When is the best time to take a canal holiday?

You can take a canal holiday at any time of the year, a break in the fresh air is good anytime! But there may be maintenance closures during the winter months restricting some routes.

  • When is the normal canal holiday season?
  • What about canal cruising out of season?
  • Is there anything to do when the weather is bad?
  • Can canal hire boats be booked at short notice?

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 and canals are busiest  during school holidays and half terms.

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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 if 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.

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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 lots of holidays from hire companies all over the canal network on our Hireboats2go website.

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