With more canals than Venice and more people visiting the canals than at any other time in their history, canal boat holidays on the West Midlands waterways are more popular than ever.

Emma Lovell, Reservations Manager for Anglo Welsh, explains: “Travelling at just 4mph through peaceful countryside, past canalside pubs, sleepy villages and as well as through vibrant waterside towns and cities, canal boat holidays are often described as ‘the fastest way to slow down’. 

“Our narrowboats all have central heating, hot water, televisions, DVD players, WiFi, fully-equipped kitchens, showers and flushing toilets.  Our luxury boats have larger bathrooms and kitchens, and extras like multi-fuel stoves.

“You don’t need a licence to steer a canal boat and tuition is included in our holiday hire.  To celebrate the hundreds of miles of waterways and exciting waterside destinations available in the Birmingham area, we’ve published a guide to our top five short breaks for beginners.”

Anglo Welsh’s top 5 boating breaks for beginners in the West Midlands:

1.      Navigate to the Black Country Living Museum, home of the Peaky Blinders

From Anglo Welsh’s canal boat hire base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, it’s an eight-and-a-half hour, three-lock journey to the Black Country Living Museum.  Scenes for all six series of the BBC’s epic gangster drama Peaky Blinders were filmed at the 26-acre Museum.  As well as walking in the footsteps of the Shelbys, visitors can explore period shops and homes, have a drink in the ‘Bottle & Glass Inn’, sample the Museum’s famous traditionally cooked 1930’s-style fish and chips and take a trip ‘into the thick’ to experience life in an 1850’s coal mine.

2.      Moor up to see a play in Shakespeare’s Stratford

From Anglo Welsh’s boat yard at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal, boaters can reach Stratford upon Avon on a weekend or mid-week break.  There are moorings in the centre of town in Bancroft Basin, next to Bancroft Gardens and the Royal Shakespeare Company. This year’s Royal Shakespeare Theatre productions include As You Like It and Macbeth.  Bancroft Basin is just a short walk from Stratford’s excellent choice of shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants, including Carluccios. From Wootton Wawen, it takes around six hours, to reach Shakespeare’s Stratford, passing through 17 locks.

3.      Cruise through the countryside to visit Packwood House

On a short break from Anglo Welsh’s narrowboat hire base at Tardebigge near Bromsgrove, boaters can cruise to the village of Lapworth, home of the National Trust’s Tudor Manor house, Packwood House.  The journey takes boaters along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, through the Worcestershire countryside and the remains of the Forest of Arden, to Kings Norton Junction.  Next, the route transfers onto the Stratford Canal to reach moorings in Lapworth, a short walk from the 16th century Packwood House, with 150 acres of parkland to explore and stunning gardens, including the famous Yew Garden.  The journey to Lapworth takes around seven hours and passes through two tunnels. There are no locks on this route.

4.      Moor up in the heart of Birmingham and visit the National SEA LIFE Centre

From Anglo Welsh’s canal boat hire base at Tardebigge, it’s a five-hour, lock-free journey to moorings at Gas Street Basin in Birmingham City Centre, close to Brindleyplace and its National SEA LIFE Centre.  Home to the UK’s only 360o Ocean Tunnel where visitors can marvel at sharks, a giant turtle, rays and hundreds of tropical fish, the Centre is also home to a group of Gentoo penguins and a pair of sea otters and a fascinating variety of jellyfish.

5.      Cruise to the base of the magnificent Hatton Locks

On a short break from Wootton Wawen, boaters can cruise north along the Stratford Canal, transferring onto the Grand Union Canal to reach the bottom of the impressive flight of 21 locks at Hatton.  The flight is nick-named the ‘Stairway to Heaven’, because of the hard work involved in the ascent, followed by an easy run to Camp Hill, where the working boat men and women were once paid.  Today the journey to Hatton takes boaters through the Warwickshire countryside and past a series of villages with country pubs, including the canalside Fleur de Lys at Lowsonford and the Navigation Inn at Rowington.  From Wootton Wawen, it takes around eight hours to reach the base of the Hatton flight, passing through 17 locks along the way.

Anglo Welsh’s 2023 canal boat holiday prices start at £680 for a short break (three or four nights) on a boat for up to four people, £940 for a week.

For more information about Anglo Welsh’s holidays, go to www.anglowelsh.co.uk or call the bookings team on 0117 304 1122.


Anglo Welsh canal boat hire base at Wootton Wawen
Anglo Welsh canal boat hire base at Wootton Wawen

Anglo Welsh offers canal boat holiday and day boat hire on the Stratford Canal at Wootton Wawen, near Henley-in-Arden



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