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Canal boat holiday - have you done it? Would your recommend it?

(15 Posts)
Wiifitmama Sun 15-Feb-15 19:47:33

We were walking the regents canal today (London) and as with every time we do it, it makes me want to take a canal boat holiday! I have fond memories of helping my uncle move a canal boat he had bought from london to Elye when I was a teen and have wanted to go with my own family in recents years. We haven't done it yet as it seems quite expensive and I was also worried my youngest was too young.

Now I am seriously considering it again for autumn (September or October) and was wondering if anyone had any experiences they could share. Even out of school holidays, the price would still be around £1000 so I don't want to do it and hate it!

Some info- it's me, DH and three boys aged 14, 11 and 7. I don't do camping - I need inside flushing toilets, kitchen etc! We love outdoors and walking. We live in central London and haven't car so would take the trains o the starting point,

Any thoughts?

florencedombey Sun 15-Feb-15 19:53:00

We go every year and love it. I would go camping - like you, I need an indoor loo and a shower. Narrowboats generally have both, plus Central heating, comfy beds, running water etc.

Hiring is expensive, but once you are on the boat you don't spend much because boating is the holiday - no need for expensive visitor attractions etc when there are locks to work. Perhaps try a weekend break first if you don't want to commit to a whole week?

florencedombey Sun 15-Feb-15 19:53:38

Sorry, that should say I wouldn't go camping...

Wiifitmama Sun 15-Feb-15 19:55:24

Thank you. A weekend break is ann ecellent idea. Is there a company you recommend? Or anyo area?

AJNH Sun 15-Feb-15 20:00:55

My parents took myself, DB and DSis on holiday on a canal boat on the Norfolk broads when we were children and we all absolutely loved it! We all still talk about it now smile we went for 2 weeks and didn't once get bored!

Go for it!!!

florencedombey Sun 15-Feb-15 22:45:18

There are loads of good companies. Black Prince, Napton Narrowboats, Andersen Boats, Alvcechurch Boat Centres all have nice looking boats which have lots of creature comforts! If you go for a weekend, you could go from Anglo Welsh's base at Wooten Wawen (Stratford Canal) - there is a mini circuit you can do up into the centre of Birmingham which is good fun (although urban in parts). Or go on the Llangollen which is beautifully rural and popular with first timers, so you won't be the only boat bouncing off the banks..... Half the fun is in the planning, so get surfing the hire base websites and watch the new series of Timothy West and Prunella Scales's canal trips when it starts next month.

newnamefor15 Wed 18-Feb-15 12:14:11

I've done it twice on the Thames. Brilliant holiday. Great for kids.

spababe Sat 21-Feb-15 08:45:34

Have been several times and hate camping. We always go with another family so that there are plenty of people to lock and our children have some company. We try to get a boat that is divided in two so each family has 2 bedrooms and a bathroom with the kitchen in the middle. Look for an 'Owl' boat if you decide to do this (keeps costs down as well)
Practicalities: you can only have a shower when the boat is moving as the engine heats the water.
There may only be one plug - we take a 4 ganger so can plug in more than one phone to charge
Kitchen is small but practical enough to cook meals.
Storage is limited and try not to take hard sided suitcases. If you travel by train (as we do) this will probably limit the amount you take anyway.

maud876 Wed 25-Feb-15 18:13:37

Had a Thames canal boat holiday several years ago. It was amazing as we could moor right in the middle of Windsor, Henley and outside Hampton Court. It was quite expensive but we had 7 children and compared favourably to taking them to those places and staying in hotels.
I have just booked a cruiser on the Norfolk Broads in July. It is lot cheaper than canals boats so will see how it compares

thatsmadted Wed 25-Feb-15 20:43:35

We did it (pre-kids) and it was the best holiday ever. Amazingly relaxing. It usually takes me about a week to wind down on holidays but it happened the second I stood on the boat. Highly recommended although I've no idea whether your kids would like it and would think you'd need another family with similar aged kids so it's fun for them too.

Guadalupe Wed 25-Feb-15 20:49:51

Dh is desperate to have a canal holiday. No one else has been that keen so we haven't bothered yet but his brother used to have one and he often stayed on it and misses it now.

We had a scary moment on a lock once with dd aged 2.5 so it put me off going with small kids but now they're 17, 13 and 8 I guess it would be more relaxing.

I like the sound of the one in Wales. I might mention it to dh!

P1notgringoboy Tue 03-Mar-15 13:48:54

I'm going for the first time in a few weeks with some friends who do it every year - I guess splitting the cost with friends means there's not so much to pay, but I'm really looking forward to it.

The boat they've hired has two showers, two toilets and everything else my flat has, although my seasoned canalist friends say that pub loos should be savoured!

I really love the idea of bimbling along slow time, and we'll have kids with us the same sort of age as yours - they love doing the locks. I'll let you know how we got on!

Madcats Tue 03-Mar-15 22:21:38

Where I live (Bath), there are firms that will do a daybook hire and there is even somebody who has a B&B boat.

I think you probably need a sense of humour to go on a canalboat holiday We teamed up with cousins/parents when I was 15 and then I did another one with work friends when we were about 24. I've not done one again since, but I do think about it as a potential holiday.

I reckon that you just need to pack properly with some decent games/books/food and plan an interesting route. Pack decent waterproofs and sort out where to dry clothing before you all get wet.

Thinking back, I'd get a boat with at least 2 loos/bathrooms. Our trip when the "pumping out" station forgot to switch the pump (so it "pushed", rather than "sucked" the sewerage) still gets mentioned at family gatherings several decades later!

CocktailQueen Wed 04-Mar-15 08:45:45

Great idea - though your 7yo might be bored/fall in? Try it out for a weekend first...

In Leighton Buzzard there is a canal boat company -you could get the train to LB and it's a 10 minute walk to the canal. Doable for a weekend - Nice cruises either way!

aod2009 Mon 25-Apr-16 04:44:33

Hi we are thinking of hiring a cruise boat in July with a 1 year old and 4 year old. Any recommendations / tips? Would you do it? Are we crazy? ! Please help as this will be our first time

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