Chugging along the canals

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

Along with camping and caravanning the other highlight of this strangest of summer holidays has been the number of people taking to our inland waterways and exploring canals and rivers

the virus has made our canals more widely used as people seek away-from-it-all holidays

Whilst tour operators offering overseas holidays have been wringing the hands, those who operate canal boats, narrow boats and barges, houseboats and anything that floats have been quietly giving thanks that this will turn out to be a good summer for them.

Try and book a narrow boat and see what reaction you get.

As long ago as the middle of July, the Canal and River Trust was pointing out that bookings were heavy with some operators seeing numbers up by 240%. With over 2,000 miles of canals available to holidaymakers, the areas where you start your journey may be busy but out on the waterways it will still be quiet. And where will you ever find views like you will see from the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct on the Llangollen Canal?

Narrowboat operator Black Prince Holidays says that it has seen a 190% increase in bookings over the last month, with almost three times the normal level of searches for narrowboat holidays in under-the-radar destinations including Worcestershire, Staffordshire and Warwickshire.

There’s been a big rise in ‘flotilla’ bookings for two or more boats, with extended families attracted by the seclusion, the ease of social distancing on a narrowboat and the sheer ability not to be involved in the crowds that can be seen at beaches.

As Leighton Jones of Black Prince pointed out, families groups who haven’t seen much of each other over the last few months can book multiple boats and share the experience without stepping on each other’s toes.”

If you think that children might be bored be the sedate and quiet pace of a canal journey then the company has developed an idea with the founder of Potty Adventures, David Mellor, to create the Towpath Activity Guide, with a selection of on-and-off the boat activities for children to complete on their cruise.

Whilst they are enjoying that, others can enjoy the sights and sounds of the rivers and canals.

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