Looking for a bit of inspiration for your next UK holiday? We’ve looked at some of the top attractions either on, or very close to the waterways all over England. Whether you’re after a relaxing, scenic holiday or one packed full of adventure- there’s something for everyone on the UK waterways.
The Anderton Boat Lift
Situated in the North of England is the Anderton Boat lift. An impressive structure, located on the banks of the River Weaver in Cheshire. Built to lift cargo boats from the river below, to the Trent and Mersey Canal above, the lift went under major restoration in 2002, costing around 7 million pounds. Visitor moorings are available should you wish to stop off and grab some lunch at the visitor centre, offering spectacular views and the chance to discover the history of the lift. To view this waterway attraction, search for holidays departing from Preston Brook, Anderton, Acton Bridge, Middlewich or Northwich on the Trent and Mersey Canal.
Heading close to Stoke-on-Trent, just a short taxi ride from Froghall on the Caldon Canal, you can find yourself at the impressive Alton Towers, one of the UK’s biggest attractions. There’s plenty to do for all ages, including some of the most famous rollercoaster’s in the United Kingdom. For the children there are lots to choose from, why not visit the farm, have a go on the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ride or enjoy the views from a cable car. To take a trip to Alton Towers search on our website for breaks from our base at the ‘Peak District’. From here it would take around 7 hours cruising (each way) to get to Froghall, alternatively book from our base on the Caldon Canal for a shorter journey to Alton Towers.
Cadbury World and The Gas Street Basin
Moving into the Midlands now and onto Birmingham- where there are apparently more canals than in Venice! A very good option for those with children or adult-only groups, as there’s plenty to do and see. Cadbury World is a great option no matter what age! If you’re coming by narrowboat you can moor up at the purple Bourneville Station and enjoy a fifteen minute stroll following the fingerposts into Cadbury World. Once inside you can enjoy a 4D chocolate adventure, chocolate making, and have a spending-spree in the world’s biggest Cadbury shop!
The Gas Street Basin is in the centre of Birmingham, it is known as the heart of Britain’s canal network. The basin is 200 years old and got its name due to it being the first street to have gas lighting in Birmingham. Brindleyplace, the canal-side development has plenty of restaurants, bars and cafes. The clubs of Broad Street are very close by, making Birmingham an appealing location for a stag or hen-do! To experience all that Birmingham has to offer, search for holidays departing from our bases at Alvechurch or Tardebigge.
Dudley Tunnel and The Black Country Living Museum
Dudley, in the West Midlands, is an exciting option when considering a holiday on the waterways. The Dudley Canal trust provide excursions through the tunnels, mines and caverns. You can explore Dudley Tunnel (the second longest tunnel on the UK canals) from the comfort of your own hire boat, via the Dudley Canal Trust’s free towing service. Dudley Canal Trust hosts a range of special events throughout the year, including Santa Boat Trips from the 5th December. Very close by is the Black Country Museum, a 26 acre open-air museum where you can explore a recreated 19th Century village, take a trip down a coal mine and catch the tram to the canal-side village. Canals were essential to the Black Country, providing the industrial area with the ability to transport heavy cargo. The museum hosts the last original steam-powered narrowboat in the world named the ‘President’.
Warwick Castle is easily accessible from the Grand Union Canal, just 8 hours (each way) from our base at Stockton. A perfect place to stop for a fun day out with the kids is Warwick castle. Home to the ‘Horrible Histories Maze’, the castle dungeons and ‘The Mighty Trebuchet’- the largest, fully functioning catapult replica in the world. Further along the Grand Union Canal is a fun, but challenging flight of locks. The Hatton Flight- dubbed ‘The Stairway to Heaven’ by boaters. It consists of 21 locks, allow yourself at least 2.5 hours to pass through the 2-mile stretch that climbs 45 metres.
The Blisworth Tunnel and Canal Museum
Heading further South, The Blisworth Tunnel is the longest self-navigable tunnel on the UK canal network that is still in frequent use. Located on the Grand Union Canal in Northamptonshire, the tunnel was originally built to provide a link between London and the Midlands. The tunnel has a tragic history and is claimed to be haunted by the workers who lost their lives working on the tunnel since the start of its construction in 1973. The tunnel is 1 ¾ miles long and takes around 45 minutes to an hour. Make sure you bring your waterproofs- water droplets from the roof of the tunnel are frequent!
The Canal Museum is south of the Blisworth Tunnel, in the town of Stoke Bruerne on the Grand Union Canal. Here you can learn the history of the Canal Network and also discover the stories of the boat families, leggers and lock-keepers who worked on them. Check our website for departures on the Grand Union Canal from Linslade to experience the Blisworth Tunnel and the Canal Museum.
Caen Hill Locks and the Roman Baths
Down to one of our more Southerly bases and to The Caen Hill Locks. Located on the Kennet and Avon Canal, they are the longest consecutive flight of locks in the country. With 29 locks in total, it can take around 5-6 hours to complete the flight, which raises your boat 237ft in two miles. For a more relaxing holiday, just a short distance from the Caen Hill Locks is the beautiful city of Bath. Bath has plenty to offer, including a fascinating history, architecture and of course the famous Roman Baths.
The baths are one of the best preserved Roman remains in the world, dating back to 70 AD. With water temperatures reaching 46 °C, the Roman’s used to believe the water was a mystical work of the Gods. Unbeknown to them; the baths were built on a natural hot springs. Bath and the Caen Hill Locks can both be reached from our base at Devizes; you should allow yourself a week to reach Bath from here. For shorter breaks you can reach Bath from our bases at Bradford on Avon or Monkton Combe.
For more information on any of these destinations please visit our website or give us a call on 01252 796400.