Family: UK canal adventures

Looking for a different family adventure this year? Here are our top 10 reasons why canal boat cruising ticks all the boxes

Thursday, 26 April 2018,
By Maria Pieri
Photograph by

1. Scene by scene
Making eye contact with swans, bouncing echoes against tunnel walls, watching the water slosh through locks, discovering new places every day, having a go at steering the boat — canal boats are just plain fun.

2. All access
There's no lower age limit. It's probably a good idea, however, to have an extra adult onboard to take care of a very young child if two people are working the locks.

3. Daytripping
You can try it for just a day to see how you like it before committing to a longer trip. Many boat companies offer day hire.

4. Change of scenery
Your view changes moment to moment. You could be admiring a picture-perfect pastoral view one minute, and a bustling town and marina the next.

5. Active for everyone
Many canals offer opportunities for activities such as canoeing, paddleboarding, self-guided walks, cycle hire, and exploring waterside inns, restaurants and cafes.

6. All together now
You can take the extended family along on your watery adventure. Even the dog. Travel with all your essentials, stay switched on with wi-fi and enjoy a comfortable, multi-gen adventure all in one.

7. There's options
There are routes that pass through major cities like Birmingham, Leeds or Manchester, but if you prefer peaceful surroundings, there's a huge choice of rural waterways.

8. Banks don't break
A family of four can expect a short break to cost between £500-£700 and for a week-long cruise, between £700-£1,000. During the summer holidays, a family of four are looking at a cost of £1,200-£1,800.

9. Hustle & bustle
The Oxford Canal is the Canal Trust's busiest canal. Built more than 200 years ago, it winds peacefully through the Oxfordshire countryside from the centre of Oxford to the three spires of Coventry (UK Capital of Culture 2021).

10. Good times
Pocklington Canal in Yorkshire is celebrating its 200th anniversary with events and activities throughout the summer. Artworks, literature, music and performance will spring up across 21 miles of waterway.

Published in the May 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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