6 June 2023

Our Top 5 Inland Boat Destinations

By Paul Knox-Johnston Sales & Marketing Manager (Marine)

Is there anything that embodies the quaint British nature than bobbing along England’s (Scotland & Wales’) green and pleasant canals (and rivers) on an inland boating holiday?

What once was seen as the preserve of retirees and those searching for alternative living, is fast becoming a mainstream passion for a slower and more sustainable way to travel, and we still think is one of life’s most underrated pleasures. As nature flitters by, pottering from pub to pub, mooring along the scenic riverbanks, sunbathing on the roof and BBQing on deck, maybe it’s our age but it’s hard not to fall in love with a holiday on Britain’s waterways.

The United Kingdom offers some incredible cruise and canal boat holiday destinations, so if you are thinking about casting off on a more laidback adventure, we have picked our top 5 favourite inland boating holidays in the UK to help you plan your next trip away.

The Oxford Canal

If you are craving more than just a view; historic, quaint and beautiful, the Oxford Canal delivers a heady mix of culture and tranquility. On every tourist’s wish list are those pretty crumbling spires of Oxford’s famous university or take in a show in Shakespeare’s home town, the comely Stratford upon Avon. For those who are looking for more than just your riverside pub, beautiful countryside and charming villages, the Oxford Canal delivers the full canal boat holiday package.

The Scottish Highlands

Cast aside your canal boat for a river cruiser for your next inland boating adventure. You may not think that the Scottish Highlands were the place to only manage a top speed of 5.2 Knots but Vikings attacks aside, this is an idyllic way to float by seeing some of the most iconic features of Scotland’s rugged lands. The Caledonian Canal is a breath-taking, unhurried ride through the lochs; surrounded by the stillness of the mountains and watched over by ancient castles. You can even ask for passage via Scotland’s most famous monster, Nessie, as you navigate Loch Ness and take in the splendour of Great Glen. It is an intoxicating mix of wild and leisurely travel and is not to be missed off your boating bucket list.

The Llangollen Canal

Firstly, let’s start by taking the elephant out in the room or in this case, a sheep might be much more fitting. It rains in Wales A LOT. However, we also like to take a much more positive view of the Welsh proclivities that is why a trip down the Llangollen (FYI. Llan is pronounced Clan) Canal is surrounded by beautiful and green, very, very green Welsh countryside. Not one for those with a fear of heights, the Llangollen is famous for its aqueducts giving you sweeping views over the stunning Welsh valleys. The most famous of all is Pontcysyllte (you’ll have to learn to pronounce that one yourself), the highest canal aqueduct in the world and a world heritage site. If the weather warning and the 126 foot drop haven’t put you off yet, then you won’t regret choosing the magic of the Llangollen Canal for your next canal boat holiday.

The Norfolk Broads

If once upon a time if you had the view that Norfolk was well, a little flat, you have not yet experienced it from the aft deck of a river cruiser. Its geographical characteristics are what makes it one of the best destinations for an inland boating holiday. A network of rivers, lakes, and man-made waterways, it is rural England at its finest; charming villages, abundant wildlife and picturesque landscapes float by to bucolic acclaim.

The Thames

If city living is more your style and you don’t want to pay top dollar for a hotel room the size of a postage stamp, then consider taking your next canal boat holiday adventure to the bright lights of London Town. Ok, it’s not strictly a canal, but it’s a popular waterway for a boat holiday, allowing you cruise right through the heart of London. Surrounded by history and royalty, you’ll make your way past England’s most iconic landmarks from Windsor Castle to the Houses of Parliament and into the shadow of Tower Bridge. Kings and Queens have both celebrated and feared this journey, but for a modern boating holiday it really is a regal way to spend your week.

We hope that our guide to the top 5 inland boating holiday destinations in the UK helps you explore the best of Britain’s Waterways. Of course, in this sea of serenity, the weather is your only temperamental companion but good waterproofs, a hot cup of tea, a decent pub and a log burner can make a world of difference and when the sun is shining, the scenery is idyllic and life is moving along slowly, you experience one of those rare moments of utter contentment that life is just, well, good. Happy cruising!

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