FAQs about boat holidays

If you're thinking of taking a holiday on our canals or rivers and still have questions, you may find the answer here.

What are the rules or regulations for driving the boat?

Read the boaters' handbook ahead of your trip and follow the instructions given by your boat hire company at the handover.

Do I need insurance?

Your canal boat will be insured by your boating 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?

Although some waterways are only a few feet deep there is no telling the size of the depth until you actually get in, and remember that cold temperatures can cause cramp in even the strongest of swimmers. Read our full advice in our safety on the waterways pages.

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 Share the Space and:

  • 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 fishing, never discard hooks, lines, bottles or tins that can injure wildlife

Am I allowed to fish?

Yes, as long as you have permission from the local angling club or a Waterways Wanderer permit as well as a current rod licence from the Environment Agency. Plus, you do it within season. In England and Wales you can fish generally at any time on most canals and on a river any time except close season, which is mid-March to mid-June.

Where do we 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, and mooring your boat here is typically limited to 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 on our mooring FAQs page.

Where do we leave our car?

Hire companies will have parking facilities where you can leave your car for the week. If you are arriving by train, your canal holiday operator can tell you how to find the 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, and they'll send an engineer out as soon as possible.

Last date edited: 19 June 2019