If you’re looking for a relaxing UK break with friends or family then a canal boat holiday is something a little different that’s relaxing and great fun. Floating along Britain’s canals aboard a well-equipped barge is a great way to unwind and see some beautiful spots. Boating holidays are becoming an increasingly popular holiday option in the UK.

There’s something really unique and special about being left to work the locks and navigating the barge through tranquil waterways whilst enjoying time with your friends. Of all the holidays we have enjoyed in the past, the canal boat holiday was easily the most relaxing. We’d highly recommend this type of holiday to families and groups of friends – would make a great stag-do!

Advantages of a canal boat holiday 

1. Canal holidays allow you to visit lots of different locations at a leisurely pace in tranquil surroundings

2. Accommodation offers the comforts of a luxury hotel. Hired canal boats can be surprisingly modern and spacious, and typically come with central heating, a kitchen and a lounge. A guide will usually come to instruct you on operating the boat and educate you about canal etiquette.

3. Canal boat holidays can work out a lot cheaper than going abroad, especially if you have a large group who can share the price.

4. Eco friendly – a canal holiday is much more friendlier to the environment than flying, hiring a car etc

Things to do on a canal boat holiday

As well as enjoying rivers and views, it’s also possible to step off and explore local towns, enjoy country pubs and restaurants, wildlife and scenery. When the weather is calm, you can also fish off the side of a boat, or even engage in some swimming and watersports. Alternatively, you can just focus on relaxation, from gentle sightseeing to taking photographs, bird-watching and the knowledge that you can sail down rivers and canals without being disturbed.

Britain is full of canals and waterways, so many in fact that there are more miles of canal in Birmingham than there are in Venice! Most canals in the UK can accommodate boats that are between 55 and 80 feet long, but some canals are larger, such as New Junction Canal and the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal, which can accommodate boats of up to 230 feet in length.

If you’re thinking about hiring a canal boat, there are a number of things to consider. You need to be reasonably fit – two adults can easily handle a narrowboat, but for long journeys you might consider taking more people to spread the work. As the boat cruises along, one person seers the boat while the rest of the crew can soak up the scenery or even walk alongside the boat on the towpath. At locks, one person should stay on-board the boat to steer while another works the lock mechanism.

Canal boating holidays are growing in popularity, and are no longer the preserve of boaters and nautical types. They are becoming particularly popular with husbands-to-be who are looking for a more relaxing stag-do. Boats can be hired and tuition about locks provided, so you can navigate your own way around the UK.