Canal FAQ

Canal Holiday Advice

A Holiday For All Seasons..

When is the best time to hire a canal boat?

Hire narrow boats are usually available from mid March to late October which is often referred to as the ‘cruising season’. Some firms hire year round but you should check that the route you want is available because maintenance works can close locks and bridges etc. out of season. Your hirer will have details. Hotelboats usually cruise late April to October. Prices are highest during school holidays and half terms.

When are the canals busy?

The canals are busiest during the school holidays from late July to early September and prices for hired boats are highest then. ‘Busy’ in canal terms means that some locks on popular canals may have queues of boats waiting an hour or more to get into the locks and popular mooring spaces outside pubs etc. may fill up mid afternoon. You can choose quieter canals or just relax and enjoy the surroundings and conversations! It isn’t like being stuck in your car on the M5 motorway!

Can we cruise in the Winter?

Obviously there’s more sun during the summer period but most people don’t see canal cruising as just a ‘fair weather’ holiday, because there’s lots to do whatever the weather. If you’re looking for peace, tranquillity and the kind of cosiness that canal boats are brimming with, then winter’s probably your best bet. Pubs are usually quieter and more welcoming, good moorings are easier to find and of course hire prices are cheaper. What about getting away for Christmas or New Year with a gang of friends or family?

We have a page dedicated to winter canal cruising with links to hire firms who run year round, and our Hireboats2go late booking website has boats available year round.

What do we do when it rains and the wind blows?

Dive into the pub? Take on a three-mile tunnel? Put the umbrella up? Make some tea? Play high-stakes poker? Read a book? Go shopping? Ring your mum? Visit your neighbours? Paint a picture? Listen to raindrops on water? Fly a kite? Turn the telly on? You could always keep on cruising regardless, though since you’re in no rush why not just put your feet up and take it easy.

If you’re holidaying in the UK, let’s face it, you’re probably going to get some rain and wilder weather, but enjoy it when it comes. Canal boats aren’t like tents – you can get up and move around and you have all the facilities of modern living at your fingertips. What’s more, the countryside comes alive, invigorating the air with the smells of freshness and vitality you only get when the raindrops are falling and a 'gentle breeze' blowing.

Can we hire a boat at the ‘last minute’?

It depends when you’re hiring. In the middle of summer and during school holidays, it can be difficult to hire a boat unless you book in advance. In quieter times, many of the hire companies will have last minute options. Keep an eye out on the individual websites. We often have hundreds of holidays from hire companies all over the canal network on our Hireboats2go website.

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