Canal Barge Holidays

The canals and waterways of Britain were originally constructed for the transportation of goods, albeit at a very slow pace. These man-made made waterways were the motorways of their day before the rail and road networks began to offer a much faster mode of transport. For a time the canals fell in to dis-repair, an unloved relic of the past. But thanks to local investment and a fashion for local holidays they are now a great way of indulging oneself to a totally different holiday experience. Here’s our guide to canal barge holidays in Britain and why they’re a great way to enjoy the British countryside.

Canal barge holidays are one of the best ways one can have total relaxation. Their slow pace and quiet surroundings make them a wonderfully leisurely pay to travel. You’ll always find pubs, restaurants and other interesting places near the water’s edge as you slowly drift along. They’re fairly easy to park up although not so easy to turn around due to their long length. Many of the barges are original vessels from a bygone era, lovingly restored and renovated to include bathrooms, beds, kitchens and storage area. Their long design means some can sleep up to 10 people.

Kennet and Avon Canal

The Kennet and Avon Canal links the Thames at Reading in Berkshire, with the Avon at Bath in the south-west of England. This traverses through a distance of 145km or 90 miles. Scottish Engineer John Rennie designed this canal with a frankly awesome display of engineering. If you’re in for a challenge and a fun day on the water then the Caen Hill locks in Devizes are for you. This famous set of 16 locks makes it possible to travel up (or down) an entire hill. It’s an impressive canal section that will take you the best part of 6 hours to complete but it’s a fun day and the Canal experience brings strangers together, helping each other at the locks. Check out the Canal River Trust website for more details.

Shannon Erne Waterway

Formerly as Ballinamore and Ballyconnell Canal, The Shannon-Erne Waterway in Ireland is a delight to cruise along and a great experience for all the family. After years of repair and maintenance It re-opened in 1994 and served as a link between Erne and Shannon. You can meander through a series of rivers and canals as you pass by lively pubs and great dining places along the banks. The 16 locks along the canals are controlled hydraulically, so cruising will be definitely a breeze and an enjoyable experience. It’s a lot less of a challenge than the 16 locks in Devizes so makes your canal barge holiday a little easier. You’ll find lots of useful information on the Shannon-Erne Waterway here.

Other canal holiday destinations

The Caledonian Canal in Northwest Scotland is about 98 kilometers or 61 miles long. The Atlantic and the North Sea are linked by this canal and it has one of the largest marina facilities in Scotland. The canal’s construction started in 1803 by Thomas Telford, and was finished in 1822. Check out this website for lots more info on holidays here.

The Brecon Canal in Wales runs through 33 miles Welsh countryside from Brecon to Pontypool. And a good portion of the canal lies in Beacons National Park. Pamper yourself with the scenic view of country villages. Also get ready to immerse yourself in wildlife. Birds such as kingfishers and herons will surely greet you as you traverse the canal. For more information on Brecon Canal go here.