Celebrity Canal Boaters

Over a quarter of a million people enjoy canal boating every year on Britain’s peaceful network of canal and rivers, including a number of celebrities.

Last month, the BBC’s outdoor girl Julia Bradbury enjoyed a trip on a canal boat at the Crick Boat Show & Waterways Festival. Julia said:“I thoroughly enjoyed exploring some of Britain’s canals for my Canal Walks series. They cut a sedate path through some of the country’s finest scenery.”

Hollywood hero Harrison Ford, his wife Calista Flockhart and her son Liam, took a holiday on the Llangollen Canal in Wales in 2004. In a recent interview on the subject, Harrison said: “there’s nothing quite like it to slow your life down and I do it a lot.”

In 2010, Pirates of the Caribbean star Kiera Knightley rented a canal boat on a canal in London’s East End to use as a romantic weekend hideaway with boyfriend Rupert Friend. A neighbour interviewed by Marie Claire magazine said: “they like nothing better than strolling along the canal hand in hand and going to the chippy for a fish supper.”

The Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey enjoyed a weekend canal boating on the Kennet & Avon Canal near Bradford on Avon in 2008. According to the Moonraker Narrowboat Company, “he had so much fun, he ended up skipping some appointments in London to stay longer.”

David Suchet CBE, best-known for playing Poirot and a great supporter of the canals, spent the first five years of his marriage to actress Sheila Ferris, living on a narrowboat. He has taken regular holidays on the canals ever since and says: “I think it’s the independence that canal life affords you, the views of the countryside, the peace and the privacy.”

Timothy West CBE and Prunella Scales CBE, both renowned actors from stage and screen, have enjoyed many holidays on their own narrowboat. West said in a 2009 Daily Telegraph interview: “A canal boat holiday was a particular blessing when the children were younger because they got so wonderfully tired working the locks and swing bridges that they’d be exhausted by six and drop straight off to sleep, leaving us free to sit down and open a bottle of wine.”

Stan Cullimore, guitarist and singer with the 80s indie pop band The Housemartins, has taken several canal boat holidays in the last year. He says: “being on the canals is like going back to the 50s – everyone is just so nice to each other, and so helpful.”

BBC’s The One Show presenter Miranda Krestovnikoff took a holiday with her family on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Bradford on Avon last autumn. Of canal boats, she says: “the moment you set foot on them, your pulse seems to slow and you relax as the pace is snail-like and there is nothing you can do to hurry things along.”

Veteran television presenter John Craven OBE, and Friend of the Canal & River Trust, says: “Over the years I have explored many canals. I grew up visiting the Five Rise flight of locks at Bingley on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal and taking a narrowboat across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct left me lost for words.”

Acclaimed British actor Timothy Spall OBE and his wife Shane bought a narrowboat in 1997 and explored the canal network for a number of years, before swapping it for the seafaring Princess Matilda in 2004.

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