Check our narrowboating FAQs 

There are lots of things to consider when you are choosing a narrowboating holiday. Here are the answers to many frequently-asked questions.

Is the narrowboat available all year round?

Absolutely. We offer a high level of insulation, along with central heating and the canal boats are very snug in the winter time! Of course, in mid-winter there is a small chance that the canal itself may freeze over and our lower pricing reflects this risk. If this is so bad that you are unable to leave the marina, then you are still very welcome to use the boat as a retreat, knowing that you really will be enjoying the ultimate secluded getaway!  

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Autumn and winter breaks

Can we leave our car at Union Wharf?

Yes, there is a car park at Union Wharf marina where you can leave your car for the duration of your holiday at your own risk.

How much training do you need to operate a canal boat?

We tailor our induction programme to your previous experience. If you have none, we will start with the basics. By the end of your first afternoon, you will know how to start, stop and steer the narrowboat. You’ll know how to navigate the canals and operate the locks. We only handover the boat when we are confident of your ability to handle her; but she is quite straightforward – honest! 

You can read more about our training programme here. We have also designed a short online course to help you prepare and you will receive a link to this a few weeks before you travel.

If you’d like to get a head start, you can also have a look at our Beginner Guides here.

What is there to do on a canal boat holiday?

If this is your first time, a lot of your initial energy will be poured into perfecting the art and science of handling your narrowboat. Learning this new skill is surprisingly demanding and incredibly rewarding.

Once you’ve begun to loosen your grip on the tiller and started to look around you, you’ll probably find that you’re happy to soak up the rural atmosphere and enjoy the sights and sounds of the waterways. We are also lucky enough to be cruising in a part of the country with lots of visitor attractions and some glorious canalside pubs and restaurants. We offer some suggested itineraries for those new to this part of the world.

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Things to do on a canal boat holiday

Routes and itineraries

What should we pack?

Storage on any narrowboat is minimal but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring a few luxuries. We suggest that you check the canal boat’s full inventory before deciding what to bring but our suggestions would include:

  • All food & drink. Although we have some wonderful canalside pubs and restaurants, we can’t guarantee their opening times, or the route that you will take.
  • All clothing including hats, gloves and waterproofs.
  • Toiletries.
  • At least one pair of nonslip trainers.
  • Suncream in the summer and moisturiser in the winter.
  • Sunglasses and/or peaked hat at all times of year to help if you need to cruise into the sun.
  • We provide all bedding, towels and there is a hairdryer on board.
  • We provide all washing up and cleaning products.
  • You are very welcome to bring any electronic devices as we offer free Wi-Fi and lots of USB charging points.
  • There is storage for two small suitcases under the bed, of less than 28cm deep.

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Packing for your narrowboat holiday

What if we break down or have a problem with a piece of equipment on the boat?

We are always on the end of the phone, and our advice would be to call us so that we can arrange for support if needed. We give you all the contact numbers you will ever need during the boat handover, and leave you a specially-written manual if you want to refresh your memory about any of the narrowboat operations.

What if we crash and damage the narrowboat?

You may be reassured by the fact that it is impossible to drive the canal boat any faster than 4 miles an hour. Therefore any “crashes” are generally low-impact ones. We will teach you how to operate the narrowboat safely but occasionally genuine accidents do happen. As long as you have followed our instructions and our Terms and Conditions we won’t ask you to pay for any damage, as the cost of your holiday includes a Damage Waiver.

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Damage waiver

Do I need to be physically fit for a canal boat holiday?

A stay on a narrowboat is not the most physically demanding holiday in the world, but there are some activities which do require a level of physical ability. Steering the boat can require some strength if you are operating against a current, and you do need to be able to step off the canal boat with some agility. Perhaps the most physically demanding activity of all is winding the paddles during the operation of the locks and some lock gates are also quite stiff. You may also need to walk across the lock gates to reach the other side (there is always a rail to hold on to!)

We would recommend our Boutique Narrowboat holidays for people who have at least one crew member who is reasonably physically fit. We regret that our holidays are unfortunately unsuitable for wheelchair users due to lack of space aboard.

Can we bring a dog?

Dogs are welcome on our canal boat holidays. We have two narrowboats which are suitable for dogs and other pets.

Woodland Grayling is an interior-designed Boutique Narrowboat for couples. You are welcome to bring one small, well-behaved dog or other pet on this canal boat to join you for your holiday.

Gosling is a more robust, family-friendly narrowboat and one or more pets are welcome to join you on your holiday on this canal boat.

Please note that all our other Boutique Narrowboats are pet-free.

Can we bring our toddler?

Navigating locks and swingbridges can be both mentally and physically demanding and you will need to concentrate hard. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make it very safe when it comes to looking after babies and young children at the same time. If you wish to bring your child(ren), then you will need to bring at least one additional adult. Gosling is suitable for this, which sleeps up to 6 people.

How do I book?

To start your adventure:

  1. Check availability using the calendar for your chosen narrowboat.
  2. Book online and pay with Paypal or a bank card.
  3. Check your emails for booking confirmation.

Around 9 weeks before you travel…

  1.  Look out for our email explaining how to make the final payment.
  2. You will receive a link to a short online course and the induction manual for your particular boat, with instructions for arrival.
  3. Leave the rest to us – we will ensure you are fully prepared before we wave you off on your first afternoon 🙂

Book online