Narrowboat holidays in Wales are perfect for exploring the best of the Welsh countryside and cruising across one of the seven Wonders of the Waterways: the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. Both Welsh canals offer narrowboat hire for those new to boating holidays and those of you who are experienced.
The Welsh navigations include the Llangollen Canal and The Monmouthshire, Brecon & Abergavenny Canal (or more familiarly as the Mon & Brec.) The Llangollen Canal can be accessed via Hurleston Junction from the Shropshire Union Canal, where the canal crosses the English borders. You can hire boats on both of the Welsh Canals, with marinas starting at a variety of locations on each waterway.
If you plan to navigate the iconic Pontcysyllte and Chirk Aqueducts on a short break, start from either 'Trevor', 'Chirk', 'Blackwater Meadow' or 'Whittington' marina on the Llangollen Canal.If you are on a seven night break you could start from any of our bases to cruise the entirity of the Llangollen Canal.
Alternatively you can cruise through the picturesque forests of the Brecon Beacons on the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal. Take a seven night or short break holiday from either 'Gilwern', 'Goytre' or 'Pencelli' hire base.
You can even experience a unique type of boating holiday on the Mon & Brec Canal on the electric powered canal boats available for hire, perfect for a silent, greener canal boat experience.
Llangollen town centre and the historic railway: Llangollen has many attractions to see and things to do including the steam railway and Horseshoe Falls.
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct: The 126 ft high 'stream in the sky', towers over the River Dee with breathtaking views of the Welsh Valleys.
Brecon Beacon National Park rich in heritage, breath taking scenery and canalside eateries. Perfect for walks & spotting wildlife.
On a seven night boating holiday in Wales, you can navigate the whole of the Llangollen Canal, taking in the sites of rural Shropshire, navigating through Welsh villages and passing over the famous Aqueducts.
If you are thinking of cruising the Llangollen Canal on a short break, you may choose to experience the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, nicknamed the 'stream in the sky,' which crosses over the River Dee, at 126 ft high. This famous aqueduct is a Grade 1 listed structure and a Unesco World Heritage Site. The Chirk Aqueduct is located a little further East along the canal, with the historic town of Chirk just a short walk away. This stretch of the waterway is virtually lock free with a couple of tunnels, so perfect for novices. You can navigate the aqueducts, moor up and explore the Welsh villages and turn your narrowboat around in the basin just above Llangollen town.
It takes less than ten minutes to walk from the moorings into the town, which has a lot to offer. The steam hauled railway in Llangollen is a must see and you can take a historic steam train on the railway following alongside the spectacular River Dee. You can also explore the magnificient Horseshoe Falls on a horse drawn trip boat, where the Llangollen Canal draws its water from the River Dee. In the middle of July each year the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod takes place when over 4,000 musicians from all around the world gather to perform.
On the eastern section of the Llangollen waterway you can experience working locks and lift bridges, whilst passing through the Welsh valleys, historic towns and tree lined fields. Passing the market town of Whitchurch you will descend the Grindley Brook flight, working the six staircase locks and spotting wildlife along the way. Marinas located on this section of waterway include, Whitchurch, Wrenbury and Swanley Bridge. From this end of the Llangollen you can cross the border to the Shropshire Union Canal near Chester before making your way back to your marina and returning your canal boat at the end of your narrowboat holiday.
A Welsh boating holiday, meandering through the Brecon Beacon National Park on the 'Mon & Brec' Canal, is a nature lovers dream. There is plenty of wildlife to spot from your hire boat, including kites, kingfishers, herons and lots of ducks and moorhens. The canal really is an escape from fast paced working life, with no connection to any other waterway navigation. The towpath is perfect for walks or cycling, with views across the valley of the River Usk to the Brecon Beacons beyond. The canal was built to transport coal, iron ore and limestone - many lime kilns can still be seen alongside the canal where they burned to produce lime for agriculture and building. The canal was also used to transport agricultural goods to market.
Flowing for 36 miles, the Mon & Brec passes through quiet villages, pubs and historic industrial sites, from Brecon to Pontypool, where the canal stops being navigable for hire boats. If you are a beginner, or not sure which canal to choose, we often suggest this waterway as a wonderful introduction to the joys of narrowboating. Not too many locks and not too many boats either. There are six locks to navigate, with long stretches of lock free cruising, a tunnel and an aqueduct, so something for everyone, a really good 'taster' route.
Villages of interest along this picturesque waterway include 'Goytre', meaning the place in the woods, once used as an area to transport coal, lime kiln remains give you a taste of its historic heritage. At the terminus of the canal are pleasant moorings in Brecon, an historic cathedral town with the River Usk running through, situated in the heart of the Brecon Beacons, this area is a must see.
The base at Gilwern, located at the middle of the Mon and Brec waterway, offers environmentally friendly electric holiday hire boats as well as the more usual diesel versions. Electrically-powered boats have quieter engines and can cover 18 miles on a single charge so there’s no need to recharge every night. To recharge the canal boat is simple, just use one of the reserved moorings for electric boats found along the canals, plug in and switch on.
The Shropshire Union Canal connects to the Llangollen Canal, providing additional hire bases to commence a seven night or ten night holiday travelling the length of the Llangollen Canal. Alternatively if you would prefer to cruise south down the Shropshire Countryside there are more marinas along the Shropshire Union Canal on our Central England canal boat holidays page.
The Middlewich Branch connects the Shropshire Union Canal to the Trent & Mersey Canal. You can ride the amazing Anderton Boat Lift down to the River Weaver or you could visit the industrial and commercial heart of Manchester whilst cruising the Cheshire Ring.
Welsh boating holidays offers a picturesque amble through the Breacon Beacons and Welsh Hills. To find out more information about the UK canals and rivers near you click to view the interactive map of the UK inland waterways.