Tag Archives: Stratford Canal

Celebrate Christmas on the canals

Feb - ww_31247 - appleybridge003 (2)

Britain’s canals can offer a great antidote to the hustle and bustle of Christmas. Five of our bases offer winter cruising canal boat hire, giving narrowboat holiday-makers the chance to enjoy cosy evenings afloat, visit waterside pubs with roaring log fires, and wake-up to frosty towpaths and crisp clean air.

Whether it’s a snug boat for two or a family break for six, celebrating Christmas or New Year afloat offers a great getaway. It’s free to moor almost anywhere on the network, so a narrowboat could provide the perfect base to enjoy new year celebrations in waterside towns and cities like Bath, Birmingham, Warwick and Stratford upon Avon.

All our boats have central heating, hot water, televisions and DVD players. Some also have multi-fuel stoves. So, whatever the weather, it’s always nice and cosy on board.

Our prices over Christmas and New Year start at start at £605 for a short break (three or four nights) on a boat for four, weekly hire from £840.

Here’s a list of our bases offering winter canal boat holidays:

Travel to Bath along the Kennet & Avon Canal…our base in the historic town of Bradford on Avon offers the chance to cruise to the World Heritage Status City of Bath and back. Cosy country pubs to enjoy along the way include the George Inn at Bathampton, once a 12th-century monastery, and the Cross Guns at Avoncliffe, with panoramic views of the foothills of the Cotswolds.

Take a lock free journey to Birmingham…Birmingham is just a five-hour cruise away from our base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal – with no locks to negotiate. City centre moorings are available at Gas Street Basin, close to the bars, restaurants, shops and museums at Brindley Place and the Mailbox and Bullring shopping centres.

Navigate ‘The Stream in the Sky’…the awesome 300-metre long World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, carries the Llangollen Canal 40 metres above the rushing waters of the River Dee. From our base at Trevor, next to the aqueduct, the village of Llangollen is a two-hour cruise to the west and to the east, Ellesmere is a seven-hour journey through the beautiful Vale of Llangollen.

Explore the Potteries in Staffordshire…our base at Great Haywood, at the junction of the Staffs & Worcs and Trent & Mersey canals in Staffordshire, offers a variety of routes. On a week’s cruise canal boat holiday-makers can head up the Trent & Mersey Canal to the Caldon Canal, and travel through the beautiful Churnet Valley. Those on a short break can head to the town of Fazeley, via the pretty canal village of Fradley on the Trent & Mersey Canal.

Moor up in Stratford upon Avon…it’s a picturesque six-hour cruise to Stratford upon Avon from our base at Wootton Wawen, near Henley in Arden in Warwickshire. Boaters can moor up in Stratford canal basin, a stone’s throw from the Swan Theatre and the town’s shops, restaurants and museums.

Our most frequent floaters!

Bond 6 - Buckland

Last month, as reported in the Wootton Wawen Magazine, Bill and Mavis Reeder and Tia, their fluffy coated Yorkshire terrier, set off from our Wootton Wawen base to enjoy their 61st cruise with Anglo Welsh.

The Reeders have been taking regular canal boat holidays with Anglo Welsh for the last 30 years, with 40 of their trips starting from our base on the Stratford Canal.

Alistair King, who works at our Wootton Wawen base, says: “No one equals that. They have become our most frequent floaters, certainly enough to earn a loyalty discount!”

Our Wootton base attracts tourists from all continents and a few days before the Reeders booked to go out on the 68ft long six-berth Bond Class ‘Buckland’, three other boats hosted 30 musicians from all over the UK meeting up for a stag weekend.

The Reeders, who live in Bristol, have set out from nearly all our bases on week and fortnight long journeys, bringing just enough supplies to get them started.

“We can top up as we travel but prefer eating out at canalside inns, the first night usually at the Navigation,” said Bill, a retired structural engineer, aged 77.

When asked if they had ever considered ocean cruising, Bill replied “We have friends who do it, but I think I would be bored at sea – and Tia would have to go to kennels. On the canals you are in close contact with different communities every mile of the way.”

On the latest trip they planned late starts and early evening mooring, still enough time for a return trip as far as the junction with the Worcester & Birmingham Canal at Kings Norton.

“On other occasions we’ve been onto the Grand Union and in the opposite direction to Stratford and onto the Avon, and Tia loves it,” said Bill. “We’re familiar with all the locks, so we just relax and let the world go by.

“Yes, we could have bought our own boat with what we have spent, but this way all the maintenance and licensing is done for you and we just turn up to find everything ready for us.”

A uniquely bonding experience

AW Edstone Aqueduct low res

Lucy Cavendish reviewed her canal boat holiday from our Wootton Wawen base in The Daily Mail:

Narrowboats are bobbing gently. The sun is even shining. In fact, it’s pretty much how the brochures show it, as my family and I — four children, one dog and a male partner — prepare for a week on the Stratford Canal.

I am hoping it will be glamorous in a sort-of a Calista Flockhart-Harrison Ford type of a way. If you remember, a few years ago, the golden couple hired a narrowboat on the Llangollen canal in Shropshire. Ford was quoted as saying he couldn’t wait to return — but there’s been no sighting as yet.

Narrowboats are a relatively cheap way to spend time together — and that’s just what you do. There’ll not be much escape.

In fact, I know it sounds ambitious to stick all of us together in a tiny space. My children are aged from six to 17 and are usually active and noisy. Actually, this could be a disaster.

We turn up at the Anglo Welsh narrowboat hire base in Wootton Wawen, just outside Stratford-upon-Avon, laden down with everything we think we need for a week away; bicycles, waterproofs, packs of cards, Monopoly, Cluedo, not a Wii or Xbox in sight. Thank goodness, our 65ft boat, Silver Spirit, has lots of storage.

But how on earth are we going to get this behemoth along the canals of Stratford?

Before we set off, the man from Anglo-Welsh shows us around the boat.

‘Only a television?’ says my teenager. Then we get to the complicated bit, which revolves around a set of tasks to perform at the beginning and end of the day. The boat needs to be put to bed every night and woken up again in the morning — electrics need turning off, water needs pumping back in.

Then, after a quick driving lesson, we are off, heading towards a narrow aqueduct. I’m nervous. But my partner doesn’t turn a hair. He sails over the aqueduct in a perfectly manly way. Maybe we’ll be fine.

First night, we moor up at Wilmcote, a beautiful spot where Shakespeare’s mother, Mary Arden, lived. I start to relax. Three of the children leap off the boat and begin kicking a ball around the towpath. My 17-year-old plugs in his iPod. My partner gets the barbecue out. ‘Best way to cook,’ he says. Minutes later, he’s hopping around in agony. ‘I’ve been bitten five times,’ he shouts. It seems we’ve moored next to a wasp nest.

The next day, we rise ridiculously early to tackle the endless locks that lead down to the Stratford-upon-Avon basin. I manage to persuade my 17-year-old to get up with me in order to help.
We chug towards Lock No 1 which we negotiate with aplomb — only a tiny bit of bumping. We carry on through the next five.

By Lock No 6, I’m getting fed up. There’s lots of winding and unwinding involved. Then, just as the smaller three children appear bleary-eyed, we glide out of a narrow opening straight into the Stratford Basin.

It’s an incredible thing to do. One minute we are on a narrow canal, the next we are slap-bang in the centre of Stratford. We’re a cork popped out of a bottle. Then we try to moor up. This is almost impossible in a 65ft boat. We bash in to everyone, rocking a boat selling ice creams back and forth.

The man shouts at us. People on the side of the basin stand and watch. It’s embarrassing, but eventually, we manage it.

Time for a look around Stratford. We see Shakespeare’s grave and inspect the theatre. It feels special to be moored in the middle of such a beautiful, historic town. The children love it, but they soon want to get back on the boat and set off again.

Post-Stratford, we’re in a rhythm and feeling confident. Some days we are lulled into a sense of calm by the river. We spend the mornings drifting down the Avon watching the world go by. We moor up for lunch and have a swim. My daughter gets the nets from the boat and her minnowing jar and the children spend a happy hour or so catching small fish and finding river snails.

Even my eldest son seems to be adjusting. He reads books and watches his siblings swim. Gradually, we all start to slow down and enjoy each other’s company despite being so hugger-mugger.

Disasters do happen. We run aground at Evesham and have to be pushed off the bank by a set of men from the local rugby team; we inadvertently cruise through endless fishing lines which earns us a torrent of abuse; we lose a lock key which flies off and nearly brains our dog. We also end up travelling down a wrong river channel and, instead of finding a lock in front of us, we go down a weir.

By the time we get to Pershore — some 20 hours of sailing time since we set off — we have to turn around and do it all in reverse.

But we all agree it has been a uniquely bonding experience and one we will never forget.

Hire a canal boat for the day

Ponycysyllte Aqueduct

Hiring a canal boat for the day offers a fantastic day out and is a great way to see what canal boat holidays are like.

Anglo Welsh offers day boat hire at six of its bases, from less than £10 per person. Full tuition is included so if you’re new to canal boating, you can get the hang of steering, mooring-up, turning and working the locks.

Day boats are equipped with cutlery, crockery and a kettle so your boating party can enjoy a picnic afloat or head for a waterside pub. Most day boats also have a toilet, cooker and fridge.

Here are some day boat hire trip ideas and prices for 2014:

Tunnel through rural Worcestershire from Tardebigge on the Worcs & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, we suggest you cruise north to Kings Norton Junction.
It’s a pretty rural route with historic pubs along the way, including the family-friendly ‘Hopwood House’ at Alvechurch. There are no locks but there are three short tunnels to pass through.
***Day boat hire from Tardebigge starts at £99 for up to 10 people

Travel across the ‘Stream in the Sky’ – from our base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, it’s just 20 minutes by boat to the awesome Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. Standing at over 38 metres high and 305 metres long, the Pontcysyllte Aquedcut (AKA ‘The Stream in the Sky’) offers a fantastic waterway adventure. With not even a hand rail on the south side of the aqueduct to obscure the stunning views of the Dee Valley below, canal boaters literally feel like they are floating above the earth!
***Day boat hire from Trevor starts at £110 for up to 10 people

Explore rural Warwickshire from our base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal, you can choose between an easy day cruising to Wilmcote and back (two and a half hours each way), visiting The Masons Arms and Mary Arden’s Farm, where Shakespeare’s mother grew up.  country pub (three and a half hours each way).
***Day boat hire from Wootton Wawen starts at £99 for up to 10 people

Take a cruise in Bath – our base at Sydney Wharf in the World Heritage City of Bath offers the chance to see one’s of Britain’s most beautiful cities from the water.  Moor up in the City Centre close to the Pulteney Bridge to admire the architecture or head east along the beautiful Kennet & Avon Canal to Bathampton and enjoy lunch at the historic ‘George Inn’, once a 12th century monastery.
***Day boat hire from Bath starts at £120 for up to 10 people

Staffordshire delights - from Great Haywood on the Staffs & Worcs Canal near Stafford, the recommended day boat cruise is a six-hour journey to the historic market town of Rugeley and back through several locks.  Along the way, enjoy a picnic in the grounds of Lord Lichfield’s beautiful working estate at Shugborough Hall, visit a pub at Rugeley or stop off at the delightful Wolseley Arms at Wolseley Bridge.
***Day boat hire from Great Haywood starts at £99 for up to 10 people

Saunter along ‘The Shroppie’ – from our base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union near Crewe, we recommend you cruise south past Barbridge and Nantwich to Baddington Bridge.
With no locks to negotiate and plenty of pubs en route, it’s a delightful way to spend the day afloat.
***Day boat hire from Bunbury starts at £99 for up to 10 people