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first time canal boats

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Aussie
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first time canal boats

We intend to visit the UK next year and would love to try a canal boat trip. Any hints/problems for first time userrs?

London
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1. Re: first time canal boats

Do you mean a short trip from A to B with a driver and other tourist passengers? Here's one of those in Little Venice in London:

http://www.jasons.co.uk/

If you mean a canal boat holiday, you'd probably be better posting for advice in the general area you wish to be in.

Melbourne, Australia
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2. Re: first time canal boats

We have just come back from the UK and were first time users of a narrow boat on the Grand Union Canal. There were just two of us and the boat was excellent - central heating, fantastic shower, well equiped kitchen, comfortable bed. We had 10 days of 'sailing' and it was a very good experience. For me opening and shuting locks was exhausting, and I now have muscles that I did not know existed! The locks are very heavy but as I refused to steer the boat into the locks, then opening and shutting them was my job. Mooring at night in a small village and having a pub meal was great fun. The boat ran well and we managed, with some instuction from the hiring company, better than we thought. Have a go it can be fun.

UK
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for Chester
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3. Re: first time canal boats

If you fly into Manchester you have lots of options for canal holidays in the North west and North Midlands. If you start from Anderton, Preston Brook or Acton Bridge you have the chance to get used to the boat before you have to work any locks. In fact I have just returned forn a 15 hour round trip to Manchester (canal boats only travel at 4 mph) without going through a single lock.

The northern Trent and Mersey canal is very scenic and gives you the opportunity to see and go down the Anderton boat Lift onto the river Weaver. If you feel more able to face the locks go through Middlewich. You could then perhaps try part of the Llnagollen and cross the famous Pontysycllte Aqueduct or alternatively go to Chester and moor under the Roman walls whilst visiting the rest of the Roman and medieval sights in the city.

Wherever you go you´ll have a great time. If it rains, moor up and go to the pub!!

Solihull
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4. Re: first time canal boats

Some basic things you may not be aware of.

You usually have to drop the boat off where you picked it up. That means doing either a "there and back" (take the boat to a specific place then go back the same route) or a "loop" (go in a circle round specific canals and come back where you started).

The place you pick the boat up from will advice you of loops available in that area (there may be a 4 days loop or a 5 day loop and so on).

Canal boats can only do a maximum of 4 miles an hour, so you are not going to get far each day (but that is the point, it is relaxing holiday).

Most canals have locks in them (some more than others) and they are hard work. One famous stretch of locks is called Tardebigge locks and there are 30 of them. It can take all day to go up or down this full flight of locks so you only travel 2 miles that day.

There are places all over tthe UK where you can hire canal boats, but it is not a cheap holiday, particulalry during school holidays (where the canals are at their busiest so try to avoid that). It can cost over £1,000 to hire a canal boat for a week in August.

The other option is Norfolk Broads which are man made "lakes" where they cut out peat. No locks and wider sailing areas make it esier to navigate. May be worth looking into.

Edited: 03 July 2011, 21:31
Canberra
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5. Re: first time canal boats

Hi

We have just come back from spending 2 weeks on a narrow boat holiday in England. The first thing you need to know is that a min of three people is a good idea 2 to operate the locks and one to steer the boat. If you are sharing the lock with another boat some can go to the next to set up the locks

Next check the uk waterways site before you leave oz to ensure that the route you plan us ok this year there was a lack of water in some canals which limited the number of canal which were available

If you hiring for two weeks plan a ten day trip which allows you to spend more time at locations and you are not rushed

Hire a boat that has plenty of room at the front and stern

Also share the work and pick the route away from the big towns

Happy to share experience and answer questions

Canberra
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36 posts
93 reviews
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6. Re: first time canal boats

Hi

We have just come back from spending 2 weeks on a narrow boat holiday in England. The first thing you need to know is that a min of three people is a good idea 2 to operate the locks and one to steer the boat. If you are sharing the lock with another boat some can go to the next to set up the locks

Next check the uk waterways site before you leave oz to ensure that the route you plan us ok this year there was a lack of water in some canals which limited the number of canal which were available

If you hiring for two weeks plan a ten day trip which allows you to spend more time at locations and you are not rushed

Hire a boat that has plenty of room at the front and stern

Also share the work and pick the route away from the big towns

Happy to share experience and answer questions

Tenterden, United...
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7. Re: first time canal boats

I know people always think about canals but you can also hire a boat along the upper reaches of the Thames, above Teddington Lock with some beautiful countryside. We did two weeks but you can get quite far up and back in one. It was many years ago but I seem to remember that the locks were manned by lock keepers so we did not have to do any pushing or shoving of gates. You can hire narrow boats but we hired a six berth launch for two adults and two children so the driver could keep undercover if it rained. We berthed for nights at some lovely places including Runnymede and Windsor.

Upminster, United...
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8. Re: first time canal boats

I'd disagree about the Broads. They may be wider, but you will have to contend with wind and tides which will make steering and mooring difficult.

Broadland
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9. Re: first time canal boats

Each to their own - had a holiday boat on the Broads for 20 odd years and loved it, and no locks......

Upminster, United...
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10. Re: first time canal boats

Nothing wrong with the Broads, plenty of pubs ;-) Just not as suitable for a first timer in a foreign country.