Tag Archives: Worcester & Birmingham Canal

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!

Getting away from it all in Worcestershire

Copy of Stan canal boat1

Tristan Harris, from the Bromsgrove Standard, took a day trip from our Tardebigge canal boat hire base earlier this year.  Here’s his review:

With the stresses and strains that present themselves in 2014 Britain, it seems a lot of us – me included – are constantly trying to get away from it all when we can.

I have always been an advocate of the camping holiday – the green fields, the time away from the computer and the Internet and the chance to spend some much-needed quality time with the family.

So when I was given the opportunity to take out a narrowboat for the day I jumped at the chance.
Prior to the outing, I didn’t know what to expect, packing a flask, sandwiches and all the other things associated with a communal garden picnic.

But, when you get on the boat you realise that none of that was needed.

The boat had a four-hob gas stove, kettle, microwave, a toilet, even a TV and – for those staying longer – two bedrooms to accommodate a family of four easily, along with a shower.

The staff at Anglo Welsh in Tardebigge could not have been nicer.

After kitting-out the little ones – mine are six-years-old and 22 months – with life jackets, the member we spoke to took me through all I needed to know – from starting, stopping and steering the boat to all the facilities available on the vessel and the map detailing where we could head to.

As we left the marina, he stayed with us for the first part of the journey and then we were on our own – to experience and enjoy the peace and tranquility of the waterways.

To begin with, it all seemed so daunting – I had been told more in 20 minutes about narrowboating than I had in my whole entire life up until then. It seemed a lot to take in. But, as with anything, you don’t really understand what you have been told until you get to put it into practice.

When I got into it, the worries and cares I usually face on a day-to-day basis seemed to drift away so quickly.

As a family of four, we organised it so that whoever was with the two children focused on that and the other person drove the boat and this worked well.

Everyone we met along the way, from fellow boaters and those fishing on the banks, to joggers, cyclists or dog-walkers along the tow-paths, were incredibly friendly and it became apparent there was a kind of brotherhood (or sisterhood) of people who enjoy the waterways.

Things were going smoothly on our journey out and I found different kinds of tranquility. If you were at the back of the boat, you were on your own and even the din of the engine seemed therapeutic after a while. If you were up the front, although there were two children there, you could not even hear the sound of the engine and the silence was quite engulfing.

That was the same as the stretches of water we navigated. Some, which were so green with overhanging bushes and trees, with their feeling of remoteness gave you the feeling you were almost somewhere else – cruising into undiscovered lands.

But others, where there was traffic flowing by the side of you or above, were equally as charming.

That illustrated perfectly what canal boat holidays are all about – giving you the feeling that while others were rushing about their daily lives, you were wallowing away the hours, taking your time to get from A to B and enjoying the process of getting there.

Our chosen stop was the Hopwood Inn where we moored up for a drink whilst the children used up some of their energy on the play area.

As we attempted to turn the boat around to start our journey back, we encountered our first real difficulties. But, we also experienced the true spirit of the waterways.

After two hours cruising, all the advice about turning the narrowboat to face the opposite direction had gone out of my mind.

Then a gentleman from Banbury, who had seen us struggling, talked me through exactly what to do and before I knew it the boat was back on its journey home.

He explained he had been boating for 60 years and it was a case of learning as you went along – a fact which became even more apparent on the way back.

Half an hour later, we ran aground and, despite doing all we had been told – reversing to begin with then going forward, we could not get the boat back into the centre of the canal.

One man – from Hemel Hempstead (I also learnt you get to meet people from all over the country on the waterways) climbed aboard and helped me get the boat out of its predicament. That was done by using a pole to push away from the bank, reversing and then going forward. He also gave me a few more tips (as did the man from Banbury) on navigating the waterways.

After that, and using the advice from the Anglo Welsh staff and my fellow boaters, the trip back was pretty smooth.

One other daunting prospect was the tunnel which was just about wide enough for two boats to pass.
As we entered, there was another boat coming the other way and it did, to be fair, look like there would not be enough room.

But, easing off on the acceleration and with some pretty careful navigation, that obstacle was overcome no problem.

Another highlight of the trip back was that while we were in the tunnel, from the boat behind (which had helped rescue us from our previous predicament) came some loudly played classical music. It reverberated around the tunnel, sounding almost concert-like. I’m not sure if that is a boaters’ tradition or just something that particular boat owner did, but it certainly was a memorable part of the journey.

We managed to get the boat back with a minute or two to spare and as we returned the keys, we felt fully refreshed by our six hours on the waterways.

We had been offered the chance to take the boat out for a few days (but with a temperamental toddler, we felt it safer to just go for the day).

In hindsight, and seeing her reaction – one of adventure and wonderment – we probably would have been fine. From the dogs walking on the tow-paths and the other boats to the ducks, geese, coots and other birds residing in the water, she was kept well-entertained by everything that was going on.

All in all, it was a fantastic day out and, now having done it, and after finding out how family-friendly the waterways are, we should have made a real break of it and gone for longer.

Celebrate Christmas on the canals

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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.”

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