Last summer the Met Office put an extreme heat warning in place, and so we published Five Cool Ideas for Narrowboating in a Heatwave. Some areas of the UK were even affected by drought, and so people were asked to limit what water they used. This wet July has been a different story, with the Met Office explaining that although a southern shift of the jet stream has caused high pressure and record high temperatures in Europe, low-pressure systems have caused this cooler weather here in Britain.
However, even in the pouring rain, most narrowboaters still know how to have a good time! The UK canal boating season is from spring until autumn, and British boaters know that they must expect the unexpected when it comes to the weather. So here are four ways to enjoy your narrowboat holiday, even if it rains.
On the Cut
If you’re planning a holiday in England you will need to pack clothes that suit both summer sunshine and rainy days – just in case. So be prepared to bring a light raincoat and a warm jumper. When the boat is underway, encourage a sense of team spirit and camaraderie among your crew by all pitching in with the locks, whatever the weather. If you have younger children, or vulnerable crew members on board, just make them aware that the deck and gunwales can get slippery in the rain. The steerer (dressed in waterproofs) can enjoy the rural views as you travel, and those below deck can supply the steerer with hot drinks and biscuits. If the steerer is you, be proud of your tenacity! Then, after you’ve moored up at your planned destination, enjoy a dry change of clothes and a sense of smug satisfaction.
On the Boat
However, you don’t have to be cruising for the whole holiday; travelling is only a part of it. If you get caught in the rain simply check your guidebook (supplied with the boat) for your nearest suitable mooring, and moor up for a while. Make snacks in the galley, and get comfortable using the TV and Wi-Fi. You could even turn on the central heating if necessary! Make yourself at home and perhaps persuade your group or family to play board games or card games until the rain eases off.
In a Book
Can you imagine curling up with a good book while the rain patters down on the narrowboat roof?
Steve Haywood has written several good travelogues about cruising the canals. ‘Narrowdog to Carcassonne’ by Terry Darlington is an autobiographical account of taking a narrowboat through France. For historical fiction about boating women, try ‘Water Gypsies’ by Annie Murray, or for real-life women’s experiences I recommend ‘Ramlin Rose’ by Sheila Stewart. Being far from digital distractions can be a welcome reprieve from modern life.
On the Bank
And finally, you will of course spend a good part of your holiday off the boat, exploring villages, towns, shops and tourist attractions. Take shelter in one of these Three Waterside Pubs to Visit on Holiday. Our blog is full of some great suggestions of places to go, from Ely Cathedral to the colleges of Cambridge University; museums, and art galleries can all be explored on a rainy day. Click ‘Blog’ (top right) and look for ‘Follow Blog’ in the right sidebar to receive more helpful holiday tips about the Fenland Waterways. (We never share or sell email addresses, we’ll only be sending you our local, insider knowledge, every two weeks.)
Whatever the weather, the scenery here on the Fenland waterways in Cambridgeshire is second to none. Just take a look at where you could go exploring, by seeing our suggested Fox Boats routes.