One of the things I love about holidays is the chance to try something different and this year was no exception with a fabulous day canal boat experience over the breathtaking Pontcysyllte Aqueduct with Anglo Welsh Waterway Holidays.
During our first visit to the area two years ago, we had taken a trip on a horse drawn canal boat at Llangollen Wharf. Privilegedpup was only 2 himself back then and it was a whole new exciting experience for him. He was so well behaved and we really enjoyed the calming experience of cruising down the waterways so much that this time, we decided to hire a canal boat all of our own. Luckily, an Anglo Welsh base was just 5 minutes walk from our holiday accommodation in the Trevor Basin so off we set for our day on the canal with privilegedpup as the skipper and we, his first mates!
I must admit I am not a fan of boats, never have been. Despite Rod Stewart’s ‘I am Sailing’ holding the number one spot in the charts when I came into this world, it’s something I have never really taken to. Until now, that is because cruising gently down the canal over the spectacular Pontycysllte Aqueduct is an experience I will never forget and one I would do again in a heartbeat.
The route over the Pontycysllte Aqueduct, aptly nicknamed ‘The Stream in the Sky’, provides some absolutely stunning views and takes you towards Chirk where you can stop off for a lovely lunch at The Poachers Rotisserie before commencing your return journey back to Trevor. Please do be aware that excessive amounts of alcohol are not permitted on board as the priority for Anglo Welsh is for your safety and others on the waterway. This meant that my usual quota of a bottle of wine a day had to wait until we arrived safely back at base but then of course, I really felt I’d earned it!
If you’ve ever considered hiring a canal boat but haven’t yet done so for one reason or another then my main fears were as follows:
I’ve never done this before
A full briefing on canal etiquette and how to operate the boat is given before you start and your expert guide will stay with you as long as you need. Questions are welcomed, no matter how silly you think they are and there’s a written guide in the canal boat should you need to refer to it during the journey.
The boat will sink
The boat will not sink. It is very well maintained and there are a series of safety measures in place to ensure that if you can’t deal with the problem someone can quickly be on hand to assist if needed.
I will fall overboard and drown
If you fall overboard, you just need to stand up. Average canal depth is only about 1.5m. Being a 5’2” midget, even I can manage that.
I won’t be able to operate the boat
To be fair, steering the boat was not an area in which I excelled so I was soon sacked but luckily first mate number 2 was able to step in and take over. It’s very much a team effort. My nautical skills were much more suited to opening bridges and pulling on rope.
I will have to deal with locks
There are no locks on this section of the canal network. Just the odd bridge to open and tunnel to pass through.
I will damage the canal boat
There are bumpers on the side, which no doubt take the odd knock or two over the years but just take it steady, listen carefully to all instructions before you set off and you can only go a maximum of 4 miles per hour anyway so hardly enough to cause any significant collateral damage.
Each of the day boats can accommodate up to 10 people and is well equipped with both indoor and outdoor seating areas and everything you could need for a fabulous day out of the ordinary; kettle, hob, fridge, crockery and toilet. Anglo Welsh Waterway Holidays offer flexible booking, no hidden costs and it doesn’t matter if you’re a novice or experienced boater. Pets are very welcome, there’s a wide range of routes and locations and it’s a real family friendly experience. We took the day boat option, which is ideal if you just want to try your hand at it or have a fun day out with family and friends but you can opt for a longer hire period with spacious and modern 2-12 berth narrowboats also available for hire.
The whole experience was exceptionally well organised, we received expert tuition before ‘setting sail’ from Matt at the Trevor base who inspired nothing but confidence with his knowledge and aptitude during the initial briefing. All staff were friendly, polite and efficient and we were warmly welcomed on board.
This year was just a day trip, next time we’ll definitely be at the helm for a lot longer!