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FAQs about boat holidays

If you've read our information about canal boat holidays and still have questions, have a look through the answers to these FAQs below.

What are the rules or regulations for driving the boat?

Read our how-to guide on driving your holiday canal boat and also the Boater's Handbook in advance of your trip.

You'll be given full instructions by your hire boat company at your handover, when you collect the boat. This is your chance to ask them any questions you might have about your specific boat or the rules of the waterways.

Do I need insurance?

Your canal boat will be insured by your hire company, although they'll still expect you to take reasonable care. Some may also need a refundable security deposit or a damage waiver payment.

A damage waiver is a non-refundable payment that covers you in case of loss or damage to your boat, except where this has been caused by negligence or a deliberate act by someone else. Many canal holiday operators will also offer you optional insurance, which covers you for personal injury and theft.

Can I swim in the canal?

We strongly advise you not to swim in the canals, for a range of reasons. You can read about this in more detail in our full advice on water safety.

Is there any wildlife I should try not to disturb?

The waterways are rich in lush vegetation and wildlife, but as long as you respect your surroundings and the environment you'll have nothing to worry about. We're asking everyone who visits our canals and rivers to following these simple rules, taken from our towpath code.

  • Keep noise to a minimum.
  • Don't damage the surrounding vegetation or banks.
  • Never dump rubbish, sewage or oily bilge water into the water or onto the bank.
  • Clean up after your dog, and keep it under control.
  • If you're fishing, never discard hooks, lines, bottles or tins in the water or along the towpath.

Am I allowed to fish?

Yes, as long as you have permission from the local angling club or a Waterway Wanderers permit, as well as a current rod licence from the Environment Agency.

In England and Wales you can fish generally at any time on most canals, with some exceptions, and on rivers at any time except during close season, which is mid-March to mid-June.

Where do I stop at night?

Anywhere along the towpath, with very few exceptions. Mooring is free of charge on most canals and rivers. Although you may have to pay a small fee on rivers where the banks are privately owned, or at quays and harbours.

There are also specially designated visitor moorings at popular places, where your stay will typically be limited to a maximum of 48 hours.

You must make sure you avoid mooring your boat within 50 metres of a lock or bridge, so other boats can pass by safely. Find out more in our mooring FAQs.

Where do I leave my car?

More hire boat companies have parking facilities where you can leave your car for the duration of your trip or holiday.

If you are arriving by train, your hire company will tell you how to find their base and can often arrange a taxi for you.

What do I do if there's a problem with the boat?

It's very unlikely that your canal boat will break down, but if it does, just contact your hire company with details of your location. They'll send an engineer out as soon as possible.

Last Edited: 21 September 2020

photo of a location on the canals
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