Canal Boat Hire UK


Canal boat hire is a great way to experience the UK. Canal boat holidays are popular with people looking for an alternative way of holidaying. A boating holiday is a wonderful way to enjoy a slower pace of life, see historic cities and landmarks and stunning countryside whilst you cruise at your own pace. A canal boat holiday is the perfect way to travel with your whole family, and here's a few tips on how to make sure you spend your family time having the best canal holidays possible.

The Benefits of Canal Boat Hire UK

A canal boat holiday is a great way to explore the waterways of the UK. It's relaxing, stress relief and cost-effectiveness. There are often special offers available so it can be very cost effective. It's a wonderful choice for a family holiday exploring somewhere more wild like Scotland or Wales, or take a short break somewhere more urban like a London.

Choosing the Right Canal Boat

Some boats come with their own shower room (complete with hot water and flushing toilets) while others don't so this might be something worth considering. A canal boat may come with cooking facilities in well equipped kitchens so it's worth checking before booking whether there are any facilities available on board or not! Fully equipped kitchens make a big difference to your planning and budgeting.

Preparing for your Canal Boat Holiday

Before you set off on your boating holidays, there are a few things to consider. Make sure that you have the necessary licensing and qualifications for operating a boat on British canals during your canal boat holiday. These will vary depending on which canal system you're using for your holiday, so it's important to check before hiring any vessel. Even if you have previous experience, you may need full tuition if it's a self drive boat hire. There may be extra costs for you to have full instruction for your specific narrowboat hire so do check this before you book your holiday.


The cost of renting a boat varies depending on where in Britain you want to go; some areas are more expensive than others due to higher holiday demand or additional amenities offered by companies offering rentals there (such as WiFi). If you're looking for a cheaper holiday then perhaps look at your route, where you'll moor, or which marina you may stop in.
Your canal boat holidays may be for a fixed mooring, which means you don't cruise at all, or your chosen canal boating holiday might be perfect for you to enjoy short breaks exploring the inland waterways that are perfect for narrow boats. This is our personal favourite type of relaxing holiday.

Where to Hire Canal Boats

  • Local marinas are the best place to start your search for a canal holiday. These are usually run by experienced boaters who will also be able to point out any restrictions and share local knowledge.
  • Online resources are another great way of finding out about canal boat holidays are available locally. Canal Boats For Hire lists hundreds more hire companies across Europe - although these tend to be further away from where you're based so might not be ideal if you want something closer home! Also try comparison websites available online which allow users like yourself find exactly what they need from a canal boat holiday.

What to Expect

When you hire a canal boat or book a narrowboat holiday, it's important to know what to expect. Here are some of the main things you'll need to know:

  • Navigation: Canals can be difficult for inexperienced drivers. They're often narrow and winding with many bridges, so navigation skills are essential .
  • Locks: Locks allow boats to travel between different levels of water in the canal system. A lock keeper will operate your lock when needed, but it's up to you how quickly or slowly they do so (and whether they close all gates).

Wildlife: The UK is home to many kinds of birds and animals--from swans swimming by your side while boating down a river at sunset through lush green fields full of wildflowers growing along its banks. This is one of the best aspects of a canal boat holiday.

What you may find on your narrowboat holiday home

Narrow boats come in a variety of layouts and levels of luxury. It's not unusual to find most narrowboats these days have central heating or log burners for warmth. There's a wide choice of sleeping arrangements and boats with well equipped bathrooms, kitchens and bedroom that will make your trip just perfect for your family to slow down, relax and enjoy.

Exploring the UK by Canal Boat

The UK is home to more than 2,000 miles of navigable waterways. The majority of these canals are privately owned, but they're open to the public and available for hire during your canal holiday. There are also a few well-known waterways that are managed by national parks or local authorities and offer guided tours along the way.

The most popular boating holiday locations, particularly suitable for a narrowboat or barges include:

  • The Kennet & Avon Canal in Wiltshire
  • The Grand Union Canal in Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire
  • The Trent & Mersey Canal in Staffordshire and Cheshire

Choosing your Routes

Whether you want narrowboat holidays with countryside of busting city life, you will find routes that offer the ride that's perfect for you. England, Wales and Scottish canals all travel through country or town (and locks) if your boat is self drive.

The Cost of Narrowboat holidays

The cost of canal boat hire is seasonal and can fluctuate according to demand. You can expect to pay more in summer than winter, and there are often discounts available for longer bookings.

If you're looking for a bargain boat, try booking online with one of the many companies who are canal holiday specialists in the UK (see below). If you're willing to travel further afield or take your chances with a smaller company, then there may be some great canal boat holiday or narrowboat holiday deals on offer too!

The Future of Canal Boat Hire

The future of canal boat and barges for hire in the UK is looking bright. There has been a huge growth in this industry, with more and more people taking up the opportunity to explore the canals and rivers with their families or friends. This has led to an increase in demand for boats, which means that there are now many more options available than ever before.

The regulations around hiring out boats, particularly in england, have become stricter over time too - making sure you know what they are before you set off on your trip will ensure that nothing goes wrong while you're out there exploring!

We recommend narrowboat hire and canal boat holidays for you and your whole family as a wonderful way to experience rivers or marina moorings, try your narrowboat through locks, see new places and meet other boaters on your route. Narrowboat holidays are a wonderful way to slow down, enjoy nature at your own pace in stunning countryside.

Why not book with Boutique Barges if you’d like to stay on a houseboat in Central London without worrying about cruising? OUr boats are rented on fixed moorings so we’re perhaps closer o a traditional boutique hotel than a touring canal boat. If that sounds perfect for you and your companions, then you can book our boats here.

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