Published On: Wed, Dec 12th, 2018

A relaxing weekend cruising the UK’s canals

As part of your itinerary when visiting the UK, it is worthwhile considering a relaxing long-weekend break on the water in a narrowboat. Instead of experiencing the stress of driving everywhere on foreign roads, park your car, climb on board and take this slower mode of transport. Along the way, enjoy beautiful scenery and stop off to explore the many attractions.

photo/ KTTrainer

Canal boats were originally built to transport goods before there were motorways across the country, but these days they have all the modern comforts you could require while exploring the waterways of England. This adventure can be taken virtually all year around, as most have central heating. Basic cooking facilities include a fridge and cooker, while living areas offer a flat-screen TV and a DVD player for evening relaxation. Some barges are pet friendly, meaning you won’t have to leave the family dog behind.

Whether entertaining the whole family or heading off on a romantic trip, the following are recommended weekend breaks in the UK on a canal boat.

  1. Explore the Peak District

Starting off in Stoke on Trent, there is a variety of canal routes to choose from. Four Counties or the Cheshire Ring are a popular choice for a week-long cruise. However, the Caldon Canal is ideal for weekend break, taking your narrowboat through the Churnet Valley to Leek and Froghall. This is a quiet canal, perfect for a relaxing cruise and there are excellent pubs along the way to stop off for a good meal and a drink.

  1. Worcester Short Route

Take a narrowboat from Stoke Prior all the way to Worcester. Here you can enjoy visiting the Cathedral City itself as well as the lovely countryside surrounding the canal. As well as the canal itself, a section of your cruise will include the River Severn. Head back on the same route stopping wherever your fancy is taken.

  1. Cambridgeshire Route

The Cambridgeshire route varies from most, as in this case you will be cruising rivers instead of canals all the way.  Rivers include the Ouse, the Old West River and the River Cam.

Before starting off from Ely, birdwatchers can enjoy a visit to the Fens wetland reserves, while the quaint villages along the way offer many opportunities to stop off and explore. Head into the historic and beautiful university city of Cambridge via the River Cam and moor your canal boat to visit all the city’s many attractions.

photo/ Gavin Meikle

  1. Falkirk Short Route in Scotland

This short break narrowboat experience heads out from Falkirk along the Union Canal and travels to Edinburgh via the Falkirk Wheel as well as three locks. Along the way, pass pretty villages like Linlithgow and Ratho, or stop over for a meal before heading over the Almond Aqueduct with great views. On arrival at your destination, explore all the wonders of Edinburgh before getting back on board to head back to Falkirk.

photo/ johnmcgrevey

  1. Chirk Short Route in Wales

This is an easy route with no locks from Llangollen, passing through Trevor, Chirk and Frankton all the way to Ellesmere. This popular route can get busy during the summer months, but is perfect for a spring or autumn cruise, when the canals are much quieter. Head out on your barge along the Llangollen Canal through the Dee Valley, surrounded by gorgeous Welsh scenery. Experience crossing the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct with a dramatic drop from the side of your narrowboat.  Llangollen itself is an interesting visit with its 7th century history and the Dee Bridge which dates back to 1345.

Have a relaxing long weekend on a narrowboat next year, taking your time to stop off to experience all the beautiful sights England, Scotland and Wales have to offer.

Author: Anne Sewell

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