River holidays

Riverboats, cruisers, longboats and barges.

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Canal and River Boat Holidays

Whiling away your time whilst chugging gently along a canal or slow flowing river can be an idyllic way to pass your time. Now you can do it with a clear conscience about the environment too, with a number of companies offering quiet, clean electric boats running on solar-electric-power. The Solar Boat Company supplies a solar powered narrowboat propulsion system to boat builders and fitters, and The Electric Boat Association is a good place for further information.

Meanwhile, the University of Birmingham has developed a Hydrogen Hybrid Canal Boat, the Ross Barlow, as a showcase experimental project.

Of course, for a really sustainable option, there is little to beat a horse-drawn canal boat. There are a number of places where you can enjoy a peaceful trip in one of these, but it is unlikely you will be able to self-hire as crewing such a boat requires particular expertise. Try Kennet Horse Boat Company, Llangollen Wharf, Great Western Horseboat or Godalming Packetboat Company to find out more.

Further afield, the French company, Naviratous, are offering six day trips on their solar powered barge that operates on the Canal du Midi between Béziers and Carcassonne in the Languedoc region of France, taking in visits to local vineyards and châteaux as well as walking and cycling excursions.

Useful Information:

  • Black Prince -canal narrowboat holidays from Chirk, Acton, Stkoe on Trent, Falkirk and Napton.
  • British Waterways -manages and cares for 2,000 miles (3,219km) of canals, rivers and docks, buildings, structures and landscapes.
  • Broads Authority -the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads is a unique area of water, grazing marshes, fen and woodland, and home to some of the rarest plants and creatures in the UK.
  • Bywater Holidays -offer a variety of canal holidays, including four to seven day horse drawn cruises aboard their horseboat 'Siân' with accomodation in farm guest houses.
  • Canalia -colourful site on Britains historic canals and waterways.
  • Canal Junction -comprehensive canal guide and directory.
  • Crest Narrowboats -offer luxury canal boat holiday hire on the Llangollen and Trent & Mersey Canals in a fleet of luxury fitted out cruiser and semi­trad canal narrowboats.
  • Electric Boat Association -
  • Enviroboat -solar electric hybrid boat solutions form Cumbria -they work with small boats up to 50 foot motor craft.
  • Great Western Horseboat -horse drawn canal trips on the Great Western at Tiverton.
  • Godalming Packetboat Company -travel along an unspoilt waterway in Surrey on the narrow boat "Iona", pulled by one of their heavy horses, traversing both river and canal -public trips and private charters available.
  • Llangollen Wharf -horse drawn boat trips in the North Wales market town of Llangollen.
  • Kennet Cruises narrowboat canal hire -offering self-drive, skippered and charter hire narrowboat holidays and corporate events on the Kennet & Avon Canal and River Thames.
  • Kennet Horse Boat Company -the 'Kennet Valley' horse drawn barge is a wide beam passenger trip boat, purpose built in 1976, which operates from Kintbury on the Kennet and Avon Canal.
  • London Canal Museum -learn the history of London's canals and explore the boats.
  • National Waterways Museum -the award-winning museum, (part of The Waterways Trust) housed in a splendid Victorian warehouse at the historic Gloucester Docks.
  • Naviratous -stay on a a solar-powered barge, the Soleil d'Oc D'OC, that will take you from Carcassonne to Béziers along the Canal du Midi.
  • Norfolk Broads Yachting Company -runs the largest fleet of sailing yachts for hire in the Norfolk Broads.
  • Sally Boats -located in the ancient Saxon Town of Bradford on Avon, half an hour's drive from the World Heritage City of Bath, Sally Boats prides itself in being the leading organisation offering Canal Narrow Boat Holidays on the Kennet and Avon Canal.
  • Salters Steamers -River Thames passenger boat trips and private charters.
  • Solar Boat Company -supplies a solar powered narrowboat propulsion system to boat builders and fitters -electric narrowboats and barges on Britain's rivers and canals.
  • Solar Sailor -this Australian company produces a range of rather beautiful hybrid powered ferries, pleasure cruisers and houseboats.
  • Scotlands Waterways -information on the Caledonian, Crinan and Lowland Canals.
  • Waterways Directory -listing of everything possible related to boating on Britains waterways and canals.

Chandlery and Equipment:

  • Fender Maker -Eric Johns one man business in South Wales offering rope fenders for canal, narrow and long boats.
See also Sailing holidays.


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Featured books:
The Inland Waterways Manual: The Complete Guide to Boating on Rivers, Lakes and Canals (Travel)
Emrhys Barrell
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Nicholson Inland Waterways Map of Great Britain
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