Canal holidays: 6 top places to go both at home and away
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Whether you’re a narrowboat novice or a lock navigating expert, we’ve chosen six of our favourite locations to take a canal boating holiday across Europe.
1) Canal du Midi, France
The breathtaking Canal du Midi connects the River Garonne to the Étang de Thau and is one of the most popular holiday canals in France. In addition to cruising its gentle waters there is an array of activities for families to do (and a very good quality towpath between Toulouse and Avignonet- Lauragais) and things to see. Take time to visit the picturesque canal side villages and enjoy some of France’s finest foods and wines. With 65 locks along the way we’d suggest spending four hours cruising everyday, making the duration of the trip a relaxing ten days.
Minervois Cruisers rent out narrowboats on the Canal du Midi starting at £800.
2) The Caledonian Canal, Scotland
The Caledonian Canal connects the Scottish East Coast of Inverness to the West Coast at Corpach near Fort William and is 60 miles long. The canal has only 29 locks and is well suited to canal boating beginners. There are some splendid scenic moorings and attractive places to stock your boat with essentials during your holiday. The canal snakes through Loch Ness, Loch Oich and Loch Lochy and is a peaceful and scenic trip for the family.
Waterways Holidays hire out cruisers along the Caledonian Canal starting at £700 per week.
- 1 Weekend visits: a trip down Basingstoke canal
- 2 Boat test: “Oyster Catcher” the permanent house boat
- 3 Winifred: a 1980s hire boat refit with reclaimed wood
- 4 Boat test: 'Whitsuntide No2' hybrid 52ft canal boat by Trinity Boats
- 5 Stretching your narrow boat: process and advice
- 6 Stormin' Norman: singlehandedly navigating the waterways, aged 86
- 7 Linking Lichfield: the Lichfield Canal restoration
- 8 Cruise Guide | Grand Union Canal, Part 2 | Braunston to Marsworth
- 9 4 Interior Design Ideas for Your Narrowboat
- 10 The waterways heritage spotter: narrow gauge railway tracks
3) Amsterdam Canal Belt, The Netherlands
Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht are the three main canals of Amsterdam and a canal boating holiday visiting the Amsterdam Canal Belt is a perfect way to explore the historical city. The Van Gogh museum and Anne Frank’s house are a must see and we recommend trying the tasty traditional delicacies such as bitterballen and white beer.
Le Boat has a new Dutch hireboat base opening this year with holidays starting at £693 per week.
4) The Llangollen Canal, Wales
Crossing the border between England and Wales, the Llangollen Canal has 21 locks and is a popular holiday route. There are plenty of sights to see along the canal such as the Llangollen wharf where you can ride on a horse drawn boat and enjoy a cream tea at the Fron Cafe. Perhaps most famously, you will cruise along the amazing World Heritage site of the Pontcysyllte aqueduct, the largest aqueduct in Britain at 1,007ft long – and with a sheer drop of 126ft on one side it is not for the faint hearted!
Middlewich Boat holidays start at £600 for a week’s duration.
5) Little Venice & the Regent’s Canal, London
Situated north of Paddington train station, Little Venice can be found at the opening to the Regent’s Canal and is a tranquil location amongst the hustle and bustle of the city. Little Venice is home to many waterside bars and restaurants and there are floating cafes to visit, such as the Floating Boater. A trip to the London Canal Museum on Wharf Street will teach you about the history of the waterways and those who frequent them.
Black Prince narrowboat holidays provide a one week, 65-mile cruise from Hertford to London and back, which allows you to enjoy Little Venice along the way.
6) The Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal, Wales
The Monmouthshire and Brecon canal is a piece of magnificent industrial heritage and has been voted the prettiest canal in Britain. The Brecon Beacons National Park is renowned for its stunning night-time skies and it provides the perfect place for star-gazing from a narrowboat. The canal is 35 miles from the Brecon Basin to the Pontmoile Basin and there are only six locks along this stretch making it the ideal holiday destination for first time canal boaters.
Castle Narrowboat holiday prices start £625 and they provide a ten percent discount on fortnight holidays.