A canal boat holiday is a unique way to have an experience of everything England and Wales have to offer. Slowly travel the waterways, stop and go wherever you want to and experience a holiday off the beaten track.
You can set your own pace, choose your route and stop and explore the places that interest you. All of this while bringing the comfort of your floating holiday home with you.
Wake up to the sound of birdsong and the first morning light. Enjoy your morning coffee while watching the water rippling. Start up the engine when ready, untie your mooring lines, and set off on your adventure. Come together as a team as you tackle the locks, swingbridges, or liftbridges. Stop wherever you fancy and explore the Great British countryside at your own pace. After a home-cooked meal or heading to the canalside pub, you can look forward to another day of fun, bonding and adventure.
Wherever the day takes you - you'll have the peace of mind of knowing you have everything you need on your narrowboat or barge - accommodation and entertainment - all in one affordable holiday.
But don't take our word for it; check out what your fellow holidaymakers had to say on the right.
Is a canal boat holiday a good holiday? Read our reviews
How much is a canal boat holiday? Read an overview here
Our hirers rate our holidays as 5/5 based on 7 reviews.
Lovely boat and super helpful team! Canal is quiet and peaceful with a good number of nice pubs along the eastern route. I would definitely recommend this holiday.
From Mark Tinkler onboard Moonfleet
Fabulous little break, John was very helpful. Loved the nature and the processco on the roof . If you love camping, you'll love a boat holiday. 😁
From Tracey Probyn onboard River Dancer
This was our first time on a canal boat and we couldn't have wished for a better experience. Heather and her team at handover were helpful in showing us how everything worked and were so friendly and patient with us greenies! We were helped through the first two locks and then we were away. The boat was spotlessly clean, well kitted out with everything you could wish for and included plenty of cutlery, crockery, glasses etc. Thank you! From Sue and the Aussie Cousins
From Sue Leggett onboard Hemplow
We had a great weekend on the Lady Isabella. Booking process through to check in, training and checking out was smooth and easy. Very relaxing time and would highly recommend this luxurious and spacious boat!
From James Fletcher onboard Lady Isabella
Great service and really enjoyable short break
From Richard onboard Snowdrop
We had a great experience with this boat hire. really easy friendly people.
From Fee Ryall onboard Radagast
We've spent three nights aboard Lady Sylvia and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We've only done a couple of weekend canal boat trips and this didn't disappoint in any way. The boat is quite well laid out and is very comfortable, especially the large bed at the front of the boat. Granted this takes away using the bow area to sit in, But you do benefit from the larger bed. In any case you do have the stern area to sit at if the weather permits The kitchen is very well equipped with toaster, microwave and a pressure cooker. We were told to run the engine for a good six hours in order to ensure the batteries are charged so that these higher energy items wouldn't drain the batteries too much. We probably ran the engine longer than this and we never had any issues. Also the heating is very effective and it does get quite warm. We had a mixture of weather which did dictate where we stopped on the first day (Middlewich) but we managed to get down to the Anderton boat lift and through a tunnel before turning around. We stopped in Anderton on the second night. On the third night we stopped at a embankment not far from the aqueduct marina which had lovely views over a valley, but this did leave us with a little bit of a longer trip in the morning to hand the boat back. It was great to have another short break on the canal but wish we could have done longer - perhaps next time. Even though you're traveling at a snails pace it seems that the days fly by as there is always something to see / do. Sue was extremely helpful giving us a tour of the boat and she was on call if ever we needed her, even if it was only a relatively small matter. We didn't need any assistance but it was nice to have the assurance of a helping hand if needed. I would thoroughly recommend hiring one of the 'ladies' or Serenissima from Venetian boat hire.
From Richard John Porter onboard Lady Sylvia
You don't need any previous experience to enjoy a holiday on the canals, and the friendly staff at your chosen hire base will show you everything you need to know to have a fantastic, safe holiday onboard. All our hire bases will take you through a thorough handover on the day, and this will include the following:
But don't worry so much about all that for now; the important thing is, at this point, you don't need any experience, and you don't need to know anything about how to operate a canal boat: a member of staff will show you everything you need to know when the time is right.
Want to know more upfront? Read our tips for beginners here.
For now, if you want to go on a holiday either on a narrow boat or wide beam, all you need to worry about is choosing the best boat and location for your holiday. This is where we come in :).
Ultimately, there are many ways to do this; you could start with a particular travel time from your home, e.g. within 2 hours drive or a particular place you want to visit or one specific area of the country, or you might not mind on the location and prefer to go for the most affordable or indeed the most picturesque.
Once you’ve chosen a location you'll need to select a boat. You could of-course simply go choose the boat you like the look or that is best priced for your crew size. However you'll need to decide if you want the best price or would prefer a little extra comfort e.g not needing to turn the saloon into a bed area, another thing to consider is access if you have limited mobility a Cruiser Stern may be advisable.
Please get in contact if you would like us to help you choose a boat or location.
More about types of boat: Trad Stern, Cruiser Stern, Narrow boat, Wide beam, Barge
Holiday Inspiration: Places to visit along the canal
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We have multiple hire base options in the UK, so you can select an area you'd like to visit, or if you don't have anywhere in mind, I recommend starting with the areas nearest to you; all our bases offer fantastic holidays regardless of where they are in the country.
Support from boaters. After hiring initially, we've now been travelling the UK by narrowboat as a live-aboard family for multiple years, from beginner questions such as "Do you need a license?" to more involved questions such as Where would we recommend for a hire party such as yours we believe we well placed to help.
Get rewards for shopping with us. If you shop with us, we will reward you for supporting our independent partners and for helping spread the word about our fantastic canal boating holidays. By working with you, our customers, we can reduce our advertising costs and pass along those savings to anybody who would like to hire more than once from ANY of our partners.
One of the reasons we love holidays by boat so much is their ability to get people out and immersed in nature. We are committed to doing our bit for nature and the environment. We are donating 5% of our revenue to the Shropshire Wildlife Trust.
Support small businesses. We've chosen to partner with multiple independent or family-run hire bases up and down the UK; when shopping with us, you'll be supporting small businesses that help keep our canals alive.
"As boaters 'Roam&Roost Canal Holidays' have an in-depth knowledge of the canal system and are well placed to help customers make an informed choice. We've been happy to partner with them - their simple and easy-to-use website helps us reach more people who otherwise may not have discovered about our family-run narrowboat holidays ideal for the Llangollen and surrounding canals."
Lindsay - Chas Hardern Narrowboats, our hire partners in Cheshire ideal for the Llangollen and surrounding canals
"The team at 'Roam&Roost Canal Boat Holidays' are very helpful and ensure you always get the most suitable boat for your canal holiday on whichever canal you wish to cruise."
James - Wyvern Shipping, our hire partners near London ideal to escape the city for a cruise in the heart of the English countryside
"At The Boat Co North I work with 'Roam and Roost Holidays' as a booking agency. They are great partners in trying to find the best experience and advice for our customers. They are genuine, they are boaters like myself, and James and Sabina share a passion with us about the waterways and delivering memories for hirers that will last a lifetime. This is a genuine business ran by genuine people I'm proud to partner with."
John - The Boat Co North, our hire partners in Yorkshire ideal to explore the Yorkshire waterways.
Had a look at our routes and still not sure where is the best canal holiday for you? Below you’ll find our latest holiday inspiration posts, if you would like a personal recommendation please send us a recommendation request above.
A visit to one of these "Wonders of the Waterways" creates great memories and makes your next canal boat holiday even more special.
All of the following routes start from hire bases that are situated within a 30 minutes walk from the closest train station.
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