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Holiday Inspiration

Top 5 UK canal boat holidays to see a Wonder of the Waterways

The original "7 Wonders of the Waterways" list was created by Robert Aickman, the co-founder of the Inland Waterways Association, about 50 years ago. These seven canal structures include everything from lock flights to tunnels and aqueducts and are strewn all over the country. Cruise through the darkness of Standedge Tunnel, experience the exhilarating heights of Pontcysylte Aqueduct and marvel at the feat of engineering that is the Anderton Boat Lift - a visit to one of these "Wonders of the Waterways" creates great memories and makes your next canal boat holiday even more special.

  1. 1) Beeston or Venetian to Llangollen (via Pontcysyllte Aqueduct)
  2. 2) Leeds to Skipton (via Bingley 5 Rise)
  3. 3) Leeds to Marsden (via Standedge Tunnel)
  4. 4) Bradford on Avon to Honeystreet (via Caen Hill Locks)
  5. 5) Beeston or Venetian to The River Weaver (via Anderton Boat Lift)
1) Beeston or Venetian to Llangollen (via The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct) The famous Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Llangollen Canal, Wales This is one of the most popular routes and leads all the way to Llangollen. On the way, you'll not only visit the world famous Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, one of the "Wonders of the Waterways", but also takes in the quaint village of Wrenbury, Grindley Brook staircase locks, Whixall Moss nature reserve, the pretty market town of Ellesmere and of course Llangollen town itself. There are great walks from both the Aqueduct and Llangollen.
2) Leeds to Skipton (via The Bingley 5-Rise) Canal boat in Skipton This route starts in the bustling city of Leeds and winds around the hills of the Pennines all the way up to Skipton. On the way this route takes in Kirkstall Abbey, quaint villages and the Bingley 5-Rise, one of the "Wonders of the Waterways". Up in Skipton there is so much to do, such as visiting Skipton Castle, walks into the Yorkshire Dales National Park or passing the time in the many ale houses this town calls its own.
3) Leeds to Marsden (via The Standedge Tunnel) Standedge Tunnel Another route that starts in the exciting city of Leeds and goes down onto the Aire and Calder and Calder and Hebble Navigations. There are plenty of Nature Reserves not far away from the towpath, such as St. Aidans, Fairburn Ings, Calder Park Wetlands and Cromwell Bottom Nature Reserve. At Cooper Bridge, you turn left onto the Huddersfield Broad and then Narrow Canal before you reach Standedge Tunnel, one of the "Wonders of the Waterways". You can go through Standedge Tunnel all the way to the other side and arrive in Marsden, a great place to go on walks into the open moorlands. There is a CRT chaperone onboard your boat for the whole of the trip through Standedge Tunnel to ensure that it all goes smoothly. The visitor centre in Marsden is a great place to learn more about the workings and the history of Standedge Tunnel.
4) Bradford on Avon to Honeystreet (via The Caen Hill Locks) Caen Hill Locks

A great option for everyone who has a bit more time and wants to tackle the famous Caen Hill Locks. The route to the locks is mostly rural and includes a few locks and swing bridges, accompanied by gorgeous open countryside. Once arrived, it takes a few hours to work through the 29 locks and moor up at the top. The Caen Hill Cafe provides a welcome break and is located just next to the locks. The canal now meanders through the delightful countryside without any locks on the way. Honeystreet is soon reached. A pub, boatyard, cafe and shop are situated right at the canalfront.

For everyone who'd rather not go up the Caen Hill Locks on the boat, it's possible to moor up at the bottom and walk up instead. This way, a visit to the Caen Hill Locks is even possible on a 3 or 4 night short trip. Or you can start in the canal pound at the top of the caen hill locks at our partner base in Devizes (note you can't descend the locks when starting at this hire base but you can visit on foot).

5) Beeston or Venetian to The River Weaver (via The Anderton Boat Lift) Anderton Boat Lift

Starting at either Beeston or Venetian, this route takes you through the pretty Cheshire countryside and only involves a handful of locks in Middlewich. Soon you'll arrive at one of the "Wonders of the Waterways", the Anderton Boatlift. It is a truly special feeling get lifted with your boat down onto the River Weaver and back up again. The visitor centre is a great place to learn more about the history of the boat lift and the mechanics of it. Anderton Nature Reserve and Marbury Countrypark are both located just off the towpath and make for great walks and birdwatching.

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