Holidays in the UK - Canal Holidays

Choosing your Canal Boat

The saloon seating in this boat converts to a double bedThere is plenty of time for leisurely activitiesAn example of a fixed double berthAn example of a twin berth

The canal boat used today has changed little on the surface from the boats used over one hundred years ago. But inside, these 7 foot wide boats are cleverly planned to provide comfortable and even luxurious holiday accommodation for up to 12 people, depending on the boat's length. They are built to navigate without difficulty all the features you will find in your travels, from locks to aqueducts, so all you need worry about is which traditional pub or scenic spot to moor at!

The boats in our extensive range do vary slightly so use our easy guide to help you pick the right boat for your holiday.

Canal Boat Virtual Tour

All narrowboats are steered by a tiller at the rear or stern.

There are three types of stern:

Small, open rear deck with a pleasing compact shape. Very rare in hire boats.

Traditional Stern

More standing area than the traditional type, with fixed seats in an enclosed area, making it ideal for supervising young children.

Semi-Traditional Stern

These have a more spacious rear deck with seating, edged with a guard rail, making access on and off the boat easier.

Cruiser Stern

All our boats have reliable, quiet, smooth running diesel engines and include enough fuel for two weeks cruising. All our boats are fully checked before departure.

Berths (Beds)
All boats have a number of fixed single (one-person) berths which can be left made-up with duvets/blankets throughout the day. Some boats have fixed double berths - usually about 4 feet (1.3 metres) wide, and suitable for two people.

Many boats have a dinette in the saloon which is converted to a double bed at night. A convertible saloon double allows a shorter cheaper boat than one where the saloon is not converted to sleeping at night.

Four-star and five-star boats will usually have separate sleeping cabins so that the saloon is left free for sitting and dining. They may even have toilet and shower facilities exclusively for each sleeping cabin.

The number of people who can sleep on a boat depends upon whether you wish to use only the fixed berths or to utilise the convertible berths to give greater flexibility.

On this website you can search for boats by maximum number of people or by bed requirements.

If in doubt, always go for more space, rather than less. To get more space for 4 people, choose a boat with only fixed berths, or choose a 6-berth and leave the convertible saloon berths free.

The speed of your journey depends upon how long you wish to spend cruising each day. The routes vary from the very leisurely, where no more than 4 hours need be spent in motion, to the more energetic, which can mean travelling times of around 8 hours each day.

Canal boats are not allowed to travel after dark, so this needs to be considered when deciding what time of year you would like to travel, especially in the UK when darker evenings in March, April, September and October limit the cruising day. In the summer months you should have no trouble in sailing until 8pm or later if you wish to.

On average, four hours of cruising a day enables you to cover about 80-100 lock-miles in a week and see the sights. More energetic boaters may spend 8 hours a day or longer on the move.

The equipment provided varies between boats, but there are all the comforts of home, including:

  • Comfortable beds or bunks with foam or interior sprung mattresses.
  • Galley (kitchen) equipped with cooker, fridge, crockery, cutlery, pans etc
  • Shower.
  • Hygienic flushing toilets, some with electric flush.
  • Plenty of storage space.
  • Hot and cold running water.
  • Heating.
  • Television on most boats, although reception at canal level can be poor
  • CD player and/or and radio cassette on some boats.
  • Freezers and microwaves on luxury boats.

Star Ratings
Our star ratings give you an indication of the level of equipment found on the boats.

For example, a five star, four berth boat is more likely to have two fixed double beds and two bathrooms/toilets, whereas a two star, four berth boat will usually mean converting the dining area into a double bed, and will only have one bathroom. Microwaves, freezers or even dishwashers are only likely to be offered on five star boats.

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