Marina cruisers are ready for holidaymakers

Narrowboat operators are busy making preparations for the return of overnight visitors as the coronavirus lockdown restrictions are rolled back.

Bryan White, Mike Houghton and Andy Brickland are expecting a busy boating season when Whixall Marina near Whitchurch reopens on April 12
Bryan White, Mike Houghton and Andy Brickland are expecting a busy boating season when Whixall Marina near Whitchurch reopens on April 12

Under the roadmap waterways enthusiasts will be able to take a cruise and stay over from April 12 including sailing on the popular Llangollen Canal to take in the countryside views from the Pontcysyllte and Chirk aqueducts.

At Whixall Marina near Whitchurch boat hire businesses say they are expecting to have busy season as tourists take to the canal network for the first time this year.

Anglo-Welsh is among a number running leisure cruisers from the site, in Alders Lane, Whixhall, where it operates 14 narrowboats including a day trip boat which is suitable for groups. Marina centre is also home to companies Karma Waters and Pea Green Boats.

The company hire fleet manager Andy Brickland, 65, of Anglo-Welsh, says: "Most of the people who come here go on to visit the aqueducts. They come for a bit if calm, to unwind and relax and take in the countryside view.

"At the moment we are looking busy. We're expecting to have a good year.

"We had a really good second half of the year trading between July and September after the spring lockdown last year so we're feeling optimistic about the coming months depending on how things go with the Covid restrictions.

"We have got everything in place in terms of social distancing measures. We use a machine to clean the boats and they also get disinfected in between customers. The boats are ready to go and families can stay overnight. We're starting on April 12 with about nine boats booked up already so we have some availability and offers on our website."

He also says the rising temperatures were a welcome sign along with the easing of restrictions.

Whixall Marina manager Philip Knowles adds: "People come to stay from all over the country. We are expecting a lot of visitors to come through here from week after next."

"We encourage all the usual precautions including the wearing of masks and there's a one-way system set up in the cafe. We send emails to the boat companies so that everyone knows what to do when the visitors arrive.

"People are very good at managing themselves under the circumstances and I think we have all got used to it now after a year of social distancing."

Temperatures were set to climb above average – and could top 24C (75.2F) on Wednesday in some areas, the Met Office said.

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