Back to School: Canal Boat Style

fox canal boat st george

Every day’s a school day! We don’t stop learning on the date that we leave school. If you’re a narrowboat geek like me, you will love learning about all things canals and boats. The East Anglian waterways are not only a great place for a holiday, they are also a great way to immerse yourself in heritage and culture. Here are six good lessons to learn about canals this term.


If you’re arty do bring along your drawing and painting supplies as the scenery here is so beautiful. On a narrowboat holiday you can visit art galleries in Peterborough, Ely and Cambridge. There are also several small, independent galleries around Peterborough. Ely’s visitor moorings are close to The Babylon Gallery and while you’re in Ely The Stained Glass Museum at the cathedral is worth a visit.

Read: Four Fenland Galleries for the Classy Canal Boater

If you’re curious about the origins of traditional canal folk art read: The Fox Boats Guide to Traditional Canal Ware Cargo carrying boaters were known for their lace work, Measham Ware and painted roses and castles.


We’re a bit spoilt around here for heritage sites to visit. From the university colleges of Cambridge to Ely Cathedral and Oliver Cromwell’s House, a narrowboat trip can be a nostalgic cruise into the past. Read about our local museums, big and small in Are Museums Ever Fun? The Answer Might Surprise You

You could also visit more unusual heritage sites such as Streatham Old Engine or The Prickwillow Engine Museum. Stretham Old Engine is the last survivor in the southern Fenland of over 100 steam-powered pumping stations applied to fen drainage in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Religious Education

If you are boating on the Great River Ouse and Cam then don’t miss Ely Cathedral, known as ‘The Ship of the Fens.’ But starting with St Wendreda’s Church near our marina in March, there are many local, unusual churches worth visiting. The former monasteries, now churches and cathedrals, of Crowland, Ely, Peterborough, Ramsey and Thorney have given the Fens the unofficial title of “Holy Land of the English.”

Read: Four Churches to Visit When it’s not Even Christmas

And: The Forgotten Churches You Should Visit by Boat


When you begin boating on ‘the cut’ (the canal) you start to learn all sorts of weird and wonderful slang words and boating terms such as cheesing the ropes, cracking the paddles or butties and motors. Read: The Canal Lingo Those Toe Rags Won’t Tell You About

You can also prepare yourself for International Talk Like a Pirate Day on 19th September, and learn useful phrases like,  “Shiver me timbers”, “Avast!” and “Pass the grog!” Read: Ahoy! 3 Fine Holiday Tips for Talk Like a Pirate Day

English Literature

If your mum, wife, or gran is a lady who enjoys narrowboating, then consider getting her a book revealing the quirks and charms of parenting on board. Five Books for the Narrowboat Mum

Richard Mabey’s book ‘Nature Cure’, describes his recovery from severe depression through walking, watching and writing about the Eastern region’s beautiful landscapes. Read: How to Get Top Author’s ‘Nature Cure’ on a Narrowboat Holiday

If you’ve heard about eBooks, but are unfamiliar with the technology this simple guide to using Google Books could be the answer you are looking for. How to Read Narrowboat Books Without Actually Buying Any

One of my favourite boating books is Eily Gayford’s memoir The Amateur Boatwomen, about her time training all-woman canal boat crews during the Second World War.


Here’s a good maths problem. You’re looking for a good holiday deal, but struggling to budget when the future is so uncertain. A narrowboat staycation is the ideal choice for these unpredictable times. If you subtract the cost of travelling abroad, then subtract the hassle of airport queues then a canal boat holiday is a no brainer! Look out for various deals and last-minute cancellations on our Facebook page, Fox Narrowboats, or book early by searching for deals on our website. Make your budget stretch further by self-catering on board. An all-inclusive pricing policy makes it so much easier to budget for your holiday. At Foxboats our all-in price includes hire, damage waiver, fuel and gas.

You may also like: Boating on a Budget – 3 Low Cost Alternatives

Want even more education? Read: Back to School: 5 Lessons to be Learned on a Narrowboat Holiday

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