Is there any better way to explore the beautiful scenery of the United Kingdom than by boat? Relax and float peacefully along the many waterways, taking in the wonderful views on offer. Join the many other people who have discovered the joys of canal boating. You do not need a licence to sail a boat on the waterways, and you travel on the right hand side, unlike the cars on our roads.
With the maximum speed limit usually at 4mph you will quickly get used to a slower, more laid back pace of life. Your boat operator will make sure you have all the info you need and provide you will all the basic skills you need to get started. Then, as long as you have at least two fit and able members of your party, you are good to go!
Whilst cruising you will need one of you to steer and on reaching a lock one of you will need to stay on board whilst another can work the paddles and gates onshore. Kids will love getting involved and helping out with working the locks and some steering with a bit of adult supervision too, making it a great family holiday choice. If you fancy finding out more get inspired by our pick of some of the best and most scenic canal boat trips in the UK.
Cruise past the beautiful scenery of the Severn Vale, past charming villages and picturesque countryside along the Gloucester to Sharpness Canal. Stop off at Worcester Cathedral or the Norman Abbey at Tewkesbury. This waterway offers easy, lock-free travel. The 19th century docks at Gloucester are excellently preserved; surrounded by listed warehouses and a regenerated area of shopping and cafes and restaurants.
Stop off and explore the National Waterways Museum or peruse the many boats moored up there. In the past, this inland harbour was once bustling with activity; ships laden with timber and corn from around the world. Cargo was shipped on to the Severn and then on to the canals. A claim to fame is the fact the docks provided the backdrop for the Disney blockbuster ‘Alice through the looking glass’. You can cruise along the same part of the water featured in the film.
The Monmouthsire and Brecon Canal
One of the most peaceful and beautiful waterways, winding through the stunning welsh landscape. There is a even slower speed limit along this canal, of just 2mph due to the shallow depth of the water so you will have no option but to chill and take in the spectacular views of the Brecon Beacons. Here, you can hire electric narrow-boats which are noticeably quieter than their diesel counterparts, and less messy too. A popular route for holiday boaters, there is a wealth of activities to partake in such as wildlife spotting- look out for herons dragonflies, and buzzards.
Hike up to the summit of Tor Y Foel and take in the views of the Usk Valley and the canal below. Explore the local heritage; the lime kilns and old workings or simply relax and unwind as you float peacefully along.
The Avon Ring
Meandering through some of the prettiest countryside right through the heart of England, the Avon Ring is a circuit of canals and rivers 109 miles long. The route follows the River Avon from the beautiful, Historical Straford-upon-Avon, through Cotswold villages and the picturesque Malvern hills. Stop off at one of the many theatres at Stratford, and visit Shakespeare’s birthplace, visit the magnificent Abbey of Tewkesbury and enjoy cruising along the River Severn to have a stroll around Worcester, before experiencing the longest flight of locks- 131 in total- in Britain on the Worcester and Birmingham canal.
If travelling with an experienced crew, this route can take a week, however we suggest you allow longer and take your time to explore the many sight sand points of interest along your way. This is the perfect cruise for those wishing for the combination of sightseeing and cruising.
Lough Erne – Northern Ireland
Two of the great river systems in Ireland, the Shannon and the Erne have been joined again by the reconstruction of the old Ballinamore-Ballyconnell Canal. This area is just waiting to be discovered and explored and you may find at times you are the only boat moored up. Delight in the natural beauty of the area, scenery and wildlife.
Providing a range of cruising waters – including stretches of still-water canal. Travel through friendly towns and villages, making new friends along your way and stop off at the many welcoming pubs along the route. The waterway itself consists of a 63km long canal which has 16 locks along its route, which are operated electronically by ‘smart card’. It has been restored and reconstructed sensitively, built and faced with the original hand cut stone work from the 19th century. A maze of hundreds of islands at Upper Lough Erne, provides the perfect places to stop for a picnic and an exploration. Expect views of vast green meadow-lands and moorland, and craggy cliffs and memories to last a lifetime.