An introduction to Canal Boat Holidays

Whether you're an old hand or planning your first cruise, Grand Union Narrowboats offers the ideal cruise with an enviable choice of routes. There's something for everyone, from steering the boat, working the locks (quite easy and children love locks!) or walking the dog. You can explore ashore, visiting the many places of interest which can be found near our waterways. Then the holiday becomes a voyage of discovery, where you can savour to the full the picturesque countryside through which our waterways flows.

Or why not just relax, enjoy the fresh air and watch the world go by!

A canal holiday is different-it really is! Go self-catering in a cottage or flat and you still have to find your entertainment-which can be both frustrating and costly! On the canal your boat IS your holiday and you will find that there is nothing so fulfilling and rewarding as a day's canal cruising. The three or four feet of water that separate you from the canal bank, separates you also from the stress and strain of modern life.

In the 200 years since they were built the waterways have hardly changed. The slow, steady pace of the boat, the surroundings- locks, steps, bridges, wharves, tunnels, towpaths and of course the many old Canalside Inns- all are much the same as they were in the Victorian and Regency days.

The canals are now managed by a charity, The Canal and River Trust. Much money has been spent in recent years, and they are now in the best shape that they have been for many years.

Your first time?

Even if you are a novice you will be surprised at how easy it is to skipper the boat. We give you full practical instruction, on both steering the boat and working the locks. We have no set time for this and we won't leave you until you are confident of how to handle the boat. We also send our hirers a DVD to watch at home and there is also a link on this website to this.

We are a member of the British Marine Federation so you can be confident that we comply with all the current legislation concerning narrowboat hire, also as part of this we are externally audited on the standard of our Hand Over procedures. So you can book a holiday with Grand Union Narrowboats with confidence knowing that you are in the best possible hands.

The Boater's Handbook

Download the Canal & River Trust's Boaters Handbook, or alternately read it below. You may find it easier to read by selecting the "pop out" icon (upper-right of the image below).

The Boater's Handbook Video

If new to boating, some elements of the boating experience can be daunting. Don't worry though - watch the Canal & River Trust video below and you'll be on your way in no time!