Holiday boating is back on Britain’s canals and rivers – and it looks set for a belated summer boom

Holiday boating is back on Britain’s canals and rivers – and it looks set for a belated summer boom, as hire companies report rapid booking-up of boats following the latest easing up of coronavirus restrictions.

Our photographer found the canals already busy with hire craft just a couple of days after the relaxing of Government rules on staying away from home allowed the holiday hirers to start operating again.

Waterways have been gradually opening up to boating, with the Canal & River Trust initially urging boaters to make short trips only, then encouraging fuller use of the network from June. But only those who lived on their boats were permitted to stay aboard overnight, precluding boating holidays, until the Government lifted its ban on staying in holiday homes from 4 July in England, with Wales and Scotland set to follow.

Those looking for a late booking for a ‘staycation’ in the UK this summer have wasted no time in booking boats. In the week following the Government announcement Haley Hadley, Sales & Marketing Director at major hireboat operator UK Boat Hire was “delighted” to report a 315 percent increase in bookings compared to the same week, adding that “Customers can still social distance on a canal boat holiday with friends and family from another household”, and that the company had implemented new procedures for boaters’ safety.

And Le Boat said that its Thames cruiser bases were “getting ready to welcome you back to the waterways with new social distancing measures, a completely revamped pre-departure process and enhanced cleaning protocols”, so boaters could “stop worrying about covid and start looking forward to the holiday you deserve.”

If you’re looking for a last minute booking for a holiday on Britain’s canals and rivers, see our holiday guide for some ideas about where to go – and hurry, while there are still boats available.

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