canal boat lock oxfordshire

Couples who narrowboat together, stay together! Am I right? OK, so maybe I’m biased, but I think canal boating is the perfect way to spend quality time with your Valentine. Over the years many celebrity couples have been spotted out cruising together on the English canals. Who have you seen on the waterways?

1, 2, 3

In no particular order the first three couples on our list are Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart, Kiera Knightly and Rupert Friend, and David Suchet (Poirot) and his wife Sheila. The media reported that they have all enjoyed boating on the British waterways. David and Sheila actually spent six years living on a 53-foot narrowboat, ‘Prima Donna’ which they found in Stratford-upon-Avon. Pirates of the Caribbean actress Keira Knightley rented a canal boat in London in 2010 and was seen walking the towpath with her actor partner.

So I asked on Facebook, what other celebrity couples have been seen boating together?

4

Bernard Booth commented that he saw Tim and Pru, and Harrison Ford and Calistoga Flockhart on the Llangollen canal. Of course, many others have spotted famous narrowboaters Tim and Pru around and about. Fawlty Towers actress Prunella Scales, and her husband actor Timothy West have been boating for decades, and starred in their own charming TV travel series, Great Canal Journeys.

5

Harry Potter actor Timothy Spall and his wife Shane were keen canal boaters for several years, and have been seen on the Grand Union canal. Spall later swapped his narrowboat for a seaworthy barge.

6

James Spencer was moored at Fox Narrowboats until last June when he moved his boat back onto the canals. He said he often used to see Timothy Spall, Roberta Taylor and her husband Peter Guinness when they had narrowboats moored near to his at Whilton Marina. He also met Tim and Pru at Braunston historic boat rally and has photos of them relaxing. “We did make it on to a TV programme about holidays when TV crew were filming at Braunston bottom lock and filmed us locking. Roberta and Peter Guinness boat was called ‘A Waste of Time.’ I did ask why, and apparently it was a play they had appeared in.”

7

It’s not a canal boat, but Russell Brand and his wife Laura shipped their wedding guests down the River Thames on a paddle steamer. Their wedding was at Remenham Church near their home in Henley-on-Thames, and wedding guests included Noel Gallagher, Jonathan Ross and David Baddiel.

8

In 2021 Sir Rod Stewart bought a narrowboat for his wife Penny’s 50th birthday. Speaking on Loose Women, Penny said it had always been her dream to have a canal boat and renovate it. She likes the idea of a slower lifestyle.

9

For couples with kids a narrowboat holiday is a great idea. Coleen and Wayne Rooney think so anyway. They took their four boys for a trip along the Shropshire Union Canal last year.

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But Peter Green won the most famous celebrity couple afloat when he commented on Facebook, “I had the Queen and Prince Philip on my boat! Slight cheat as it was on the Thames. Diamond jubilee taking them to a garden party near Henley. Also had the Queen solo in 2009 and the Princess Royal in 2018. My boat is ‘Alaska’, built in 1883.”

Could you and your partner be the next glamourous couple to cruise the waterways? Check out availability for this year’s narrowboat holiday now!

Fox Boats director, Paula Syred told me, “Strictly come Dancing’s Neil Jones and Rick Wakeman and his wife, have been day hire customers of ours.”

So if you want to holiday like a celebrity, Fox Narrowboats is a great choice! Read: How to Holiday Like a Celebrity Without it Costing a Fortune

Get more fun narrowboat articles by signing up for our blog updates. Subscribe on the right, by email. (We never share or sell email addresses, we’ll only be sending you our local, insider knowledge, every two weeks.)

Image credit: Deposit Photos

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houghton mill wiki cc cmglee

What are you like at sticking to New Year’s resolutions? Does goal setting make you feel disheartened? Does the thought of optimistic pledges and promises just make you groan?

#houghtonmill #wickenfen #strethamengine #fenswildlife #nenevalleyrailway

A more cheerful way to start the year is by creating a ‘bucket list’ of fun things to do.

A bucket list is traditionally a list of things to do before you kick the proverbial bucket, but after enduring two years of coronavirus restrictions, we thought that now is a good time to plan a few things to look forward to. Here are our best suggestions for fun things you can do while narrowboating in the Fens.

Learn to work a lock and steer a boat. Locks are easy to operate and at Fox Narrowboats we have qualified instructors that will give you full training during the boat handover. If you’re wondering if it’s difficult to learn the ropes read: What’s it Like to Actually Steer a Narrowboat?

Visit ‘Mother’, a thatched structure at Wicken Fen by Studio Morison. The nature reserve here is a favourite with our customers. This art installation is inspired by the restorative qualities of the beautiful fen landscape as described in Richard Mabey’s book ‘Nature Cure’. It is a sculptural structure, and also a pavilion, that you can sit inside, and contemplate nature. Read: How to Get Top Author’s ‘Nature Cure’ on a Narrowboat Holiday

Visit Houghton Mill, a National Trust property on the River Great Ouse. Centred on an island on the Great Ouse at Houghton, stands Houghton Mill a large timber-built watermill with operational machinery. The Mill is open to the public at weekends, and flour is still milled and sold to visitors.

Visit Stretham Engine, five miles south of Ely on the Old West River. It is the sole surviving operational steam engine in the Black Fen. It was installed in 1831, replacing four wind pumps. The engine has limited opening times in the summer months. This steam-powered pumping station was used to drain the Fens in the 19th and early 20th centuries. https://strethamoldengine.org.uk

Spot wildlife, like the great crested grebe and the occasional kingfisher. On a riverside walk, or in our local nature reserves, you may see dragonflies, damselflies, otters or water voles. Read: 3 Ways to See More Fenland Wildlife

Try punting on ‘The Backs’ in Cambridge. The River Cam navigation for powered craft ends at Jesus Green Lock, but above the lock Scudamore’s offer a wide range of tour and self-hire punting options. Punting is a traditional Cambridge pastime; see famous landmarks like the Bridge of Sighs, while floating down the river. Read: Three Amazing Things to Do in Cambridge

The Nene Valley Railway can be visited from the Environment Agency moorings at Wansford Station. From here you can take a trip aboard a heritage steam or diesel train. This can be planned as part of a narrowboat cruise towards Peterborough. Read: The Canal Boat Holiday That Train Enthusiasts Will Love.

Treat yourself to a meal at a riverside pub. The Swan on the River at Littleport may be recognised as the finishing point for the 2021 Oxford Cambridge boat race. Read: Three Waterside Pubs to Visit.

Cruise over an aqueduct. Mullicourt aqueduct carries Well Creek over the Middle Level main drain.

Take a photo of St Ives Bridge; a 15th century bridge crossing the River Great Ouse in St Ives. It is one of only four bridges in England to incorporate a chapel. Other photo opportunities on the waterways include wide skies at sunsets and sunrise with silhouettes of wind farms against the horizon.

And finally, moor up in the middle of nowhere, such as a quiet mooring at Benwick on the Middle Level navigation, (this village is a hidden gem). Read: Six Stunning Moorings on the Middle Level.

Plan Ahead

The New Year can often put us in the mood for planning ahead, so why not give yourself something to look forward to and organise this year’s narrowboat holiday? Booking in advance can mean better availability, and with Fox Narrowboats you’re more likely to get the boat of your choice. It’s also easier to get time off work on your intended dates if you plan well ahead.

What’s on your narrowboating New Year’s Bucket List? Let us know on Facebook.

You may also like: How to Cruise Your Way into Fitness this New Year

No time to plan your holiday right now? We get that. Instead, subscribe to our blog in the right sidebar; look for ‘Follow Blog’. We’ll send you two articles a month full of narrowboat holiday ideas in the Fens. (We don’t send spam or salesy type stuff – just interesting articles about boats and waterways!)

Image credit: Houghton Mill by Cmglee, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

 

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Peterborough cathedral night

Traditionally Christmas is a time for carols and choirs, candle-lit services, holly and ivy, decorated trees, and children’s nativity plays. So it’s a popular time to visit your local church, or even a cathedral if you live near to one. We are lucky enough to be based between two stunning and historically significant cathedrals.

Peterborough Cathedral

This Christmas Peterborough Cathedral is offering concerts, with choirs and brass, carol services, a candlelight tour, a Christingle Service, and a theatre production of Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ as well as the usual Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services.

Peterborough Cathedral was rebuilt in the 12th century, and like Durham and Ely Cathedrals it has remained largely intact. It is the burial place of Henry VIII’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon.

To get to Peterborough by narrowboat from our Fox Narrowboats hire base is a 12 hour return trip, which is ideal for a short break. On the approach to Peterborough the cathedral can be clearly seen across the flat fields that lead to Stanground Lock. There are visitor moorings on the River Nene along the length of a park which are convenient for the city centre. (Read more about this cruise: March to Ferry Meadows Country Park.)

If you visit Peterborough on your narrowboat holiday next year you can check out what events are on at the cathedral while you are in the area by looking at the website: Peterborough Cathedral

Alternatively, turning left from our marina you will shortly come to the Fenland market town of March where you will find free visitor boating moorings on either side of the town bridge. March to Ely is about 18 cruising hours return trip. (Read more about this cruise: March to Ely narrowboat holiday.)

Ely Cathedral

This cathedral is known as the ‘ship of the Fens’ because it is visible from miles away as you approach it. This Advent and Christmas Ely Cathedral is offering Christmas services and concerts with the Cathedral Choir, and various family-themed activities. There is also seasonal shopping in the cathedral shops, homemade festive food in the Almonry, guided tower tours up the Octagon Tower or West Tower, and a spectacular 30ft Christmas tree.

But you don’t have to visit at Christmas to enjoy a cathedral tour, including access to the unique Octagon Tower and the Monastic Buildings around the cathedral grounds. While you are there you can also visit the Stained Glass Museum. Also in Ely you can see Oliver Cromwell’s House, which is now a museum, the Ely Museum at the Old Gaol, and the antiques centre close to the river. There’s so much to see here it’s worth stopping overnight. If you’re visiting Ely by narrowboat the city centre is just a short walk away from the moorings, up a steep hill.

If you visit Ely on your narrowboat holiday next year check out what events are on at the cathedral while you are in the area by looking at the website:  Ely Cathedral

Cambridge

Although Cambridge is famous for being a university city, it does not actually have its own cathedral. However, there are plenty of historic churches to appreciate when you visit. Cambridge falls within the Diocese of Ely (Church of England) and is associated with Ely Cathedral. Many of the churches in the city are affiliated with university colleges, having strong historical connections. All Saints’ Church is a beautiful Victorian Grade-II listed structure. Our Lady and the English Martyrs has late 19th century, neo-Gothic architecture, a tall spire, wonderful stained-glass windows and many historic elements. Great St Mary’s Church is near the Visitor Information Centre on Peas Hill, and dates from the late-15th century. Discover the 18th-century galleries and a tall bell tower, which can be climbed to see panoramic views of the city centre. There are many more noteworthy churches and colleges to wander around during your visit to Cambridge, and the journey there by narrowboat is beautiful.

From Ely to Cambridge is about five hours cruise each way. Read more about this narrowboat cruise: Ely to Cambridge.

Christmas in England is a chance to appreciate Gothic churches, choirs, and bustling markets in ancient towns. However, you could also include all of these joys on your narrowboat holiday next year. Check here to see what holiday dates are available.

You may also like: Four Churches to Visit When it’s not Even Christmas

PS: A festive gift for you! Click ‘Blog’ (top right) and look for ‘Follow Blog’ in the right sidebar to get the latest helpful holiday tips for next year. (We never share or sell email addresses, we’ll only be sending you our local, insider knowledge, every two weeks.)

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ely cathedral visited by great canal journeys

Gyles and Sheila are back on our screens, and in case you missed it you can catch up with their Great Canal Journey to Cambridge and the Fens by watching episode one of series 13 on All 4.

Actor Sheila Hancock and author and presenter Gyles Brandreth took over presenting the show in November 2020. (Read TVs Great Canal Journeys Has Two New Skippers). They were narrowboat novices at that point, but have since taken to cruising and steering canal boats with heart-warming humour and enthusiasm.

At the beginning of series 13 they started their journey in the town of March, where Fox narrowboats are based, and travelled along the old course of the River Nene to visit Emneth, then south down the Great Ouse to Ely Cathedral, and finished their trip in Cambridge, learning about the poet, Rupert Brook.

Early on in the journey Sheila was seriously impressed by the Fenland scenery; she loved the spaciousness of the panorama, “It’s all sky!” They learned that the sea level is still rising in the Fens, so it is inevitable that large areas, previously reclaimed from the sea, will eventually be underwater once more.

There were some pretty views of the village of Upwell before they arrived at Emneth to visit the vicarage. This was once home to Reverend Wilburt Audrey, author of the much-loved Thomas the Tank Engine books. The Reverend died in 1997 but Gyles and Sheila were invited in to chat to his daughter about the inspiration for the popular books.

Back on the River Ouse Gyles and Sheila were stunned by the view of Ely Cathedral across the Fens as they approached Ely. Ely was once an island, before the draining of the Fens, and the cathedral dates back to the 11th century. The inside of the cathedral is huge, and gloriously impressive. The programme showed the unique octagon lantern tower before a segment where Ely Cathedral Boy Choristers practiced their medieval Plain Song. The cathedral was built on the site of a monastery, founded by Etheldreda, a local Anglo Saxon princess. This episode explains that it may have taken one hundred years to build the current version of the cathedral.

Back on their canal boat, inspired by their visit to the cathedral, Gyles and Sheila had a thoughtful conversation about faith, god and their own mortality. It was fun to watch their affectionate friendship as Sheila teased Gyles about his fashion sense, and his habit of name-dropping celebrities’ names.

South of Ely the two friends met an artist and tried landscape painting. Although they both lacked confidence in their abilities they had a go anyway. In Cambridge Kings College “oozes history” said Gyles. It’s alumni include Rupert Brook, who in 1914 wrote the patriotic poem ‘The Soldier’. Gyles and Sheila checked out previous hand written drafts of the famous poem. Then they had cucumber sandwiches and tea at the vicarage, discussing the poet, who had tragically died aged only 27.

Finally Gyles and Sheila ended their trip by drinking Pimms in the sunshine, in an ancient meadow moored on the River Cam.

A cruise from March to Ely takes nine hours, and then Ely to Cambridge is about five hours cruise. Of course you can travel at your own leisurely pace and stop somewhere overnight along the way.

If you want to take your own great canal journey next year check availability now. We have some great holiday deals to enjoy. And you can order sandwiches and other treats to be waiting on board for you from Glam Grazing.

You may also like: How to Experience Some Great Canal Journeys from Your Own Home

If you enjoy reading about the Fenland waterways sign up for updates from this blog. (We never share or sell email addresses – your details are safe with us.) Just look for ‘Follow Blog’ in the sidebar on the right and we’ll send you stories, tips and advice about narrowboating around the Fens.

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hebden bridge yorkshire canal licenced

Are you a fan of TV’s Great Canal Journeys?

Have you enjoyed watching Kevin Shelley’s Travels by Narrowboat?

Are you an arm-chair narrowboater?

Then you’ll love BBC Four’s Canal Boat Diaries.

This series follows Robbie Cumming as he embarks on a 300-mile journey across the Midlands and northern England in his narrowboat. It’s a soothing video diary of one man and his boat, soaking up the scenery and visiting canal side towns and villages along the way. If you don’t have a boat yourself it’s the perfect way to sit back, relax and enjoy the narrowboat lifestyle, from home.

Robbie has previously done bar work, graphic design and illustration while travelling on his boat ‘Naughty Lass’. He says, “It’s my home, work space and transport, rolled into one.”

In the first episode Robbie says, “This program is all about showing you the real side of boating.” For example he has been living aboard without a fridge, and so he meets up with a marine electrician who helps him to install a 12 volt fridge on board. Later he is shown pumping out his sewage tank. But these moments of showing the gritty “real side” of boating are far outnumbered by the stunning, sunshiney scenery viewed as sweeping, stunning aerial shots.

At the beginning of the episode he tackles a tunnel in Staffordshire which is so low that he has to remove everything from the canal boat roof, and crouch down while steering it through! As he travels, filming the local scenery, locks and waterways, he shares canal facts and history. For example, he explains that snake bridges are ingeniously designed so that a horse can cross the canal without the line snagging. (Before engines came along all canal boats were horse drawn.) In Staffordshire he travelled some narrow canals with single locks, and really narrow tunnels, but his goal is to eventually explore all of the canals and navigable rivers in the UK.

He visits a still-working Victorian Pottery that looks like the set of Peaky Blinders, and travels the Harecastle Tunnel, which takes 40 minutes and is dubbed the ‘Scarecastle Tunnel’. The throbbing engine echoes loudly in the darkness, but originally there was a towpath for the horses passing through this tunnel. This programme shows what little random adventures one can have while exploring England by narrowboat. Robbie discovers ancient canal-side mile markers that look like gravestones, he pays his respects at Ian Curtis’s grave, (lead singer of Joy Division), meets the locals in village pubs, explores Macclesfield, and rises to the challenge of cooking on board with whatever he can find, having not seen a shop for a while.

It’s a pleasure to watch the spectacular scenery and sunshine, drifting past aqueducts, coloured narrowboats and green fields, all accompanied by relaxing music, and a likeable, easy-going presenter. Robbie thinks the Peak Forest Canal in Derbyshire has to be one of the most scenic waterways.

So could he ever go back to living on land?

“I don’t think so… This is my lifestyle now. I’ve had to adapt to it. I think I’d miss it if I gave it up.”

Is this the most relaxing programme on TV right now? Ease into your sofa, lose yourself in the landscape and see for yourself.

Watch Canal Boat Diaries on BBC iPlayer. Or catch up with Robbie on his YouTube channel.

You can also help to fund Robbie’s travels around the canal system and increase the quality of his narrowboat ‘voyagelogs’ by supporting him on Patreon. He now makes around two videos a month, each one taking over 20 hours to make filming, researching, editing, voice overs and writing and recording his own music. The Canal Boat Diaries are not only his passion but thanks to the viewers, are now his source of income.

Ready for your own canal adventure? Try booking a daytrip or a narrowboat holiday now. Check availability here.

Hey! Are you new here? Click ‘Blog’ (top right) and look for ‘Follow Blog’ in the right sidebar to receive more insider knowledge about canals and narrowboating. (We never share or sell email addresses, we’ll only be sending you our local, insider knowledge, every two weeks.)

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Does modern life stress you out?

Ever wanted to sell your possessions and live on a boat?

Would you enjoy the narrowboat lifestyle?

grand union canal narrowboats

In 2017 Kevin Shelly quit his ‘bricks and mortar’ lifestyle, bought a canal boat, and set out to explore 2,500 miles of the UK’s inland waterways. He began to document his lifestyle change with videos that became increasingly popular. There are now six seasons to watch (40 episodes) with a seventh series on the way.

So began an amazing journey, not just around the canal network but also within Kevin. Episode by episode narrowboat life transformed him from an exhausted man, to someone well-rested and contented. There’s something very soothing about watching Kevin narrate his gentle travels; letting the viewer absorb the feeling of travelling slowly through nature. Viewers relax as Kevin enjoys the simple pleasures in life, such as a canal-side pub, or the odd bacon and egg sandwich. The series portrays the laid-back spirit of discovering new places by boat, while Kevin learns about narrowboat life. If you’re new to narrowboating it’s a chance to get the feel of what it’s like. If you’ve been boating before it’s an enjoyable way to imagine yourself back on the water.

On Kevin’s Maiden Voyage in episode one he travels along the Leicester Branch of the Grand Union Canal, and more recently in season six he re-visited Northamptonshire’s waterways by ascending the Foxton flight, of 10 locks again. This reminded him of the very beginning of his adventure when he first bought his narrowboat, ‘Aslan’. Our narrowboat hire base is ‘next door’ to Northamptonshire in nearby Cambridgeshire.

The Grand Union Canal stretches 137 miles from London to Birmingham, and the Northampton Arm branches off to the east at Gayton Junction. Here there are 17 narrow locks as the canal descends to join the navigable River Nene. Cruising in this direction a narrowboat would eventually pass through Wadenhoe, Oundle, Fotheringhay, and Peterborough; all of which can be easily visited by hiring a boat from Fox Narrowboats. (See Fox route 4 Peterborough to Fotheringhay.) The River Nene is one of the quieter UK rivers, and a great place for a relaxing boating or fishing trip.

What’s different about Travels by Narrowboat is Kevin’s dry sense of humour. He is unpretentious and sometimes quirky, when musing about whatever and whoever he encounters along the way. This programme shows us, at a gentle pace, the parts of England that only canal users get to see; the old bridges and canal locks, ancient villages, and natural wildlife. Kevin Shelley is the antidote to our shiny celebrity culture. If you want to watch an ordinary man follow his dream, work a lock, make a curry or repair an engine this is the down to earth TV show you are looking for.

If you’d like to float down a canal with Kevin and enjoy the sights and sounds of England by narrowboat you can watch Travels by Narrowboat on Amazon Video or on Vimeo on Demand.

Travels by Narrowboat blog

If you want to take your own travels by narrowboat this year check availability now. We have some great holiday deals to enjoy this summer.

To be notified with new holiday information as it changes, sign up for updates from this blog. (We never share or sell email addresses – your details are safe with us.) Just look for ‘Follow Blog’ in the sidebar on the right and we’ll send you stories, tips and advice about narrowboating around the Fens in 2021.

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Alarmy MTDCKJ licence 10 Nov 2020
Alarmy MTDCKJ licence 10 nov 2020

Alarmy MTDCKJ licence 10 Nov 2020

Do you dream of going on great canal journeys?

Are you stuck at home when you’d rather be boating?

Fancy living vicariously through the travels of others?

You may like to check out Channel 4’s new series of Great Canal Journeys.

After ten series of navigating the canals, lakes and river of the world, Prunella Scales and Timothy West’s televised canal journeys have sadly come to an end. Best known for playing Sybil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers, Pru’s struggle with Alzheimer’s became a poignant aspect of the programme, and has now forced the couple to stop filming. The beloved actors have a lifetime of canal boating experience behind them, and their passion for it made them the ideal presenters of this show.

However, Channel 4 has opted to continue the series with two new presenters, actor Sheila Hancock and author and presenter Gyles Brandreth. They’re not a couple, but they are friends who have previously appeared alongside each other on Celebrity Gogglebox. The charm of the original travel programme really lay in watching Tim and Pru’s wonderful marriage on screen, so I thought that changing the remit to two travelling friends might change the mood somewhat. To ease the transition Timothy West joined Gyles and Sheila in the first episode, which aired on 8th November 2020.

“I don’t even know stern from aft!” says Gyles. The friends confess they know nothing about canal boating, but that Tim and Pru have told them anyone can do it. “We are throwing ourselves in at the deep end, and hoping we float!” says Gyles.

The episode begins with Tim welcoming them onto a day-boat at Broxbourne on the River Lee, for a bit of basic training in steering, operating a lock and mooring up. Then their first real journey beings at Pangbourne on the Thames, where they board a 70 foot wide beam. They investigate the bathroom and there is a comedy moment as Gyles accidentally pulls a handle off the toilet, showing viewers that anyone new to boating can make mistakes! During the episode they cruise towards London through Henley, Cliveden and Royal Windsor, and invite a historian on board to chat about the history of the Thames.

“The waterways teaches history that can’t be found in books. They show us how to go with the flow,” says Sheila. (If you like history you can visit Cambridge Universities, Ely Cathedral and Oliver Cromwell’s House on a Fox Boats holiday.)

Then Sheila, 87, joins a women’s rowing team, proving that it’s never too late to try something new. Gyles also is a likeable character. He jokes about doing a Titanic Leonardo DiCaprio impression, while standing on the bow as they enter London by boat.

I had my reservations about this show going forward without the loveable Tim and Pru, but actually it has the same life-affirming vibe, showing us that getting out on the water can make you feel alive! Although Tim and Pru had 40 years of boating experience to share with the viewers, these two are demonstrating that anyone can give boating a go, and learn new skills. Is it still heart-warming and funny? Absolutely. Are there stunning aerial views of waterways, and intriguing glimpses into life afloat? Of course.

If it’s some time since you’ve been boating, this new version of Great Canal Journeys will inspire you to get back out on the water. At Fox Narrowboats you can ease yourself in gently with day boat hire, or take a week’s long break on a comfortable holiday boat. We are now taking bookings for next year.

If you missed the first episode of Great Canal Journeys you can watch it on demand on All 4, Channel 4’s streaming service. (To watch Channel 4 on demand you simply have to sign up with an email address and view on your TV, tablet or computer.)

You may also like:

How to Experience Some Great Canal Journeys from Your Own Home

Cruise Like Tim and Pru from Great Canal Journeys: How to Reconnect With the Ones You Love

How to Holiday Like a Celebrity Without it Costing a Fortune

Keep in Touch: Subscribe on the right to receive more stories of British canal journeys, by email. (We never share or sell email addresses, we’ll only be sending you our local, insider knowledge, every two weeks.)

Photo: Licenced stock photo Alarmy MTDCKJ 10 Nov 2020 OY48986454

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Image: St Wendreda’s Church short walk from our Marina
(credit below)

The idyllic ancient architecture, candlelight, holly and ivy, and special services such as carols, advent, christingles and nativities make this a wonderful time of year to visit a church.

However, official statistics from the Church of England* suggest that Christmas is now the only time that British families go to church. While festive services remain ever popular, Sunday congregations are seeing a steady decline in attendance. If you’re planning a canal boat holiday on the East Anglian waterways we would hate for you to miss out on the stunning churches that we have on our doorstep.

Here are four churches you won’t want to miss on your canal boat holiday next year.

St Wendreda’s Church

Before you set off from Foxboats marina in March, check out St Wendreda’s Church which is just a short walk away. This beautiful church is the oldest in our town and is known for its magnificent double-hammer beam roof with 120 carved angels; it is regarded as one of the best of its kind. John Betjeman described the church as “worth cycling 40 miles in a head wind to see.” (If you want to try this you are welcome to bring your bicycles on a narrowboat holiday!)

St Peter’s Church

As you cruise through the Middle Levels you will come to the village of Upwell on the Well Creek; one of the most picturesque villages on the Fenland waterways. St Peter’s Church originating in the 13th century, is well worth a visit because of the unusual tower. Inside there are 25 carved oak angels in the roof looking down into two Victorian galleries.

Ely Cathedral

If your holiday plans are taking you along the River Ouse then you must visit Ely’s skyline-dominating cathedral. Its origins have been traced back to AD 673 and it has a historical connection to William the Conqueror. The cathedral is known as the ‘ship of the Fens’ because of its dominant position in the landscape, visible from miles away. Its most notable feature is the central octagonal tower, with a lantern above.

The gothic architectural design is stunning and you can also take a tour, around the Stained Glass Museum, which has a fascinating collection of rescued stained glass windows stretching back 1,300 years.

Ely has good moorings, and there is plenty more to see in this charming, ancient town so it’s worth stopping overnight.

Kings College Chapel

If you have time on your holiday, do continue from Ely along the River Cam to Cambridge where there are many churches and chapels to visit, as well as the impressive university colleges. Don’t miss St Peter’s Chapel, the smallest church in Cambridge dating back to the 12th century. St Mary the Great is known as the university church and all distances in Cambridge are measured from its location. And finally, King’s College Chapel is a true masterpiece of English craftsmanship.

Not Just for Christmas

So, while it may be that more people will watch the Queen’s speech this year, than go to a Christmas church service, remember that churches aren’t just for Christmas. They are a wonderfully preserved part of our heritage, with stories to tell and incredible craftsmanship to behold. Make sure to include some churches into your holiday plans with Fox Narrowboats next year.

For more surprising stories of things you didn’t know about the Fens and Cambridgeshire subscribe to our blog in the right sidebar; look for ‘Follow Blog’. (We don’t send spam or salesy type stuff – just surprisingly interesting articles about our local waterways!)

*The Telegraph 28th October 2016.

Image Wiki Commons
By David Iliff (User:Diliff) – Commons file St Wendreda’s Church Ceiling, March, Cambridgeshire, UK – Diliff.jpg, CC BY 3.0,

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narrowboat working a lock

Are you new to canal boating?

Are you planning your first narrowboat holiday?

Are you wondering if locks are really complicated?

Don’t worry. These simple tips will ensure that your first canal boat cruise goes smoothly, and that you impress your crew with your amazing lock operating skills!

Before you set off on your first cruise, make sure the windlasses are somewhere that you can reach them easily. A windlass is an essential L-shaped tool that allows you to operate the locks. How to use a windlass will be part of the narrowboat handover process with our friendly staff, who will be happy to answer any questions you have about working a lock.

If this is your first time narrowboating you may be wondering if it is difficult to operate a lock, and how many people will need to be involved. For an experienced boater a lock can be navigated single handed, but we wouldn’t recommend that, if this is your first time boating. If you have booked a narrowboat holiday with us, we are assuming you are bringing along some willing and helpful family and friends. Ideally you will need one or two people to operate the lock, plus somebody to navigate the boat.

As you approach the lock you will need to nominate a steerer to be in charge of the tiller. This person will first be responsible for guiding the boat towards the bank, so that one or more crew members can carefully step onto the bank. You will need to temporarily moor the boat to the bollards provided at the lock landing, while you set the lock, ready for your boat to approach. A lock is a structure that allows a boat to travel uphill or downhill to another level of the waterway. However, some locks, such as Lodes End Lock on the Middle Level waterways, are all on one level: Even when there is no difference in levels, you must still ensure that all gates are closed behind you.

The lock gates are opened by pushing a balance beam. After you have opened one gate you will need to cross the lock to open the other one. There is usually a bridge to cross on. When both gates are open, the steerer can untie the mooring ropes and gently, slowly guide the bow into the lock. As soon as the front of the boat enters the lock you will want to put the boat into reverse gear to slow the boat down to a stop. You may like to throw a mid-rope over (going down a level) or up (if you’re going up) to a crew member standing on the lock-side. Warn everybody that locks can be deep and dangerous places; we suggest no running next to a lock. At the hire base before you depart, our instructors will explain how to use a windlass to open the paddles on the lock gates, which will either fill or empty the lock, depending on which direction you are travelling in. The currents caused by this can be surprisingly strong, so the boat can be held steady with a loose rope around a bollard, or by using the engine to pull the boat against the current.

When travelling downhill it is very important to note the cill marker – a painted line on the edge of the lock that will guide you to keep clear of an underwater ledge, which is not visible until the lock is almost empty. The boat must keep forward of this point to avoid being caught on the cill, which can quickly cause a boat to get stuck, tip at an angle and sometimes even sink. Things can go wrong in a lock very quickly, so be sure that everybody knows their role, and that any children are safe while you operate the lock. Finally, after the lock has been emptied or filled, the paddles can be wound down, and the gates are opened to allow your boat to leave the lock chamber.

Always close the gates of a lock behind you. This saves water, and prepares the lock for the next boaters approaching to use it. If you see other boaters around before using a lock it is considered polite to wait and share the lock; this also saves water. At busy locations you may even have to wait to use a lock.

Having read this article we hope you now feel confident enough to nominate yourself to operate the locks with your crew! You may also like to read: What’s it Like to Actually Steer a Narrowboat?

For more ideas to add to this year’s holiday plans, sign up for digital updates from this blog. (We never share or sell email addresses – your details are safe with us.) Just look for ‘Follow Blog’ in the sidebar on the right and get insider knowledge about the Fenland Waterways.

 

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fens day st ives riverside

Do you love to escape into the tranquillity of nature?

Are you intrigued by ancient English traditions and heritage?

Want to explore the Fens at your leisure, on a narrowboat holiday?

#CelebrateTheFens Day 2022

Then Celebrate the Fens Day may give you some great ideas of where to visit this year.

Celebrate The Fens Day, will be returning on 18th June 2022 (for the whole weekend 17th-19th). There will be a mixture of actual and virtual events taking place, so whether you are here exploring the Fens by narrowboat, or comfy at home, you can still enjoy it!

The Fens are an area in the east of England that cover parts of Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Lincolnshire and Suffolk.  (Fox Narrowboats are based in Cambridgeshire, in the heart of The Fens.) The Fenlands are known for their rich history, flat fertile farmlands, rare wildlife and unique traditions, festivals, myths and legends.

Karen created the website Fascinating Fens, and Celebrate the Fens Day “for the love of the Fens and to unite with others who might feel the same.” She says, “The Fens are an essence of calmness and beauty, a tranquil place to escape the crazy pace of this world.”

Karen’s intention for this not-for-profit venture, is to bring people and communities together to explore and promote the Fens.

“The fens are unique, inspiring, mysterious, fascinating, beautiful, yet misunderstood….”

So, Celebrate the Fens Day is an idea that brings communities together, with events and activities that showcase the unique landscapes, towns, heritage, nature and beauty of the Fens. It promotes and explores the area through creativity, nature, wellbeing and accessibility.

Events already planned for 2022 include heritage open days, guided walks and tours, craft activities, exhibitions, nature trails, music, films, poetry, talks and competitions.

For example, on Friday 17th and Saturday 18th June you can visit ‘Discover Downham’ heritage centre in Downham Market, to see St. Winnolds horse fair video and exhibition, and download self-guided walking trails. Other displays include: Fen life, ‘Bread or Blood’ telling the story of the Downham riots, and Fen skating.

Downham Market is a charming market town, nicknamed the ‘Gingerbread Town’ due to the type of bricks used in some of its older buildings, as seen on the church and town hall. Downham used to hold the largest horse fair in Europe, and it still celebrates it with an annual parade.

On a narrowboat holiday you can cruise to Downham Market along the relief channel and moor on a 48 hour Environment Agency mooring. There is a variety of shops for stocking up with provisions, as well as a local market held on Fridays and Saturdays.

From Downham Market you can also take the short train journey to Kings Lynn. As part of Celebrate the Fens Day there will be a guided walk in Kings Lynn on 18th June, (which must be pre-booked). This tour combines a visit to St George’s Guildhall – Britain’s largest medieval guildhall and oldest working theatre – with a tour of the town from both banks of the River Great Ouse.

However, if you can’t make it to the Fens in June, virtual events include Fen Folks Friday, Fen Poetry and Words, virtual tours and art activities.

The Fenland waterways have more than twice the navigational distance than the Norfolk Broads, so there is more choice of places to explore and more boating routes to take. Our hire boat base is in March town, where there are restaurants, pubs, a small museum and an unusual church to visit; St Wendreda. Like many Fenland towns, this market town was once an island surrounded by marshes. March lies on the banks of the old course of the navigable Nene, which is perfect for leisure boating and enjoying the stunning Fens scenery.

If reading about Celebrate the Fens Day has made you keen to visit the Fenlands, browse availability of our boating holidays here: Search narrowboat breaks.

To find out more about boating in the Fens you may like to follow us on Facebook or sign up to receive blog articles by email. (See ‘Follow Blog’ in the sidebar on the right.)

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welney norfolk 2022

We’re counting down the days now, until the hire boat season opens, and for the first time in two years our plans are working to schedule. Cape Fox has had her bottom coated and is now going to the paint shop for the finishing touches to be added. The Sparkle Oven Cleaning Company have just made the cookers on board all shiny, and we’re ready for the 1st April!

Around here, the first signs of spring are the daffodils, primroses and chocolate eggs appearing everywhere, along with the sound of the first narrowboats chugging cheerfully down the river on a day trip or an Easter holiday. The waterways in spring are less crowded than in summertime, new waterfowl are born and the amateur photographer can take photos of all the tree blossoms. There is something very photogenic about the stunning skies of the Fenlands remote landscapes. You only need a smart phone to capture the sunset reflected in the water, or the local ducklings, cygnets and dragonflies. Don’t forget to take pics of you and the gang steering the boat and working the locks, to show everyone back home.

If you’re on a narrowboat holiday with us this Easter, spring is a great time to visit and discover the wonder of WWT Welney Wetland Centre. Not far from the River Great Ouse, it’s a perfect place to start exploring the wetlands, get up close to the wildlife and make memories with your family. For peace of mind, reserve your tickets and pay in advance online. The best way to visit is to take a taxi from either Denver or Littleport to the centre. Fox Route 1 will take you on the River Ouse. You could also see Denver Sluice on this holiday. Without its complex engineering, tens of thousands of homes in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk would be flooded. Denver Sluice plays a key role in river navigation, conservation, water abstraction, agricultural and land drainage and fisheries.

Also near the River Great Ouse, RSPB Fen Drayton Lakes is a complex of lakes and traditional riverside meadows. Explore and see ducks, swans, geese, terns, a variety of dragonflies and maybe even otters. These lakes began life as a flooded sand and gravel quarry next to riverside meadows.

On a narrowboat holiday this spring you could head west from March crossing the Greenwich meridian line at Floods Ferry and on to Whittlesey, Stanground, Peterborough and the Nene valley. Alternatively, if you travel east to Upwell and Outwell, then cross the tide at Salters Lode and head on towards Littleport and Ely and Cambridge you’ll visit pretty villages and ancient cities. Imagine starting your day with a coffee and a hot cross bun in the sunshine on the deck of your canal boat. Then try shopping for Easter chocolate in Peterborough, Ely, Cambridge or smaller picturesque market towns that you can visit by boat.

Alternatively, with Easter just around the corner why not treat the family to a day hire voucher?  You can then choose when to take a trip afloat. Call 01354652770 for a voucher or book a day out online.

Our well-equipped, comfortable boats are the best way to discover the waterways around the Cambridgeshire Fens. To get more tips and advice about travelling these navigations sign up now to receive regular articles by email (See ‘Follow Blog’ to the right of this article.)

Image Credit: Welney Wetlands Centre 2022 – Deposit Photos MikeLane45

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Are you looking for an unusual gift idea this Mothering Sunday?

Something more original than flowers or chocolates?

A present for a mother who loves the canals?

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

#NarrowboatBooks #WaterGypsies #Annie Murray #NarrowMargins #MarieBrowne #RamlinRose #SheilaStewart

When my children were young we lived on board a narrowboat, so I loved seeking out stories about mothers on canal boats; and it was even better if they were true to life.

Water Gypsies by Annie Murray

The historical novel, ‘Water Gypsies’ by Annie Murray is a sequel to ‘The Narrowboat Girl’, but I was told that the canals do not actually feature that much in the first book, so I went straight for the sequel. Water Gypsies begins in 1942 and describes a series of tragedies that befall the heroine, who is tormented by a miserable past! The story follows Maryann, her husband and children as they live and work on their canal boat, the ‘Esther Jane’.\

Narrow Margins by Marie Browne

In contrast, Marie Browne’s ‘Narrow Margins’ is a modern tale of a family aboard, trying to make a new start after losing their IT company and large house when Rover went bust. They moved their children and dog onto a ramshackle narrowboat called ‘Happy Go Lucky’ and taught themselves about narrowboat life and boat refurbishment as they went along. She has since written several sequels about their family’s adventures afloat. This is a fun read that details the challenges of living aboard a ‘fixer upper’!

For Better For Worse, For Richer For Poorer

I also enjoyed reading ‘For Better For Worse, For Richer For Poorer’ by Damian and Siobhan Horner. This husband and wife team wrote a memoir about leaving their careers and lives ashore, to travel the French canals with their two young children. Told in two voices, this mid-life crisis story follows their journey on an old fishing boat.

Ramlin Rose by Sheila Stewart

However, my favourite book about mums on board is ‘Ramlin Rose’, by Sheila Stewart. Recommended to me by another live-aboard mum, this book reveals the details of day to day life for a hardworking family in the cargo-carrying canal age. Sheila Stewart had wanted to interview a Banbury boatwoman and write her biography, but ended up compiling a number of true stories into a fictional life story. As so many boaters were illiterate back then, there is no autobiography written by a boatwoman. So this is the closest thing you will get to a mother’s perspective of parenting on board, while working the boats. Although the days were long, and the work was hard, and sometimes dangerous, there was a good sense of community. When the men went to canal-side pubs, they’d be moored alongside other families, and while the women minded the children on board they could catch up with their temporary neighbours moored next door.

“’Spite of all you hears about ‘drunken boatwomen’ most of ‘em was content of ‘n evenin to loose their chaps orf to the pub while they stayed tied to their kiddies and the cabin. It was a chance for Mum to catch oop on her chores ready for mornin and catch oop with news of the Cut with the women moored alongside.”

  • ‘Ramlin Rose’, Sheila Stewart

If reading narrowboat books gets your mother in the mood for boating, then a family boat trip on the Cambridgeshire Waterways could be just what you are looking for. Why not plan an unforgettable day-trip to our hire boat base in March? The whole family can have a go at steering the day boat, and spend some quality time together. Boating is an activity that suits all generations, and you can include a picnic, a pub lunch or some fish and chips in your day out.

In 2022 the Mother’s Day falls on Sunday March 27th, and the Fox boating season begins in April. If you book a day-trip now you could surprise your mum with this idea on Mothers Day. Read more: The Ultimate Mother’s Day Surprise

Get more canal-themed tips and stories by signing up for our blog updates. Subscribe on the right, by email. (We never share or sell email addresses, we’ll only be sending you our local, insider knowledge, every two weeks.)

Photo credit: Deposit photos

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St Georges fayre in March on Sunday 24th April

After two years of social distancing and pandemic precautions festivals are coming back to England this year! We are so ready to kick off the festival season with the return of our local St George’s Fayre, which will take place on Sunday 24th April 2022.

Pre-Covid this was an annual event in our home town of March, Cambridgeshire. You can expect the streets in the town centre to be pedestrianised, making way for a bustling street market and fun fair. The day begins with an opening parade at 10am, followed by live music throughout the day.

Fox Narrowboats will be offering river trips on board the March Adventurer day boat with a qualified skipper. Visitors can enjoy a half hour trip along the tranquil waters of the River Nene, leaving from the town bridge every half hour. This beautiful cruise travels through a park, continuing down the quiet Nene Parade.

If you don’t live close to March, you may like to book a narrowboat holiday to coincide with St George’s Fayre. Enjoy live music, dance performances, Punch and Judy shows and circus skills workshops.  St George’s Fayre is delivered by Fenland District Council and a committee of volunteers; it’s one of four ‘Four Seasons’ events which usually take place in Fenland’s market towns throughout the year.

On previous years attractions have included sword dancers, stilt walkers, mini golf, birds of prey, traditional games, storytelling, a vintage fire engine, a duck race and knights in shining armour.

The patron saint of England is often associated with the mythical tale of St George and the Dragon. This story is loosely based on a real-life George who was a Christian soldier of the Roman Empire, born around 280AD. Legend has it that George slayed a dragon that was terrorising the countryside, intent on devouring a princess. The idea of George as the nation’s patron saint probably began in William Shakespeare’s time. In his play ‘Henry V’, the king’s famous battle cry is, “God for Harry, England and St George!”

A Fenland narrowboat holiday is the perfect way to soak up the history and heritage of England. After a day at St George’s Fayre you could set off by boat, to explore the charming villages of Upwell and Outwell on the Middle Level navigation. Grab some fish and chips and take them back to the boat. Then if you carry on along the River Ouse and River Cam towards Ely and Cambridge you will discover Oliver Cromwell’s House, Ely Cathedral and the colleges of Cambridge University. You may like to travel at a leisurely pace and stop at some cosy waterside pubs along the way. This is an idyllic way to take a break from all the challenges we’ve faced over the past two years.

Choose from week boating holidays (seven nights), midweek boating breaks (four nights), or weekend boating breaks (three nights). We have different narrowboats available depending on the size of your group, and you can view the different boat layouts here: Fox Holiday Hire Fleet.

Price Discount: Holiday price discount of 7.5% until 1st April 2022 (VAT at 12.5%). Act now to take advantage of the VAT discount.

You may also like: How to Stop Gongoozling and Start Narrowboating

Don’t miss more articles about what to see and do when narrowboating in the Fens: Sign up to follow this blog in the sidebar on the right.

Covid-19: Check out our safety precautions and coronavirus guarantee.

Image credit: St George’s Fayre March facebook page

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middle level commissioners 2022

We are pleased to share for our customers the Navigation Spring 2022 newsletter reproduced here with permission of Middle Level Commissioners.

It is now 18 months since the Middle Level Commissioners (MLC) introduced licencing for pleasure craft for the first time in its history. There were many questions over what this would mean for users of the system and it is fair to say the change was unsurprisingly not universally supported. However, the introduction of licencing has allowed many positive things to happen and has changed the focus on our waterways from one where navigation was seen as a drain of resources to one where opportunities for enhancement and encouragement of waterway use is now in our targets. So below is a summary of some of the things that have happened in the last eighteen months and some of our aspirations for the future.

It is now 18 months since the Middle Level Commissioners (MLC) introduced licencing for pleasure craft for the first time in its history. There were many questions over what this would mean for users of the system and it is fair to say the change was unsurprisingly not universally supported. However, the introduction of licencing has allowed many positive things to happen and has changed the focus on our waterways from one where navigation was seen as a drain of resources to one where opportunities for enhancement and encouragement of waterway use is now in our targets. So below is a summary of some of the things that have happened in the last eighteen months and some of our aspirations for the future.

In the last 18 months we have

Taken over derelict moorings and renewed and improved them at Salters Lode Lock. These moorings have been reconstructed using navigation finances with a minority contribution from the Well Creek Trust. Going forward these mooring are now owned and maintained by the MLC.

The Salters Lode guillotine gate has been serviced and all gate seals replaced. This was an expensive exercise. To replace the seals required a team of professional divers working over a period of 4 days.

 

 

 

Four rural moorings have been installed.

We have appointed a full-time navigation officer to liaise with users of the system and Kev will now be well known now to many of you.

Contact number 07725 134170.

 

 

Marmont Priory Lock has been dewatered and remedials have been undertaken.  Marmont Priory upstream moorings have been fully refurbished.

We have removed a number of sunken or abandoned boats from the system.

 

 

 

 

We have worked with the Environment Agency and Conservators of the River Cam to agree the Anglian Pass bolt on which allows vessel owners the option (for a modest sum) to annually cruise the whole of the watercourse system covered by the 3 authorities.

We have also set money aside for future facility provision on the link route.

What planned for this spring (2022)?

Work will commence on installing 120m of piled moorings on High Lode near the Town of Ramsey. These new moorings will be owned and maintained by the MLC. Ramsey Town Council will supply fresh water and rubbish disposal facilities for visiting boats.

Four further sets of rural moorings will be installed.

Another phase of dredging for navigation will commence on the Well Creek stretching from the Aqueduct to Newton’s Bridge

We will be levelling the area of land outside the George public house on the Forty Foot (near Ramsey) to create an area where people can sit and enjoy the local water environment.

Marmont Priory Downstream moorings are to be refurbished.

And for the future

We are in discussions with Fenland District Council on possible improvements which can be implemented through the March Town river corridor.

We have had early discussions with Chatteris Town Council and possible future moorings at Carters Bridge.

We have been investigating co-funding moorings outside the George public house near Ramsey on the Forty Foot Drain.

We will be developing plans for new facilities on the link route and elsewhere.

Look to develop a scheme to dredge through March Town centre.

Seek to develop new and strengthen existing links with user group bodies who share our vision of an improved system benefiting all users.

 

So, in summary we believe that much has happened in the last eighteen months and it is our hope with your help we can maintain this rate of change.

 

 

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booking a narrowboat holiday

Did you go on holiday last year? Did you mainly work from home? Were you hoping it would be all back to ‘normal’ by now?

If there’s one thing 2021 has taught us it’s to be flexible with whatever we have planned! But it’s also important to have hope, and plan holidays and get-togethers to look forward to.

While the Covid-19 pandemic has caused an increase in common mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, our blog offered some good tips to help you to cope.

Read: How a Narrowboat Holiday Can Improve Your Mental Health

For those wanting to be well-prepared before setting off on a trip, we shared a few insider secrets that every new boater should know. These simple safety tips will ensure that your first cruise is a great success, and that everyone has the best holiday.

Read: Get Ready to Go Canal Boating (Even if You’ve Never Done It)

In February the UK government advised against booking a summer holiday abroad in 2021, and introduced quarantine hotels. On Valentine’s Day romantic restaurants and hotels were closed due to lockdown. So some couples opted for booking a romantic narrowboat break to look forward to later in the year, knowing that all bookings were covered by our Covid guarantee.

Read: Valentines: Why Narrowboats Are the Most Romantic Break

In March, you might have wondered whether it was even wise to book a canal boat holiday. This article explains why narrowboat staycations actually became a popular choice. (Early booking for 2022 is advisable.)

Read: Can I Book a Narrowboat Holiday for 2021?

Have you ever wondered if it is difficult to go around corners in a canal boat? What happens if you run aground? How do you turn a 70 foot narrowboat around? In this blog post we shared Zen and the art of narrowboat handling with you. Boat handling is such a fun skill and can be learned at any age, from childhood to retirement, which makes a narrowboat holiday such a great experience for family groups.

Read: 3 Skipper’s Tips to Start Steering a Holiday Narrowboat

As the Covid-19 restrictions were lifted in England in July, there were no longer limits on social contact, meaning that people could meet inside or outside with as many people as they wanted. This gave holiday makers far more choices of places to visit on the Fenland waterways. However, at Fox Narrowboats we kept all of our safety measures in place, including our triple clean boat procedures, as we do everything that we can to keep our staff and customers safe.

Read: 3 Waterside Pubs to Visit Now Restrictions Have Lifted

Does your boat have a distinctive bow? Do other boaters ask you, “What number is it?!” Are you proud to know the history of your boat? Then you may be the owner of a Charlie Fox narrowboat!

Read: Charlie Fox Narrowboats: Where are They in 2021?

Actors Gyles Brandreth and Sheila Hancock returned to our screens in 2021, and in case you missed it you can catch up with their ‘Great Canal Journey’ to Cambridge and the Fens by watching episode one of series 13 on All 4. They started their journey in the town of March, where Fox narrowboats are based, and visited Emneth, Ely Cathedral, and Cambridge.

Read: Great Canal Journeys visit Cambridgeshire Fens

And finally, are you intrigued by England’s legends and mysteries? Want to discover local folklore on your narrowboat holiday? Got any Harry Potter fans in your family? The Cambridgeshire Fens were one of the last places in England where people still believed in witchcraft. Discover the witchy history of Cambridgeshire’s Fens in our Halloween article.

Read: Finding Fenland Witches For the Curious Canal Boater

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed reading these highlights from last year’s blog. Never miss an article again. Just look for ‘Follow Blog’ in the sidebar on the right and enter your email address. We’ll send you occasional stories, tips and advice about narrowboating around the Fens. (We never share or sell email addresses – your details are safe with us.)

If you want to take a canal holiday this year check availability now. We have some great deals to look forward to.

You may also like: Why January is the Best Time to Book Your Hire Boat Holiday

Image credit:  Fox Narrowboats

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