Choosing an Accessible canal holiday boat

Canal boat holidays, for a week, short break or just a day trip, are very popular holidays for just about everyone. You get out into the fresh air, be as relaxed or energetic as you want and can share your enjoyment with your friends and family.

However canal holidays do have to be treated carefully. You are in a different environment, close to water and the natural world, which can be wet, bumpy and prickly! And canal boats must be treated with respect, they’re heavy and slow to stop, and have restricted interior space. Everyone needs to take care to stay comfortable and safe.

When you also have accessibility difficulties all those benefits of canal holidays are the same, there are just a few additional features and facilities you need to check for before choosing a canal holiday boat.

Accessible canal boat

The Lyneal Trust’s specially designed accessible day trip boat, Shropshire Lady.

Ten things to look for on an accessible canal holiday boat

  1. Can you get on and off the boat?
    Getting on to the boat from the towpath might require steps or a ramp.
  2. Can you get down into the cabin area?
    The cabin will be lower than the deck; steps, handrails or ramp might be needed.
  3. Are the internal corridors/doors wide enough for you?
    Dimensions may be too narrow or irregular for wheelchairs/walking aids.
  4. Are there suitable washing and toilet facilities?
    Facilities may be small, wrongly located or lack mobility aids.
  5. Are sleeping arrangements suitable? (if required)
    Canal boats often have compact cabins and convertible beds or bunks.
  6. Will you be able to look outside when sitting down?
    Some canal boat widows may be too high to see out of when seated.
  7. Can you get up to the front deck, can it be covered?
    The foredeck is a great viewing place, some have removable weather covers.
  8. Is the boat adapted so you can try steering?
    Some boats have joy stick steering adaptions and even cctv displays.
  9. Are heating and power supplies adequate?
    Boats may not have mains power, rarely suitable for life support equipment.
  10. Is there suitable room for family, friends, carers?
    Your fellow passengers should be comfortable and enjoy themselves too!


We’ve got more about Accessible Canal Boats and Boating Safely in our Canal Holiday Advice section.

Thanks to The Lyneal Trust for use of their photograph and assistance.

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

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