Family friendly canal routes

Going Potty

A FAMILY FRIENDLY CANAL HOLIDAY IN STOKE ON TRENT

For those that like getting their hands dirty on holiday, then try Going Potty!

This family-friendly four or seven-night holiday includes Stoke’s pottery heritage, on the UK’s most beautiful canals and the chance to enjoy the thrills and spills of a popular theme park.

A WEEK LONG CRUISE FOR THE FAMILY

This family-friendly canal route starts from the home of the Potteries in Stoke on Trent and then follows the Caldon Canal, one of the UK’s most beautiful, as it passes through the Churnet Valley to Hazelhurst and then on to Froghall.
This is an out-and-back route with short cruising days and very few locks, so it’s a really relaxed option.

7-night holiday highlights:

38 miles | 34 locks | average of 3.5 hours per day cruising

  • Tour a Potteries factory or two* and make your own pottery
  • More time to enjoy the same route!
  • Spend a relaxed day at Consall Forge and Churnet Valley Railway*
  • One or two full days at Alton Towers*
  • Enjoy the scenery along the beautiful Caldon Canal

*Please note that the cost of entry is not included in your holiday. Check the attraction website for latest prices. We recommend booking in advance.

“Going Potty starts with a nod to the canal’s industrial heritage but soon takes you into some beautiful countryside. With Alton Towers at the end of the route, you’ll have no trouble convincing the kids to give it a try.”

Rachel Longson, Black Prince
family canal boat holiday uk

Route highlights: Emma Bridgewater Factory

GO POTTY BEFORE YOU START CRUISING

Check in on our boats starts from 2pm onwards, so you can visit one of Stoke’s pottery factories before you start cruising. A visit will give you an insight into the Potteries’ past and an appreciation of why the canal network was created in the 18th century.
We really like the Emma Bridgewater factory, located near our marina at Etruria. It has free factory tours and a decorating studio where you can paint your own designs on to pottery.

Our tip:

“If your kids need to buy presents for grandparents, pottery they’ve decorated makes a great gift. Once your pieces have been completed they have to go into the kiln, so everything gets sent to your home in a few weeks. No need to worry about breakages on your holiday!”

pottery painting on the canals

Route highlights: Festival Marina

THE STARTING POINT FOR YOUR CRUISE

Your Going Potty cruise starts at the Festival Marina in Etruria, Stoke on Trent. After your check in and induction with the Black Prince team, your cruise starts for a short stretch along the Trent and Mersey Canal until, you come to the junction near the marina where you join the Caldon Canal.

Route highlights: Consall Forge & Nature Park

DISCOVERING THE REDMEN AND MORE

In the 17th and 18th centuries Consall was a busy industrial area with kilns and ironstone mining. At its peak more than 1,500 men worked in the area and 30 barges transported the ironstone to Froghall each day. Covered in the bright red dust of the stone, workers were known as “the Redmen”.
You can see the remains of the limekilns set on the side of the Caldon Canal and this area is also home to Consall Nature Park and the Churnett Valley Railway.

Our tip:

“The Visitor Centre at Consall Nature Park has lots of displays and exhibitions that explain its past. There are lots of walks within the park, from the leisurely Green Walk that can be completed in 30 minutes to the Purple Walk which takes around two hours and offers spectacular views of Churnet Valley.”

Consall-Forge

Route highlights: Alton Towers

A DAY OF UPS AND DOWNS (AND SWINGING ALL AROUND)

If you’ve chosen a seven-night break, you’ll have time to spend a day or two at adrenaline-fuelled days at Alton Towers. The famous theme park is a packed day out with rollercoasters, rides, fairground games, cable cars, thrills and spills for all the family. You can also head to Splash Landings, the park’s own indoor adventure pool complex.
To do Alton Towers justice you need to book ahead and spend a full day in the theme park. If you want to go Splash Landings too, we recommend booking a second day. You can check prices and book tickets on the website.

Our tip:

“Although Froghall is closer to Alton Towers, Leek is bigger and you’ll find it easier to catch a bus or taxi to Alton Towers from here.”

Cls-With-Attitude-Alton_Towers

Route highlights: Caldon Canal Leek Branch

CRUISE ONE OF THE UK’S PRETTIEST WATERWAYS

Once you reach Frogall you’ll be able to turn the boat around and start your journey back to base if you’re on a short break. However, those of you on a longer holiday can divert up the lock-free Leek branch of the Caldon Canal, arguably one of the prettiest sections of the UK waterways.

Our tip:

“This is a great area for a bit of wildlife spotting, as you’ll pass farmland, woodland and open countryside where you’ll see a whole host of animals and birds in their natural habitats.”

Caldon canal

DOWNLOAD YOUR EXCLUSIVE CRUISING NOTES

To inspire your holiday plans, we’ve created an exclusive set of cruising notes with day-by-day ideas for this route. Want to know more? You can download our exclusive cruising notes here.

PERFECT FOR YOUR FIRST FAMILY CANAL CRUISE

If you are looking for an easy break to see if canal holidays are for you, Going Potty is a great choice. You get the contrast of the industrial Potteries and jaw-droppingly lovely countryside, plus you can plan in some fantastic stops and attractions along the way.

YOUR ADVENTURE STARTS WITH A FREE COACHING SESSION

And before you head off, we’ll give you and the family a free British Marine Federation accredited coaching session.
We’ll walk you through the controls on the boat. Show you how to steer and stop. How to cruise safely. How to operate locks and swing bridges and navigate tunnels.
You won’t leave until you’re a wiz on the narrowboat. Ready and raring to discover a new destination every day.

WE’LL SEND YOU AN EXCLUSIVE ROUTE PLAN FROM OUR TEAM

Our teams know every route like the back of their hand. So when you book, we’ll send you exclusive cruising notes for your holiday, with ideas for each day’s travel, where to stop, how many locks and how long you’ll need to cruise.
Your suggested itinerary is a great base for planning your trip. You can tailor days to suit your family, to create your exclusive adventure.

YOUR HOLIDAY INCLUDES

  • Lifejackets for children and adults
  • All your linen and kitchen equipment
  • A coaching session before you set off
  • A family-friendly route plan with advice on stops each day and night
  • The Towpath Activity Guide from family adventurer David Mellor
Holidaying with friends or family? Save 5% when you book a second boat

Picture credits:

Caldon Canal Consall Forge © Roger Kidd / CC BY-SA 2.0
Moorings and Lime Kilns Consall Forge © Gillie Rhodes / cc-by-sa/2.0
Churnet Valley Railway Locomotive Approaching Froghall © David Dixon (cc-by-sa/2.0)
Alton Towers © Cls With Attitude / CC BY-SA 2.0