Monthly Archives: February 2015

Sailing on a cloud

Aqueduct

Broadchurch star Matthew Gravelle was at the centre of the biggest TV whodunnit since ‘who shot JR?’. Last summer, the Welsh actor took his wife, Hinterland star Mali Harries, and kids on an Anglo Welsh canal boat holiday, setting off from our Trevor base in North Wales on a true-life family adventure. Here’s his narrowboat holiday review, published in Wales View 2015:

We’re heading for the Llangollen Canal, built as part of a network of waterways to connect the coalfields and limestone quarries of Denbighshire to the Midlands.

Its most notable feature is Thomas Telford’s Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, the highest and longest in Britain, 984 feet (300m) in length and soaring 98 feet (40 m) above the River Dee.

We arrive at Trevor Basin to collect our boat, a traditional barge called Brenig, which appears to be painted in British Racing Green (odd, since the speed limit is 4 mph (6.4kph).

The children scramble on and explore, while I get an hour of instruction from the nice man from Anglo Welsh on how to skipper the thing. By the time we push off from our mooring, I know the theory, but actually steering this immense beast – it’s got an old-fashioned tiller, rather than a wheel – takes some getting used to.

Crossing the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is the easy bit. Telford thoughtfully built it in an arrow-straight line, and the cast iron walls are only just wide enough to pass through, so steering isn’t an issue. Instead I can take in the exhilarating views as we float serenely in mid-air.

I was enjoying the ride so much I didn’t really think about how it was coming to an end. There are two barges coming in the opposite direction and I seem to have forgotten everything I learnt about steering. I bump into a poor unsuspecting barge owner, causing him to throw his supper into his lap. Oops. Sorry.

Back at our mooring, we feast on Llandegla smoked trout, with broad beans and new potatoes from my dad’s garden. After supper we do old-fashioned family stuff – play cards, draw pictures.

As night falls, the children settle into their cabin and enjoy the best night’s sleep of the trip. It’s a really cosy and comfortable place to sleep, like a stretched caravan, except better insulated, with its own wood-burner.

A new day dawns and this driving lark seems much easier today. It gives us the opportunity to relax and spot nooks and corners that you don’t see from any road.

“It’s like sailing on a cloud,” observes Ela.

 

An adventure on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal

Stan canal boat1

Liz Taylor reviewed her Anglo Welsh canal boat holiday from our Tardebigge base in Live 24-Seven Magazine, published February 2015:

I recently had the opportunity to go on a canal boat holiday with Anglo Welsh – a life on the ocean waves…Well not really ocean waves, but a water-based holiday that I hadn’t really considered before! I’m normally used to holidaying with my family in Europe throughout the summer months, so an altogether different adventure that embraced some of the UK’s stunning scenery ‘afloat’ seemed an interesting alternative for my family and I, including an inquisitive 10-year-old son!

If I’m honest, I was a little apprehensive about spending a whole five days in a confined space with my family! What if the weather wasn’t on our side? And most of all, the idea of navigating our way through the locks seemed a little challenging, but the Anglo Welsh team soon allayed my fears when we met at the Tardebigge station.

I was taken aback when I first saw the canal boat, very impressive, it was nothing like I imagined. A home on water, a boutique space with fully equipped kitchen, separate living area and two spacious bedrooms, superbly decorated with every amenity you would or could need. My son could hardly contain his excitement when we boarded the Silver Dove, that sense of adventure if offered over boarding a plane and playing by a pool was like a magnet for him!

After thorough instructions on the etiquette of canal boating and how to master the locks, which is a lot easier than you imagine, we set off. The weather was on our side, but I can imagine it would be equally good fun even if it weren’t. We took in the glory of the scenery and the refreshments of so many super local pubs along the route – there’s a whole other offering waterside that I’d never tapped in to. To put the kitchen through its paces and see how a family could cope cooking on board, we decided to eat in on several evenings and found the whole experience a real joy – there’s something to be said for preparing a meal whilst the beautiful scenery outside your window changes constantly.

We were surprised by the clarity of the waters along the journey and the ease at which we were able to just moor up or stop and take in the surroundings. The trip can be as peaceful or as much fun as you want to make it, for my husband and I it somewhat captured that sense of adventure and excitement we had on a trip of any sort as a child – recapturing our youth – but we also noted that there were all sorts of age groups holidaying on canal boats from twenty-somethings to families and retirees.

Our son has already requested we book a canal boat for next summer and after sharing our experience with friends, we’re planning an adults only gastro cruise with copious amounts of wine and laughter on the menu. If you’re enticed to taken in the countryside without the hassle of the roads, I recommend Anglo Welsh, the canal boats are luxurious and well-equipped and the friendly, helpful advice given by the staff really does enable you to relax and enjoy all that the holiday can offer!