A canal boat holiday is an excellent way to enjoy the beauty of the British countryside at a leisurely pace, and also to experience urban areas from a new perspective. If you have never travelled by canal before, then understandably you will probably have a few questions. Here are some of the answers to common queries.
Do you need training to steer a boat?
Steering a boat takes a little practice, but training will be given before you set off and no previous experience is necessary. Canal boats move slowly at no more than 4 mph, so there’s no pressure! Full instructions for the specific type of boat that you have will be provided by the canal boat hire company before the handover at the start of the holiday.
What do I need to bring on a canal boat holiday?
Non-slip shoes such as rubber soled trainers are essential to wear on deck for safety reasons. A waterproof jacket is also useful in case of wet weather. You will also need to bring sun protection including hats, sunscreen and sunglasses. You will need to bring food and drink, although remember that you can stop off along the way to top up your supplies.
It is best to pack in soft bags that can be easily stored rather than hard suitcases because space is limited on board. Boats may have only intermittent internet access so you may want to bring offline sources of entertainment such as books and card games.
All the boats are equipped with a TV and DVD player so you can also bring along your favourite films to watch. The boat will be fitted with plug sockets, but it may not support appliances with a high energy consumption. It’s best to check in advance what electrical items are compatible.
Can you fish from the boat?
Yes you can fish if you have a current rod licence from the Environment Agency and either a Waterway Wanderers permit or permission from the local angling club. The fishing season is generally year-round on canals in England and Wales. On rivers, the close season is from mid-March to mid-June.
Where can you stop the boat?
You can usually stop the boat at any point along the towpath. Popular visitor mooring sites may restrict mooring times to 48 hours during busy periods. You should not moor your boat within 50 metres of a lock or bridge to avoid congestion.
Is the canal safe to swim in?
If the weather is very warm it might be tempting to take a dip, but it is prohibited to swim in canals. This is because canals often have hidden objects under the water that you could injure yourself on, and reeds that you could become entangled in. You may also disturb wildlife.
Canal water temperatures are very cold and even in summer, and sudden immersion in cold water can cause the body to go into shock and make it very difficult to get out of the water.