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Canal Boat Tours

Albuquerque
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Canal Boat Tours

I am interested in taking a 10 day trip on the canals of Britain. I want to rent a boat and bikes for transportation when we tie up. Any ideas, comments, experiences?

Cardiff, United...
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1. Re: Canal Boat Tours

\A few useful websites are: www.blackprince.com

www.hotelbaots.com www.alvechurch.com which between them should cover various areas from Oxford, Bath, Midlads, North West England & North Wales.

www.sallybaotsltd.uk cover area from Bradford on Avon to Bath. I know this a great area. You can hire bikes from the Lock Inn at Bradford On Avon & follow canal path towards Bath which is fairly flat & safe.

2 national companies to use are www.hoseasons.co.uk, and www.balkes.co.uk. They also cover the Norfolk Broads area in far east of England.

Many companies do only weekly duration during the summer season, and short breaks outside this. You could combine a week afloat with a few extra days on dry land.

Trust this helps.

Cardiff, United...
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2. Re: Canal Boat Tours

Couple typing errors sorry. www.hotelboats.com, www.blakes.co.uk

Halifax, NS
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3. Re: Canal Boat Tours

There have been several threads in the past on this subject. Just put the word: canals in the search function. On page 4 you'll find quite a lengthy post that I wrote.

Albuquerque
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4. Re: Canal Boat Tours

Thanks for your help. I had checked the past threads but my mistake was searching too narrow - canal boat vacations - vice just searaching canal. Bedlace - found your input page 4 thanks.

I have seen much of the UK on various car/rail trips so have seen the tourist highlights. I am looking forward to a slower vacation. However, I will be toting a child and want to insert a bit of education along the way. I realize the boat is slow and distance is like walking. However, which route would be the 'museum or castle' site densest? I am guessing that the Avon route would be. Or would Cambridge have more 'sites'.

By education, I mean seeing something, not necessarily museums. I can teach by just taking a walk in a forest with old oaks or walking over turnstiles and seeing fields and hedges or old historical battlefields or tudor villages showing different building methods. My point is that my focus is not the pubs. Used to be but not now with a child.

My idea is start early in the AM, get to a mooring stop for walk through a 'tourist' town (thatch and all that), or see a castle or see a museum. Then back on the boat and float till night. So a little bit of enlightenment and a lot of relaxation.

Really enjoyed the Black Prince site. My problem is just not knowing enough of the area and the town names, so I do not know what to see, except of course for the big names - Avon, Warwick etc.

middle england
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for Leicestershire, Norfolk
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5. Re: Canal Boat Tours

You need to differentiate between canals and rivers and decide which one you want, although of course you can combine the two. Cambridge, for example, is a long way away from any canals, being on the river Cam, a tributary of the Great Ouse. You should also understand that there may be more than one river of the same name - Avon being an obvious example. Bradford on Avon is nowhere near "Shakespeares Avon" on which Stratford stands.

You will not find many castles or museums close to canals. You can visit Warwick castle easily on the Grand Union canal, but wouldn't see another castle for the rest of your trip.

If you can manage to find a company which will let you hire for ten days, you might like to consider a "ring" trip so you do not have to return the same route. There is the Avon ring which combines river and canal and passes through towns like Stratford, Evesham and Tewkesbury, and the Leicester Ring which again combines river and canal and passes through the famous Foxton Locks with an associated inclined plane site and exhibition.

For cycling, though, canals will generally be better than rivers although you should not assume all towpaths are suitable for cycling.

Albuquerque
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6. Re: Canal Boat Tours

Yes, the more I research I find that cycling can be a problem since there is little room on the narrow boats and understandably the owners do not want you scratching up the roof.

My thought on the cycles was that we could moor and take off on the bikes and that way get to places of interest that are a ways away. Guess I have to modify that idea.

Yes I did assume that Avon was the River of Stratford - on -

I think that we want to focus on the canals vice river. But the ring idea so that we do not repeat views seems to incorporate a river along the way.

What about the Oxford area? Any knowledge of those canals?

Albuquerque
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7. Re: Canal Boat Tours

Ok what is a hob? I know it has something to do with the kitchen. Is it the stove?

Ottawa, ON
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8. Re: Canal Boat Tours

Reading your posts here make me wonder if you understand what's involved in hiring a narrowboat in the UK? I'm assuming from the regular use of the first person singular that this holiday involves one adult and one child? If so, I question your statement of of what you envisage a typical day to be,

" My idea is start early in the AM, get to a mooring stop for walk through a 'tourist' town (thatch and all that), or see a castle or see a museum. Then back on the boat and float till night. So a little bit of enlightenment and a lot of relaxation."

You will not be floating 'til night and you will not be relaxing. The boat needs to be driven, and will need to be taken through locks. These locks are manually operated and, except for the busiest locks (usualy flights of locks), there are no lock keepers -- you do it yourself. It goes really quickly with three people, one driving the boat, the other two opening and closing, draining and filling locks. It works fine with two people, but becomes a pain with only one. Especially if that one is also minding a child.

If I'm wrong about the number of people, all the above typing was wasted. Another good website is www.canaljunction.com. I agree with the others that it is going to be hard to find museums and castles near the canals. There is an interesting museum on the canal at Worcester and, of course, the cathedral is not far. Stoke Bruerne is a classic canal village on the Grand Union north of Milton Keynes.

middle england
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for Leicestershire, Norfolk
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9. Re: Canal Boat Tours

Yes, Oxford is on the Oxford Canal!!

Sorry, I do have a strange Eglish sense of humour - I'm quite harmless really.

The Oxford canal is in two parts, the North and South Oxford. The south, partcularly south of Napton Junction, is a perfect example of an early "contour canal", which as its name suggests follows the contours of the land resulting in an eccentric course. The canal is generally recognised as one of the most scenic and terminates in Oxford, where there are two connections with the River Thames, which very confusingly is known as the Isis here. There is no practicable ring involving Oxford in ten days and if you do propose to use the Thames you do need to check that your boat is licensed for both canals and the River Thames.

I think the thing to do is to continue your research and ask if you need any more help, but when you have booked, I and others will be able to give you specific sights to see rather than general advice on what is a large and complicated system (for the UK!).

The real trick with the canals is not to be over ambitious. It is difficult to average more than 2 to 3 miles an hour with a max speed of 4 miles and hour and 15 minutes or so to pass through a lock.

Halifax, NS
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10. Re: Canal Boat Tours

I agree with ronw: You really need 3 adults, especially on the Avon Ring. If my memory serves me right, and it was a long time ago that I did it, there's one stretch of 50 odd locks in 13 miles - which means that the 'lock workers' walk that stretch and work like the devil. (And we did it going down hill, but it was pouring rain.) I don't think it could be done by 2 adults, much less 1 adult and 1 child.

I've narrowboated on both rivers and canals, and much prefer the canals. On rivers, the villages, etc. are built back from the river (in case of flooding). The canals go through villages and towns, have pubs,etc. on the banks, and are much better for sigthtseeing and industrial archaeology IMHO.

You might look into 1 way rentals if you have less than 2 weeks. The top speed allowed on the canals is approx. 3 mph and you really do see everything the first time you go past it,. So you don't want to retrace your 'steps' to return your boat to the boatyard. (This is the voice of experience talking!!)