There are so many wonderful reasons to enjoy the canals in winter, that we are totally amazed to have the waterways to ourselves at this time of year. I love the peace and tranquillity so much, that it really is one of England’s best kept secrets. Here are a few more reasons to climb aboard during the English winter…
If you don’t exactly know the definition of Hygge, then you’re not alone. I mean, I thought I knew, but then realised I needed to look it up to be sure. It’s basically the Danish word for “cosy” and over the last few weeks it’s been hashtagged left, right and centre all over Instagram. Now I come to think about it, I wonder why we don’t shout more about our English #cosy?
All that matters, is that being on toasty-warm a narrowboat in cold weather is about as English and cosy as it gets. We already have the woollen blankets, the stovetop kettles and a reputation for enjoying a warming brandy at the first sign of a hard frost.
Those lucky enough to have a wood burner on board enjoy so much #cosy that they need to come up for air regularly; you’ll spot them flinging open their hatches, flushed and laughing at the sub-zero temperatures above, before descending again to snuggle up in front of the fire.
The Danes can keep their log cabins; this season, it’s all about the narrowboat.
2. The canal is empty in winter
I’m not talking about fewer party boats or a couple less narrowboats kicking around: I mean some stretches of the canal are actually empty. In our part of the world (Leicestershire) in December, you share the water with wildlife and each other for miles on end.
Now, assuming you actually like each other – and for goodness sake, do not consider staying on a narrowboat if you don’t! – this means that your boat turns into the ultimate romantic getaway.
Breakfast with the swans, change your view in time for coffee and moor up again for a late morning Siesta (why wait for the afternoon?) Find a canal pub in time for dinner, and be first to cosy up there by the fireside, before ambling a few paces back to your feather duvets. Utter bliss.
3. It’s cheaper to hire in winter
Not all narrowboat hire companies can operate in January, but if you can find one that does, you’ll likely see a fall in their fees. Winter prices can be as low as a quarter of the identical holiday in August – a complete bargain. Yes, you’ll need more clothing and yes, you are going to get muddy.
But you also have lower stress levels on account of the canals being so freaking empty!
4. You’ll take the best photographs
Have a look on Pinterest, Facebook or Instagram and you’ll see the most amazing winter canal photographs taken in early morning or at dusk. Winter trees silhouetted against orange skies, frost tinged landscapes, and this year, we’ve been lucky enough to experience the snow. Let’s be real – few of us set our alarms on a normal weekday in the bleak midwinter to capture the perfect photograph at dawn.
But if you’re staying on a narrowboat, you’ll see perfect photographs everywhere from the minute you wake up to the minute you go to sleep. You’ll glance out of the window as you make a cuppa and – POW! – there’s a stunning photo opportunity; you’ll look up as you untie your rope and – BAM! – there’s another one; turn round and – OOF!… well, you get the idea.
Oh my goodness, how amazing would that be? In fact, I’m just going to refer you to points 1 – 4 above.
Wouldn’t these, in combination, make the most perfect Christmas of all??