There’s something undeniably romantic about the idea of gently cruising along Britain’s picturesque waterways. No traffic noise or jams, a leisurely pace, a choice of destinations with constantly changing scenery and the opportunity to moor at some pleasant waterside hostelry for a relaxed lunch or dinner.
Imagine your own private floating hotel with all mod cons. Imagine the freedom of being able to stop and go as you please, exploring a new town or village every day or simply enjoying the on board experience as you glide to your next destination. The choice of boats – anything from a traditional narrow boat to a motor cruiser and even a houseboat – is as wide as the choice of wonderful British waterways on which to set sail. With no need for any kind of licence or even prior experience anyone can have a truly memorable UK boating holiday.
Here, holidaysintheuk.com gives you a rundown on some of the very best UK waters to explore by boat.
The Norfolk Broads, England
It’s almost as if the Norfolk Broads had been purpose built with boating holidays in mind. The county of Norfolk is flat which means that none of the miles and miles of interconnected waterways that criss-cross the Broads have even a single lock to navigate. Worry-free sailing means that you’re free to enjoy the magnificent Norfolk countryside and able to moor at its many nature reserves and country parks to stretch your legs and observe local wildlife and rare wildflowers among the meadows and marshes. Norfolk has many fine riverside villages and market towns to explore too and you can even navigate to the centre of the historic cathedral city of Norwich.
Loch Ness, Scotland
Perhaps the ultimate boating getaway, could there be a more stunning or dramatic backdrop than the heather-carpeted mountains of the Scottish Highlands? Stretching sixty miles, the Caledonian Canal passes through the Great Glen and Loch Ness (try not to disturb the monster). Although there are ten locks along the canal each is operated by a lock-keeper so you don’t have to worry about hard work. Besides the vast rugged beauty of the landscape the Caledonian Canal offers plenty of hospitable mooring places and friendly waterside pubs in which to enjoy a dram or two of a fine malt whisky when the boating day is over.
The Brecon and Abergavenny Canal, Wales
Gently rolling green hills, open moors, wooded valleys and golden cornfields are just part of ever-changing scenery to be witnessed along the beautiful and tranquil Brecon and Abergavenny canal in South Wales. Plenty of charming and historic villages hug the water’s edge and besides the unfolding beauty of the Welsh countryside there are plenty of interesting features and landmarks along the canal such as Victorian aqueducts, ancient lime kilns, stone bridges and even the remains of a Norman castle.
The River Shannon, Ireland
Ireland’s longest river, the Shannon, provides 150 mile of navigable waterway yet remarkably has only six locks. An absence of commercial river traffic means that you can meander along the water undisturbed, taking in scenery which alternates between wooded riverbanks and open countryside, townscapes and –in places- vast lakes. Even over a relatively short stretch of the River Shannon, there are enough inviting and historic towns and villages such as Boyle, Jamestown and Clondra and other places of interest to fill a great deal of time. But that’s the point of a Shannon boating holiday; you can set your own pace and take all of the time in the world to enjoy the beauty of the Emerald Isle.
The Llangollen Canal, England/North Wales
Regarded by boating enthusiasts as Britain’s most beautiful waterway, the Llangollen Canal is certainly remarkable for its engineering. A gentle cruise westwards from the historic market of Whitchurch carries you across the border from England and into Wales atop the Thomas Telford-designed Chirk Aqueduct at a height of seventy feet. This is immediately followed by the quarter mile long Darkie Tunnel. A second and even more impressive aqueduct, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, carries the canal a further thousand feet across the Dee Valley where you’ll enter a channel in the valley’s side and be presented with breathtaking panoramic views of the Welsh countryside as you gently sail towards the beautiful town of Llangollen itself.