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Canal / Narrow Boat rentals

My mother and I are looking into renting a canal boat (also called a narrow boat). Has anyone done this? Any tips?

Posted by
430 posts

My husband and I took a 2 week tour several years ago on the Avon Ring -- we loved it. With two people, find a boat that gives each of you some personal space. It doesn't matter what company you rent from, you rent a specific boat -- each boat has a name and unique configuration. Boats come with a bathroom (SMALL), hot water, small, but complete kitchen, and sitting area. If you haven't done lots of this before, and are not confident about navigating locks, find a route that either has manned locks - or that doesn't have too many. If you like lots of adventure -- there's lots to choose from !!! You're given a short training course (1 hour ??), but we found that other boaters were very helpful in giving advice. Did you know that there are over 2000 navigatable miles on British locks/rivers !!! Everything is on the net now. Just google "canal boats" and you'll find all kinds of companies that offer their services. Enjoy -- we sure did.

Posted by
710 posts

Have done a Narrow boat into Wales. It was quite an experince. We went over a high bridge on the boat. It felt like we were flying. Alot of English people live on similar boat and travel around on summer holidays. My husband says it is like RVing but on the water. In the narrow boats you steer with a rudder from the back.It is slow paced and relaxining. We have also canal boated on 2 different canal in France, on the Thames River, and last month in Venice, Italy. I loved the Petite Saoen in the Brugandy region of France. We prefer one way rentals if possible. Some canal boat in England let you do a short holiday of 3 or 4 days.
The other boats we rented from the Crown Blue line and you steered them either from the inside or on top with a steering wheel like boats we are used to at home. We still want to do Holland area, the Canal Di Midi in France, and a canal in England that is suppose to open up in a couple of years in the Costwold area of England. Google canal boating in England.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks for all the helpful responses (posted and private). We've picked our canal and our boat. It's the "mons and brec" canal in wales and we've got a 42foot boat for a week. Should be plenty of time to enjoy the boat and explore the villages and archaeological features along the canal.

Posted by
710 posts

Good for you. You will have to let us all know how it goes. They do have heaters on the boats we rented in that area, and we did use them. Say hi to all the sheep for me.

Posted by
7 posts

I'm back from the trip! It was a blast...in a slow travel kind of way. The Canal, the Monmouth and Breconshire, had a breach about 2 weeks before we got there meaning that only 1/2 of it was navigable. Our canal boat rental agency did find us a boat on the better half (the bit with the locks, aqueduct and tunnel...the other half had no features reachable at the time). we boated for about 5 days. Mom drove, I did the locks and drawbridges. After that, Mom had had had enough driving so we took taxis to the features we couldn't reach anyway and just enjoyed the canal boat as a house boat for the last 2 days.

The sheep were everywhere and very cute! Sunrises and sunsets were stunning. We were warned about the weather but it only rained one day out of 7, and only the morning and evening of that day. The rest was so lovely I actually got a sunburn in Wales in November!

thanks for all the tips and help from everyone.
Jill

Posted by
430 posts

Glad to hear you had a great time. When we went in the spring (late April) the hazel-nut trees were in bloom, and the wild daffodils were just starting to appear -- very pretty. It was so entertaining to see all the new ducklings and gosslings paddling around, and the mothers herding them to safer locations. The fall and early spring are good times to travel as there isn't too much boat traffic, and the leaves are off the trees, so you can see through them and enjoy more of surrounding country-side. We got a sun-burn too -- !!

Posted by
710 posts

You are making me want to back again. Glad you had such a wonderful experience and great weather too. I never saw so many sheep in life too.
Your mom and you were very brave to do it with just 2 women. I drive and my husband always does the ropes and locks, etc.

Posted by
1 posts

There are a lot of blogs online about canal boats. Also saw a book on Amazon about Ireland canal boats. Try a search at both places.

Posted by
922 posts

I'm glad this thread was reawakened with a new reply. The new reply brought it back to the top of the 'To the North' list of topics. I might not have seen it otherwise because I sometimes forget to use Search.