Explore Britain’s canals

Take advantage of Britain’s waterways and the warmer weather with a scenic canal boating holiday. We’ve selected some of the best routes to help you narrow down your options.

Sometimes, the best part of travelling is the journey itself. This is particularly true when it comes to canal boating holidays, where your cosy accommodation doubles as your passport to adventure. Gliding along the curving canals, you get a true sense of Britain’s rich history and delightful views of its gorgeous countryside.

Union Canal, Scottish lowlands

Stretching from Edinburgh to Falkirk, the Union Canal was originally used to transport coal to the Scottish capital. Nowadays it’s a popular spot for all sorts of leisure boating, including rowing, canoeing, kayaking and narrowboating.

Rent a boat from: Black Prince Narrowboat Holidays

Must-see landmarks:

  • – Falkirk Wheel
  • – Niddry Castle

Avon Ring, West Midlands 

Sail past Shakespeare’s old stomping grounds, barrel-roofed cottages, and some of the quaintest villages of England’s midlands. The Avon Ring is set in Britain’s heartland and will make you fall in love with the country all over again.

Rent a boat from: Valley Cruises

Must-see landmarks:

  • – Mary Arden’s (Shakespeare’s mum) house
  • – Tardebigge Flight

Grand Western Canal, Devon

If you thought Devon couldn’t be more laidback and idyllic, try experiencing it on a horse drawn barge! Now that’s relaxing. Escape the hustle and bustle of city life with a day trip on one of the country’s more unique modes of transport (complete with fully licensed on-board bar!). This option is perfect if you’re visiting Devon, but don’t want to spend your entire holiday on the canal.

Rent a boat from: Tiverton Canal Co.

Must-see landmarks:

  • – The aqueduct (designed by Brunel)
  • – In this case, the boat itself is a landmark!

Llangollen Canal, Wrexham

The Llangollen Canal straddles the boundaries of England and Wales, in some of the greenest parts of the British Isles. Starting in Hurleston Junction, where the Llangollen Canal meets the famous Shropshire Union Canal, and ending in an eleven-mile section through a UNESCO World Heritage site, this is a real hidden gem. The Horsehoe Falls (which—perhaps luckily—are not directly accessible by canal boat) lie just past the end of the canal.

Rent a boat from: Black Prince Narrowboat Holidays

Must-see landmarks:

  • – The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct – the highest one in Britain!
  • – Horseshoe Falls

Leeds and Liverpool Canal, Northern England

If you’re a canal boat aficionado, the Leeds and Liverpool Canal has to be on your bucket list. It’s the waterway that made Liverpool and Leeds international cities, and exemplified the Industrial Revolution, so travelling on it means living part of the region’s history. Beginning and ending in two of the great northern cities, and travelling through some of Yorkshire and Lancashire’s beautiful countryside, this trip has something for everyone.  

Rent a boat from: Pennine Cruisers

Must-see landmarks:

  • – Wigan Pier (made famous by George Orwell, now gentrified and upmarket)
  • – Saltaire (Titus Salt’s planned town)

Do you fancy a canal boating holiday?


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11th Jan 2016
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How disappointing that you don't include one of the most attractive and unique of canals on the network - the Lancaster canal. 42 miles of lock-free cruising; no industrial blots on the landscape; through ancient market towns and medieval city; with views to the Pennines and Irish Sea; and too many nearby attractions (like the free Brief Encounter Exhibition at the Carnforth Railway station). There are a number of hire companies along the canal - Water Babies and Duck for example.
The canal's unique location in the Duchy of Lancaster and history makes the Lancaster canal a must for the bucket list
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Thank you for the recommendation lindaw 🙂

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