The romantic season is steadily approaching us… If you’re not sure of the best way to spoil that special someone, may we offer you some boating inspiration!
Selected marinas are open from the 10th February to accomodate the romantic traveller. What better way to get into the mood than floating on the tranquil water thought Britain’s finest countryside with a bottle of wine and a few nibbles.
Swanley Bridge marina has hire boats available from the 11th February. This marina is located on the northern section of the Llangollen Canal, near Hurleston Junction, offering hirers a selection of route options. You can spend a week cruising down the Llangollen Canal and over the magnificent Pontcysyllte and Chirk Aqueducts into Llangollen town centre. Or you can navigate onto the Shropshire Union Canal, choosing to cruise North towards the City of Chester, or South down through rolling Black Country landscapes towards Market Drayton.
Prices start at £725.00 for the week, or £459.00 for a short break, on the four berth boat, ‘Debbie Jane’ from Swanley Bridge Marina.
For couples who love for the party scene, book a City Break in Britains Capital. Willow Tree marina has hire boats available from the 10th February. This marina is situated just a short taxi journey from Hayes and Harlington Station in Yeading. From here you can experience Central London, cruising down the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal to Little Venice, where you cruise onto Regents Canal ending at Limehouse basin. London will quite simply be bustling with romantic events, with something to suit every couple’s taste. Be sure to book your table if dining out!
Prices start at £974.00 for the week, or £491.00 for a short break, on the four berth boat, ‘Duchess 4’ from the London Marina.
If you are looking for luxury comfort for two with the option of not navigating any locks, ‘Sarah Louise’ or ‘Caroline’ at Cathiron marina offer the perfect romantic getaway. From this marina you can cruise north up the Oxford Canal, past Coventry and onto the Ashby Canal for rural views and lock free cruising. Floating down these scenic waterways, you cannot help but find yourselves relaxing and enjoying a bit of quality time together. The boats are both equipped with one fixed double on board and a solid oak trim to give the boat that extra cosy feel.
Prices start at £660.00 for the week, or £525.00 for a short break over the Valentines week on either Sarah Louise or Caroline.
So go.. indulge yourselves this Valentines day!
If you would like any more information on any of the boats we have available for the Valentines period, please do not hesitate to get in touch, our number is 01252 796400.
A circular route which is perhaps slightly more challenging in terms of it’s level of difficulty, but well worth the effort!
The Four Counties Ring satisfies boating holiday goers looking for rural views, with the Cheshire plains visible from your narrowboat, and pastoral scenes amid the Cheshire locks climbing to the panoramic views at ‘Heartbreak Hill’. The ring route offers a diverse mix of wildlife, countryside views, quaint villages and city life.
Which canals are part of the Four Counties Ring?
Cruising up the Shropshire Union Canal with it’s rolling countryside, the southern stretch of this navigation offers lock free cruising until Market Drayton, a traditional market town. The town is full of 17th Century architecture and has been home to gingerbread for the last 200 years. Cruising north takes you through Adderley and to Nantwich, a historic town just south of Hursleton Junction containing over a hundred listed buildings. Passing through the town by boat you cross the Nantwich aqueduct and north to the Middlewich Branch.
Middlewich is set in the middle of the Cheshire salt industry, from the canal you can see mountains of salt next to the remains of Roman salt sites. Middlewich is home to an impressive set of historic halls and gardens, such as Little Moreton Hall, one of the most famous Tudor Halls in England, Rode Hall and Dorfold Hall. Cruising from Middlewich to Stoke-On-Trent via the Trent & Mersey is the most lock heavy section of the ring. The Cheshire Locks are a flight of 26 locks dating back to the 1770’s which raise the canal from the Cheshire Plain to the Summit Level at Kidsgrove.
The Trent & Mersey Canal is home to the spooky Harecastle Tunnel just north of Stoke on Trent, which spans approximately 1.75 miles. Mooring just south of Stoke-on-Trent you can explore the city on foot, spending time discovering the famous Staffordshire Potteries Museum & Art Gallery and Wedgewood Museum. Staffordshire is perfect for foodies, Stoke-On-Trent has plenty of fine food restaurants & every October the market town on Stone hosts a 3 day Food and Drink Festival to celebrate the best of Staffordshire’s local food produce.
As you pass the Haywood Junction onto the Staffordshire & Worcester (Staffs & Worcs) Canal the waterways widen, rumour has it that when this section of the canal was built the landowner had insisted that the canal be widened as he thought narrow canals were unsightly! This is now referred to as Tixall Wide just southeast of Great Haywood. The Staffs & Worcs Canal stretches approximately 20.5 miles from the Haywood Junction to Autherley Junction, where to continue on the Four Counties ring, you cruise north back onto the Shropshire Union Canal. There are 12 locks on this stretch including a flight of four locks just as you cruise past Gailey.
We would recommend a 1 week holiday minimum for those wishing to complete this ring route, depending on daylight hours and level of experience. Although 10 days would be make for a more comfortable cruising schedule as to achieve this route in a week you would need to cruise approximately 9.5 hours a day. For those with no previous experience who really want to do a ring route rather than an out and back journey, there are shorter circular routes that we would recommend you try first, such as the Droitwich Ring or Birmingham Ring- watch this space for articles relating to these one way circular routes!
To speak direct to one of our friendly team at Waterways Holidays Ltd, call us on 01252 796400, open 7 days a week.
For a visual representation of the Four Counties Ring see below:
Over the winter the waterways may become quieter but behind the scenes the marina staff are still working as hard as ever, maintaining the boats and updating their interior furnishings.
Our partners at Norwich marina, Thorpe St Andrew on the Norfolk Broads are busily updating their Duet Class boats in their boat shed by the water. Further pictures can also be viewed on the Waterways Holidays Facebook page & in our winter boats album.
Watch this space for new interior photos!
If you would like to talk to one of our friendly team with regards to Norfolk Broads boat holidays or any of the boating holidays on the UK canals, please do get in touch. Our number is 01252 796400 and we are open 7 days a week.
We recently had great fun at the hire boat sailing regatta on Barton Broad. The Waterways Holidays team chartered ‘Tropical Wind’, a 29ft Bermudan rigged yacht from the marina at Upton on the Norfolk Broads.
A long established and popular event, the regatta takes place during Autumn each year and is open to participants who have previous sailing experience. Over 30 yachts compete in a series of races and enjoy social events, all culminating in an evening of good food and prize giving.
We asked Lesley at Waterways Holidays about her time at the 2011 Regatta, sponsored by Waterways Holidays.
We took part in the Shake Down Race, the All Comers Handicap Race, the Ladies Race and the Crews Race. Unfortunately on Monday the weather was too windy to sail. Very few competitors were able to sail Wednesday afternoon as there was not enough wind! We were joined by Tony Howes, who helmed the boat for the first time in the Crews Race.
We came second in the Crews Race, 15 seconds behind first place. We won the Martham Ferry Boatyard Trophy for Tuesday’s races. We came third in the Ladies Race after an unplanned detour!
It was great to feel part of such a fun and friendly event. I enjoyed the evening entertainment, sailing themed songs courtesy of Ted Handley and his harmonium.
Book a 7 night holiday on a sailing yacht so that you have a little time to familiarise yourselves with the yacht before you start. You’ll also get time at the end of the regatta for more relaxed sailing.
The most important thing to remember is that it’s the taking part that counts 🙂
Thanks Lesley for giving us your review of the Barton Broad Charter Yacht Regatta.
Why not take part next year? The 2012 Barton Charter Yacht Regatta is 13th – 20th October.
Click for: Norfolk Broads sailing holidays
The Southern Broads offer a beautifully tranquil and relaxed boating break with wide open spaces and endless skies. Generally, the Southern Broads have fewer boats on the waters, ample mooring spaces and the rivers tend to be more noticeably tidal. A great location to drift downstream forgetting any of life’s daily stresses.
Places you can visit include the historic city of Norwich, one of the most complete medieval cities remaining in Britain. Norwich Cathedral is one of the most impressive cultural landmarks to visit when in the city centre, boasting the second tallest spire in England. The cathedral is just a part of the culturally iconic landmarks to see in the City. It’s not just rich heritage that Norwich has to offer, the City is home to the Chapelfield shopping centre and has one of the largest open air markets, hosted six days a week in the city centre!
The Broads offer a diversity of wildlife including red squirrels, birds of prey, rare species of dragonflies and ducks a plenty.
A perfect way to experience the unspoilt nature is on one of the many walk’s available on the Southern Broads. Whitlingham Country Park is located at Trowse just south of Norwich, offering a variety of activities ranging from water sports, scenic walks, bat and moth evenings to quarry safari’s. Training is available for those wishing to extend their experience on the waters to other vessels such as kayaks and sailing yachts.
Although the Southern waters offer a very tranquil experience of the Broads, lets not forget the need for riverside pubs! Coldham Hall at Surlingham, situated on the River Yare, has recently been refurbished reforming the hall to its original glory. A popular watering hole to dine in for your evening meal with as many locally sourced food as they can manage. Dukes Heads in Somerleyton and The Humpty Dumpty Brewery at Reedham both offer a taste of the real locale ales for those wishing to sample the local brews.
Oulton Broad to Beccles: approx 3 1/2 hours (7 hours to Beccles and return)
Beccles is an up and coming regional market town, with lots of independently owned shops and unique eating establishments. For a fun filled family day out visit Pleasurewood Hills Theme Park with over 30 rides to experience. Alternatively there are plenty of trails and fishing opportunities available during fishing season, (from the 16th June to the 14th March), or simply take a gander at a few of the boutiques and local heritage.
Oulton Broad to Norwich: approx 8 hours (16 hours to Norwich and return)
Perfect for a mid week holiday. You can spend the day touring the historic Norwich city and stop off at The Pettitts Animal Adventure Park at Reedham on the way back to the marina. For a weeks break, you can detour down the River Chet and experience Loddon and the Hardley Flood.
Oulton Broad to Loddon: approx 4 1/2 hours (9 hours to Loddon and return)
Spend time cruising the boat down the picturesque River Waveney then onto the River Chet, ending up at the little town of Chedgrave. The Hardley Flood is a SSSI built as a spillway from the River. The tidal lagoons and reed-beds attract a diverse range of wild birds and nesting wildfowl. A tucked away ramblers and ornithologist paradise, as its one of the quietest of the Broads rivers.
The Southern Broads really do offer a bit of everything to make a perfect holiday for first timers and experienced boaters alike!
If you would like to talk to one of our friendly team about Norfolk Broads boat holidays, please do get in touch. Our number is 01252 796400 and we are open 7 days a week.
Dont miss out this season, many of the marinas are running narrowboats throughout the winter months and even through the Christmas and New Year period. It’s a perfect retreat from all the hustle and bustle of last minute christmas shoppers and overcrowded supermarkets.
The canals during winter are simply picture perfect, with misty mornings, snowy branches and tranquil waters. A great way to experience the British countryside at it’s most peaceful.
On a canal boat with a solid fuel stove on board, you can have the fire burning on a frosty evening, with a glass of mulled wine and some great company. The stoves are a charming feature of a traditional narrowboat and a great finishing touch on a chilly night. For example, a boat running throughout the winter period is ‘Boston Belle,’ a characterful narrowboat on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, equipped with quaint white furnishing and a traditional log burning stove as well as full central heating.
The marina at Hillmorton, near Rugby, will be operating throughout the winter season, offering Christmas and New Year hire. This marina offers a romantic two berth boat, ‘Heron’ with a fixed double bed and solid fuel stove and full central heating. The Hillmorton location is ideal for those still wishing to spend a few hours cruising, as the lockfree Ashby Canal is just north of the marina, so there are generally no stoppages affecting this route.
Winter canal boat hire is also a perfect way to experience the nearby cities, without the hassle of finding a car parking space! Bath Christmas Market, running from the 24th November, is accessible from Bradford on Avon, on the Kennet and Avon Canal. Or why not check out the Warwick marina, just a short train journey from Birmingham city centre and an abundance of high street shops at The Bullring Shopping Centre.
All of these winter ammenities just a short journey from your tranquil floating home.
We often receive enquiries from people new to boating who find it a challenge to determine which style of Norfolk Broads boat hire will be the most suitable for them. To give you an idea of what you can expect, here’s a handy guide to understanding your Norfolk Broads motor cruiser!
Dual Steering Motor Cruiser
A luxurious example of a dual steering cruiser at Potter Heigham is the ‘Superior Light’ (above). Fully equipped with spacious saloon and open plan galley. The boat includes a LCD TV and DVD player, a playstation 2, warm air heating, 240V power supply and two separate cabins with two ensuites. The boat also has bow thrusters for easy mooring and offers two separate steering positions, either outside or inside depending on the skipper’s preference.
Centre Cockpit Motor Cruiser
The ‘Merrymore’ at Wroxham is an example of a centre cockpit cruiser, characterized with the full sliding back canopy over the saloon. Much like a convertible you can choose to steer with the roof back or for less ideal weather conditions put the canopy back over. The steering position on a centre cockpit cruiser is generally raised. When the canopy is back it may be possible to navigate under the particularly low bridges (depending on the tides). The Merrymore is also perfect for those wishing to fish on the rear deck.
The marinas at Potter Heigham and Wroxham are both offering up to £100 off all October holidays taken before the 20th October.
Sedan Motor Cruiser
The marinas at Stalham and Acle are currently offering under occupancy discounts for a party of two people on a four berth boat. Couples venturing on their first Norfolk Broads boat holiday can benefit from a saving of £50.00. An example of a sedan cruiser that would be applicable for this offer is the ‘San Remo’. On board this boat is a fixed double and an additional fixed double in a second cabin if required. The Sedan Cruiser is characterised by two large glass doors that allow easy access into the rear of the boat, from here you step into the saloon area with the dining table and sofa, along with the raised steering position. The large glass doors and windscreen for the skipper on this model of cruiser gives the dining area a spacious open plan feel.
Forward Steering Motor Cruiser
Forward steering cruisers, as we have mentioned in previous posts, are great for those wishing to take a pet or avoid too many steps as they are usually one level inside. This model of cruiser is particularly useful for getting under the low bridges on the Broads as they arent built too high. An example of a forward steering cruiser is Fine Time at Ludham. This boat is particularly suited for couples as it has a fixed four poster double bed on board. This marina is also currently offering a 10% discount and free parking on your Norfolk Broads boating holiday.
So dont miss out on your first Norfolk Broads Boat Hire with so many superb varieties to choose from and fantastic offers to take advantage of!
For live availability of Norfolk Broads boating holidays just search online with us, Waterways Holidays.
Trudi, an experienced narrow boater and member of the Waterways Holidays booking team, writes about her latest journey on one of her favourite canals, the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal.
“It has surpassed all of my expectations…..”
We began our journey from Northwick, just North of Worcester, on the 69 foot narrowboat ‘Transcendence’. Turning onto the River Severn we were instantly blown a short distance sideways down the River by the wind (our jaunt coincided with the arrival of hurricane ‘Katia’ which hit our Western shores over the weekend of 10thSept) but quickly managed to right ourselves to head North towards Stourport-on-Severn.
Our crew consisted of myself , ‘Captain Ken’ (as he likes to be known) our two faithful hounds Tasha and Banjo and two friends who had never narrow boated before, Claire and David, who soon fell in love with the whole boating experience. We taught them how to steer the boat using the tiller whilst we travelled up the River as it’s much wider than the canal. A cloudy sky reflected in the wide open waters as we cruised happily along spotting wildlife, church spires, motor cruisers and millionaire mansions. There are mechanised locks on the Severn and we pulled in to the left-hand side in order to share with another group on a motor cruiser, chatting away together as the water level rose. These large locks are all manned by lock-keepers, and this lets you get used to handling the boat in a lock (if you’re unsure) before attempting the smaller ones yourselves. The skies opened at one point and it pelted down, but our trusty golfing umbrella kept the worst of it off and any disappointment was made-up for by the fabulous rainbow that appeared to our right above the trees and the cottages. At around 6pm we moored up outside ‘The Angel’ in Stourport and stopped there for the night, our only disturbance being the ‘Disco Trip Boat’ that passed us twice that evening, much to our hilarity.
The first set of ‘real’ locks are found at Stourport and they are not typical, as you need to fill one lock from the other, checking beforehand that no-one is coming down the other way. These lead into the Stourport Marina / Basin where you can re-fill with water if needed. The Marina is rather interesting, with it’s familiar clock tower and wind-dial rising above the many rows of colourful boats moored below. The locks are surprisingly narrow and entering them is like threading a needle, but they fill quickly, which is always a bonus. As we left the marina we began our discovery of the Staffs & Worcs. (as it’s known in short). And the sun came out, thank goodness.
At first the area surrounding the canal was quite urban, with terraced houses and playing fields overlooking the waterway. Gradually these receded and countryside prevailed, with a meandering route that takes you under bridges and past pretty cottages, skirting the over-hanging willows en-route. Soon, we reached the outskirts of Kidderminster, where we stopped at a big ‘well-known supermarket’ which is conveniently situated right alongside the canal. As we continued, we wondered at the intricate Victorian architecture of ‘Weavers Wharf’, once a textile mill providing yarns for the booming carpet industry Kidderminster became so famous for, now a shopping centre re-opened in 2004 which houses chain stores, shops and restaurants. From under the dark and artistically graffitied bridge number 16 (below a main roundabout) at Kidderminster Lock, we emerge slowly upwards to see an absolutely gorgeous church tower, complete with turquoise-blue clock face….a real photo opportunity.
As we wend our way further along the canal, the countryside opens out into green and golden fields, fringed with bullrushes and grasses. The map says that there’s an aqueduct here but it must be hidden by the trees. The route becomes more wooded, with the various colours of leaves rustling on the trees above us and reflected in the tranquil waters below. One thing we are enjoying very much is that the locks are quite far apart which allows for a lovely long run-up, with much appreciation of the surrounding scenery and many wild flowers along the way…reminding me of a book with intricate botanical illustrations. There are also many interesting red and yellow sandstone rock formations along some parts of the canal, at one point we see that caves have been made out of the rock and I understand that these caves can be found in surrounding areas too.
On our second evening we passed Wolverley and stopped just after the Cookley tunnel, which is just 65 yards long and is cut out of the local sandstone which passes directly under the town itself. The walk up from the towpath to the main road is very steep (beware) and even more difficult with two bags of delicious food from the local, very reasonably priced, curry house!
The next day we continued on towards Stourbridge with the strong winds whipping at the sides of the boat and making it quite hard going for Captain Ken and slowing our progress. The scenery however, was delightful. Even the gardens of houses that we passed were either landscaped beautifully or had vast vegetable patches, where ducks, geese, herons and squirrels roamed. Fields of sheep, drinking from shallow patches of the canal were interspersed with summer houses and follies. We stopped at Kinver for a walk around the town, which was very traditional with it’s butcher, antique shops, baker and pubs (also supermarket, Chinese take-away and fish & chip shop). There was a lovely ivy-clad walkway between shops which lead to a café, where we stopped for a late breakfast.
When we returned to our boat, we decided to turn around at the canal junction for Stourbridge rather than continue to the town itself, as we were being hampered by the wind. Executing a perfect 6 point turn at the winding hole, we progressed back the way that we had come. Believe me, it often looks completely different on the way back (for those of you who dislike the thought of ‘out & back’ cruises) and although we re-visited several places that we had already passed ….the white cottage next to Whittington Lock which actually has miniature lock gates to it’s front garden, the house which was completely covered in creeper, the arched viaduct stretching high above us, pubs that we decided we might try on the way back, the beautiful church spire, the open fields, 2 kingfishers! …..it was just great!
More of Trudi’s holiday snaps can be seen on our Waterways Holidays Facebook page
Thanks Trudi for giving us your review of the River Severn and Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal.
So the weather is getting a little less ‘Summery’ and the nights are drawing in, it may not seem like the best time of year to go on a boat holiday on the Norfolk Broads, right? Wrong. It’s actually almost an ideal season for a boating trip! The Broads are generally less busy, making it less competitive for free mooring spaces and less time waiting for your afternoon grub.
There is still plenty to do and see, so I thought I’d provide some events not to miss and must see things to experience for a bit of holiday inspiration!
Barton Charter Yacht Regatta:
An annual yacht regatta is due to take place from the 8th October to the 15th October on the Norfolk Broads next month. The event is an established series of sailing yacht holidays. Experienced yachtsmen are able to hire sailing yachts from Upton or Horning for the week, enter into the competition and enjoy some competitive spirit! Communal social activities are also scheduled for the evenings of the regatta period, including the prize giving and regatta dinner.
Barton Broad is the second largest Broad in Norfolk, reputedly Admiral Nelson’s sister once lived in Barton Hall and Nelson himself learnt to sail on this Broad. It’s is brimming with wildlife, being part of Britain’s largest nature reserve. Along the Barton Broad is a nature trail that leads you through ancient woodland to a platform with views of the waters awaiting you.
BeWILDerwood is a children’s adventure park, open all season until the 30th October. Snagglefang’s spooky spectacular event is taking place this October half term from the 24th. Not to be missed if taking young children on your boating holiday, with mask decorating and lantern making festivities taking place at the park.
On saturday the 8th October a Norfolk Farmer Market event is taking place here, where you can pick up some of the locals finest food collections, or simply go for the free tasters! Other attractions at Wroxham Barns include mini golf course, a farm and shopping facilities, which are open through out the year.
Norfolk is famous for its churches and historic landmarks, some of which can be spotted from the Rivers and others you can moor up and explore. Medieval churches to check out include ‘St Helens Church’ in Ranworth, dating from the 14th century, this is one of largest Churches on the Broads. Famous for a Medieval Latin book produced in 1460, that is on display here. ‘Langley Abbey’ on the River Yare opened to the public just last year, and visitors can stroll around the Abbots cellar and check out the private chambers and stone carvings created back in 1197.
Bure Valley Railway:
Open all year this railway offers the traditional steam train experience. The train is taking on a Halloween theme called ‘the Spooky Express’ from the 22nd to 30th October. There are lots of competitions for the children to take part in, and beautiful Norfolk views for the adults.
The Norfolk Broads remain alive all year round, all of which can be experienced on a holiday afloat!
If you would like to talk to one of our friendly team with regards to Norfolk Broads boat holidays or any of the boating holidays on the UK canals, please do get in touch. Our number is 01252 796400 and we are open 7 days a week.
We recently posted about Norfolk Broads boating holidays being an ideal holiday for pet owners. Recent holiday goers have shown us just how versatile our boats can be for all sorts of pets, and we thought we would share the latest pet pictures with you!
On the 26th of August we welcomed the Simonnet family onto a boat going from the Wootton Wawen marina in Shakespeare Country. In a week’s break you can expect to cruise to the historic town of Stratford-upon-Avon, a town drenched in culture and beautiful architecture, as well as being William Shakespeare’s birthplace. From the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal you can journey onto the River Avon, where you can experience countryside cruising, vast skies and moor up at ‘Cotswoldy’ towns such as Bidford and Evesham for some classic pub dining.
A beloved pet of the Simonnet family, ‘Crispy’ the Pekin Duck, was a passenger on this voyage! Armed with a pink frilly nappy, the boat yard was happy to accept this slightly less orthodox feathery companion on board. Just goes to show, you really can take just about anything on your holiday afloat!
With thanks to Dominic Simonnet and his family for supplying us with some lovely images of their boating trip on the Stratford upon Avon Canal, more of which can be seen on our facebook page.
Click here to search all our canal boat holidays or give us a call on 01252 796400.