Where to go and what does it cost?
Imagine being able to take your house and park it in some of the most inspiring and beautiful parts of England and Wales - this is what life on a canal boat holiday is like.
On a boat you never get bored of looking out the window and seeing the same thing, because on a canal boat you can change the view from your window every day! With over 2,000 miles of Canal & River Trust waterways for you to cruise, the sheer choice of holiday routes can seem daunting at first, but it's really just a case of deciding what you want to get out of your holiday.
How do I choose where to go?
First choose a location, either a place that you've previously fallen in love with or an area that you've always wanted to explore, and then it's pretty much plain-sailing from there. Deciding what you want to do all day will also help to narrow down your options. So if you love the bustling activity and sights of the city, go for routes that pass through major cities like Birmingham or Manchester. But if you prefer peaceful surroundings, there's a huge choice of rural waterways throughout the country. Create a journey that's entirely catered towards the needs of you or your friends and family.
How far can we travel?
During the summer months you can expect to cruise on your canal boat for anywhere between four and seven hours a day.
You will usually be travelling at around 3-4mph on your boat. This means that cruising for about four hours a day will allow you to cover around 80 to 100 miles in a week, whilst providing plenty of time for lazy lunches and energetic exploring. You should also make sure you allow extra time in your schedule to go through locks, as it will take you around 15 minutes extra to negotiate each one, although an energetic party could manage it in less. You are not permitted to cruise at night.
How do we choose a route?
Booking a canal holiday is much the same as booking a holiday abroad – just choose the location you would like to travel to and work from there. The inland waterways are an historical network, one whose basic structure hasn't changed much over the years, so there are really only so many routes you can take and it's very difficult to get lost!
Normally your canal holiday operator will discuss with you the routes available within the area you have booked, and most companies will have cruising maps that you can buy. Downloadable Boaters' Guides for the full length of a canal are also available on waterscape.com until they are enabled on this website.
Your route all depends on your personal choice. Larger crews of two families may fancy covering more ground on their boat, with an energetic route or a cruising ring. However, groups of friends might enjoy a city cruise - with lots of things to see and do these make for a very undemanding route.
Personal skill and confidence behind the tiller of your boat may also play a large part when it comes to choosing your route. If you're new to boating you may want to avoid routes with lots of locks, such as the hilly approaches to Birmingham. However, if you have energetic children then lots of locks can keep them entertained and actually work to your advantage! Find out how you can become a pro at navigating locks, by reading How do locks work?
How much does it cost?
The price of a canal holiday can vary widely and is dependant upon a number of factors, such as how many people are going, the length of the break you are taking, and the time of year you are going.
Couples can expect to pay around £300 – 400 for a short break, or £500 – 800 for a week-long break. Whilst a family of four can expect a cost of around £500 – 700 for a short break, and £700 – 1,000 for a week-long cruise. Prices are typically higher during the peak times of December and the summer months of May, June, July, August and September.
When you split the cost of a canal holiday between friends it's a very affordable option.