Deciding to moor your canal boat near the pretty ancient town of Ware in east Hertfordshire offers a wealth of interesting places to visit, as well as some hidden gems.
Excavations near Ware Lock found evidence of settlements going back 5,000 – 10,000 years ago, to the Mesolithic or Middle Stone Age. The Romans had a settlement here, including a temple, and the town has been described as one of the oldest continuously occupied sites in Europe.
Cruising along the scenic river you will surely spot the gazebos. These riverside “summerhouses” are a unique feature of Ware, as shown above. Dating from the 18th century, there is nowhere else in Britain that gazebos survive as a group like this.
The river played an important part in Ware’s history. In the 18th century, Ware was the main malting town in England and the river was important for transporting barley into and malt out of the town towards London. Bargemen born in Ware were given the “freedom of the River Thames”, avoiding lock dues.
This Grade 1 listed underground grotto was created in the 1760’s by the 18th-century Quaker poet John Scott. Hidden in a modern suburban street, the country’s largest grotto is a series of six linked chambers dug 67ft into the chalk hillside. The walls are covered in a beautiful arrangement of shells, fossils and coloured glass, restored by the Ware Society in 1990. Entry is free but there is a suggested donation. Great for kids, take a torch and explore!
Your canal boat is perfectly equipped with all you need to make a meal, or you may wish to explore the local area while on your weekend, short-break or longer holiday. There are plenty of places to eat and drink in and around the town with cafes, restaurants and bars. For a delicious homemade snack you might be lucky enough to catch the floating bakery, Lilla Flicka Bakery. The small artisan bakery is based on a narrowboat and continuously cruises the River Lea. Baker Pedro serves up scrumptious homemade bread and cakes using organic flour, all baked on board. We recommend the chocolate brownies!
There are lots of events that take place in the town, from Vintage Fairs to the popular annual Ware Dickensian evening, see the Ware Town Council website for details: Ware Town Council
Every July the Ware Boat Festival takes place, a weekend of fun and frolics on, in, and around the river and the town.
So if you are looking for somewhere to moor up and explore, Ware is well worth a visit!