Six of the best canal boat holidays in Britain

Narrow boats or Canal Boats on English water ways
Narrow boats or Canal Boats on English water ways

Did you know there are more than 3,000 miles of canals and rivers to explore across Britain? Here are six of the best of them.

By Carla Grossetti

Norfolk Broads, East England

Enjoy lolling on the back of a canal boat watching the smudged reflection of the trees on the water as you chug along the watery highway seeing the countryside in slo-mo. This is a holiday that is about slowing down as you wend your way along rivers that were created in medieval times.  You can either camp overnight or stay in B&Bs along the way. The Canoe Man can help you navigate some of the tiniest squiggles of river. 

Kennet & Avon Waterway, West England

This serpentine river snakes its way from London to the Bristol Channel in West England, passing through spectacular landscapes along the way. If carving through wooded hills and the picturesque Avon Gorge toots your horn, then this is the canal boat cruise for you. Polish up on your boating terms so you know your bowlines from your bow thrusters as you pass along the Vale of Pewsey toward Hungerford.

Stratford Canal, West England

The town of Rugby is where the famous sport was born and it’s where this trip starts, about an hour away from London by train. Sociable types will enjoy being in the boatman’s cabin while navigating the 84 locks from Leamington Spa to Warwick Castle and onto Stratford-upon-Avon. More than four decades after Shakespeare’s death we think it’s worth disembarking here to explore the birthplace of the Bard. 

Stourport Ring, Central England

Factoid: Birmingham has more waterways than Venice. And it’s great to see the UK’s second capital has now realised their huge tourism potential with food trucks, bars, galleries and cafes now lining the canals. The network of canals were built in the 1700s and 1800s and a journey along the Stourport Ring will take you past Cadbury World, the cathedral city of Worcester and the Tardebigge Flight, a series of locks that raise the water a whopping 67 metres.

Lough Erne, Northern Ireland

Lough Erne is regarded as one of Britain’s great wildernesses. Rent a boat and captain your own cruiser on the waterways of the scenic Lough Erne in a scenic corner of Northern Ireland. Drop anchor near the ruined castles and monasteries that dot the landscape and stop off at the Lusty Beg, an island with its own restaurant.


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