Just picture it: you’re positioned at the front of a brightly painted, narrow canal boat, smile on your face, the breeze in your hair, and a kiss of sunlight on your face, as you meander down the beautiful canals of somewhere, Europe, taking in the lush, green countryside, and pass through quaint, centuries old villages on your slow path down the pristine water.
Sound like a dream adventure? Well, as they say, don’t just dream it, do it!
What is canal boat travel?
Canal boat travel – or, as it is sometimes referred to in the UK, narrowboat travel – is a century old method of transport. Originally intended for carrying goods through small canals not suitable for regular boats, this mode of travel is now a truly charming way to explore the waterways off the beaten path around Europe.
France? England? Ireland? Italy? Belgium? The Netherlands? When it comes to traversing Europe via canal boat you have a plethora of destinations to choose from.
While most people will be familiar with the pictures from an Amsterdam canal boat ride through the heart of the popular city, this kind of tour will generally only last for an hour. If you are after more of a multi-day cruise, then looking further afield will yield the best results.
The first thing that you’ll want to do is plan what route of travel you’d like to take. Some popular routes include the following:
- Wales – Chirk Base to Llangollen – 2-day journey
- France – Castellnaudary to Port Cassafières – 11-day journey
- England – Cheshire to Manchester – 7-day journey
- Italy – Precenicco to Casale – 8-day journey
- Holland – Strand Horst to Elburg (return) – 7-day journey
Do I need experience?
While it is possible to hire yourself a skipper for your trip, for the majority of canal boat travel you are encouraged to put yourself at the helm – no experience required. You can cruise the canals at your own place, moor up where you wish, and enjoy the fun of being in control of your very own boat!
Otherwise, if you prefer a guided trip there are plenty of options available. You can enjoy the splendour of the countryside and watch the quaint towns drift by while sitting back and relaxing. You can even tap into your creative spirit and join canal boat art tours, there is a great one provided by Kiwi/French couple who will make you feel right at home. Jean-Claude is a native of Dunkirk in France and a master mariner and his wife Robyn is an experienced art tutor. Visit their website here for more details.
Are they comfortable?
You will have all the trimmings aboard to make you feel comfortable and at home: a kitchen, bathroom, comfy beds, and sometimes even TVs, Wi-Fi, etc. The majority of canal boats come in either a 2 person or 4 person configuration, so you can even plan a trip with a couple of friends or loved ones.
For more information, you might like to have a look at the following canal boat hire websites:
Happy holiday planning and boating all!