How to Plan a Narrowboat Holiday That Your Family Will Love

Licenced stock - family narrowboat holiday

Licenced stock – family narrowboat holiday

Narrowboat holidays and barge holidays offer beautiful scenery, freedom and quality time together. You also get to avoid the airport queues and discover our English traditions, heritage, folk art, and feats of engineering. If you want to avoid the usual tourist traps and queues then a narrowboat holiday could be just the short break you are looking for.

When to Book

The canal ‘cruising season’ is from March to October because weather and maintenance works can make travel more difficult out of season. The waterways are most busy from late July to early September because of the school holidays. At the busiest times on some canals you may have to wait in a queue of boats to use a lock, and the most popular mooring spaces (such as outside a pub) may be taken when you arrive. That’s the advantage of choosing the Fenland waterways which are generally less crowded.

Whatever the Weather

British weather is renowned for its feisty wind and rain, but a canal boat is far more luxurious than a camping holiday, offering all the facilities of modern living. Make the most of your holiday whatever the weather by mooring at a pub, making some tea, playing card games, going shopping or watching TV if it’s raining. With a hot mug of coffee on the roof and a sturdy umbrella it can even be fun to carry on cruising.

What if I’m Not so Agile?

A canal boat holiday can suit groups of any age, young or old. The towpaths can be a little uneven for those with reduced mobility, but if you choose to stay on board and let others in your party handle the locks, we suspect you will still enjoy watching the scenery pass by, meeting new people and discovering new places.

Will my Phone Work?

Mobile phones will work in most areas although there are places where reception is limited. If you find that the signal is weak inside a steel cabined boat, try going outside to improve your signal. You will also find that some networks are better than others. All of our boats have in-car chargers and 240v power supplies.

Help! I’ve Never Driven a Boat Before!

It’s not difficult for a novice to learn to steer a narrowboat, with a little bit of practice. The speed limit on the waterways is 4mph and accidents are very rare. You will simply require a little common sense and a willingness to take care. The weight of a narrowboat gives it quite a bit of momentum so you have to plan ahead when you’re intending to stop. The engine is controlled by a single lever, which you place in reverse to stop or slow down. Anyone over 21 can hire a canal boat with no training or licence required.

What Does it Cost?

The cost will vary, depending on the size of your party, the boat you choose and the time of year that you travel. Prices increase during the more popular summer months. However you may find that self-hire for a family holiday will compare favourably with the price of a hotel boat, or an ordinary hotel, and you will also save money on having to eat out, by having access to self-catering facilities on board. Of course the wonderful experience of romantically exploring the English countryside, creating treasured memories together is priceless!

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