Top 3 canals for an autumn break away

Autumn is a fantastic time of year for a boating holiday. With the hustle and bustle of the school holidays over it’s a much quieter time to enjoy the waterways. The golden autumnal colours are brought to life on the waters, with the scenery becoming even more spectacular. Wake up to beautiful misty mornings and take a walk down the leaf-covered towpaths to feel the magic of this time of year. Many of our narrowboats have solid-fuel stoves on board, perfect for a cosy couples get-away.

Middlewich Branch of Shropshire Union

Middlewich Branch of Shropshire Union

We have picked our top 3 canals for a break away this autumn:

The Llangollen Canal

Famous for the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, this popular canal becomes even more appealing during the autumn months. With fewer boats around it’s a far more relaxing and peaceful time to enjoy the Shropshire and Welsh countryside. Cruising across the aqueducts offers some spectacular views across the Dee Valley and the River Dee. Visit attractions such as the Horseshoe Falls, Llangollen Steam Railway and Chirk Castle.

Llangollen Canal in autumn

Llangollen Canal in autumn

Shropshire Union Canal

This beautifully rural and scenic canal truly comes to life in the autumn with golden trees lining the towpath. Travel to Market Drayton- the home of gingerbread, and marvel at its Tudor timber-framed buildings. Stop off for long lunches and dinners at one of the many pretty canalside pubs along the canal. Travel further north through the picturesque Cheshire countryside, through the village of Beeston with its castle, and onto the Roman city of Chester.

Roman City of Chester

Roman City of Chester

 

The Kennet & Avon Canal

One of our most popular canals, again much more peaceful and relaxing in the autumn time. Make the most of the quieter time of year and take to the Kennet & Avon travelling towards the city of Bath. Easily doable in a short break from many of our bases, Bath is home to attractions such as the Roman Baths and Bath Cathedral. There are many other historic towns dotted along the canal, including Bradford-on-Avon, with its 14th Century Tithe Barn.

 

Cruising on the Kennet & Avon.

Cruising on the Kennet & Avon.

To check live availability for your autumn break, visit out website www.waterwaysholidays.com/canal_boat_holidays.htm

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Our sailing trip on the Norfolk Broads

This week 3 of the team here at Waterways Holidays were lucky enough to have a few days sailing on the Norfolk Broads. Our partners at Upton very kindly provided us with the beautiful 34ft yacht ‘Leda’. ‘Leda’ has a gaff rig, which means unlike a Bermudan rig, the main sail is four-cornered. Not only did they provide us with a yacht, but also an instructor for the 3 days due to us all having little to no experience between us!

Leda moored at Upton

Leda moored at Upton

We set off bright and early on Monday morning and arrived at Upton Yacht Station around 11am. Feeling slightly nervous we popped into the office to say hello and were shown to our floating home for the next few days. After putting our belongings on board we were introduced to our instructor Jimmy. We discussed the route options for our trip, popped our lifejackets and sailing gloves on and sat down for our first bit of training.

Leda and the team

Leda and the team

Jimmy motored us down Upton Dyke and onto the River Bure, where we all had a go at controlling the yacht under motor. Luckily all 3 of us are used to a tiller due to previous narrowboat experience. The yacht is far more responsive than a narrowboat so we all adapted to the steering fairly easily. Jimmy put the sails up and we took turns on the helm and controlling the jib.

Thurne Dyke

Thurne Dyke

St Benet's Abbey

St Benet’s Abbey

We sailed on the River Bure past the ruins of St Benet’s Abbey and joined onto the River Ant. We sailed a short way up, on the approach to Ludham Bridge we stopped so that Jimmy could lower the sails and mast in order for us to pass under the bridge. There is a designated mooring spot for yachts to pull over and put the mast and sails back up. We moored at How Hill to visit one of the few remaining Norfolk Broads Wherries.  ‘Hathor’ was originally built in 1905 and is free to look around for members of the public when moored at How Hill.

Wherry 'Hathor'

Wherry ‘Hathor’

We sailed on from How Hill, passing by beautiful riverside homes at Irstead on our way to Barton Broad. With time against us we decided to head to our moorings for the night. Luckily we found a free spot at Gay’s Staithe so we moored, took the sails down and put Leda’s cover on for the night before saying goodbye to Jimmy and heading to the pub for some dinner. We decided on the White Horse at Neatishead, which is  a 15 minute walk from the mooring through country lanes.

The White Horse at Neatishead

The White Horse at Neatishead

After a lovely meal and a couple of wines we headed back to Leda for a much needed rest and an early night. In the morning we had a hearty breakfast ready for a full day of sailing and our first attempts at tacking under Jimmy’s instruction. We put the sails up and headed to Barton Broad, each taking it in turns with the tiller and jib. With the wind getting up more and more it truly became exhilarating as the speed increased and we learnt to tack and weave our way across the Broad. We gained confidence quickly and really started to understand what sailing is all about.

Heather & Dawn

Heather & Dawn

Jimmy & Heather

Jimmy & Heather

After a fairly intense morning we decided to head up to Barton Turf to moor for a spot of lunch and to use the shower facilities. The weather was starting to turn, with rain showers becoming more frequent we decided to start making our way towards Ranworth where we’d be stopping that evening. We sailed back down the River Ant to How Hill to visit another attraction there- Toad Hole Cottage Museum. Toad Hole Cottage is a tiny, thatched cottage, that tells the story of Broads life in Victorian times. The museum provides lots of information on the Broads and has a little shop to buy guidebooks, postcards and gifts.

Malthouse Broad

Malthouse Broad

After dropping the mast and sails we motored for a mile to get under Ludham Bridge. After this we pulled into the reeds and put them back up to attempt to tack down the River Ant. Unfortunately the wind was not working with us and we were meeting a fair amount of cruisers on the way.  We turned onto the River Bure, the wider river allowed us to sail most of the way to Malthouse Broad where we managed to find a mooring close to the pub. We popped over to The Maltsters and had a lovely meal and some drinks for our last evening.

The Maltsters at Ranworth

The Maltsters at Ranworth

We awoke early on the last day of our trip, ready for a morning’s sailing before heading home. Sailing off Malthouse Broad, we spotted a variety of birds including a heron and a little egret. We sailed back past St Benet’s Abbey and headed up towards Womack Water to visit our partners at Ludham. On the way we sailed past another Norfolk Broads Wherry- The Albion, one of only two remaining Broads trading barges.

Yacht Station at Ludham

Yacht Station at Ludham

The Albion Wherry

The Albion Wherry

 

We arrived at Ludham Yard, home of the Norfolk Heritage Fleet, to have a look at their traditional sailing yachts. These yachts are sail-only, with no motors and some original vintage features such as oil lamps and propane cookers.  After our visit, we headed down the River Thurne and River Bure for another sail on our way home. We moored in the boatyard, gathered our belongings and said a huge thank you to Jimmy. We all learnt so much and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, one which I think all of us would highly recommend.

Heather, Zoe & Dawn

Heather, Zoe & Dawn

To find out more about sailing on the Broads, please take a look at our full website:

www.waterwaysholidays.com/sailing_holidays.htm

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Widebeam Boat Hire near London

We have a beautiful new widebeam available for weekly hire from our base at Iver, just off the main line of the Grand Union Canal.

Pendragon

Pendragon

The starting location provides easy access into Central London, giving boaters the opportunity to cruise to Little Venice, London Zoo & Regent’s Park. For a more rural escape, boaters can cruised north up the Main Line of the Grand Union Canal through the Chiltern Hills towards the towns of Hemel Hempstead and Berkhamsted.

On the approach to Little Venice

On the approach to Little Venice

‘Pendragon’ has all mod-cons including a widescreen projector and DVD player and Bluetooth ‘Boombar’ speakers. For cosy nights on board, there is a selection of vintage and contemporary board games, along with a solid-fuel stove.

‘Pendragon’ sleeps up to 6 people, featuring one master cabin with a double bed and another cabin with bunk beds. The sofas in the saloon area convert into two further beds if needed. The galley is equipped with all necessary utensils needed for home cooking, along with a few extras such as an electric blender for making smoothies and a cafetiere for coffee. The large breakfast bar means guests can sit and enjoy meals or playing games together.

Pendragon Double Cabin

Pendragon Double Cabin

A guide book of the Grand Union Canal will be on board. Full training is given on arrival so no previous experience is necessary to hire ‘Pendragon’.

To find out more:

Visit our website www.waterwaysholidays.com/southern_england.htm or give us a call on 01252 796400.

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Electric cruisers available to hire on the Norfolk Broads

alsoWe are proud to announce the arrival of another super quiet, environmentally-friendly motor cruiser on the Norfolk Broads, located at Horning.

Electric Cruiser Silent Emblem

Electric Cruiser Silent Emblem

‘Silent Emblem’ is fitted with an electric motor, providing around 5 hours of quiet cruising or running time. There’s no need to plug in to recharge the batteries, the generator cuts in automatically so you can keep cruising. Solar panels are on all of our electric boats and there is also shore power hook-up, to assist with charging the battery, although this is not necessary.

Electric Cruiser Whisper Emblem

Electric Cruiser Whisper Emblem

‘Silent Emblem’ is the second eco-friendly electric cruiser available from Horning. The first ‘Whisper Emblem’, became available for hire in 2016 and is extremely popular with holiday hirers who appreciate the quiet cruising and spacious design. Both have one double cabin, sleeping two very comfortably but with the possibility of making up a bed in the saloon area for an extra person or two. Whisper and Silent feature modern interiors and both also have bow thrusters on board for easier manoeuvring.

Electric-Hybrid Cruiser Rhapsody

Electric-Hybrid Cruiser Rhapsody

For larger parties, our prestige cruiser ‘Rhapsody’ is available to hire from our base at Wroxham, sleeping up to 8. Rhapsody also features an electric, hybrid engine with shore power hook-up.  Sun loungers are on the upper deck, for that extra bit of luxury. A complimentary bottle of bubbly and mini toiletries are on board for your arrival.

To check live availability for our Norfolk Broads cruisers, visit our website:

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

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Classic Thames cruiser available to hire from Marlow

We are very happy to announce the arrival of a beautifully hand crafted classic wooden heritage boat, located on the River Thames at Marlow. Built in 1952, ‘Bernadette II’ is 30ft of Bates Star Craft and offers a rare opportunity to explore the Thames in style in a classic motor cruiser.

Bernadette II moored up

Bernadette II moored up

Although classic on the outside, some modern features have also been introduced to make Bernadette II more comfortable. These include memory foam toppers, new mattresses, central heating and finally a TV/DVD player. For convenience and ease of manoeuvrability, a bow thruster is on board, along with shore power, 240v and USB connectivity.

‘Bernadette II’ is ideal for a couple or a family with two younger children, who have been on the canals or the River Thames previously. Many wonderful destinations are within easy reach on a week’s holiday. You can head downstream towards Windsor to visit the castle, or carry on to Hampton Court Palace. Upstream you’ll find pretty riverside towns and villages such as Henley-on-Thames, Abingdon and onto the city of Oxford.

Visit Hampton Court Palace by boat

Visit Hampton Court Palace by boat

For more information, or to check availability:

Feel free to call us on 01252 796400 or visit our website www.waterwaysholidays.com/river-thames.htm

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Take a look at our new boats available to hire

We have added some new boats to our website for your 2017 boating holiday. And now there’s an even better choice of locations for your next holiday. Offering a variety of routes suited to novices and experienced boaters alike.

 

‘Midland Mallard‘ is a 63ft narrowboat ideal for families or a group of friends. Located at Market Bosworth, it is the perfect location for exploring the picturesque, lock-free Ashby Canal. Fitted with plenty of home comforts, the boat has WiFi, a digital TV and DAB radio with bluetooth connectivity.

New boat Midland Mallard from Market Bosworth

Midland Mallard from Market Bosworth

‘Tasselweed’ is on the beautiful Grand Union Canal at Weedon. Sleeping up to 6 with a flexible bed layout, Tasselweed features all mod-cons, including a dishwasher, air-conditioning and a hydraulic bow thruster.

New boat Tasselweed from Weedon

Tasselweed from Weedon

Another new addition to our Weedon base is ‘Hawkweed’. This boat is perfect for two at just 45ft. Hawkweed offers a double cabin with sprung mattress and a spacious saloon area with a flatscreen TV and also a DVD player.

New boat Hawkweed from Weedon

Hawkweed from Weedon

‘Dawn Mist’,  is an extremely flexible 62ft narrowboat, sleeping up to 8 people with a spacious aft deck. Located in Tamworth with a good variety of route options, ‘Dawn Mist’ is ideal for families or groups of friends.

New boat Dawn Mist

Dawn Mist from Tamworth

Find out more about our new boats…

Full training will be given on all of our narrowboats on arrival, so you don’t need any boating experience. For more information on any of our new boats and new locations, visit our website: www.waterwaysholidays.com . You are also welcome to call us on 01252 796400 7 days a week for friendly boating advice.

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Easter Holidays on the UK waterways

The Easter holidays are the perfect time for a break away with the family. There are lots of events and activities within reach of the UK canals, making it an interesting holiday for children of all ages. On the Norfolk Broads a boating holiday offers lock-free cruising, with plenty of villages to explore. We’ve had a look at some of the top attractions and events close to the UK waterways this Easter:

Norfolk Broads during the Easter Holidays

Norfolk Broads

Bewilderwood

Located near Horning on the Norfolk Broads, Bewilderwood is a family adventure park. The park features tree houses and zip wires set in a forest. Take a boat ride over the lake and spend an afternoon on the ‘treacherous trail’. This Easter join in the fun and bring the kids along to meet the Easter Bunny. They can even have their faces painted or go on an Easter egg hunt! Bewilderwood is a 15 minute walk from the moorings at Horning Staithe.

Black Country Living Museum

This 26-acre open air museum features rebuilt historic buildings. Highlights includes a full 20th Century village, a traditional 1930s fish & chip shop and a Victorian School. Catch the vintage bus to the canalside village, exploring the 19th century mine and 1930s fairground. Over the Easter holidays you can take part in an egg-rolling competition, an Easter egg hunt and some egg-craft activities. Look for holidays departing from Alvechurch or Tardebigge to reach the Black Country Museum.

Visit the Black Country Living Museum at the Easter Holidays

Black Country Living Museum

Warwick Castle

For a great family day out take a trip to the medieval Warwick Castle. The castle is close to the Hatton Flight, making it perfect for families looking for an active break. The castle features a Horrible Histories Maze and the castle dungeons. Extra special Easter activities include the ‘Wicked Warwick Live Stage Show’ and ‘Flight of the Eagles’. Look for holidays departing from Stockton or Warwick to reach Warwick Castle.

Bath

As if you needed more reasons to visit the beautiful city of Bath! Award-winning theatre ‘The Egg’ is playing Eloise and the Curse of the Golden Whisk (18-23 April). There are plenty of activities to keep the kids busy, including egg decorating at the Holbourne Museum. For boating holidays to Bath, depart from our bases at Hilperton, Bradford on Avon, Monkton Combe & Bath.

Bath Abbey at Easter

Bath Abbey

Cadbury World

The ideal destination for a day out with the family, with something for all ages. Visit the 4D chocolate cinema and grab an edible souvenir from the world’s largest Cadbury Shop. There are lots of events happening over the holidays including live magic shows, ventriloquists and an Easter egg hunt. Easily accessible from the Birmingham and Worcester Canal, look for holidays departing from Alvechurch & Tardebigge for short breaks, or for week long holidays depart from Stoke Prior, Warwick or Stockton.
No previous experience is needed to hire a narrowboat or motor cruiser as full tuition is given on arrival. If you’d like any more information on hiring a boat in the Easter holidays please visit our website www.waterwaysholidays.com or call us on 01252 796400.

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Our boating weekend: Bradford-on-Avon to Bath

Last weekend the team here at Waterways holidays were lucky enough to have a weekend away boating on the Kennet & Avon. Our partners at Bradford-on-Avon provided us with a lovely 69ft narrowboat – the ‘Duchess 6’. Comfortable, clean and spacious, it was the perfect floating home for our weekend break.

The Duchess 6

The Duchess 6

On arrival the boatyard manager greeted us and after putting all of our belongings and supplies onto the boat we were ready for our show-through. This included a complete walkthrough of the boat, beginning at the bow. We learnt how to use the mooring pins and how to tie up the boat properly. Inside we were shown how all the electrics work, how to turn on the engine and heating (v.important in Feb!) and a couple of very simple engine checks. Next came the steering, which may seem daunting to a first-timer, but once you’ve got the hang of it it’s actually really fun.

Stone bridge on the Kennet & Avon

Stone bridge on the Kennet & Avon

We started our journey heading west from Bradford-on-Avon towards Bath. Cruising past the impressive 14th Century Tithe Barn, this is worth a visit if you have time. After around 30-45 minutes cruising we reached the Avoncliffe Aqueduct, the first of the two aqueducts along the Kennet & Avon. The approach to the aqueduct is at a 90 ̊angle, which you approach slowly and beep your horn to notify other boats on the other side of the aqueduct. On the first afternoon we cruised for around 1.5 hours. We moored for our first night at a  little village called Limpley Stoke. From here it was a short 5-10 minute walk to the Hop Pole Inn, where we had an evening meal.

The Avoncliffe Aqueduct

The Avoncliffe Aqueduct

After an early night and a good breakfast the next morning we set off towards the Dundas Aqueduct. The scenery along the Kennet & Avon is a nice mixture of farmland and woodland set amongst rolling hills, with small villages in between.  The approach to the second aqueduct is also at a 90 ̊angle. Cruising across the Dundas Aqueduct offers some stunning views of the River Avon and surrounding countryside. Once off the aqueduct you will enter Brassknocker Basin, where there is a water pump and recycling facilities. We continued on towards Bath, encountering a couple of swing bridges on our journey. Easy enough to operate, using the windlass provided on the boat to undo the bolt and then pushing the bridge to the side of the canal.

Pulteney Weir

Pulteney Weir

On the approach to Bath, we cruised under some stone bridges and through a small tunnel near Sydney Gardens. There are moorings here if you wish to walk through the gardens into Bath city centre. We decided to moor just after the gardens and walk across the bridge overlooking Pulteney Weir, into Bath. We spent the afternoon visiting attractions such as Bath Abbey and the renowned tea house – Sally Lunn’s, the oldest house in Bath built in 1842, and known for its famous buns. After a quick coffee we made our way back to our boat ‘Ginny Marie’. We took a look at the two locks that we needed to operate to turn around at the winding hole just after.

Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey

Two of us made our way back to the boat to begin cruising towards Bath Top Lock.  The other two began preparing the lock by opening the paddles with the windlass; this enabled the lock to fill with water. Once the lock had filled with water and the water levels were the same, the lock gates could be pushed open, allowing the boat to cruise into the lock.Once the boat was in the lock and secured with ropes, the paddles at the opposite end of the lock were opened to allow the water to drain out. When going ‘down’ in a lock you must always be aware of the cill (the concrete part of the lock) as the boat could get caught on it if you don’t stay forward. Once the water levels were the same inside and outside the lock, the gates could be opened, allowing the boat to cruise out. Luckily for us, some ‘gongoozlers’ also gave us a hand with the gates.

Bath Top Lock

Bath Top Lock

We decided to head to Bathampton for our second night, and found a mooring right outside The George Inn. Once again we had a very enjoyable meal and in addition a glass of wine or two! Tired from all of the fresh air and full stomachs we decided on an early night again, so we’d be ready for a prompt start for our journey back to Bradford-on-Avon. We moored up in a ‘quiet zone’, which means that engines must be off until you start cruising. Keen to get the heating on we set off just before 9am and had breakfast on the move.

The George Inn at Bathampton

The George Inn at Bathampton

We cruised back past the farmer’s fields, through the swing bridges, looking at the narrowboats moored along the towpath. Many of these boats were live-aboards and out of courtesy it is important to go very slowly past them. We stopped off at Brassknocker Basin to top up with water on the way back; this is very easy to do and takes around 15-20 minutes. We journeyed across the aqueducts again, making the most of the surrounding views and also taking lots of photographs.

Pretty scenery on the Kennet & Avon

Pretty scenery on the Kennet & Avon

We arrived back at Bradford-on-Avon on the Sunday afternoon, to begin packing our belongings and give the boat a clean. There was enough time to take a closer look at Tithe Barn, which is well worth a visit. We loaded all of our bags into the car and said our goodbyes and thanks to the boatyard owner for such a fantastic holiday. One that I think we all thoroughly enjoyed and would all highly recommend.

Tithe Barn

Tithe Barn

To find out more about boating holidays in Bath:

Visit our website: www.waterwaysholidays.com/southern_england.htm

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Boating holiday routes: The River Wey

The peaceful and beautifully scenic River Wey travels through the heart of some of Surrey’s best countryside, providing boaters with the chance to explore some of the County’s attractive towns and villages.

Narrowboats on the River Wey

Narrowboats on the River Wey

This picturesque canalised river travels all the way from Godalming in Surrey, to the Thames Lock at Weybridge. Since 1653 it was used as the main link from Surrey to London, transporting goods to the capital. Commercial carrying on the River continued all the way up until the 1960s, since then it has been used by a variety of pleasure boat users and holiday makers. The River Wey was given to the National Trust in 1964, from its last private owner. It has remained in their care ever since.

The River Wey passes through the market town of Guildford, which offers a fantastic range of restaurants making it an ideal place to stop for lunch or dinner. Guildford is home to many places of interest including Guildford Castle and Guildford Cathedral. It has a wide variety of high street and designer shops it’s not a bad place to indulge in an afternoon of shopping either! Past Guildford the scenery becomes more rural, meandering through meadows, woodland and pretty riverside villages such as Send and Pyrford.

The River Wey passes through the Surrey Hills, named as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1953. The river is home to a diverse range of wildlife including dragonflies, butterflies and bats. Over 55 species of birds have homes on the river, including kingfishers, herons and warblers. Sites of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI) are common along the length of The River Wey. Nature reserves are also present along the Wey, offering protection to the habitats of the animal’s who live alongside the river.

Guildford Castle

Guildford Castle

You can cruise the length of the River Wey in a short break over a weekend or midweek break. A midweek break will allow more time for exploration along the river. Visit the National Trust’s Exhibition Centre at Dapdune Wharf, not to mention trying some of the many riverside pubs along the way! If you cruise onto the River Thames on a 7 night break, you can buy a licence at the first lock. Meaning you can vist towns and attractions such as Windsor Castle or Hampton Court.

To experience all that the River Wey has to offer:

Visit our website- www.waterwaysholidays.com/southern_england.htm or call us on 01252 796400

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Boat hire for Valentine’s Day

Struggling for some romantic inspiration for Valentine’s day? We’ve found a selection of cosy boating breaks for two in some of the most idyllic locations in the UK. No previous boating experience is necessary, as full training is given on arrival.

Beautiful scenery on the UK canals

Beautiful scenery on the UK canals

 

Our marina at Rugby are offering boating breaks over the Valentine’s period. Perfect for a couple to get away together and enjoy the rural scenery and rolling hills in the Warwickshire countryside. There are many route options available from Rugby making it an ideal choice for your Valentine’s break away. For a relaxing cruise, travel to the beautifully peaceful and lock-free Ashby Canal and stop off in Coventry for dinner and drinks in one of the many bars and restaurants. For a more active route, head to Crick and travel through two tunnels and two flights of locks!  Cosy 2-berth narrowboat ‘Heron’ is available from Rugby for a midweek break over Valentine’s Day for £618. It even comes with a solid fuel stove for a romantic evening on-board.

Cosy ‘Heron’ from Rugby

 

If a city break is more your thing, then how about a trip to Bath? Travel along the beautiful Kennet & Avon Canal, passing through picturesque towns and villages dotted along the banks. From our base at Bradford-on-Avon, there are very few locks on the journey to Bath, meaning you can relax and enjoy the scenery. Once you’ve reached the beautiful city of Bath you can visit some of the many attractions, including the Roman Baths and Bath Abbey.  Spend the afternoon shopping before visiting one of the numerous restaurants for a nice evening meal. Narrowboat ‘Bath’, is ideal for couples, at less than a year old ‘Bath’ has a modern interior and offers a comfortable cruising experience.

Bradford-on-Avon

Bradford-on-Avon

Find out more about these romantic boating breaks for two:

Visit our website www.waterwaysholidays.com/canal_boat_holidays.htm you can also call us on 01252 796400 for friendly advice.

 

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