From rural retreats to vibrant city centres, narrowboat holiday-makers can explore Britain’s peaceful 3,000-mile network of inland waterways. There are hundreds of waterside destinations to choose from including dozens of historic canalside pubs.
We’ve published a guide to our Top 8 canal boat holidays for 2024:
1. Cruise through the Cheshire countryside to Middlewich
On a three-night weekend break from our new canal boat hire base on the Shropshire Union Canal at Nantwich, you can cruise to Middlewich and back. The route takes you past a series of pubs, including the Barbridge Inn at Barbridge Junction and the Badger Inn at Church Minshull. The journey to Middlewich and back travels 27 miles, passing through 14 locks (seven each way). And takes around 13 cruising hours.
2. Travel through the Scottish Lowlands to Edinburgh
On a four-night break from Falkirk, you can cruise along the Union Canal to Edinburgh and back. The trip starts with a passage through the Falkirk Wheel, the world’s first rotating boat lift. Pubs to visit along the way include The Bridge Inn at Linlithgow and The Bridge Inn at Ratho. Visitor moorings are available at Edinburgh Quay, just a five-minute walk from Princes Street. The journey to Edinburgh Quay and back travels 64 miles, passes through six locks (three each way) and takes around 22 hours.
3. Navigate to the UNESCO World Heritage City of Bath
On a four-night break from Devizes in Wiltshire, you can travel along the Kennet & Avon Canal to Sydney Wharf, on the edge of Bath. On the way, the route passes through the village of Seend with its popular canalside Barge Inn. And the historic town of Bradford on Avon, with a choice of independent shops and restaurants. Once at Sydney Wharf, you can moor up and take a 15-minute walk into Bath City Centre. The journey to Sydney Wharf and back travels 38 miles, passes through 16 locks (eight each way) and takes around 18 hours.
4. Glide through the Calder Valley to Hebden Bridge
On a short break from Drifters’ base at Sowerby Bridge, canal boat holiday-makers can travel to Hebden Bridge and back. There’s a great choice of independent shops and places to eat and drink at Hebden, as well as woodland walks at the National Trust’s Hardcastle Crags. Pubs to visit include the Dusty Miller at Mytholmroyd and the Fox & Goose at Hebden Bridge. The journey to Hebden Bridge and back travels 14 miles, passes through 20 locks (10 each way) and takes around 11 hours.
5. Travel round the Black Country Ring
On a week’s holiday from Kings Orchard in Staffordshire, you can complete the Black Country Ring. The journey takes in a mixture of urban and rural scenery. It travels sections of the Coventry, Trent & Mersey, Staffordshire & Worcestershire, New Birmingham Main Line and Birmingham & Fazeley canals. Pubs to enjoy along the way include The Red Lion at Hopwas, The Swan at Fradley Junction and All Bar One at Brindleyplace in Birmingham City Centre. Travelling 75 miles, and passing through 79 locks, the route takes around 43 cruising hours.
6. Cruise across The Stream in the Sky to Whitchurch
On a week’s break from Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, you can cruise to the historic town of Whitchurch and back. You’ll cross over the UNESCO World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct along the way. Pubs to visit include The Bridge Inn at Chirk, The Boathouse at Ellesmere and The Black Bear at Whitchurch. The journey to Whitchurch and back travels 52 miles, passes through four locks (two each way) and takes around 25 hours.
7. Boat through the Staffordshire countryside to Market Drayton
On a week’s break from Autherley, you can cruise along the Shropshire Union Canal to the historic town of Market Drayton. Pubs to visit include the Bridge Inn at Brewood and the Hartley Arms at Wheaton Ashton. The journey to Market Drayton and back travels 53 miles, passes through 14 locks (seven each way) and takes around 24 hours.
8. Chug through the Brecon Beacons by boat
On a week’s holiday from Goytre near Abergavenny, you can cruise along the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal to the historic market town of Brecon. Pubs to visit include The Bluebell Country Inn at Crickhowell, The Horseshoe Inn at Llangattock and The Star Inn at Talybont-on-Usk. The journey to Brecon and back travels 51 miles, passes through 12 locks (six each way) and takes around 25 hours.