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!
Tags: Anglo Welsh, Canal Boats, Canals, history, luxury, narrowboats, pet friendly holidays, shakespeare, stratford upon avon, uk breaks, winter, wootton wawen