Family half term breaks
Ready for some outdoor adventure this October half term?
October Half term can make for a great time to enjoy a narrowboat break with familyduring the longest school term of the year.
As narrowboating is such an adventurous holiday, the children love the experience of chugging along the waterways on their very own moving holiday home.
It’s a generally quiet time of the year so you’ll also benefit from avoiding the peak time crowds of the main school summer holidays.
If you’re new to canal boating then check out our new to narrowboating guide for top tips on what to expect, what to bring etc.
Half term holidays on the waterways are a great chance for kids to re-charge their batteries in a way that gets them outside rather than in the stuffy classroom. Great big doses of fresh air whilst walking or cycling the towpaths are the perfect antidote to studious learning.
And of course it’s not all physical outdoor activity; each day brings a new vista along the waterways which presents oodles of new experiences to be discovered. The canal network is a history lesson in itself as you cruise through many historic towns and cities which provide a fascinating insight to the development of the modern world.
There are buckets of nature spotting opportunities on this type of holiday. Invest in a pair of binoculars and take your camera and you and the children can spend hours spotting the wildlife around you, from the birds to ducks, to the animals grazing the surrounding countryside.
If you haven’t tried a canal boat holiday before then imagine how the children would love the adventure of learning how everything on a narrowboat works, from steering the boat to working the locks, navigating the tunnels and chatting to fellow boating enthusiasts as you cruise by.
Of course, a half term holiday gives you a well-deserved break too! So if you are travelling with or without children, you’ll find autumn canal boat holidays a truly relaxing experience.
With Black Prince, you don’t have to commit to a full week if you are new to this type of holiday. You can also choose from a three or four night weekend or midweek breaks. Find out more about our weekend breaks here.
Half term holidays with the dog
Of course, what would a holiday be without the family pet? Black Prince welcomes up to two (well-behaved) dogs on their dog-friendly boats, so you can bring your pooch to add to the crew.
You just need to remember to bring all your normal doggy gear with you, such as the dog bed, lead, poop bags, toys etc., plus we recommend a special harness which has a handle on the top in case your pet likes the water too much and likes to jump in. The handle is very useful for hauling pets out of waterways where the embankments may be too steep for them to jump out to.
You can read more about our pet-friendly boating holidays here.
Cosy boats for the Autumn
As the autumn evenings draw in and you are winding your way back from the local hostelry, we know that you are looking for a cosy boat in which to settle for the night.
All Black Prince canal boats are fully equipped with the essential mod cons, including central heating and hot water. The central heating can be put on at any time, including when the engine is off and you’ll soon find that your floating accommodation becomes snug very quickly.
The comfortable sprung beds are fully made up on arrival, with duvets and pillows being provided. If you’re settling in for the evening then enjoy a meal prepared in your fully equipped kitchenette and relax in front of the TV.
Great ideas for October half term holidays
There’s a wide variety of choice for where to go on your half term holiday, and also how long you wish to go for. All of our nine bases across England, Scotland and Wales offer options of three, four or seven night breaks.
Because of the slightly shorter days with less sunlight hours you may want to limit how far you want to go at this time of the year. Most Rings for example need a good eight or nine hours over the period of a week to go the hundred miles or so that these routes last. So unless you are looking for a full-on week, then go for shorter routes, where you can mix boating with some on-shore excursions. If you’re travelling with children, especially younger ones, they will appreciate the mix between boating and exploring a nearby castle.
Recommend routes for October holidays
Stoke Prior Base, Worcestershire
From our Stoke Prior base in central England, there are a variety of routes you can take. You don’t need to stick the routes that we suggest here, bear in mind that you can travel as far as time allows, before turning and heading back to base again. There are regular winding holes along every route that allow you to turn the narrowboat.
Stoke Prior to Worcester and Stourport
Cruising Time: 16hrs to Worcester / 24hrs to Stourport
Locks: 44 towards Worcester / 52 towards Stourport
This route to Worcester is fairy straightforward, with a number of locks to travel through, so it’s guaranteed to keep everyone busy. It’s a route offering a mix of countryside and town – Worcester is well worth a visit. Head into town to Friar Street and take a look at the medieval townhouse and variety of restaurants, plus head over to Worcester Cathedral, an impressive building dating back to Anglo-Saxon times.
For the more active, a trip up the River Severn towards Stourport is possible before returning.
Peak District Base, Staffordshire
There are plenty of options for short breaks and longer holidays from our Peak District base in Stoke-on-Trent, in central England. This popular starting point is perfect for giving you an insight into the original pottery heritage of the area, including Wedgwood and Royal Doulton, plus there are options to visit Alton Towers if the children are looking for more excitement!
Peak District to Leek along the Caldon Canal
Cruising time: 1 week cruise, 4 hours per day
This route provides a real mix of atmosphere as you travel through an industrial heartland through to some of the most beautiful waterways in the UK. Follow the Trent and Mersey canal until you reach the junction for the Caldon Canal, and follow this route, either branching off towards Leek or following the Caldon from Hazlehurst down to Frogall.
If you’re just looking for a short break then you should manage to cruise to the end of the Leek branch and back, if you have longer then you would have a relaxing seven-day cruise to Frogall and return.
Acton Bridge Base, Cheshire
Located in the north-west of England, our Cheshire Acton Bridge base offers a multitude of breaks, both three and four night, or seven nights and longer. From this base you can access the Bridgewater canal, which takes you lock-free all the way to Manchester. This makes for a great route for beginners or those worried about handling the locks!
Acton Bridge to Manchester
Our Acton Bridge base is located in pretty countryside near Northwich in Cheshire, on the side of the Bridgewater Canal. From here you’ll cruise north, past Lymm and Stretford all the way to central Manchester. This makes for an easy cruise offering a nice variety of countryside and town views.