Narrowboat Holidays in England
Narrowboat Holidays Across Great Britain
Narrowboat Holidays Across Great Britain
Your narrowboat or canal boat holiday in England will offer you the opportunity to experience this beautiful country from a truly unique vantage point. On the UK canals and rivers, you can hire a boat and meander your way through the beautiful English countryside, breathing in the revitalising air and soaking up the history of the region. A boat holiday with a difference!
Boating holidays in England, particularly on the inland waterways are hugely popular, but the canal network was originally created to transport industrial goods to and from towns and cities by boat. This means that as well as the countryside there is a great network to explore that takes you right into the centre of our main cities.
Hire a boat for a weekend or midweek break on a boating holiday in England and you can cruise into the centre of cities such as Birmingham, Greater London, Oxford and Bath. A canal holiday certainly beats taking the car or battling on the underground!
Black Prince offers canal boat hire in seven locations in England, from the north-west in Cheshire, central England in the Peak District, Worcestershire, Derbyshire and Northamptonshire, in the east in Cambridgeshire, and in the south in London and Bath.
Each of these locations offers beautiful scenery, historical places to visit and some great attractions that will appeal to all the family. You can hire boats for a weekend break, a midweek break or a longer duration holiday, from a 7 night canal boat holiday to 21 nights.
Whatever you are looking for, we are sure you’ll find your perfect narrowboat holiday with Black Prince!
You can enjoy a canal boat holiday to the beautiful town of Chester. From the moment you step on the Grade I listed Roman wall that circles this historic town, you can feel yourself heading back in time. Moor up your narrowboat close to the city centre and enjoy the leisurely walk into the heart of this beautiful city which dates back to the year 79, when it was established as a Roman fort. The city centre has a small town feel, with major sights such as the the gothic design Town Hall and a Norman cathedral all within easy walking distance. The traditional black and white shop fronts give a quintessentially English feel, and there are plenty of fascinating gift shops and nice eateries to thoroughly enjoy. This town is English history come alive – don’t forget your camera!
You can enjoy Chester on a short break boating holiday or longer holiday.
What is so famous about Stratford-Upon-Avon? Shakespeare of course! This town is one of the UK’s most important cultural areas, and is mainly celebrated as the birthplace of playwright William Shakespeare.
Enjoy a canal boat holiday along the Stratford Canal and you can moor up your narrowboat close to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. The town also offers stunning riverside views and perfectly preserved architecture. A must visit.
Boating holidays in England wouldn’t be complete without a cruise along the South Oxford Canal to Oxford – a canal boat holiday cruise there followed by a punt along the River Thames in the city!
You’ll probably experience ‘deja-vous’ in Oxford. This historic city often feels familiar because it is used as the backdrop for so many films and TV programmes, most famously Inspector More and Harry Potter. The city is small and packed together so the main sites are easy to get around. The world famous University buildings include Christ Church College, Wadham College and Magdalene College. Other interesting sights are the Ashmolean Museum, Carfax Tower, Botanic Gardens – the oldest in Britain – and Sheldonian Theatre. You can even swap boat styles and try a spot of punting in a flat-bottomed boat on the River Cherwell.
Cambridge is of course famous for being the ‘other’ university. Enjoy a weekend canal boat break on the River Ouse and head to Cambridge. Top of the agenda when you arrive at this beautiful city would be to head to the world famous Cambridge University, founded in 1209, and discover King’s College Chapel, which began construction in 1446 during the reign of Henry VI and was finally completed in 1515 by King Henry VIII. With its gothic architecture and stunning great windows, the chapel is one of the traditional symbols of the city and was described by the architect Nikolaus Pevsner as “the most exquisite piece of Italian decoration surviving in England”. After visiting the chapel, you can enjoy a walk through the historic back streets of the city, which offer a contrast between beautiful Roman and Medieval architecture and vibrant designs of modern England.
Head out on the Grand Union Canal to Royal Leamington Spa on your canal boat holiday and discover a beautiful town that was built on the Victorian belief in the medical properties of mineral spring water. A largely Regency town, it was very popular in the 18th-19th Century, and the top attraction now remains the Royal Pump rooms. This Grade II listed building was the most famous of several spa baths opened in Leamington between the late-18th and mid-19th centuries. It also contains the Art Gallery and Museum.
The Roman Wall at Chester gives you a real sense of stepping back in time. An easy walk, accessible from your canal boat, it leads you into the centre where you can take in the sights of this beautiful city.
The Roman Bath’s at Bath offers a fascinating insight into the history of this ancient city. Moor up your canal boat on the outskirts of town and it’s an easy walk into the centre. Take the official tour and when you’ve seen the sights and tasted the water, head to The Pump Room for a special lunch in lovely surroundings.
For a bit of art history, take a look at the Coventry Canal Art Trail. As you journey along you can take in 39 works by 31 different artists, inspired by local history and contemporary culture.
The trail starts at the Coventry Canal Basin and ends at Hawkesbury Junction.
Congleton, situated on the banks of the River Dane, is renowned for The Cloud, a hill on the border of Cheshire and Staffordshire that allows excellent views of the stunning Cheshire Plain. The plain is a lovely area with several different walking routes, with each offering a new perspective of this vast area.
Boating holidays in England are perfect for a bit of nature spotting. If you’re a fan of birdwatching then the Westport lake, situated on the Trent and Mersey canal, is a great spot. It also has a friendly visitor centre with a cafe.
If you fancy a change of pace on your boating holiday, head to Rudyard Lake near leek on the Cauldon canal. This large reservoir offers plenty to do including hiring out rowing boats in the summer or walking around the grass surroundings. It’s also popular with bird watchers.
Barbridge is steeped in history. As part of a small hamlet, it was famously mentioned in the Itinerary of the famous historian John Leland. Occupied by royalist forces during the civil war before being populated by Quakers in the 18th century, Barbridge is a beautiful and historical rural parish. You can visit this hamlet on your canal boat holiday from our Cheshire Acton Bridge base.
Whaley Bridge is a small town situated on the river, with prehistoric attractions including preserved burial sites and the remains of an ancient stone circle. As the self-styled ‘Gateway to the Goyt’ it attracts tourists, mainly walkers, but it has not become dominated by the tourist industry, unlike some other local towns and villages. You can visit Whaley Bridge on your boating holiday from our Peak District base.
Warwick is famous for its 11th century castle, which is very popular with tourists. The castle puts on a great range of entertainment, from live actor experiences to bird shows, archery displays and jousting. You can visit Warwick by canal boat from our base in Worcestershire.
It’s worth making the journey to Stourton as you pass through the Cookley and Kinver areas, which make up one of the most beautiful lengths of canal in the country. Kinver is a large and picturesque village that offers an ancient church dating from the 12th century and a pub built in the 14th century. The main attraction in Stourton is its Castle, once a medieval hunting lodge that was one of the King’s houses during the reign of Henry II, before becoming classified as a castle in 1122. It was remodelled in the mid 19th century and retains its late medieval gate tower. You can visit Stourton by canal boat from our base in Worcestershire.
The Oxford Canal and the River Cherwell both flow in parallel through the ancient village of Cropredy. The settlement of Cropredy is mentioned in the Domesday Book and was the site of the Civil War ‘Battle of Cropredy Bridge’ in 1644. The mainly 14C Church lies at the heart of the village, it has some beautiful stained glass and a Lady Chapel dedicated to St. Fremund.
In August each year, Cropredy is the venue for the Fairport Convention music festival.
Alton Towers is the UK’s number one theme park which offers a huge selection of theme park rides and attractions for all the family. You’ll also be pleasantly surprised by the surroundings – the park is set in lovely spacious grounds, with plenty of green space for exploring, picnics and just chilling out.
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, Cadbury World is a must. At this fascinating chocolate factory learn how this unique chocolate is made and even play in chocolate rain. There are 14 zones to explore so be sure to leave plenty of time to see everything. It’s chocolate heaven and the kids love it!
If the kids fancy a different kind of water experience then Water World is a fantastic indoor pool complex just a mile or so away from the Festival Park Marina in the Peak District.
Discover the history of the canals at the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery in Stoke on Trent, an easy walk from the Festival Park Marina, is a great attraction with free admission. Take in a range of history displays from Staffordshire ceramincs to a World War II spitfire amongst other things!
The Emma Bridgewater factory lies in the heart of the historic Stoke Potteries region, in a traditional Victorian factory on the banks of the Caldon Canal. There’s a factory tour (free for under 16s) and kids will love trying their hand at decorating a piece of their very own unique pottery. The cafe is great for a spot of lunch plus there are gardens behind the factory to take a stroll in. Build in time to visit a factory at the start or end of your canal boat holiday.
The Bridgewater Canal was the first British canal built by the Duke of Bridgewater. Now part one of the most popular boat cruising canals in England, you’ll come across plenty of canal history, including the amazing Barton Swing Bridge, which is swung open to let large ships through. The bridge is engineering marvel, built 38 feet above the water in 1761 which, at the time, made it the largest aqueduct in England.
The National Waterways Museum is located on the banks of the Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal and brings together historic boats and archives that will teach you all about the history of British canals and waterways. A brilliant way to bring your canal boat holiday history to life!
The Caldon canal was originally built in 1776 to carry limestone to Stoke on Trent. It is considered one of the most interesting waterways in the United Kingdom because of its contrasts. It begins in the very centre of the Potteries (the towns surrounding Stoke on Trent) but also features a passage through a wealth of remote countryside.
The Hatton Lock Flight is known as the stairway to heaven as the 21 locks lift boats 2 miles up the steep Avon Valley from Warwickshire. If you like your canal boat holidays active – this is the route for you!
In June each year you can enjoy the excitement of the Folk and Boat Festival at Middlewich. Moor up on the Trent and Mersey Canal (for free) and join in the celebrations at this popular town that has roots back to the Roman times. Visit their website here for more information.
Edinburgh Festival takes place the last three weeks of August each year. It’s a must-see for any theatre-lovers, with all possible venues across the city including churches, basements, pubs becoming venues for plays, musicals and comedy shows. You can enjoy a weekend break on a boat here, but early booking is advised.
Canals were built in the UK as the demand for industrial transport increased. The canals were key to the pace of the Industrial Revolution: roads at the time were unsuitable for large volumes of traffic and to transport anything delicate, such as pottery.
The Black Prince canal boat hire bases are located in Wiltshire, Worcestershire, Cheshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Oxfordshire and Cambridgeshire
Canal locks are the way in which canals can go up and over hills by altering the level of water of the canal. The lock or chamber fills or empties with water, lifting the boat up or down to a different level.