1. Float along ‘The Stream in the Sky’…the Llangollen Canal’s awesome 305-metre long World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in North Wales stands at over 38 metres high above the Dee Valley. With not even a hand rail on the south side of the aqueduct to obscure the stunning views of the valley below, narrowboat holiday-makers literally feel like they are floating above the earth! Take a short break from our base at Trevor, and as well as journeying across the aqueduct, you could visit the picturesque town of Llangollen on the edge of the Berwyn Mountains and the beautiful Ellesmere lakes (AKA The Shropshire Lake District), teaming with wildlife. Prices from Trevor start at £385 for a short break and £595 for a week.
‘World Heritage City of Bath’
2. Visit the World Heritage City of Bath…Our base at Bradford on Avon is just a seven-hour cruise along the beautiful Kennet & Avon Canal from Bath City Centre. Moor up close to Pulteney Bridge (reminiscent of the Ponte Vecchio in Florence) and use your hire boat as a base to enjoy views of Bath’s fabulous Georgian architecture, fantastic shopping and restaurants, a visit to the Thermae Spa or one of the City’s superb museums. There are 17 to choose from within a square mile, including the newly refurbished Holbourne Museum, Number One Royal Crescent and the Jane Austen Centre. Prices from Bradford on Avon start at £440 for a short break and £630 for a week.
‘Brindley Place – Birmingham’
3. Cruise into the heart of Birmingham…boasting more canals than Venice, Birmingham simply has to be visited by water. City centre moorings are available at Gas Street Basin with easy access to Brindley Place, the Mailbox and Bullring shopping centres, theatres, museums and restaurants. In 2013, Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery is holding a special exhibition of The Staffordshire Hoard Anglo-Saxon collection and War Horse comes to the Birmingham Hippodrome in the autumn. Our base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal is just a five-hour lock-free cruise away from Birmingham City Centre. Prices from Tardebigge start at £465 for a short break and £660 for a week.
‘Caen Hill Flight of locks’
4. Cruise up the incredible Caen Hill Flight…not for the faint-hearted, the Caen Hill Flight of locks on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Devizes in Wiltshire is considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways. Sixteen of the 29 locks in the flight run in a straight line in close succession up the hillside creating a truly awesome vista. It takes approximately six hours to travel through all 29 locks. We recommend hiring a boat for a week from our City of Bath base and heading east, reaching the bottom of the flight in approximately 10 hours. Having negotiated Caen Hill, you can travel on to Pewsey Wharf through the beautiful Vale of Pewsey. Prices from Bath start at £525 for a short break and £745 for a week.
5. Discover ‘The City of Dreaming Spires’…the World famous City of Oxford is just a three-hour cruise away from our base on the River Thames near Witney. Moor close to Hythe Bridge in the city centre and use your canal boat as a base to explore the City. Just some of the of the exciting things you can do in Oxford include: climbing the 14th century Carfax Tower to take in a view of Oxford’s ‘dreaming spires’; seeing the witch in the bottle and shrunken heads at the Pitt Rivers Museum; touring the incredible Ashmolean Museum, with collections from the Neolithic era to the present day; discovering the real Harry Potter Hogwarts Hall at Christ Church College; and stocking-up on goodies in the Covered Market. Prices from Oxford start at £465 for a short break and £660 for a week.
6. Tour the Warwickshire Ring…our base at Stockton on the Grand Union Canal in Northamptonshire is ideally placed for a tour of the Warwickshire Ring. This wonderful canal journey can be done in a week. It covers over 100 miles, 94 locks and takes approximately 48 hours of cruising. Along the way, boaters enjoy a mixture of urban and rural landscapes, travelling 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 with plenty of historic pubs; Napton junction with awesome views of the Warwickshire countryside; Newbold and Shrewley tunnels; the Hatton Flight of 21 locks; Warwick Castle, considered to be Britain’s greatest Medieval experience; Royal Leamington Spa; and Birmingham’s Gas Street Basin. Prices from Stockton start at £525 for short break and £745 for a week.
‘Stratford Upon Avon’
7. Explore the Shakespeare’s Stratford…Stratford upon Avon is a lovely six hour journey along the pretty Stratford Canal from our base at Wootton Wawen near Henley in Arden in Warwickshire. There are centrally located moorings on the River Avon close to the famous Swan Theatre and the town’s museums, shops, markets and restaurants. Whether on a week’s holiday or short break, there’s plenty of time to explore Stratford’s quaint side streets, with many buildings still surviving that would have been familiar to Shakespeare. Prices from Wootton Wawen start at £465 for a short break and £660 for a week.
8. Travel the Four Counties Ring…our base at Great Haywood on the junction of the Staffs & Worcs and Trent & Mersey canals is the perfect base to depart for a tour of the Four Counties Ring. The journey travels 110 miles, 94 locks and takes 55 hours, so it’s achievable on a week’s holiday. Predominantly rural, this ring’s highlights include: the World famous 2670-metre long Harecastle Tunnel; the historic market town of Market Drayton, home of the gingerbread man; Wedgewood Visitor Centre; stunning views of the rolling Cheshire Plains; the Roman town of Middlewich; the National Garden Festival site at Stoke-on-Trent with dry-ski centre, cinema and Waterworld; Lord Lichfield’s historic working estate at Shugborough Hall; Churche’s Mansion Elizabethan Mansion House in Nantwich; the waters at Tixall Wide; and the flight of 15 locks at Audlem. Prices from Great Haywood start at £465 for a short break and £660 for a week.
9. Potter through the Leicestershire countryside…our base at North Kilworth is on the 20-mile lock free summit of the rural Leicester Line of the Grand Union Canal. Holiday-makers on a short break can travel to historic Market Harborough and back via the famous Foxton Locks, with stunning views of the Leicestershire countryside. The Foxton flight consists of two ‘staircases’ of five locks with a pound (or layby) in the middle. Once you’ve started if you have to finish, and the lock keeper will tell you to remember “red before white, you’ll be alright” when working the paddles! There’s also a small Museum alongside the locks giving details of the Foxton Inclined Plane boat lift which once hauled boats up the hillside in two giant bath tub-like structures. Prices from North Kilworth start at £465 for a short break and £660 for a week.
10. Visit the ‘Cathedral of the Canals’…from our base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in the heart of rural Cheshire, the Anderton Boat Lift (AKA ‘The Cathedral of the Canals’) is a peaceful nine-hour cruise away. This extraordinary structure raises boats 15 metres from the River Weaver to the Trent & Mersey Canal. Designed by Edwin Clark and opened in 1875, it consists of two water filled iron caissons, each large enough to take a barge or pair of narrowboats. In 1983 problems with the mechanism caused the lift to close but it reopened in 2002, following a restoration programme supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Prices from Bunbury start at £465 for a short break and £660 for a week.