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Narrow boat/Canal boat holiday

We are planning to go to the UK in May 2021. We have been several times but never done a boat holiday. We have seen them in different places. Any suggestions on where we should go? I'd like to hear from anyone who has done this and would they recommend it. There will be 4 of us - my husband and me plus our son and daughter in law.

Posted by
741 posts

Is there another smaller narrow boat to rent? Or are they all the same? I'm thinking something about 30 feet long, fiberglas: I could manage that, but not these long converted barges. I don't see this as an option anywhere.

Posted by
746 posts

My own trip, many years ago was on the Leeds-Liverpool canal and our journey took us from Gargrave to Blackburn and back. It took in the best of the Pennine crossing and ended up in urban Lancashire before we retraced our steps. Our barge was a sixty foot narrow boat. These are all steel hulled and equipped with chemical toilets and shower as well as bedrooms and saloon plus small kitchen - nothing much has changed in the interim - I run a fair bit on the same canal and the barges seem remarkably similarly equipped! We were four young lads (it was a long time ago!) with zero experience but half an hours tutorial with the hire staff was enough to make us confident we could handle the barge. Fortunately they are sturdy and resilient vessels! You are right about the fibre glass hulled cruisers - I don’t see many for hire, least up north. Be brave and hire a small narrow boat. They are designed for the canals and more importantly, the locks and tunnels on them. I’m sure you won’t regret it. Just make sure you have a good waterproof jacket - we were on the canal in a very dry summer but the tunnels were very wet, water pouring down the air shafts!

The canal network is extensive - have a good trip wherever you end up!

Ian

Posted by
4886 posts

The Llangollen Canal is an interesting stretch of water including the unique Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and there are boats to hire from there.

I hired a narrow boat with friends years ago on the Shropshire Union Canal and on the Grand Union Canal from Leighton Buzzard and can recommend both areas.

Posted by
741 posts

Is there a least lock trip? One, that has the least locks for the greatest distance? I've watched many of the narrow boat rental videos, but since we would only have a few days, a lock fail, could mess everything up. is there a place to look up the best, easiest, best maintained .... beginner routes? I'm use to boats, but I've never piloted a boat like this, at 47 some odd feet, and don't want to be a clod that did it all wrong. :)

Posted by
746 posts

Don’t sweat the locks - the hire company will show you how the first couple work and you’ll soon see that providing you don’t open the lower sluices too soon and flood/sink the barge, it’s straightforward. My best advice on locks is to ignore the local who is hanging about and has never opened or closed a lock in his life, but is still sucking his teeth and muttering “you’re doing that all wrong”. Resist the temptation to give the standard two word response, one of which is ‘off’ and you’ll be fine. (In most situations like this I think ‘what would the Queen do?’ and simply smile and wave).

Ian

Posted by
4946 posts

I researched doing a canal boat holiday in the UK. It seemed like fun, but the disadvantage was that you didn't cover a lot of ground (or water) as you could renting a car.