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Family friendly canal routes

High Life

A SHORT BREAK THROUGH THE BEAUTIFUL DEE VALLEY

This is the perfect short break for families enjoy a narrowboat for the first time. You’ll cross the border between England and Wales as you cruise through the stunning Dee Valley, an official Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and float through the clouds along the sky-high Pontcysyllte Aqueduct for one of the most memorable views on the UK’s waterways.

At either end of your out-and-back route are two fascinating towns that are packed full of adventures, and with just a couple of locks to conquer each way, you’ll get a relaxing taste of canal life.

You’ll complete the 37-mile round trip with four-and-a-half hours of cruising each day, giving you plenty of time to explore this wonderful stretch.

“If you’re trying a canal holiday for the first time this route is perfect. The memory of crossing the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct will stay with you for a long time!”

Becky Davies, Chirk base manager

YOUR 4-NIGHT ADVENTURE

37 miles | 4 locks | average of 4.5 hours per day cruising

  • Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
  • Chirk Aqueduct
  • Dee Valley Area of Natural Beauty
  • Chirk Castle*
  • Ellesmere’s award-winning Mere
  • Wood Lane Nature Reserve
  • Ellesmere’s Sculpture Trail

*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.

Family canal boat holiday Black Prince

COVID-19: ATTRACTION ADVICE

There are lots of attractions to enjoy on route, but their opening times and visitor procedures may have changed to cope with COVID restrictions. Please check their website and phone ahead for the latest information, and to check whether you need to book in advance.

Route highlights: Pontycysllte Aqueduct

THE HIGH LIFE

Pontcysyllte-Aqueduct

At 39 metres tall, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is the highest canal aqueduct in the world, so when you cross you really are experiencing something special. The waterway takes boats over the Dee River, and the and surrounding valley is so stunning it was given World Heritage status. As you cross, one side of the aqueduct carries a footpath for walkers but the other side falls away, giving you the feeling of floating through the air. This is an experience not to be missed.

Our tip:

“Moor up before or after the aqueduct and follow one of the trails down to the River Dee, a great setting for picnics and skimming stones.”

Route highlights: Chirk Aqueduct

A THRILL IN TWO COUNTRIES

Chirk-Aqueduct

This is one route with two incredible aqueducts! Chirk Aqueduct carries boaters across Ceiriog Valley. Although it’s a little shorter than Pontcysyllte, it has the bonus of Chirk Tunnel at one end which, as it’s totally unlit, you’ll cruise through in the dark!

Our tip:

“The aqueduct crosses the border between England and Wales, so why not take a selfie with a foot in each country!”

Route highlights: The Dee Valley

NATURAL BEAUTY

Dee Valley

The Dee Valley is an official Area of Natural Beauty that includes some of the UK’s most wonderful landscapes. Although you’re only cruising through a short stretch of it, you’ll enjoy astounding views and a wealth of wildlife. The beauty of a canal break is you can stop and explore at any time.

Our tip:

“This is a great route for putting your Towpath Activity Guide to use, especially the sections on family walks and wildlife watching.”

Route highlights: Chirk Castle

KING FOR A DAY

Chirk_Castle

Imposing Chirk Castle was one of several fortresses built in medieval times to keep the Welsh under English rule. The incredible castle was constructed with some of the most state-of-the-art defences for the period, including round towers with a wider firing field for archers, a broader base that made it difficult for battering rams to get close, and murder holes in the towers where defenders could drop all sorts of nasties on unsuspecting invaders. This is a National Trust property, so entry is free for members.

Our tip:

“Book your tickets in advance. The castle is just over a mile from Chirk Marina, or you can catch a taxi from Llangollen.”

Route highlights: Ellesmere’s Wildlife

ANIMAL MAGIC

You’ll spot plenty of plants and animals as you cruise along, but when you reach Ellesmere you have the opportunity to see even more of the local wildlife. Head to The Mere for an award-winning green space that includes a shallow lake, woodland walks and play areas. Alternatively, Wood Lane Nature Reserve is a quarry site that has become one of the best places in Shropshire to view bird life. More than 180 species have been spied on the lagoon islands, among the newly planted trees and wading through the shallow waters.

Route highlights: Ellesmere’s Sculpture Trail

ART ATTACK

For a countryside walk with a difference follow the Ellesmere Sculpture Trail. This three-mile route is dotted with works from international artists, so there’s great family fun in being first to spot the different statues.

PERFECT FOR YOUR FIRST FAMILY CANAL CRUISE

High Life is a great choice for canal holiday first timers. The route is truly stunning, yet it’s short enough to give you loads of time to explore along the way, and the two towns at each end are perfect for day visits. And if you don’t fancy tackling too many locks, there are just two to travel through on your way to and from Ellesmere.

YOUR ADVENTURE STARTS WITH A FREE COACHING SESSION

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.

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:

Chirk Castle © Mike Peel (www.mikepeel.net)., CC BY-SA 4.0