How to pick your canal holiday route.

You’ve got 3000 km of canal and waterways to explore – but that would take all year or more! So how do you pick a canal route for your holidays?

  • All canals can offer fresh air, relaxing pace, the freedom to stop and start where you want.
  • Some canals are mainly rural passing through open countryside and attractive villages.
  • Other canals will snake into the heart of a city or town, showing a whole new urban perspective.
  • Some canals offer lots to do, locks, attractions, bridges, tunnels and aqueducts.
  • Some canal routes will be laid back and peaceful, giving more time to explore surroundings.

How Do I Decide Which Canal To Cruise? Depends what you want!

All canal holidays have some things in common; the fresh air, beautiful countryside, the relaxing pace and sense of freedom, a chance to refresh friendships old and new. Most canals boast fine scenery and plenty of interesting things to see and do, but with 3000km of canal to choose from you need to decide what sort of holiday you want and which is your ideal route. Our Canal Guides give more detailed information about most of the canal cruising network. Click to see our hints and tips on choosing the right canal.

So do you want to potter along gently, unconcerned about your destination, drinking in the country air with your feet up, or do you want to reach somewhere in particular? Do want to tackle stairways of locks and dive into long dark tunnels, or are you more content to gaze at the sun flickering on the water as you amble past watermeadows? With such a wealth of options, it pays to put some thought into what you’d most like to get from your canal holiday. For instance, if its peace and quiet you’re really pining for, then some canals are quieter because they aren’t connected to the main system. And if you don’t want to use any locks at all then the Lancaster Canal runs for 42 lock-free miles!

Can We Visit A City In Our Canal Boat?

Birmingham has more canals than Venice, so they say! Because canals were built to bring raw materials to the factories and take products to markets the cities of England are well serviced by the canal network and many canals pass through the heart of the hustle and bustle. Gas Street in Birmingham or Canal Street in Manchester are good examples. Many other cities have canals at their centre such as ChesterBristolLiverpoolLondonOxfordEdinburghWarwick and Stratford.

How Can We Be More Adventurous In Our Choice Of Canal Holiday?

For the more experienced cruiser, the circular routes can feel more of an adventure than ‘there and back again’ cruising. Rings vary in length, and they might not be ideal for everyone, but each of our  Canal Guides includes rings that the canal is part of and we’ve now got Guides for our Top Ten Canal Rings. A few hire companies offer one-way hires, such as one way cruises over the Pennine canals between Yorkshire and Lancashire.


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

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