Boating holiday routes: Cruising The Ashby Canal

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The perfect choice for first time boaters or experienced boaters wanting a gentle holiday as the Ashby Canal is lock-free, enabling boaters to relax and enjoy the pretty scenery.  At 22 miles long, the unspoilt Ashby Canal passes through rural countryside with plenty of wildlife to keep you company.  The length of the Ashby Canal can be explored in a short break holiday over a weekend, or midweek break.

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Cruising along the scenic Ashby Canal

Heading north from the base is a good option for those interested in history, around an hour from our base on the Ashby Canal you can reach Sutton Cheney. Only a 20 minute walk from here you can visit the place where Richard III died at the hands of Henry Tudor and follow the Bosworth Battlefield Circular Trail.  Alternatively, a little further on, you can moor up at the Shenton Aqueduct and take a 15 minute woodland walk to the Battle of Bosworth site and refresh yourself at their tearooms.

The pretty town of Market Bosworth can easily be reached from the Ashby Canal, a good place to stop for dinner as there are a few pubs and an Indian and Chinese restaurant. Further along the Ashby Canal, a 4 hour cruise from the base is the village of Shackerstone. Shackerstone is the home of the railway society; from here you can take a ride on a steam train and visit railway museum and Victorian tea room souvenir shop. If you do decide to go North from the base do remember to bring food provisions with you as there are only one or two farm stores along the canal, and the co-op at Market Bosworth (2.5 hours cruising).

To extend your short break once you’ve journeyed the length of the Ashby canal, cruise south past the base and off the Ashby Canal onto the Coventry Canal at Hawkesbury junction where you will encounter your first lock. From here you could cruise into the canal basin in the centre of Coventry and experience the city’s quirky bars and restaurants. If you fancy a challenge, why not cruise up to Atherstone and tackle the flight of 11 locks.

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Coventry Canal Basin

Options for week long breaks or 10 night breaks from our base on the Ashby Canal are plentiful; choose from several out-and-back routes such as cruising to the popular canal-side village of Braunston and back. Alternatively, have a go at the Warwickshire ring and cruise through Warwick, Leamington Spa and into Gas Street Basin in the centre of Birmingham before returning to the base meandering through peaceful countryside.

*The Ashby Canal can also be explored from our bases at Clifton on Dunsmore, Rugby and Stretton-under-Fosse and Coventry.

To search for boating holidays on the Ashby Canal, search: www.waterwaysholidays.com/canal_boat_holidays.htm and select ‘Ashby Canal’ from the drop down menu. Alternatively give our team a call on 01252 796400 for friendly boating advice.

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Festivities on the UK canals this Christmas

Snow on the Basingstoke Canal

Snow on the Basingstoke Canal

Christmas is a magical time of year to explore the UK waterways. With beautiful crisp mornings and cosy evenings by the solid fuel stove, winter-time cruising certainly has its appeals. There are plenty of attractions available to visit around Christmas time all over the UK, here’s a round-up of the best ones this year:

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Warwick

• Visit Warwick this Christmas break from our bases at Stockton or Warwick on the Grand Union Canal. Stop off and explore Hatton World’s Enchanted Christmas Kingdom, browse the Hatton Shopping Village’s boutique stalls to pick up some unusual gifts. A trip to Warwick wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Warwick Castle- this year hosting a range of Christmas events for adults and children alike, including story time with Santa and the Winter Birds of Prey Show.

Birmingham

• Birmingham has so many festive options you’ll be spoilt for choice! Not only do they host the infamous Frankfurt market annually (see more below), there’s also a Santa show and a pantomime at Cadbury World. Drayton Manor has a Christmas Tree Light Show, an indoor ice rink and a ride on the Polar Express on offer! How about a trip to visit Santa with a difference? Take a boat ride to visit him in his underground grotto in the Dudley tunnel! Moor up at Gas Street Basin in the centre of Birmingham, a five hour cruise from our Tardebigge base.

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Moor up in the centre of Birmingham

Chester

• Visit the ancient city of Chester, a 7 hour cruise through the countryside from our base at Bunbury. Chester Cathedral is hosting the Christmas Tree Festival this year, along with carol services sung by the choir. The increasingly popular Lanterns at Chester Zoo event is back once again this year, take a walk on the illuminated trail through the enchanted gardens past life-sized animal lanterns! From Bunbury you can also visit Market Drayton- the home of gingerbread.

Christmas Markets

Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market- The largest authentic German market outside of Germany and Austria. Sample the bratwursts and glühwein (mulled wine) whilst browsing the stalls and searching for gifts. An easy cruise of just five hours down the Worcester & Birmingham Canal from our base at Tardebigge, just search ‘Birmingham’ in our city breaks drop-down.

Bath Christmas Market- An award winning Christmas market, with 170 wooden chalets selling festive goods lining the streets of Bath. As well as the market, Bath Abbey hosts a Christmas carol service and there’s an outdoor ice-rink and Santa’s Grotto to visit too! Look for Bath city breaks departing from Bradford on Avon or Claverton for a gentle cruise on the Kennet & Avon into Bath city centre.

Bath Christmas Market

Bath Christmas Market

Coventry Christmas Village- One for the foodies with food stalls featuring dishes from all over the world. The market also offers a wide selection of unique gifts, including leather accessories, toys and sweet treats! Coventry can be reached from a number of bases, including Rugby and Clifton-On-Dunsmore on the North Oxford Canal and Stoke Golding, via the Ashby Canal.

Please note that some routes may be affected by winter maintenance on the canals, we will advise you on planned stoppages and route restrictions.

To find your perfect Christmas break, search under city breaks and select your chosen destination from the drop-down menu on: www.waterwaysholidays.com/city_breaks.htm. Alternatively, give us a call on 01252 796400 for friendly advice.

 

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Brand new boats now available for 2017 holidays

Its getting to the time of year when boatyards start focusing on adding new additions to their fleet. Some are still currently under construction, but we do already have some available to book for your 2017 holiday.

We are also now offering holidays from Reedley, near Burnley on the Leeds & Liverpool canal. Wide beam boat ‘Vintage 001’ is available to hire from this location. At 10ft wide it adds that extra bit of comfort and luxury for your 2017 holiday. The saloon features a real fuel stove and a television with Freeview. Vintage sleeps up to 9 and all beds have memory foam mattresses.

Here is a brief introduction to each of the new arrivals:

'Blackdown' currently being built for the 2017 season

‘Blackdown’ currently being built for the 2017 season

‘Blackdown’ from Braunston is a 69ft narrowboat suitable for large groups and families. It offers 3 cabins and a make-up bed in the saloon with a flexible bed layout of either 4 doubles or 6 singles and a double.  ‘Blackdown’ features two bathrooms, a smooth-running, water-cooled diesel engine and sleeps up to 8.

‘Radagast’ (named for the brown wizard in the Hobbit) is a 55ft narrowboat that departs from our base at Beeston in Cheshire.  Sleeping up to four, with a flexible bed layout, it is suitable for families or small groups. Radagast has a cruiser-style deck with a safety rail at the stern.

With 3 new boats to choose from at our Stoke on Trent (Peak District) base you’ll be spoilt for choice. ‘Little Pea’ is a lovely luxury 50ft narrowboat for couples, but can accommodate up to five if necessary. Sister boats ‘Louisa’ and ‘Mrs B’ are 62ft and can sleep a maximum of 6, ideal for couples or families.

Katie Marie at Loughborough

Katie Marie at Loughborough

‘Katie Marie’, a new boat for 2016, is a comfortable smaller narrowboat located in Loughborough. Perfect for one or two couples with two double beds available, dressed in Egyptian cotton for a touch of luxury. The spacious cruiser stern allows for all of the party to sit together and take in the views along the waterways. Inside there is a solid fuel stove and Freeview television for cosy nights in.

‘Angharad’ is also currently being built for 2017 is ideally situated at Chirk on the Llangollen Canal. She is great for families looking to explore the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Horseshoe Falls. Sleeping up to 6, this 52ft cruiser stern will be fully equipped with all mod cons for a comfortable boating holiday.

To find out more about our brand new boats, call one of our friendly booking team on 01252 796 400, we are open 7 days a week, or search our website using the advanced option of ‘New Boat/Elite Boat’: www.waterwaysholidays.com

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Celebrate the 200th year of the UK’s longest canal from our new base at Reedley!

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Leeds & Liverpool Canal

The Leeds & Liverpool Canal is a whopping 127 miles long and consists of 91 locks. It played a huge part in the industrial revolution and was the main method of transporting goods, most importantly coal. The canal links the two cities, with Liverpool to the West and Leeds to the East.

There is plenty to explore along this lovely canal, which meanders its way through beautiful open Pennine countryside and picturesque villages. Located in Burnley, our base at Reedley provides you with plenty of route options for an action-packed holiday, with so much to explore. There are many places of interest for you to discover along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal:

Bingley Five Rise– The steepest set of locks in Britain, with a total rise of 60ft! Arguably the most impressive feature on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, the 5-rise staircase is supervised by a lock-keeper during daytime hours to see you through. Experience the Bingley Five Rise on a 7-night break departing from Reedley or Barnoldswick.

Foulridge Tunnel– Known for the story of Buttercup the cow, who fell into the canal in 1912 and swam the full length of the tunnel (1,500m), to be revived with brandy when she came out the other side. Travel through the long, dark tunnel is controlled by traffic lights as boats are only permitted to travel one at a time. Cruise through the tunnel on short breaks from Reedley or Barnoldswick or week long holidays from Riley Green.

Barrowford– Home of the Pendle Witches! Follow the spooky story of the infamous witches from Pendle Heritage Centre all the way to Lancaster Castle to visit the dungeons in which they were kept before they stood trial. The charming village of Barrowford is well known for its upmarket shops and independent, designer clothes stores; it even gets the occasional celebrity shopper. Barrowford is easily accessible from Reedley, Riley Green or Barnoldswick on a short break.

Keighley & Worth Valley Railway– Set in the heart of Brontë country is the railway featured in the 1970s film ‘The Railway Children’. Travel back in time and visit Oakworth station, the station used in the film and watch the vintage steam trains go by. You can even take a ride on the railway and go to the village of Haworth, where sisters Emily and Charlotte Brontë lived. Visit Keighley from our Reedley or Barnoldswick bases in a 7-night break.

Skipton Castle– Skipton Castle is one of the best preserved and most complete medieval castles in the UK, at over 900 years old it has survived a very turbulent history, including a 3-year siege in the Civil War. Explore the castle from dungeon to watchtower and then take a look around Skipton itself, make sure to sample some Yorkshire Dales ice cream back at the canal basin! Skipton can be reached in a short break from both Reedley and Barnoldswick.

To book your next boating holiday and explore what the Northern Canals have to offer, search our website: www.waterwaysholidays.com/northern_england.htm for live availability or give us a call on 01252 796400.

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Cosy canal boat winter holidays

 

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Winter cruising on the Trent & Mersey Canal

Take a narrowboat holiday with a difference this winter and enjoy the canals in a unique setting. The scenery on the canals in the winter months is picture-perfect with frosty mornings, calm waterways and crispy towpaths. It’s not just the scenery that makes a winter canal boat holiday appealing, it’s a chance to slow down, with shorter cruising times of around 4 hours a day, there’s plenty of time to stop off and enjoy a nice pub meal by an open fire before making your way back to your cosy, floating home for the evening.

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‘Bridie Bear’ Stove

 

Whatever the weather, you’ll be nice and warm on-board. All of our narrowboats have central heating and hot water; some even feature a stove heater for an extra-cosy winter break. With TV/DVD players on the majority of boats you can enjoy a nice evening snuggled up watching a film in front of the stove. Don’t forget to bring your warm winter clothing and make the most of what will be a memorable boating holiday!

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Stove on ‘Edith Annie’

Search for availability on our website: www.waterwaysholidays.com/canal_boat_holidays.htm, to enjoy a winter break with a stove heater, tick the ‘stove heater’ box under the search. Alternatively give us a call on 01252 796400.

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Norfolk Broads- 10 reasons to hire a boat on the Broads

The Norfolk Broads is the perfect destination for your 2017 holiday. Known as ‘Britain’s magical waterland’, the Broads offers 125 miles of navigable waterways, and of course, the best way to discover it all is by boat! With picturesque towns and villages, waterside pubs and plenty of visitor attractions, the Broads is just waiting to be explored on your next holiday. All ages are catered for, making it a fantastic choice for a family holiday and with dogs welcome on most of our boats; you can even bring your four-legged friend.

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1. Visitor attractions

You won’t be short of options on the Norfolk Broads! There are plenty to choose from for adults and for children. BeWilderwood, an award winning forest with tree-houses, zip wires and wooden bridges is great fun for a family day out. Thrigby Hall also comes highly recommended, take a tour of the gardens or go and visit the tigers and red pandas!

2. Norwich

The beautiful city of Norwich can be easily reached from the Norfolk Broads. Norwich is the most complete medieval city in the UK and hosts an abundance of restaurants, pubs, bars and shops. It is in the top 10 UK shopping destinations, with four department stores, independent and boutique shops, and not one, but two shopping centres.

3. Food and Drink

Let’s just say you’re not going to go hungry or thirsty! Many pubs and eateries include locally sourced produce on their menus, giving you a real taste of Norfolk. There are many independent, unique places to choose from, including some lovely quaint tearooms and coffee shops.

4. Fishing

There is an incredible variety of fish to catch, making it one of the best known angling locations in the UK. No matter how experienced an angler you are, fishing on the Broads can be a rewarding experience. There are free fishing platforms located on the Broads, or alternatively, why not fish off the back of your very own hire boat!

5. Spectacular Scenery

The views on the Broads are like no other, with wide open skies, day and night you’ll be surprised by the breathtaking scenery. It truly is an area of natural beauty, with the lakes, streams and waterways surrounded by rolling countryside. It’s a great location for budding photographers so don’t forget to take your camera!

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6. The Coast

The seaside town of Great Yarmouth is accessible from the Norfolk Broads, we recommend mooring at Acle and jumping in a taxi. For a fun day out pop down to the pleasure beach and visit the arcades near the sea front or just have a day sunbathing with an ice-cream or two! If you’re more of a sports enthusiast, pop to Greater Yarmouth and try out some water sports or go cycling or horse riding.

7. Rest and Relaxation

They say that boating is the fastest way to slow down, so if you feel the need to get away from it all, the Norfolk Broads could be just the place! Travelling between just 3-6 miles per hour you’ll experience a completely different pace of life. Hire a boat with a sundeck and make the most of the sunbathing opportunities in the summer months.

8. Pubs
As expected, there is a great deal of choice when it comes to pubs! Some are set in stunning locations, offering great views of the Broads while enjoying a drink or a pub meal. The pubs on the waterfront give you a great opportunity to sit and watch other boaters cruising past, or maybe even to spot some wildlife. Many of the pubs are dog-friendly so you can bring them along with you!

9. Shopping

As mentioned before, Norwich is somewhat of a must to visit for shopping fans. Gift shops and farm shops are aplenty on the Norfolk Broads, giving you a chance to sample some of that local produce, and get some presents for those back home. A visit to the Broads wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the infamous ‘Roys of Wroxham’ department store, where you can find anything from gardening tools to toiletries.

10. Wildlife

The Broads are well-known for its wildlife, no matter what time of year you decide to visit. Home to a selection of birds and mammals, including otters, hares, bats, deer and even seals! It’s a haven for keen bird-watchers, being home to kingfishers, owls, grebes, marsh harriers and if you’re very lucky you might even spot the super-rare bittern!

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No previous experience is necessary to hire a cruiser on the Broads; full tuition is provided as are buoyancy aids for both adults and children. To search for your 2017 boating holiday visit our website: www.waterwaysholidays.com/norfolkbroads or give us a call on 01252 796 400.

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An education on the UK waterways

Teach your children something new this October half term. A canal boating holiday can be a great way to get children outside and active, learning whilst having fun. Each canal and river has something different to offer and gives children the chance to engage and experience something completely new.

The canals and waterways of the United Kingdom have played an important role in our history. Before railways, the canals were used as the main method of transporting goods around the country. There are many canalside museums available to visit on a narrowboat holiday, including the Canal Museum at Stoke Bruerne on the Grand Union Canal, the Black Country Living Museum in the West Midlands and MAD Musuem in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Anderton Boat Lift

Anderton Boat Lift

There are some impressive feats of engineering to be discovered along the 3000 mile canal network. Work from some of the greatest architectural minds is showcased along the waters, including the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct on the Llangollen Canal, designed and built by Thomas Telford and William Jessop. The Anderton Boat Lift is another impressive structure, standing at 72ft, it provides passage from the River Weaver down onto the Trent & Mersey Canal below. More modern marvels include the Falkirk Wheel; the world’s only rotating boat lift, connecting the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals in Scotland.

Learning how to operate locks, swing bridges and lift bridges is all part of the experience of a canal holiday. Children can get hands-on from around the age of 7 operating the canal and river structures under supervision.  After a day in the fresh air, full of activity and sight-seeing, your family can relax onboard with some more traditional features including solid fuel stoves, perfect for those autumn evenings. Some of our narrowboats have surprisingly modern features including, a TV/DVD with freeview, Wi-Fi and even an iPod docking system.

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Working the locks

No previous experience is necessary to hire a narrowboat; full tuition is provided as are buoyancy aids for both adults and children. To search for your half term family boating holiday visit our website www.waterwaysholidays.com or give us a call on 01252 796 400.

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Boating in Beautiful Burgundy!

Dawn, a team member at Waterways Holidays took her family to France in May to enjoy a boating experience with a different flavour on the canals and rivers of Burgundy. She has been kind enough to share her holiday experience with us in her travel log:

After many years of boating on the UK canals, we decided it was time to try something different and enjoy a boating holiday in Europe, but with so many waterways across Portugal, France and Germany to choose from where to start! After some discussion, we decided on beautiful Burgundy in the heart of France. We were attracted by the prospect of historic towns, medieval villages, prestigious world-renowned vineyards and traditional Burgundy gastronomy. And we were not disappointed.

Arcy sur Cure

Arcy sur Cure

So it was with excitement and anticipation that we boarded the shuttle at Calais for the 35 minute crossing for our very first boating holiday in France. The car journey through France was very easy with plenty of Aires for picnicking and comfort breaks, and took about six hours. We arrived in the lovely provincial town of Vermenton also known as ‘Land of Beautiful Hills’ (about 20 minutes drive south of Auxerre) in full sunshine at about two o’clock in the afternoon, having first visited the local supermarket to stock up on a few basics before boarding.

Our French boating partners were so welcoming. We were invited to board our home for the next week, a Linssen 33.9AC 10 metre long cruiser, to check out the facilities and unpack prior to tuition. What a beautiful, stylish and comfortable cruiser. We were all blown away by the quality and specification of the boat. Tuition and the safety handover took about 45 minutes which included being accompanied through the nearby lock. Interestingly, unlike the UK, all the locks on the French waterways have lock keepers who operate the locks for you, but if you’re the sort of boater who really enjoys operating locks, they are more than happy for you to get involved. By the way, never disturb a Frenchman’s (or women’s) lunch break, they prize it highly and locks are closed over the lunch time period, usually from midday to around 1.30pm, so you’ll need to plan your stops around this.

Day 1

Our instructor jumped off the boat at the lock and we were on our way. Our adventure would take us from Vermenton, on a one way cruise, through the stunning landscape of Burgundy to the quaint town of Tonnerre following the course of the Canal du Nivernais, the River Yonne and the Canal de Bourgogne. We were very impressed that a full itinerary was provided for us on board with recommendations for overnight moorings, places to eat and drink and places of interest, to ensure we would get the most from our travels and didn’t miss any of the historic and enchanting villages and towns along the way.

Vermenton Branch

Vermenton Branch

We were cruising west on the Vermenton Branch of the Canal du Nivernais, which follows the River Cure for 4km passing through the pretty village of Accolay to join the River Yonne. Our mooring for our first stop was to be Cravant, 6km and three locks’ away. Arriving about 5pm in the afternoon we set off for a wonder around this ancient village. Cravant was once a fortified village and you can still see the remains of the old moats. There is a beautiful 15th century church and, as with most French villages, enjoys a market every Saturday morning. Having already planned to eat on board the boat for our first evening, we spent a short interlude to sample a glass of Chablis and a cold French beer at the Bar/Brassiere O’Jouvence in the centre of the village prior to enjoying our evening meal. One thing we did notice, however, was that generally bars and brassieres are open for breakfast around 7 o’clock in the morning and, because of this, they tend to close around 7 or 8 o’clock in the evening. So if you’re hoping to go out for an evening drink without eating, make sure you go early or you’ll be disappointed. Restaurants are generally open for lunch from 12 to 2 o’clock and reopen for evening meals at 7 o’clock.

Day 2

We were very excited about our second day cruising. After passing through the village of Vincelottes, we stopped off at Bailly to visit the caves or cellars which house the fruits of the region’s labours, the famous Crement de Bourgogone; the region’s equivalent to Champagne. The cellars at Bailly are housed in immense underground quarries which once provided stone for the construction of Parisian housing. There is an easily accessible mooring pontoon at the foot of the cellars. We enjoyed a guided tour of the four hectares of underground galleries as well as tasting the region’s wines. Tastings completed and a few bottles purchased and stowed on board and we were off to Champs sur Yonne. The canal is separated from the river by a stone wall, an amazing feat of engineering that has fortunately defied the most devastating floods of the Yonne for many years. Like many of the moorings we visited, the moorings at Champ sur Yonne had information about vineyard tours. The wine producers around Chablis offer free of charge transport from the waterside to their vineyards and visitor centres.

Day 3

Our third day’s cruising would take us to the outstanding town of Auxerre. Auxerre was one of the highlights of our week. The town is particularly noted for its production of Burgundy wine, including the world-famous Chablis, as well as the impressive cathedral of Saint Etienne, which dominates the riverside. In 1995 Auxerre was named ‘Town of Art and History’. Allow plenty of time to do this town justice. Moorings at the port were chargeable and cost between €6 and €9 according to the size of your boat. I should also say that we found that most quays asked for a mooring fee. Some were free of charge, but if you needed fresh water there was always a small charge.

Auxerre by night

Auxerre by night

Day 4

A stop off at Gurgy on the fourth day was interesting with a visit to a Burgundy Snail Farm with a visitors centre showing how snails are produced and prepared. Then we continued on the river to Migennes where we left the river and entered the Canal de Bourgogne via the deep lock, which I have to admit, was a little hairy. Unable to see the top of the lock or the lock keeper, we heard a yell from above and slowly a large hook on the end of a rope came into view. We passed our mooring rope over the hook and it slowly disappeared again. Slowly, but surely, the lock filled and we emerged into sunlight once more. We were heading to our next mooring at Brienon sur Armancon, where another of our boating partners is located. The town was ravaged by two fires in the 17th and 18th centuries, but despite this several very attractive buildings survived including a big oval wash house built in 1792. The moorings at Brienon are particularly well serviced offering a supermarket, laundry facilities and post office.

Day 5

On to Saint Florentin the next day, another highlight. Stunningly beautiful, in addition to the canal, the town also boasts two rivers; the Armance and the Armancon. The town, which takes about 15 minutes walk up a fairly steep hill to reach, is lively with a good amount of shops and several good restaurants, as well as a magnificent church built between 1500 and 1614 and famous for its stained-glass windows of the Troyenne School. The area North of Saint Florentin, in particular the small town of Chaource, is famous for its production of cheese, goat’s cheese in particular. Sampling the local cheese is a must! It’s delicious.

Day 6 & 7

The second to last moorings of our holiday were spent at Flogny la Chapelle, another pretty town with good amenities. Then onto Tonnerre, the last stop of our holiday. The town has a really welcoming port and the staff were on hand to greet us as we arrived. Once moored we had time to stroll across the footbridge to the centre of the town to visit the Fosse Dionne, a circular basin fed by a natural spring that was used as a public washing place, as well as the church of St Pierre which is perched on a rocky terrace offering panoramic views of the town and the surrounding countryside. To the north of Tonnerre is the small wine growing region of Epineuil. Here they produce excellent red, white and rose wines from the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, which are consider being some of the very best Burgundy wines produced. We spent our last evening enjoying a fabulous four course dinner at a family run restaurant in the town recommended by the staff at the port, Le Saint Père. A truly fitting end to an amazing journey through Burgundy.

Linssen 33.9AC

Linssen 33.9AC

In all, we only cruised three to four hours per day, which was perfect as it allowed us to enjoy lazy lunches soaking up the sun and to have an opportunity to see the sights of this beautiful region of France. In total, we navigated 91 km and passed through 43 locks, but it felt far less as we weren’t doing all the hard work.

Our car was waiting for us at Tonnerre, having been transferred from Vermenton. We left Tonnerre on Saturday morning following the contours of the rolling hills covered in emerging vines which would become grape laden by the end of the Summer homeward bound. Sad to be leaving this region of France that has given us so much pleasure but with memories and tastes to last until our next visit!

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Book your October half term boating holiday

Beat the back-to-school blues by booking a boating holiday in the October half term. With options on both the Norfolk Broads and the UK canals available, there are plenty of locations to choose from. Boating holidays in autumn give you the chance to experience the UK waters in a completely different light; with the sun still shining (hopefully) it’s a far more peaceful time to explore the waterways and cosy water-side pubs along the way.

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Middlewich in Autumn

 

With plenty of events to keep the kids occupied, the Broads is the place to be for an action-packed holiday. Have an outing to the forest adventure park Bewilderwood and join in with their spooky Glowing Lantern Parade for Halloween. Alternatively, swap the water for the rails and take the kids for a ride on the Spooky Express from Bure Valley Railway near Wroxham. For the animal enthusiasts visit the Hillside Animal Sanctuary and meet some of their 2000 residents including horses, donkeys, pigs and cows.  If the kids are bigger fans of reptiles, try the Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens and visit the crocodiles and snakes. For boating holidays on the Broads, select ‘Norfolk Broads’ from the drop-down list in our search.

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Filby Broads on the Norfolk Broads

 

Get the whole family involved on a holiday on one of the UK canals- working the locks and bridges and navigating the waterways is a team effort. Take the opportunity to recharge your batteries and admire the wonderful autumnal colours as you cruise along the canals. Take a trip down Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal or the Shropshire Union Canal to make the most of some of the most beautiful scenery on the UK canals in the autumn. To search for a more relaxing break in October half term, choose Monmouth & Brecon or Shropshire Union under the ‘select a waterway’ section of our search.

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Autumn cruising on the Mon & Brec Canal

 

For Halloween-themed events on the canals depart from our base at Sowerby Bridge and visit the Standedge Tunnel and Visitor Centre for a haunted disco on the 26th October, or try your hand at a pumpkin carving class on the 27th.  Birmingham also has a lot to offer for Halloween; visit Cadbury World with its fancy dress competition for the kids or the Black Country Living Museum for an evening with street performers, fire-jugglers, tricks and treats, watch birds of prey hunt at night and take a trip into the mine. Drayton Manor is hosting its very own ‘spook-tacular’ event, along with a firework display every evening from the 28th-30th October. To explore Birmingham by canal, search for city breaks in Birmingham, departing from Alvechurch or Tardebigge.

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Crusing down the Shropshire Union Canal

 

For more information on any of these destinations please visit our website or give us a call on 01252 796 400.

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Narrowboat hire in Scotland

Scottish lowlands

Scottish Lowlands

 

A boating holiday on the Scottish canals gives you the opportunity to explore and meander your way along both the Forth & Clyde Canal and the Union Canal, linked together by the impressive Falkirk Wheel. The once derelict canals have been wonderfully restored and have opened up some of the most beautiful waterways in the United Kingdom for you to discover, with some fascinating attractions along the way.

 

The Falkirk Wheel

The Falkirk Wheel is conveniently located at our Falkirk base, situated between Edinburgh and Glasgow. It is an ideal starting point for your Scottish canal holiday. The Falkirk Wheel, opened by Her Majesty, The Queen in 2002, is a rotating boat lift that connects the Union Canal (towards Edinburgh) and the Forth & Clyde Canal (towards Glasgow). Before the wheel, the canals were joined by a series of 11 locks which took almost a day to travel through. The Falkirk Wheel is the only rotating boat lift in the world, standing at a whopping 115ft high, it can carry 8 boats at one time and raises them by an impressive 79ft from the Forth & Clyde canal at the bottom to the Union Canal at the top. There is no charge but it is recommended to book your passage through the Falkirk Wheel in advance.

 

falkirk wheel mountains

Falkirk Wheel. Photo credit: ScottishCanals.co.uk

 

The Kelpies

The Kelpies structure is another must-see, located on the Forth & Clyde Canal either side of a lock, at a staggering 100ft tall it is the largest equine structure in the world, with each of the horses weighing 300 tonnes! The Kelpies were built as a monument to the heavy horse industry in Scotland, based on heavy-horse breeds such as Shires, Clydesdales and Percherons. A 45-minute walking tour of the Kelpies is available at their home at the Helix, Falkirk. Arrival to the Helix by boat is welcomed- just cruise into the Kelpies Hub through the Forth & Clyde lock.

 

Falkirk Kelpies

The Kelpies. Photo credit: Scottishcanals.co.uk

 

Edinburgh

Departing from the Falkirk Wheel is the perfect place to begin your holiday on the Scottish waters as you are able to visit both cities in a one week cruise. Cruising towards Edinburgh, you’ll venture through the Falkirk Tunnel, an impressive tunnel of 631 metres, cut through solid rock and stone. You’ll also go across the Almond Aqueduct; Scotland’s largest at 420ft long, standing at 76ft high.  Once in Edinburgh you’ll be spoilt for choice with the variety of attractions on offer. There’s something for all ages, with shopping, and the Edinburgh Zoo, home to the UK’s only giant pandas. Edinburgh Castle, recently named the top UK heritage attraction is also worth a visit, along with the Scotch Whisky Experience for those partial to the occasional scotch.

 

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Falkirk Wheel at night. Photo credit: Scottishcanals.co.uk

 

Glasgow

On your way to Glasgow from Edinburgh you’ll get to experience the Falkirk Wheel once again, this time descending onto the Forth & Clyde Canal.  The scenic journey to Glasgow is often described as one of the most attractive stretches of canal in the UK; it will take you through the villages of Kirkintilloch, Cadder and the village of Auchinstarry which hosts the remains of a Roman fort. Once you reach Scotland’s largest city, which is known as the ‘cultural hub’ of Scotland, due to it being the home of many museums and galleries, along with the Scottish Opera and Ballet and the National Theatre. For the shopping enthusiasts, there is a huge variety of high street and designer shops to explore. One week before you start your journey to Glasgow, a phone call to Scottish Canals Boat Movement is necessary to book passage through the Bonnybridge road bridge lift.

 

For more information on Scottish boating holidays, visit our website www.waterwaysholidays.com/scotland_canals.htm or call our specialised boating team on 01252 796400.

 

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