“You won’t be disappointed”

Review from tripadvisor.co.ukReviewed 14 September 2014
Ric, SheffieldTripAdvisor

Our Boat YardOur small party of three had been contemplating a canal holiday for some time. We had looked at a number of options: different counties, different canals, different operators. Finally we decided on the Shropshire Union Canal and started to look for narrowboat hire companies. We came across Andersen Boats quite late on in our search but were impressed by the extremely large number of positive votes on Trip Advisor. Having great faith in the opinions of others we decided we’d go along with the reviews and made our booking: 3 of us, possibly a fourth joining us, on an 8-berth boat. We liked the idea of room and spaciousness!

From the first, the staff were helpful, informative, never pushy and always friendly. We felt we had made a good decision and were looking forward to our holiday.

We arrived on a Saturday. Car parking was more that ample (2 cars per boat) and extremely secure. The quayside ran right along the side of the boatyard so that unpacking the car and loading the boat was extremely easy. Trolleys were provided to make like even more easy.Getting on you narrowboat

As soon as we had loaded our belongings, we had a briefing (show through) from Eddie who was great! Everything was explained and no question, however daft it might have seemed, was answered other than with courtesy and reassurance. There were a number of daily maintenance and inspection tasks to do, a few no-no’s and the usual warning about bending the rudder and how to avoid an expensive repair bill. We were shown how to use the moorings and fill up with water when needed. (The advice to top up every time you pass a water point should be well heeded – you don’t want to run the tank dry).
Ferien auf dem HausbootFinally the point was made that we could phone the boat yard any time to ask questions or if we got into trouble: Andersens were there to support us and make sure our holiday wasn’t spoilt in any way.

Pauline was on hand to offer advice about destinations and options we could take during the week. All very helpful for a crew who had absolutely no clue at all about this particular canal system.

Next was Ryan who took me through the boat handling. Eddie and a colleague had gone off with the rest of our team to go through lock procedures. Between them, Andersen staff took us through the first three locks including an awkward right hand turn into the third lock before wishing us well and sending us on our way.

I shall say a little about the canals we toured towards the end of this review; for now I want to concentrate on the boat we’d hired.

The Fjord Emperor is a big boat and I had wondered if we had bitten off more than we could chew. The first really tricky manoeuvre was a tight right-hander into the Middlewich branch at Wardle. Ryan had advised us that we could us the winding post on our right and a mooring rope to keep the bow tucked in as we swung the stern round to line up with the bridge and the lock immediately beyond. Great advice for which we were very grateful. The next big challenge would be at Barbridge with another right-hander to take us up to Chester but once again the advice was: “be confident and go for it”. The dual edict: “Take it slow and be confident” turned out not to be incompatible advice; there were times when a gentle turn, a steady approach were just the right thing and other times when a hard rudder and throttle would swing the stern round when needed. We decided that the Fjord Emperor wasn’t too hard to handle after all!Barbridge Junction

The boat itself was very well equipped. At handover it was spotless and there were nice touches like a vase of fresh red roses and a bottle of wine. There was a good deal of room (we learned during our holiday from others who had booked with different operators, how tight space could be on their boats). The engine was quiet too – something we really appreciated when cruising along quiet waterways. Crockery, cutlery, cooking utensils and equipment were in good supply and again, all nice and clean. Bedding had been provided (pre-book the quantity you want) and all the beds had been made ready. Hot water (really hot water), provided indirectly by the engine, was plentiful after only a short time cruising, the shower nice and hot and the shower room spacious enough not to feel claustrophobic.

The interior is nicely fitted out in oak and oak panelling, work surfaces in the galley are plentiful and fixtures and fittings thoughtfully laid out and in excellent repair. The fridge was standard size, plenty of room and spotlessly clean at handover. Kettle is heated on the gas hob. There is good seating up front for those who want just to watch the world drift by. Two folding chairs were provided. Hair dryer, a radio and TV are available as are 240 volt sockets forward and aft for chargers and your own equipment.
Andersen Boats Narrowboats
Now to the holiday route: we did the short section of the Trent Mersey to Wardle (three locks) and took a right onto the Middlewich branch. We stayed over at Church Minshull (Bridge 14) the first night and had an evening meal at the Badger in Church Minshull. This was an easy first day’s cruising with no deadlines. The Badger is highly recommended but make sure you have torches and hi-vis clothing for the return journey at night: the road nearest the canal has no footpath). Second day was Church Mishull to Bunbury along the Chester Canal via Barbridge Junction. We stopped overnight just beyond bridge 105A and had an evening meal at the Dysart Arms, highly recommended but note again there is no footpath for most of the way along Bowe’s Gate Road. (The Yew Tree Inn just beyond Bunbury had also been recommended to us but was simply a bit too far). Day three was Bunbury to Christleton where we were able to wind the The Chester Canal Holiday Routeboat at Quarry Bridge just before Bridge 121 and moor up close to the Cheshire Cat. This too is a highly recommended pub/restaurant, the food simply delicious and the staff incredibly helpful. Day 4 was a full day in Chester. Day 5 was Christleton to Barbridge (near Stoke Hall Bridge No 99) and an evening meal on-board. Day 6 was Barbridge and return to Barvbridge via Nantwich and an evening Meal at the Olde Barbridge Inn, again highly recommended, convenient with great food and service. Final day was Barbridge back to Andersens boat yard and an evening meal at The Kinderton House Hotel (modern, great food but very noisy atmosphere). We had also checked out The Narrowboat pub but there was loud music playing and the seating area was directly below a balcony with a pool table – not really for us, nor for you if you want a quiet, relaxing conversation with your fellow narrowboaters at the end of your holiday (Andersen Boats adds “The Narrowboat pub offers a variety of different events, some as described and on other nights things are a lot more chilled..  a great pub to visit. Also you can visit the Big Lock & Kings Lock pubs for food and drink at the canal side).

In summary would I recommend Andersens? Of course I would. After such a pleasant experience why would I want to risk booking with anyone else?

Andersen Boats Best in Britain

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