Is canal cruising a good holiday for older people?

Canal cruising is an excellent holiday choice because you get to see the real countryside close up and meet new and different people in a safe and self-contained environment that still leaves room for a little adventure.

  • Floating through the countryside is a perfect way to relax and enjoy company of friends.
  • You can also enjoy some activity, maybe let others enjoy working those locks!
  • If you would rather have everything done for you what about an all inclusive hotelboat cruise?
  • If you have access problems check first to make sure your holiday boat is suitable.
  • There’s lots of interesting heritage to explore from the comfort of your canal boat!

A Canal Holiday is a relaxing time.

There are no great distances to cover to reach the canals, no airports to navigate and no time pressures once you’re there. You can moor where you like, when you like, choose how many locks to navigate, how far to cruise – you make the decisions and you set the pace. No rush, no fuss!

Will It Be Hard Work?

Although there is some physical work involved if you are skippering the boat yourself, it should be well within your capabilities provided someone in your party is reasonably fit in an every day sort of way.

If you really don’t fancy tackling locks but like the idea of cruising the waterways, you can cruise for 42 miles on the Lancaster Canal without encountering any locks, and the Ashby Canal has no locks at all!

What If We Don’t Want To Skipper Our Boat?

If you want to cruise the canals but don’t want the responsibility of skippering a boat, the crew of a hotelboat will do all the work for you so you can just sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery drifting by. Hotelboats are literally little floating hotels, with the same standards of service you’d expect from any respectable hotel, the same high standards of home-cooked food and the same desire to please that the best hotels offer. Because narrowboats vary in size, you also have some control over how many guests you share the experience with. You can travel on your own, or with a partner, or even get together a group of five or six friends to book out the hotelboat and have it all to yourselves. For more information about hotelboats and booking options see our Hotelboating sister website.


Will There Be Disabled Access?

Anyone with a physical disability can still benefit from the relaxing environment that canalboat cruising offers, watching the world float by, meeting new people and going to new places. Getting on and off the boat and negotiating the restricted confines of the boat can be problematic for wheelchair users, but some hotelboats and hire boats can cope. Be clear about your requirements and most companies will go out of their way to accommodate you or recommend somebody who can. See our Accessibility FAQ.


Are Canalboats And Canal Holidays Secure?

Personal safety and crime are not major problems on the canals provided you take normal sensible precautions, like locking boat doors when the boat is unoccupied. On a hotelboat holiday you have your crew around you to look after such things.

There are a few inner city areas where additional precautions may be advised, your hire firm will give details.


How Can We Learn More About The Heritage Of The Canals?

There are several established and well-maintained museums on the network, including The National Waterways Museums at Gloucester, Ellesmere Port, and Stoke Bruerne, The Black Country Living Museum in Dudley and the London Canal Museum near Kings Cross. Click here for a list of museums.

Canal Junction has a wealth of pages dedicated to the heritage of the canals with everything from engineering to boat art covered. Go to the Heritage section to find out more. If you are interested in canal heritage look at Tony Lewery’s ‘Off the Mainline’ articles, a monthly series covering all aspects of canal life, past and present.


All materials and images © Canal Junction Ltd. Dalton House, 35 Chester St, Wrexham LL13 8AH. No unauthorised reproduction.

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