Explore Britain’s canals

Print Friendly

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?


Not a member?

Join the silversurfers community today! It's free, easy to do, and is packed full of features and amazing offers!

Join the community!
Click here if you have forgotten your password
11th Jan 2016
Thanks for voting!
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
Thanks for voting!
Thank you for the recommendation lindaw 🙂

Community Terms & Conditions

Content standards

These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.

You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.

Contributions must:

be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.

Contributions must not:

contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.

Nurturing a safe environment

Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.

We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!

More River Cruises

Top reasons you should try river cruising amsterdam-netherlands_189863267
Discover some of the world’s most niche locations on board a river cruise. Sail right into...
River Cruise Guide Wonderful views
On a river cruise every day brings new sights and enjoyment, with different views to admire and...
5 reasons to book your 2017 river cruise with Titan Travel MS Serenade1 900x550
Here are 5 reasons to book your 2017 river cruise with Titan Travel, onboard the exclusively...
Sail with AmaWaterways – rated the BEST river cruise fleet on Europe’s rivers! AmaPrima-in-Bratislava (1)
Consistently leading the way in river cruising with exceptional staff, award winning cuisine...
It’s time to... enjoy como
Shearings Holidays are proud to be working with Silversurfers and we look forward to offering...
Fascinating holiday experiences with Shearings River Cruises Serenade2G9655
River cruising is a great way to explore a country at a gentle pace. You unpack once, settle into...
Explore and Experience China and South East Asia via the Great Rivers Yangtze Wu Gorge small
Asia has many great rivers with China’s Yangtze and South East Asia’s Mekong two of the most...
Rhine Cruise & Swiss Delights strasbourg-france
Take advantage of this incredible deal exclusive to RiverVoyages.com and embark on a wonderful...
Germany’s most gorgeous gorge – the beautiful Rhine Valley Rhine-Valley (1)
Although making brief appearances in Switzerland, France, Austria and the Netherlands the...
The simple and inspiring joy of European river cruises River Cruises
Whilst Man’s affinity for travelling on water can be traced back to the earliest periods of...
Top Ten Canal Boat Holidays canal_800x500
Canal boats are a great way of winding down into a relaxing holiday, escaping the pace of...
All aboard for the Normandy experience TRAVEL Normandy Cruise 2
From the comfort of a cruise ship on the River Seine, it's easy to take in the myriad historic...