Top 5 lock-free weekend cruising routes

If you’re considering a narrowboat holiday but the idea of operating the locks is a little daunting, we’ve rounded up a few weekend cruising routes that involve no locks at all!

The Ashby Canal

A fantastic option for novice boaters or for those who enjoy peaceful, rural cruising. This lock-free canal runs for 22 miles through scenic countryside and pretty villages. From our base at Stoke Golding, many places of interest are within easy reach on a weekend boating holiday. Visit the site of the Battle of Bosworth or visit the railway society at Shackerstone for a ride on a steam train.

The rural Ashby Canal

The rural Ashby Canal

The Lancaster Canal

The beautiful Lancaster Canal runs for 41 miles through breathtaking rolling countryside from Tewitfield to its terminus at Preston. The Lancaster Canal is a contour canal, meaning it follows the line of the land and  no locks are needed. Our bases at Bilsborrow and Barton Grange are ideally located to allow boaters to explore the majority of the Lancaster Canal over a short break; highlights include visiting the City of Lancaster and the lovely Morecambe Bay.

The peaceful Lancaster Canal

The scenic Lancaster Canal

The Basingstoke Canal

A weekend break from our base at Odiham in Hampshire will allow boaters to enjoy a leisurely lock-free cruise down to Ash Lock. The Basingstoke Canal is famous for its wildlife, being home to many rare species of birds and insects. Heading north from the base will take you to the Greywell Tunnel. It is closed for navigation but well known for its colony of bats. Also up that end of the canal are the remains of St John’s Castle. Heading south, pass through Fleet with its shopping facilities and many restaurants and continue through rural scenery, turning just before the lock.

The peaceful Basingstoke Canal

The peaceful Basingstoke Canal

The Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal

The Mon & Brec Canal arguably boasts the most picturesque views across the whole canal network, located within the Brecon Beacons National Park. Our base at Goytre will allow boaters a lock-free cruise all the way to Llangyndir, passing through rural villages and quaint country pubs en route. Explore the town of Abergavenny or hire horses at Crickhowell. Trek through the vast parkland before turning before the locks and retracing your journey back to Goytre.

The picturesque Mon & Brec Canal

The picturesque Mon & Brec Canal

The Worcester and Birmingham Canal

The ideal city break lover’s route! Starting at either our Alvechurch or Tardebigge base enjoy a lock-free cruise directly into the centre of Birmingham. Pass through the lengthy Wast Hill Tunnel of 2726 yards and pass the entrance of Cadbury World. Moor up at Gas Street Basin & explore the many attractions Birmingham has to offer. These include the Sea Life Centre and the famous Bullring Shopping Centre, not to mention the huge array of restaurants and bars to sample.

Moor up in the centre of Birmingham

Moor up in the centre of Birmingham

 

For more information please visit our website: www.waterwaysholidays.com/canal_boat_holidays.htm or call us on 01252 796400

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Boating in the spring

The beginning of spring is upon us and along with it comes the official start of the boating season!

Daffodils in bloom

Daffodils in bloom

We think spring is a wonderful time to take to the waterways; here are our top 5 reasons why:

 

  1. With the Spring Equinox marking the arrival of the season and the changing of the clocks at the weekend, the longer days are finally here! Make the most of the evenings by sitting in pub garden watching the boats go by.

 

  1. At this time of year it is generally quieter on the water than during the summer months. This makes it a great time of year for novice boaters to take their first boating holiday, enjoying the peacefulness and tranquillity of the waterways. It also means moorings are more readily available and canalside pubs and eateries are less busy!
Enjoy making the most of the long evenings

Enjoy making the most of the long evenings

  1. The weather is starting to get warmer, the sun finally has some warmth to it, but we’ve still got those beautiful crisp, clear mornings. The scenery at this time of year is truly stunning and ideal for taking those holiday snaps!

 

  1. Spring is the perfect time of year for the nature-lovers among us to take to the waters! It’s a great time for spotting all of the newborn animals in the fields running alongside the canals. On the canal itself you’ll find yourself floating alongside all the baby ducklings, make sure you keep an eye out for the rare species of birds living close to our canals.

    Watch the wildlife from the comfort of your narrowboat

    Watch the wildlife from the comfort of your narrowboat

 

  1. The canals and towpaths burst into life with colour in the spring. Flowers are in bloom, cherry blossom is on the trees, nature is in full swing. Watch the ever-changing scenery as you cruise along the waterways, passing the daffodils and crocuses lining the banks.

 

To find out more and to check out our fantastic spring offers, have a look at our website:

www.waterwaysholidays.com/canal_boat_holidays.htm

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Meet ‘Lily’- a brand new boat for hire in 2018

We have a brand new boat available to hire from our base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal. ‘Lily’ has all of the elegance and style of a historic narrowboat but with every modern convenience for today’s family holiday!

Narrowboat 'Lily'

Narrowboat ‘Lily’

‘Lily’ is 66ft semi-traditional stern narrowboat offering ‘heritage’ features alongside some modern home comforts. She boasts many traditional boat features such as a cratch over the fore deck, side hatches next to the dinette, belfast sink, port holes and a solid fuel stove in the saloon (starter pack included). These homely features are also combined with modern features such as LED lighting, full radiator central heating, WiFi & 240v electricity. On-board there is a small travel hairdryer and a 12v mobile phone charging point.

The Saloon

The Saloon

Lily has a spacious saloon with dinette seating, an additional sofa and a traditional fuel stove. There is aTV/DVD player and a CD/Radio player in the saloon. She features a well-equipped galley with 4 burner gas cooker complete with grill and oven, there is also a fridge with a small freezer compartment, belfast sink and drainer. There is a microwave and a cafetiere in the galley. There are two cabins onboard, one with a permanent double bed, the other with a flexible layout.

The double cabin

The double cabin

Lily is available to hire for short breaks, weeks or fortnights from Trevor, close to the famous Pontcysyllte Aqeduct!

 To find out more, check out the boat details page:

www.waterwaysholidays.com/boat/heritage.htm

 

 

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Top Easter destinations on the UK waterways

The Easter Holidays are a fantastic time to escape with the family and enjoy some time away together. With the days gradually getting longer, the chance of some sunshine increasing and the newborn spring animals in the passing fields; it’s not hard to see why it’s such a popular time to go boating.

We’ve had a look at some of the events happening close to the waterways to find you the top Easter destinations afloat:

Swans on the Norfolk Broads

Swans on the Norfolk Broads

Norfolk Broads

Beautiful, lock-free cruising with plenty of pubs, villages and attractions, it’s no wonder the Norfolk Broads has earned the nickname ‘Britain’s Magical Waterland’. The Easter Bunny will be making an appearance at Bewilderwood- the tree house adventure park. Children can venture into the chocolate bunny burrow and search the tunnels & tree houses for the hidden Easter eggs. They can also join in the fun at the crafts centre with face painting and settle down for the story of the ‘pesky bunnies’ at the story-telling stage.

Visit Bewilderwood

Visit Bewilderwood

Cadbury World

Where better to spend the Easter Holidays than the home of Cadbury chocolate? Each day over the Easter Holidays there’s a chance to meet the Cadbury characters. The children can enjoy celebrating Freddo’s birthday at his  party or sit down for story time with the Caramel Bunny. Over the Easter bank holiday weekend even more events are taking place! Including a daily bonnet competition and an Easter egg hunt! Cadbury World & the centre of Birmingham is easily accessible from our Alvechurch & Tardebigge bases.

Moor in Birmingham & visit Cadbury World

Moor in Birmingham & visit Cadbury World

Warwick Castle

The famous medieval castle is celebrating the 950th anniversary of William the Conqueror’s Mott & Bailey Castle this Easter. Children can enjoy the new interactive exhibition – by climbing the Conqueror’s Fortress. Other events include the Horrible Histories Maze- featuring a Viking Ship and the trenches. Warwick Castle is a short cruise from our bases at Stockton or Warwick. For a slightly longer holiday, depart from Braunston or Rugby.

Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle

Black Country Living Museum

The 26 acre open-air museum has plenty of traditional Easter events to choose from. Let the kids follow the Bunny’s trail through the canalside village, following the clues and finding the prizes! There is also an egg-rolling competition and an egg-and-spoon race to take part in. Try a freshly baked hot cross bun from the bakery or treat yourself to Fish & Chips in the traditional 1930’s chip shop! For the adults- a visit to the Bottle & Glass Inn is a must to sample a selection of the whiskey & gin on offer. Search for boats departing from our Alvechurch and Tardebigge bases to reach the museum.

Visit Dudley & the Black Country Living Museum

For more information on boating holidays during the Easter Holidays please visit our website – www.waterwaysholidays.com, or feel free to call us for friendly boating advice on 01252 796400.

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Top weekend city breaks by boat

A boating weekend is a fantastic way to experience the water. Whether it’s with family or friends sometimes a short break is all that is needed to slow down and recharge. We’ve chosen 5 of the best locations for a weekend city break by narrowboat:

 

Birmingham

A great choice for groups of friends wanting to experience the Birmingham nightlife or for families wanting to keep the children busy! Birmingham is within easy reach from two of our bases; just a short lock-free cruise will bring you to the Gas Street Basin directly in the city centre. From here the bars, clubs and restaurants are all within walking distance. Family-friendly attractions such as the National Sea Life Centre and Cadbury World are accessible from the city centre. Birmingham is a great place for a weekend shopping spree; the famous Bullring Shopping Centre is only a 15 minute stroll from the moorings at Gas Street Basin! To experience Birmingham by narrowboat search for holidays departing from our bases at Alvechurch or Tardebigge.

Moor up in Birmingham City Centre

Moor up in Birmingham City Centre

Bath

Bath is another fantastic option for a weekend away. We have several bases situated along the Kennet & Avon only a short cruise from the UNESCO World Heritage City of Bath. Moorings are available either in the city through the locks or a short 10 minute walk away before the locks at Sydney Gardens. Once in the city there are numerous places of historical interest to visit, including the Roman Baths, Bath Abbey and Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House and Museum. Not to mention the impressive array of restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs, perfect for an evening out. There are six retail areas in Bath featuring a huge selection of independent and individual shops as well as the usual high street retailers. To visit Bath over a weekend search for holidays starting from Bradford-on-Avon, Monkton Combe, Hilperton or Sydney Wharf.

Visit the Roman Baths

Visit the Roman Baths

Manchester

Shopping and sports, culture and clubbing, Manchester has it all. Unofficially known as the ‘Capital of the North’, Manchester has something to offer everyone who comes to visit. Cruise your way up the Bridgewater Canal, passing by Old Trafford and moor up at the Castlefield Basin for a short walk into the centre of the city. Spend the day sightseeing, visiting the museums, galleries and shops. For the evening, take advantage of Manchester’s thriving food culture and choose from one of the restaurants, gastro-pubs, street food stalls or cafes before ending the night at one of the quirky cocktails bars or clubs. Manchester can be reached by narrowboat over a weekend from our base at Preston Brook.

Visit the vibrant City of Manchester

Visit the vibrant City of Manchester

Oxford

Home to the world-famous prestigious University, Oxford- ‘The City of Dreaming Spires’ makes for a wonderful weekend city break. Oxford can be accessed from the Thames and also from the South Oxford Canal and has useful moorings in the city centre. Oxford has so much to offer in terms of architecture, history and culture. Take a tour around the famous colleges, visit the covered market or try your hand at punting along the Thames. For the TV and Film buffs try and spot all of the filming locations used in the likes of Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland and Inspector Morse. Oxford is home to several Michelin Star restaurants, ideal for a celebratory meal or special occasion. Being a university city there are many nightclubs, cocktail bars and pubs to choose from to end your evening.  Oxford is accessilble from our bases at Eynsham or Lower Heyford.

Radcliffe Camera, Oxford University

Radcliffe Camera, Oxford University

Chester

A great choice for a weekend away for families or couples with picturesque gentle cruising through the Cheshire Plains. The ancient city of Chester, known for its Roman Walls and architecture is the home of the largest Roman Amphitheatre in England. More modern attractions include the UK’s most visited Zoo, with over 15,000 animals and over 500 different species. Chester Cathedral, located in the city centre, is over 1000 years old. Take a tour of this impressive national treasure and climb the tower for fantastic views over the city at 125ft. Enjoy walking through the historic streets with the beautiful timber framed Tudor-style buildings many of which are protected by English Heritage. For a weekend city break exploring Chester, search for holidays departing from our base at Bunbury.

Chester Cathedral

Chester Cathedral

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Great Canal Journeys- The Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal

The beautiful Mon & Brec

The beautiful Mon & Brec

Often referred to as one of the most beautiful canals in the UK- the Mon & Brec in South Wales is located amongst the rolling hills and picturesque scenery of the Brecon Beacons National Park. The canal meanders its way through beautiful Welsh countryside for 35 miles from Brecon to the basin at Pontymoile. The canal hosts many points of interest along its course, including the 200 year-old Goytre Wharf Heritage Centre. The Centre is home to some of the best-preserved historic Lime Kilns in the UK. Another highlight is the Blaenavon World Heritage Site, home to the Big Pit National Coal Museum.

In the latest episode of Great Canal Journeys we saw Timothy West and Prunella Scales gently cruising through the scenic Usk Valley. The couple’s journey started at Goytre Wharf and continued along the peaceful canal stopping at the Unesco Blaenavon Heritage Site to visit the Ironworks and learn more about the industrial history of the area. The couple cruised on to Crickhowell, stopping to visit the supposedly haunted 15th Century castle at Tretower. They finished their journey at the pretty Brecon Basin, the limit of navigation.

Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal

Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal

Wildlife and nature along the canal is admired on their journey, with Pru particularly liking the flowers lining the banks. The canal is fantastic for bird-watching. Many different species including herons, kingfishers, buzzards and red kites live alongside the canal. Otters can also be seen bathing in the River Usk, which is just a short walk from the towpath. Swans, ducks and geese regularly drift alongside the boats wending their way along the canal.

There are only 6 locks along the navigable section of the canal, making the Mon & Brec an ideal location for those seeking a relaxing getaway. It’s also a great choice for novice boaters who want to try a quieter, canal for their first boating experience. We have several bases located along the Mon & Brec Canal, so why not hire a narrowboat and follow in the footsteps of Tim & Pru on your very own Great Canal Journey?

To find your perfect boating holiday:

Visit our website: https://www.waterwaysholidays.com/wales_canals.htm

Or call us on 01252 796400 for friendly boating advice.

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Visit Coventry by narrowboat- The City of Culture 2021

Coventry Cathedral

Last night it was announced that Coventry had won its bid to become the City of Culture 2021. It came top above Swansea, Paisley, Stoke-on-Trent and Sunderland. Hull is the current City of Culture;  cities bid for the title every 4 years.  Hull has gained an investment of around 1 billion and the economy is estimated to have grown by 60 million since it was awarded the title.

Located in the heart of England, Coventry is the 9th largest city in England. Coventry suffered severe damage during the Second World War.  A strike by the Luftwaffe hit Coventry’s historic Cathedral and destroyed many parts of the city. The infamous medieval Spon Street is a must-see when visiting the city. The street dates back to the 12th century and features buildings that have lovingly undergone restoration projects due to wartime damage. Others have been relocated here to form one of the most important collections of timber-framed medieval buildings in England.

St Michael statue , Coventry Cathedral

St Michael statue, Coventry Cathedral

Other attractions in the city include St Michael’s Cathedral and the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, located next to the Cathedral ruins in the cultural hub of the city. The legend of Lady Godiva is still prevalent in the city; a statue of the iconic figure stands in the plaza. The Godiva Clock on Broadgate House is another testament. Every hour the clock doors open and Lady Godiva appears on a white horse. Another window opens above her and ‘Peeping Tom’ makes an appearance, fulfilling the second part of the legend. The free three-day ‘Godiva Festival’ is an annual event and attracts thousands of festival-goers each year.

Coventry is easily accessible on a boating holiday; there is a canal basin in the city centre- just a short 10 minute walk from the Cathedral. Hire a narrowboat from our base at Coventry, alternatively Coventry is accessible from our other bases such as Rugby, Stoke Golding and Braunston. Starting a boating holiday in the Heart of England opens up a great variety of route options in beautiful countryside with a fantastic array of villages, cities and attractions to visit- just make sure the City of Culture is one of them!

Coventry Canal Basin

To find your perfect boating holiday:

Visit our website for live availability: www.waterwaysholidays.com/canal_boat_holidays.htm

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A newbie’s guide to boating

If you are considering a boating holiday for the first time we understand the prospect may be a little daunting, so we have put together some useful information for novice boaters:

Narrowboat moored along the towpath

Narrowboat moored along the towpath

  1. No previous boating experience is necessary, full training will always be given on arrival.
  2. Narrowboats sleep a maximum of 12 people, including babies and toddlers.
  3. Dogs are welcome on the majority of our narrowboats, some will accept other pets too- we’ve even had a tortoise and a duck!
Bring the whole family- including the dog!

Bring the whole family- including the dog!

4. Boat length can range from 32ft-70ft, we usually recommend sticking to 60ft max for your first go.
5. Home comforts such as radiator central heating, a TV/DVD player and Wi-Fi can be found on lots of our boats.
6. A full kitchen, including an oven, hob, and grill is onboard, along with all the cutlery and crockery.

Inside one of our boats- the galley and saloon

Inside one of our boats- the galley and saloon

7. A lot of boats will have 240v meaning mobile phones can be charged using the regular 3-pin socket. Other boats have a 12v system or USB charger point instead.
8. Bathrooms contain a toilet, shower and sink.
9. The maximum speed limit is 4mph, but it is polite to slow down when cruising past moored boats.

The Llangollen Canal, North Wales

The Llangollen Canal, North Wales

10. Boating is all about slowing down, so remember to take your time, relax and enjoy the experience.

To find out more:

Visit our website: www.waterwaysholidays.com/canal_boat_holidays.htm or call us for friendly advice on 01252 796400.

 

 

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Great Canal Journeys on the Norfolk Broads

The latest episode of Great Canal Journeys saw everyone’s favourite boating couple Tim & Pru explore Britain’s magical waterland- the Norfolk Broads.

Thurne Mill on the Norfolk Broads

Thurne Mill on the Norfolk Broads

The episode followed the couple onboard the classic 1938 wooden cruiser ‘Lady Christina’ as they took a trip back in time, discovering the history of this ancient waterways network. Highlights of their journey included St Benet’s Abbey – the ruins of a medieval monastery situated on the River Bure. They also visited Toad Hole Cottage Museum at How Hill; the museum is housed in a tiny marshman’s cottage, that would have been home to a family in Victorian times. The couple then journeyed to Great Yarmouth, igniting many happy childhood memories for Timothy West, having spent many a summer vacation by the seaside. They also crossed over to the southern Broads, cruising on the tidal waters to Reedham Ferry.

St Benet's Abbey

St Benet’s Abbey

Why not plan your own ‘Great Journey’ on the Norfolk Broads? We have classic wooden cruisers available to hire; the majority requiring no previous experience as hirers receive full training on arrival. We have some great last minute and also plenty of early booking discounts for 2018 holidays on offer so now is the perfect time to start planning your break away.

Traditional Wooden Cruiser 'Judith'

Traditional Wooden Cruiser ‘Judith’

All boats have heating on board along with other home comforts. There are a variety of cruisers available, some classic and vintage, others more modern and luxury.  There is something to suit everyone’s individual tastes and needs.

To search for your ‘Great Journey’

Visit www.waterwaysholidays.com/norfolkbroads.htm or give our friendly boating team a call on 01252 796400.

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Cosy couples boating breaks

Autumn is not only a great time for families but for couples to get away too. We have a selection of cosy two-berth narrowboats, some featuring solid-fuel stoves on the UK canals and a selection of two-berth cruisers on the Norfolk Broads. So whether you prefer the meandering canals or the wide open waters of the Broads, we’ve got you covered for your autumn boating break.

Here are our top recommendations for couples:

Cruise the Cotswolds
Visit the Roman Baths

Visit the Roman Baths

What could be more appealing than cruising through a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty? The Kennet & Avon Canal runs through many historic, picturesque villages, set amongst rolling hills and farmland. Visit the medieval buildings in Devizes or the unspoilt market town of Bradford on Avon on the way to Bath. Stop here to visit the Thermae Bath Spa, Roman Baths and the cathedral before indulging in some retail therapy.

 

Boating in the Brecon Beacons

A true rural escape cruising through the some of the most beautiful scenery in the Brecon Beacons. The Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal is also very suitable for couples, with only 6 locks in its entire length, making for a very relaxing break away. Cruise peacefully through the hilly landscape, past quaint villages, country pubs and unspoilt views. Take a walk through the Beacons; find the breathtaking Blaen y Glyn waterfalls or stop off at the historic market town of Crickhowell to visit the 13th Century castle.

Autumn cruising on the Mon & Brec

Autumn cruising on the Mon & Brec

 

Navigating the Norfolk Broads

There’s something for everyone on the Norfolk Broads whether you like long country walks, wildlife spotting, or country pubs. The options are endless on the Broads; choose from visiting the villages and independent shops or cruising to the wide open waters and finding the quietest mooring for the evening. Dine at the numerous pubs and restaurants or choose to eat on board away from the crowds in your own secluded spot.

Autumn sunset on the Norfolk Broads

Autumn sunset on the Norfolk Broads

Check live availability on our website www.waterwaysholidays.com or feel free to call us on 01252 796400.

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