Narrow boat holiday

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  • Narrow boat holiday
  • Premier Icon nickc

    Kids are 13 and 16.

    I’m thinking adventure, not a regular destination, teach them a bit at the same time about their country, and about themselves.


    Caravan holiday on water: after intial excitement, a bit dull really?

    Have you been on one? Did you enjoy it?

    Premier Icon wwaswas

    We did a boat on the Thames holiday years ago with our son.

    was great fun, stop where you want, do locks etc.

    Expensive, though.


    Ours are nearly 9 and 12. We’re desperate to do it but as wasa says its bloody expensive. Mate did it with his kids about the same age as yours and they apparently loved it!


    You use to be able to quadruple up Tesco clubcard vouchers for narrow boat holidays, not sure whether this is still the case.


    Hired a cruiser for a week on the Norfolk Broads a few years ago, and it was possibly the best holiday we’ve ever had. Expensive, but wonderful.

    I cannot recommend it highly enough.


    Groupon just put a narrow boat holiday voucher up

    Tijuana Taxi

    Hard work if the locks are manually operated ones and expensive, didn’t help that it peed down most of the fortnight when we went.

    Premier Icon Smudger666

    Used these guys……

    Fox boats, march

    A few years ago – Cambridge broads – not joined to the Norfolk broads so a LOT less traffic – still a good weeks cruising to be had.

    Good company, good service and (IMO) good boats.

    Premier Icon sandwicheater

    Love our canal holidays. Think we’ve been about 8 times but only long weekends.

    Always been with friends however, at 13 & 16 they will enjoy the steering and locks while you enjoy the beer.


    Did my stag do on a cruiser on the Norfolk Broads for a long weekend. It was brilliant.

    Plenty of families there too and lots of waterways to explore.


    been on a week long trip, enjoyed it, even when it was tipping it down with rain and being left alone to sail the boat with everyone else inside.

    Whether the kids will enjoy it is up to whether they can just relax and be happy with the confined space without having to to do lots.

    some pictures

    canal 295


    Done it probably 7 or 8 times, last time being 2 years ago. If you are 6 foot or bigger, a single bed will be horrible, double maybe doable. That’s just on a narrow boat though, the wide ones are better.
    Also last trip someone caught a sickness bug and within 24 hours there were 5 of us with it. It’s not very private and you definitely live on top of one another.

    However, it’s a brilliant, brilliant holiday and would thoroughly recommend. The best bits are finding a nice pub to stop near for the evening, and waking up in the morning to look out the window with the view moving along!

    If you want an adventure check out Penichettes in France and all across Europe. They are bigger feeling boats (but shorter), and it’s more interesting as some of the locks have lockkeepers, or are automated by a pole you grab as you drive along! Great fun. Disadvantage is the French don’t ‘do’ pubs!

    Prefer the french boats, but the English culture 🙂

    In terms of kids, if they are outdoors interested then they’ll love it. If they aren’t, then it might be a bit dull. Consider bringing some other family, the boats can sleep up to 12 (8 in comfort IIRC) and whenever I went away it tended to be 3/4 men/boys on the bridge whilst the ladies stayed inside drinking/playing games. Haha. Minimises the cost too.


    We’ve done canal boats and gin palaces.

    The canal boat trip was, by far and away, the worst holiday I’ve ever had. 6 people in a cigar tube moving at 3mph for a week is torture. The crusties that live in canal boats yell at you if you go over 4mph because of the wash, you don’t get to see anything because the boat moves so slowly that you can’t stop if you want to make your destination and ours was capped with a tree falling across a lock and trapping us in Bath for 3 days.

    On a gin palace, however, it’s much more enjoyable- you move fast enough to have time to stop and explore your surroundings, it’s comfortable (the beds in a canal boat are tiny) and light (canal boats have few windows) and it’s fun to steer for the kids (canal boats involve standing on the back of the boat in the pissing rain). Great fun.

    I did the Llangollen canal with my family about 15 years ago when I was 14 and my brother was 12. We absolutely loved it. I got to drive the boat, help pick all the weeds out the prop shaft, we used to get off and go for walks with the dog. I liked all the industrial heritage stuff. The tunnels were great fun. My brother and I did all the locks and had a great time running around doing that. The Telford Aquaduct was a highlight.

    All in all it was a great holiday which I have fond memories of.

    We went with these people:

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout

    I was paid as a random job to return a narrow boat to marina after a couple had mahoosive argument mid honeymoon. It was pleasant pottering along, but I got told off for speeding (!) and managed to upset marina my executing a perfect 360 turn in middle of the marina without help – apparently it wasn’t the done thing…

    The crusties that live in canal boats yell at you if you go over 4mph because of the wash,

    its like skidding on a bike, fun to do, but trashes the trail/canal. And slowing past other boats is just polite.

    you don’t get to see anything because the boat moves so slowly that you can’t stop if you want to make your destination

    The problem seems to be you picked somewhere to far away to get to. Best think of it as a walking holiday with a boat, the whole system is designed to work at walking pace! Going fast (4mph) isnt much fun on a canal, the steering ends up taking all your concentration rather than slowing down to walking pace and enjoying the view and characters you meet. Theres a ‘crusty’ near us who has a boat with a steam engine, and a really OTT character.

    My parents have one, a great way to spend some time in the middle of nowhere.


    Did one when I was a kid, fantastic. Loved leaping out and doing the locks, after looking at images of the Telford Aqueduct mentioned above I’m certain we did that too – terrifying.

    I recall that the route my folks figured out went round the back of lots of industrial architecture which was sometimes eerily fascinating, over aquaducts, and going through looooong tunnels where ventilation holes poured cascades of water over everyone. And lots of locks! Rainy days were spent in proper old cagouls laughing at it all and taking shifts.

    Watching my mum drive was a laugh, she would point her finger in the direction she needed to turn for a coupla seconds, then point it the other way and push the tiller. Remember when my sister had a go; my dad suddenly started to swear and shout and rushed through towards the back. I looked along the boat out the open front door and all I could see was a brick wall – then CRASH!!

    The first few miles of the drive home in the car were terrifying everytime we got above 5mph! 🙂

    Premier Icon The Wrong Trousers

    We hired a boat on the Caledonian Canal for a week once, it was absolutely fabulous. It’s not a canal in the strictest sense of the word, just a series of lochs, including Loch Ness, joined up by short stretches of more traditional canal.
    The boat was a cabin cruiser rather than narrow boat and possibly more spacious, being wider. The scenery was stunning and a week is more than enough to get from Inverness to fort William and back again.
    I’d recommend that in an instant and would do it again again happily.


    The crusties that live in canal boats

    I spent a lot of time on the river Avon as a kid canoing. My uncle gave me a small rowing boat a couple of years ago and I was shocked at the state of the boats and general rubbish on the banks that the water pikies live in/create.

    What used to be a pleasant area to traverse has turned into a floating junkyard.


    They’ll love it. We’ve done a few and my kids have always had a good time. As teenagers you can let them steer and run locks without issue.

    If looking for a short break, go mid-week as you get an extra night. A short break will always be out-and-back, but there are some good routes. Warwick down to Oxford and back, for example.

    For a week you can manage a short “ring”. And if you fancy locks then Tardebigge is a must and is on a ring up from the Severn to Birmingham, and back down again. Two weeks is really needed for the main rings. Don’t be tempted to go too far as you’ll just get frustrated.

    We took one for a short break (3 or days) from trevor on the llangollen canal. Wasn’t that expensive bearing in mind that beds and fuel are ncluded. Straight out over the Pontcysyllte aueduct which was the most amazing thing. A coule of nights tying up at some fine canal-side pubs and one remote stop at he the Meres near Ellesmere. I’d do it again.


    The crusties that live in canal boats yell at you if you go over 4mph because of the wash,

    Were you not told that there’s a 3mph speed limit on canals to avoid bank erosion? Not all boat owners are ‘crusties’, Timothy West and Prunella Scales own a narrow boat on the K&A Canal, called Honeystreet; would you like to walk up to one of our most respected actors and call him a crusty? It’s also worth pointing out that the tow path is Sustrans Route 4, and being stuck in Bath for three days would hardly be considered a hardship by any reasonable person.
    Unless you’re so upper-class, deary, that you consider the Georgian city of Bath slumming it…


    Wife and I hired one for our third anniversary.

    Expensive, yes.

    But very relaxing (unless you are likely to get stressed about boat handling) but do some reading up/Youtubing first as they are big lumbering beasts, slow to respond and need forward planning to avoid ramming bridges and other boats, also a bit of confidence required to know when you can fit through a gap against other boats.

    There was just the two of us and my wife didn’t want to drive for more than a few moments, with another driver it’s probably better as at times I wanted to just gaze at the view our go up front away from the engine.

    We had our fuel nicked and ended up poling across the canal to a marina to get refuel, just a few miles from a very long black tunnel that you would not want to get stuck in 🙂

    Don’t set a destination unless it’s very realistic, turn back a day early and don’t be surprised to have a half day wait at busy staircase locks!

    I can recommend Clifton Cruisers in Rugby, nice modern boats, not liveried up as hire boats which means you get a better reception from other boats, and a few choices for routes. We did one week and did Rugby – Foxton – Rugby which gives you a nice variety of locks/tunnels/staircases and some very quiet stretches of canal.

    Premier Icon martinhutch

    Horses for courses and all that, but personally, it would have been my idea of personal hell at 13, and certainly at 16. Once you’ve done one lock you’ve done them all, and being stuck at close quarters with my folks for days on end would definitely have fried my brains.

    Canal holidays are not cheap, either.

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