Boat holidays in the UK
 

 
 

A boat holiday in the UK...
relax, enjoy, be free

If you have never been on a boating holiday before then prepare yourself for a holiday of pure relaxation, stunning scenery, great food and drink, and the freedom to do what you want when you want. Can you ask more of a holiday?

And no, we are not exaggerating.

As you glide down the UK waterways at a 'heady' 4-6 mph all thoughts of your work commmute will simply drift away. The ever changing countryside and waterscapes that unfold in front of you will make you forget all about your normal day time stresses and strains.

A boat holiday is your chance to be at one with the UK's very best nature and wildlife. Be up close and personal with the wildlife including having direct to access to some superb bird and nature reserves.

Food and drink is always close to hand with pubs and restaurants just waiting to be discovered alongside all of the waterways. If you fancy a spot of sightseeing or shopping then simply moor up and go exploring - you are always close to the heart of villages, towns and even cities, so you can enjoy shops, museums, castles, cathedrals, night life…..and more.


And, as for mans best friend, banks and tow paths are a great place or peaceful walking. You will also find that dogs are welcome on most boats – so you will never walk along!

What to expect on board your boat

There are a lot of misconceptions about what life on board a boat is like, so to put the record straight here are a few facts:

  • There is plenty of headroom (6ft or more)
  • Lots of storage space
  • Full size beds - 6ft plus - with good matresses i.e. interior-sprung or foam mattress
  • Toilets that flush
  • A shower or bathroom
  • A fully equipped kitchen with cooker, refrigerator
  • In a lot of cases 240v appliances, such as microwaves
  • Comfortable living area with TV and sound systems
  • So you are not going short of any of those comforts that make life all the more enjoyable!

    Getting started - common questions

    If you are a novice to boating holidays you are bound to have some more questions, so below we have tried to summarise the most common ones.

    Do I need a boat licence?
    Good news, you don’t need a licence to drive a boat.

    What are the rules on the water?
    As you would expect there are a few basic rules you need to follow - but these will be explained by your boatyard when you are given your handover tuition. You will also find these all explained in the comprehensive manual which are provided in every boat.

    Should someone on board have boating experience?
    No. On arrival at your boatyard you will be given plenty of expert tuition by the boatyard staff. They will provide all the training, help and advice you need until you’re happy to take the helm.

    Where do we go?
    Although it depends on the waterway you will be on, you can expect to be travelling at a maximum of 4mph to 7mph. Based on average day of 4 hours cruising that will mean you will be covering about 80-100 miles in a week. You are entitled to travel anywhere in the waters covered by your boat’s licence. Your boat holiday operator and/or boatyard will provide you with some suggested cruising routes based on the number of days you intend to be away - but remember the beauty of a boating holiday is that you decide.

    How do I stop and where?
    Your boatyard will show you how to moor up as part of your induction. Most boatyards will provide documentation on board with plenty of information about mooring places. You will find that the most popular moorings are closest to the waterside pubs, restaurants, villages and towns (where a small charge is usually made) but there are also many quieter places to moor free of charge. Mooring is free Environment Agency moorings and on any canal towpath.

    What do I do at locks?
    Firstly, remember this is part of the fun and not something to be worried about. You simply steer your boat gently in, and use the big wooden beams to close the gates behind you. Then you open small paddle doors in the other gates with the L-shaped winding handle provided with your boat to let the water in or out and change the water level. Then you open the gates and drive out, stopping to close the gates and paddle doors before leaving.

    In Britain on the Thames, Caledonian Canal and parts of the Cambridgeshire Waterway, there are larger locks with lock-keepers to do the work for you. There are no locks on the Norfolk Broads.

    Is there a charge for fuel?
    The good news is that some boatyards (and nearly all on the canals) include your fuel in your holiday price, and the full tank you start with is usually much more than you need for your holiday. However, if you are charged, you will only be charged for the fuel used, and this amount will be deducted from your fuel deposit when you return the boat. To give you an idea the typical fuel costs for a week’s cruising (depending on boat and waterway) are between £40-£100, but in Scotland, costs can be up to £130.

    Where do I get water for drinking and washing?
    To put it simply - on your boat. Your boat will have a full tank of water and all boats have hot and cold running water for kitchens and shower rooms. You can top up your water tank at any public mooring if necessary, for which there is usually a small charge.

    Do I need special safety equipment or training?
    All you need to bring with you are sensible non-slip shoes, and you’ll receive all the training about safety you need from your boatyard staff when you arrive. We recommend buoyancy aids for children and non-swimmers - these are provided free of charge when you pick up your boat. The boat manual on board your boat contains all the safety information you’ll need, too. Remember, though, that boating is an active holiday. At least two members of your party will need to be able to jump on and off the boat to moor up and work the locks.

    Can I use my hairdryer or other electrical equipment?
    You must check when you make your booking before bringing any 240v electrical appliances. Some boats have 240v systems, but this does not mean that you can bring any appliances with you. In most cases, it’s only possible to use the appliances supplied on the boat. All boats have shaver points for electric shavers, and most have a 12v accessory socket similar to a car. Any electrical items with a car adapter will operate from this socket, including mobile phones, camcorders, digital cameras and chargers for their batteries. You’ll need to bring your own connecting plugs and leads, though.

    Can I bring my dog along?
    Most boats welcome one or two well-behaved dogs and pets are free of charge at many canal boatyards. There are many excellent walks along the along the towpaths and in the countryside close to many moorings. For boating in Europe, the Pet Passport scheme is now well established, so you needn’t leave one of the family behind! Visit http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/quarantine/pets/index.htm for more details about what you need to do. You’ll find other useful information at www.dogsaway.co.uk

    The Boater’s Handbook
    More detailed information about boating is available in this comprehensive handbook produced by the Environment Agency and British Waterways and available online here

    Staying in touch on you boat holiday - Internet and Wifi access while you are cruising.

     

     

     
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