Narrowboat hirers overwhelmingly recommend boating holidays

Narrowboating on the Mon & Brec Canal in South Wales

The Canal & River Trust, the charity that looks after 2,000 miles of waterways across England & Wales, has published research showing that nine out of ten people (88 per cent) who hired a canal boat last year were ‘very satisfied’ with a further eight per cent saying they were ‘satisfied’.

And the quintessentially British pastime caught the imagination of hirers, with 98 per cent recommending their summer holiday to family and friends.

Matthew Symonds, national boating manager for the Canal & River Trust, says: “As we all become increasingly aware of the impact we’re making on the planet, the Canal & River Trust is urging people to ditch flying overseas for a relaxing low-carbon adventure on the nation’s waterways.

“We are delighted to report that last summer’s hire boaters were overwhelmingly happy with their holiday choice and would recommend their holiday to others.  When you visit a canal or get behind the tiller, it’s not surprising why.  The nation’s waterways flow through some of the country’s most breath-taking countryside, bringing you face to face with some amazing wildlife and passing by the doorsteps of hundreds of historic waterside pubs and restaurants.

“The combination of a relaxing yet active holiday appeals to families, while for those looking to enjoy the tranquillity of the waterways, it is a unique way to see Britain from a different perspective.  Whatever the motivation, it looks like hire boating is as popular as ever.”

Ed Helps, from the management board at trade association British Marine, says: “With around 1,000 canal boats available to hire from over 50 locations around the country, there are hundreds of narrowboat holiday routes and destinations to choose from. 

“From the rural Llangollen Canal in North Wales with its world-famous UNESCO World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct to stretches of canal that take boaters right into the heart of vibrant cities like Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Oxford and Bath, canals offer holiday-makers the chance to slow right down and explore some of the nation’s best countryside and waterside destinations.

“It’s easy to learn how to steer a narrowboat.  Holidaymakers get a good handover with all the information they need for a safe and enjoyable trip when they pick up their boat.”

The Trust’s online survey taken by 171 boating holiday-makers was promoted through postcards distributed by volunteer lock keepers and some hire boat operators between May and October 2019.

For more information about the Canal & River Trust, go to