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Nine reasons to take a boating holiday this year

There are many reasons to choose canal cruising this summer, not least that research suggests spending just two hours by water can improve our mental health.

So, what can a whole week of slow travel on canal boats do? 

1. Enjoy a slower pace

Canal escapes offer a slower-paced holiday, meaning more time spent on your hobbies – whether that’s birdwatching, walking, or reading as the water gently passes you by.

Cruising gently along at walking pace, you’ll unwind as a new, much steadier pace of life takes over.

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct from above

2. Discover new waterways

There are 2,000 miles of waterways and seemingly endless canal boat holiday destinations. Follow the picturesque Oxford Canal to meander through the countryside. Take the Llangollen Canal across the border between England and Wales. Or cruise the Worcester & Birmingham Canal into the vibrant city centre.

Canals offer boating holiday-makers free moorings, so there’s plenty of choice of where to stop for the night as you discover new parts of the UK.

3. Seeing the UK in a different way

Our canals and rivers weave throughout England and Wales, through towns, cities, and rural villages. You might discover a local market by the Rochdale Canal that sell the most wonderful black pudding you’ve ever tried or buy your eggs from a canal-side farm shop.

Two children smile as they push a lock gate in the sun.

4. Get active

Relaxing canal boat trips offer opportunities for gentle exercise and fresh air. Whether you’re working the locks, walking local footpaths, cycling the towpaths, or standing at the tiller, waterway getaways are a good way to get moving and shake off our normal routines.

5. It’s a greener way

Taking a canal boat holiday in the UK produces significantly fewer emissions than flying or driving. Using less water and power than a land-based vacation boosts your green credentials.

Infographic showing that the lower the carbon intensive travel, the more it improves air quality and health outcomes.

6. Quality time together

Cruising a canal boat means working as a team. Everyone can help, regardless of their age or ability, from planning your route and doing the locks to making sure the skipper has a cup of tea.

What’s more, you’ll be cruising through a diverse range of new and vibrant waterway communities – it’s an excellent opportunity to explore other parts of the UK.

7. Journey through history

Our network is over 200 years old, and thousands of historic structures exist throughout the canal and river system. You could venture over the soaring majesty of the UNESCO World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and through the awe-inspiring three-mile-long Standedge Tunnel beneath the Pennines.

We also have plenty of museums and attractions to learn more about the industrial heritage of the waterways, like a trip to the National Waterways Museum at Gloucester Docks or the Anderton Boat Lift in Cheshire.

9. Try something new

You might worry about crashing or working the locks correctly. But the reality is, it’s easy to learn how to drive a boat and navigate the waterways.

Your hire boat company will explain everything you need to know before you set off on your own. Plus, we have plenty of volunteers looking after boaters across our network.

Last Edited: 04 March 2024

photo of a location on the canals
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