winter cruising* from seven of our canal boat hire bases – providing the opportunity to cruise gently through the quiet winter countryside and stop off at waterside eateries along the way.
You’ll be snug and warm on board as all our boats have central heating and hot water, and some also have multi-fuel stoves.
We offer narrowboat hire over Christmas and New Year, so you can celebrate the festive season afloat with family and friends. Or simply escape from it all with your nearest and dearest, aboard your very own floating holiday cottage.
Here’s a guide to our Top 7 waterside pubs and restaurants to cruise to this winter. Please note that winter maintenance on the canals may affect some routes for part of the winter, so do just check with us when you make your booking:
1. Cruise to the Dusty Miller at Wrenbury Mill, Cheshire
From our base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal, it takes around seven hours to reach Wrenbury Mill. The route travels through 10 miles of the Cheshire countryside, and passes through 11 locks. You’ll start off on the Shropshire Union Canal, transferring onto the Llangollen Canal at Hurleston Junction. At Wrenbury Mill you can moor up and enjoy a meal at the Dusty Miller. They serve traditional pub food, including chicken in a basket and pie of the day. The pub is dog friendly and they have a guide to local walks on their website.
2. Moor up at the Crown Inn near Alvechurch, Worcestershire
From our barge hire base at Tardebigge, it takes one and a half hours to cruise to the canalside Crown Inn. The journey travels three miles along the Worcestershire & Birmingham Canal. This lovely country pub offers rustic charm and a great choice food and drink. From fish and chips, and burgers, to seafood linguine and Chicken Balti, the team at the Crown pride themselves on serving ‘proper food’.
3. Visit the Boathouse overlooking the Mere, Shropshire
Setting out from our base at Whixall, it takes around three-and-a-half hours to reach the historic market town of Ellesmere in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District. You’ll travel along the beautiful Llangollen Canal, passing a series of lakes, including Cole Mere. Once at Ellesmere, you can moor up and explore the Mere, with its motte and bailey castle, Cremorne Gardens, woodlands and popular Boathouse restaurant over-looking the Mere.
4. Head to the Swan Inn at Fradley Junction, Staffordshire
From our base at Great Haywood it takes around five hours to reach Fradley Junction. The journey travels along the Trent & Mersey Canal for 12 miles, passing through five locks. At Fradley, you can moor up next to the historic Swan Inn, serving ‘home cooked honest meals’. They also have a doggy menu.
5. Visit the Fleur De Lys at Lowsonford, Warwickshire
From our boat yard on the Stratford Canal at Wootton Wawen, it takes around three hours to cruise to the pretty canalside village of Lowsonford. There you can moor up to visit the Fleur De Lys, a 17th century country pub famous for its pies. Eleven different types of pie are served, accompanied by seasonal vegetables, chunky chips and gravy. There are gluten free and vegan options, as well as veggie, meat and fish pies.
6. Take refreshment at the Barge Inn at Seend, Wiltshire
From our canal boat hire base at Bath, you can cruise gently through the countryside to the Barge Inn at Seend. This beautiful pub on the Kennet & Avon Canal offers cosy real fires and classic pub favourites, including great Sunday roasts. It takes around seven hours to cruise the 17 miles to Seend, passing through four locks along the way.
7. Dine out at the Corn Mill in Llangollen, Denbighshire
From our Trevor base on the Llangollen Canal, it takes around two-and-a-half hours to reach the pretty town of Llangollen, nestled in the Berwyn Mountains. Once there, you can moor up in Llangollen Basin and take a short walk to the popular Corn Mill pub. Housed in a 14th century watermill on the banks of the River Dee, there’s a great choice of dishes on offer. From pumpkin tortellini and a sweet potato curry, to a crispy buttermilk chicken burger and rump steak, all are calorie counted.
*Winter maintenance will affect some of the routes some of the time
Top 9 October Half Term canal boat holiday destinations
Canal boat holidays offer the chance to set off on a family adventure afloat, working together to steer the boat, work the locks and plan the stops.
You’ll be self-contained on board your very own floating holiday cottage – with the key comforts of home, including hot water, TV, WiFi*, well-stocked kitchens, showers, flushing toilets and central heating.
We’ve put together a guide to our Top 9 narrowboat holiday destinations and Halloween events** this October Half Term holiday:
1. Have some Halloween Fun at Mary Arden’s Farm
From our boat yard on the Stratford Canal at Wootton Wawen, it takes just under two hours to reach moorings close to Mary Arden’s Farm in the village of Wilmcote. On 25, 27 and 29 October, the home of Shakespeare’s mother, run by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, will be hosting a special ‘Halloween Fun at the Farm’ event. The event will give families the chance to explore the traditions that people in medieval and Tudor England took part in to keep the spirits at bay.
2. Travel through the Dee Valley by steam train
Setting off from our base on the Llangollen Canal at Trevor in North Wales, it takes just two hours to reach moorings at Llangollen Basin. From there, you can use your floating holiday cottage as a base to explore the area, including taking a trip on a steam train. The Llangollen Railway line is located within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The Railway is running its Llangollen return service 26-30 October, travelling 10 miles through the Dee Valley, with breath-taking views of some of the most beautiful scenery in Wales.
3. Get spooked at a Halloween Night at the Black Country Living Museum
From our narrowboat hire base on the Worcestershire & Birmingham Canal at Tardebigge, it takes just eight hours, passing through three locks to reach the Black Country Living Museum. At 6.30pm from 26 to 29 October, the Museum is hosting its Halloween Nights event. Visitors can follow the trick or treat stations around the 26-acre site, discovering spooky spectacles along the way.
4. Follow the ‘Around the World in 8 Trees’ trail at Shugborough Estate
Our base on the Trent & Mersey Canal at Great Haywood is less than an hour’s cruise away from the National Trust’s magnificent Shugborough Estate. Across the October Half Term holiday, visitors to the Estate can wander around the gardens following the ‘Around the World in 8 Trees’ trail and the Pumpkin Hunt.
From our base at Stockton on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, it takes around seven hours, passing through 20 locks, to reach Warwick. From 22-31 October, the Castle’s ‘Haunted Castle’ event will feature mysterious mazes, eerie entertainment and frightful delights for the whole family. Visitors can experience the Castle Dungeon, Haunted Hollows Halloween trail and special spooky live shows.
6. Visit the IF Oxford science and ideas Festival
From our Oxford base on the River Thames at Eynsham, it takes just three-and a-half-hours (passing through three locks) to reach overnight moorings in Oxford City Centre. From there, you can explore some of the many IF Oxford events planned at venues across the City Centre, 6-29 October 2022. For example, at the Oxford Playhouse on 26 October at 7pm, the ‘Braintastic! Mastering Memory’ interactive science show explores how memories stored in the brain can play tricks on you through a series of memory games and quizzes.
7. Experience the interactive Halloween Trail at Chester Zoo
On a short break from our Bunbury base on the Shropshire Union Canal near Tarporley, you can reach the historic City of Chester, home of the award-winning Chester Zoo. The journey to Chester cruises 12 miles, passes through 18 locks and takes around seven hours. From 1-31 October, Chester Zoo will be hosting an interactive Halloween Trail. You’ll be asked to help Luna the witch to find her lost spell, carefully crafted with the most powerful poisons and venoms from the world of nature.
8. Enjoy an Autumnal Woodland Walk at Chirk Castle
From our canal boat rental base at Whixall, on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal, you can reach Chirk in around eight hours. The journey passes through just two locks. From visitor moorings on the canal at Chirk it takes around 30 minutes to walk up to the National Trust’s Chirk Castle. In the Castle’s beautiful grounds, there’s a 2.5 mile Woodland Walk trail to follow. The walk has spectacular views of the parkland and takes you past the ancient Sweet Chestnut Tree, dating back over 500 years to the time of King Henry VIII.
9. Explore the Roman Baths by torchlight
From our base at Monkton Combe near Bath, it takes around four hours, passing through six locks, to cruise into Bath City Centre. From there, you can visit one of Bath’s many museums offering special half term activities, including the Romans Baths ‘Lighting up the Great Bath’ event. Taking place on 26 October, from 6.30pm to 9pm, this thrilling special event offers the chance to explore the Roman Baths by torchlight and celebrate the Festival of Lights.
*NB Our Silsden boats don’t have WiFi
**NB Most of the events listed need to be booked in advance via the venue’s website
This Autumn set sail on an adventure afloat, enjoying the beautiful colours in the trees and hedgerows that line Britain’s canals and rivers.
You’ll be self-contained on board your very own floating holiday cottage, equipped with the key comforts of home, including hot water, TV, WiFi*, well-stocked kitchens, showers, flushing toilets and central heating.
Welcome to our guide to our top destinations for Autumn 2022:
Glide across ‘The Stream in the Sky’ to Whitchurch
On a week’s break from our canal boat hire centre at Trevor in North Wales, you can travel to Whitchurch and back. The journey along the Llangollen Canal to Whitchurch takes 22 hours and passes through two locks. Along the way, you’ll travel across the incredible Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. This UNESCO World Heritage structure carries the canal 126 feet high above the Dee Valley. Next you’ll go through the Whitehouses and Chirk tunnels, then across the magnificent Chirk Aqueduct. Then it’s on through the beautiful Shropshire countryside, passing Ellesmere and Cole Mere. Once at Whitchurch, you can moor up to explore this pretty historic town, with independent shops and restaurants, and way-marked walks.
Travel round the Black Country Ring
From our narrowboat hire base at Great Haywood in Staffordshire, you can complete the Black Country Ring. The journey takes around 43 cruising hours, and travels through 79 locks. It navigates sections of the Birmingham & Fazeley, Birmingham Main Line, Coventry, Staffordshire & Worcestershire and Trent & Mersey canals. Highlights include Birmingham city centre’s Gas Street Basin, the Black Country Living Museum, and the waters at Tixall Wide.
Cruise through the Worcestershire countryside to Lapworth
Navigating from our Tardebigge base near Bromsgrove, it’s a gentle seven-hour cruise through the countryside to the village of Lapworth. You’ll be travelling along the Worcestershire & Birmingham Canal. There are two tunnels to navigate through, but no locks. Once moored up in Lapworth, you can explore the village and visit the National Trust’s Packwood House.
Navigate through the Airedale to Gargrave
On a short break from Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, you can cruise to Highgate Winding Hole, close to the village of Gargrave. The route passes through Kildwick with its White Lion pub, Snaygill, home of the Bay Horse pub, and Skipton with its fascinating medieval castle. The pretty village of Gargrave near the head of the Airedale, offers a choice of pubs, including the Masons Arms. The journey to Highgate Winding Hole and back travels 20 miles and takes around 11 hours.
Float along the Kennet & Avon Canal to Devizes
From our base at Bath it takes around 10½ hours to reach Foxhangers Wharf, on the edge of Devizes. Here you can walk up the magnificent Caen Hill flight of locks, one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways. Along the way, you’ll pass through eight locks, and over two dramatic Bath stone aqueducts at Dundas and Avoncliff. You’ll also pass a series of canalside pubs, including the Cross Guns at Avoncliff and the Barge Inn at Bradford on Avon. This route is perfect for a short break.
Boat through the Warwickshire countryside to Fenny Compton
On a short break from Stockton, you can reach the pretty canalside village of Fenny Compton. The journey begins on the Grand Union Canal, transferring onto the Oxford Canal at Napton-on-the-Hill, where there’s a good choice of pubs. From there, the route winds gently through the countryside, with a series of locks to negotiate along the way. The journey to Fenny Compton and back takes around 20 hours, passing through 24 locks (12 each way).
Take a Thames boating holiday to Lechlade
From our narrowboat hire base on the River Thames at Oxford, it’s a tranquil nine-hour, journey to the pretty market town of Lechlade. Perfect for a mid-week break, the route passes through seven locks and miles of peaceful countryside. Places to stop off at include the village of Radcot with its 800-year old bridge across the Thames. And Kelmscott Manor, once the Cotswold retreat of William Morris. Lechlade has a choice of pubs, cafes and restaurants, as well as independent shops.
Boat to the ancient City of Chester
On a short break from our Bunbury base near Tarporley in Cheshire, you can reach the historic City of Chester. The 12-mile journey along the Shropshire Union Canal takes you through the rolling Cheshire countryside. It takes around seven cruising hours, and passes through 18 locks. Once in Chester, you can enjoy some of the city’s best loved attractions, including Britain’s most complete Roman and medieval walls and the Tudor open-air galleries.
Navigate the Avon Ring
On a 10-day or two-week break from Wootton Wawen, boaters can navigate the Avon Ring. The 109-mile circuit travels sections of the Stratford Canal, River Avon, River Severn and Worcester & Birmingham Canal. It passes through 131 locks and takes around 58 cruising hours. Highlights include Shakespeare’s Stratford, historic Evesham, Tewkesbury, Worcester and the 30 locks at Tardebigge.
We are offering discounts of up to 20% on our holidays departing in August 2022. To celebrate, reservations manager Emma Lovell, has put together a guide to our top family canal boat holiday destinations this summer.
Canal boat holidays are great for families, offering the change to experience life afloat exploring Britain’s beautiful canal network. Along the way, you can watch out for wildlife and stop off at exciting waterside destinations.
Our narrowboats are like floating holiday cottages, with everything you need for a self-catering staycation afloat. This includes comfy beds, hot water, TV, WiFi, well-stocked kitchens, showers and flushing toilets.
To celebrate our offer, we’ve listed our Top 9 family destinations this summer, all suitable for beginners:
1. Enjoy a free theatre performance in Stratford-upon-Avon
Setting out from our base at Wootton Wawen, it’s a delightful six-hour journey through the Warwickshire countryside to Bancroft Basin, in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon. The journey along the Stratford Canal passes through 17 locks. From Bancroft Basin, it’s a short walk to the Dell, an outdoor stage in Avonbank Gardens. A series of free outdoor theatre performances are taking place in the Dell this summer. These include the Merchant of Venice performed by the Edinburgh Graduate Theatre Group, 27-28 August.
2. Visit the National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham
Cruising from our canal boat hire base at Tardebigge, it’s a five-hour journey to Birmingham City Centre. You’ll cruise along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal to find moorings at Gas Street Basin. From there Brindleyplace, home to the National Sea life Centre, is a short walk away. Here you can experience the UK’s only 360 degree Ocean Tunnel, see the Penguin Ice Adventure and meet the UK’s first Sea Otters.
3. Take a Thames boating holiday and visit the quirky Pitt Rivers Museum
From our Oxford base, it’s a tranquil three-hour cruise along the River Thames to moorings at Hythe Bridge. This is the perfect base for exploring Oxford’s city centre. One of the City’s most popular attractions is the fascinating Pitt Rivers Museum. Here thousands of archaeological and ethnographic objects from all over the world are on display. Some of the most famous exhibits include a 17th Witch Bottle and an 11-metre high totem pole.
4. See the new penguin chicks at Chester Zoo
Setting off from our narrowboat rental base at Bunbury, it takes seven hours to reach the ancient City of Chester. The journey along the Shropshire Union Canal passes through nine locks. Once there, you ca visit the award-winning Chester Zoo. The Zoo is home to 21,314 animals from 500 species, including nine adorable new penguin chicks born there.
5. Watch the Wars of the Roses Show at Warwick Castle
On a narrowboat holiday departing from our Stockton base, it’s a seven-hour journey to Warwick. You’ll travel along the Grand Union Canal, passing through 20 locks along the way. Once there, you can visit the magnificent medieval Warwick Castle on the banks of the River Avon. The Castle offers a fantastic family day out with ramparts to climb, the Castle Dungeon, Great Hall and Kingmaker Exhibition to explore. There’s also soaring birds of prey and trebuchet firing displays to watch. And this summer there will also be daily live Wars of the Roses shows, recreating the historic jousting battles of the 15th century.
6. Travel across the Stream in the Sky to Ellesmere
Departing from our Trevor base on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, you can reach the Shropshire town of Ellesmere in seven hours. Along the way, you’ll travel across the UNESCO World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. This incredible structure, also known as ‘The Stream in the Sky’, carries the canal 38 metres high above the Dee Valley. Once at Ellesmere, in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District, you can take time to explore the Mere. The Mere has Victorian gardens, woodland paths, historic castle and lots of wildlife.
7. Meet historic characters at the Black Country Living Museum
Navigating from our Tardebigge base, it’s an eight-hour journey to the Black Country Living Museum. The route travels along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal and passes through three locks. Visitors to the Museum this summer will find history brought to life by historic characters, telling the story of what it was like to live and work in one of the first industrial landscapes in Britain. Families can enjoy watching live demonstrations, taking part in old fashioned street games, visiting the vintage cinema, and enjoying traditional fish and chips.
8. Visit the Caen Hill flight of locks at Devizes
From our base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Monkton Combe near Bath, it takes around nine hours to reach the base of the Caen Hill flight. The journey travels 15 miles and passes through eight locks. The breath-taking sight of the 16 locks in a row, part of a total of 29 locks, is truly one of the most spectacular of Britain’s inland waterways. The historic market town of Devizes is a short walk away, with its Wadworth Brewery Visitor Centre and famous shire horses making daily deliveries. Devizes also has a great range of independent shops, pubs and restaurants, including the Bear Hotel.
9. Get close to nature at Fradley Pool Nature Reserve
Setting off from our Great Haywood base near Stafford, it takes around six hours to reach Fradley Junction. The journey travels 12 miles along the Trent & Mersey Canal, and passes through five locks. Picturesque Fradley, offers visitors guided walks, a café, two pubs and Fradley Pool Nature Reserve, home to an abundance of wildlife. Along the way, you’ll pass the National Trust’s Shugborough Estate and Cannock Chase. As well as a number of rural family-friendly canalside pubs, including the Wolseley Arms near Rugeley.
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.
The technical storage or access is strictly necessary for the legitimate purpose of enabling the use of a specific service explicitly requested by the subscriber or user, or for the sole purpose of carrying out the transmission of a communication over an electronic communications network.
The technical storage or access is necessary for the legitimate purpose of storing preferences that are not requested by the subscriber or user.
The technical storage or access that is used exclusively for statistical purposes.The technical storage or access that is used exclusively for anonymous statistical purposes. Without a subpoena, voluntary compliance on the part of your Internet Service Provider, or additional records from a third party, information stored or retrieved for this purpose alone cannot usually be used to identify you.
The technical storage or access is required to create user profiles to send advertising, or to track the user on a website or across several websites for similar marketing purposes.