Boating holiday in England and Wales

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Experience the stunning countryside of England and Wales

Sail in beautiful areas such as the historic river Thames near London or through the traditional landscape of central England and Wales.

Look forward to a royal experience as you sail along the winding rivers and canals through England's beautiful and green countryside. Here you will feel the wings of history as you sail past beautiful, old towns and villages with cozy pubs and lovely English gardens with perfect lawns and trimmed hedges.

A boat holiday in England and Wales will be a holiday full of contrasts due to the pleasant variation between a rural scenery and urban life. From your riverboat there is peace and time to experience England's and Wales’ evergreen valleys with grazing sheep flocks and quaint villages with thatched half-timbered houses.

Try the English classic bangers and mash at the local pub or go on a daytrip to experience one of the larger cities in the area. In several places it is possible to moor the boat directly at famous castles and manors. Go on a boat holiday in England and experience The English Way of Life from the first parquet on the deck of your riverboat.

In Wales you’ll get an exceptional experience among the welsh. Like in England you’ll find an amazing green landscape where the canals lead you right past historic castles and peaceful villages. Here you can try delicious national dishes such as Welsh rarebit or cawl.

 

Riverboats in England and Wales

Explore all the sailing areas of England & Wales

In England and Wales there are many exciting sailing areas. Read more below.

View of the river Thames

Thames

Go on a royal boat holiday on the River Thames, where the contrasts between the rural and urban environments make up the perfect mix of opportunities for your next riverboat holiday. On the River Thames you will get a thrilling boating experience on waterways that wind through hilly landscapes and passes historic towns and traditional English pubs.

Highlights along the Thames: 

  • The mighty Windsor Castle and vibrant London
  • Beale Park (animal park)
  • Go for a stroll in the Royal Parks
  • Legoland Windsor, Thorpe Park and other amusement parks
  • Get caught up by the great history of Oxford
  • Charming villages
  • Grazing cows and local fishermen along the riverside
  • Historic English cities such as Marlow, Cookham, Pangbourne and Datchet
  • Shopping in Reading
  • Sailing on the historic River Thames
  • British pub culture and fish ’n’ chips
Map of the river Thames
bridge and aqueduct in the Manchester-area

Manchester area

The metropolitan city of Manchester is bursting with energy and character. Discover Chesire, the beauty of Leeds, Liverpool Canal and Trent. Here you will also find the unique boat lift in Anderton.

Highlights in the Manchester area: 

  • The city of Manchester
  • The boat lift in Anderton
  • A relaxed boating holiday in rural surroundings
  • The beautiful hilly landscape of The Peak District
  • Harecastle Tunnel (2,4 km)
  • The rare rotating bridge ‘Barton Swing Aqueduct’ that lifts a small canal above another
Map of Manchester
Lock in the Leeds area

Leeds area

In the beautiful countryside around Leeds you can really take your mind of the challenges of your everyday life. While the border area between Yorkshire and Lancashire is very idyllic in these days, there is plenty of history here, with the two counties being the primary enemies during the Wars of the Roses.

Highlights in the Leeds area: 

  • The Weaving mills in the Weavers’ Triangle in Burnley
  • The history of the Pendle witches, one of very few documented witch trials in England
  • The system of locks known as Bingley Five-Rise, one of the 7 wonders of the English waterways
  • Charming villages located right on the banks of the canals
Map of Leeds
Narrowboat in the Welsh countryside

Wales

Pretty nature and breathtaking engineering, endless plains and the possibility of choosing routes with little to none locks. Enjoy Wales from one of the many bases in this area.

Highlights in Wales: 

  • Picturesque nature on the Llangollen Canal
  • The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
  • The lake in Ellesmere
  • Unique boating on the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal
  • Brecon Beacons National Park
  • Historic Chester
Map of Wales
Quay in Birmingham

Birmingham area

The area surrounding Birmingham presents you with an abundance of routes to choose from, and you have three possible bases to start from. From Gailey Wharf you can look forward to a sailing area full of contrasts with a fine mix of rural England and urban culture. Along the waterways there is ample opportunity to find family-friendly activities. The second base is in Alvechurch Marina at the heart of a very varied canal network in the Midlands. The last base is in Worcester, where the Severn River runs right though the city.

Highlights in the Birmingham area: 

  • Varied sailing routes
  • Day trip to Birmingham
  • The Worcester Cathedral from the 12th Century
  • Royal Worcester Porcelain
  • Tardebigge Flight
  • The award-winning Weighbridge Pub that serves classic British food and lots of great ales
  • National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham
  • Cadbury World – a visit to the Cadbury chocolate factory
Map of Birmingham
Lock near Coventry

Coventry area

In the area of Coventry, you'll find the authentic, rural England with grassy hills and woodlands. Sailing in this area is the perfect choice for those who want to try something different and who prefer the tranquillity and slower pace of the country over the hectic large cities.

Highlights in the Coventry area: 

  • The charm of small villages
  • Hiking trips
  • Sailing on historic canals
  • The Castle of Warwick
  • Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre
  • A day trip to the indoor market in Harborough
  • Sailing on the Oxford Canal
Map of Coventry
Canal in Cambridge

Cambridge area

From the base in March, you are all set to sail in the eastern part of England. Here you start just in between the rivers Ouse and Nene, and you also have the opportunity for a detour to the Cam River.

Highlights in the Cambridge area: 

  • Quiet area characterized by endless plains
  • A good choice for bird and nature enthusiasts, who prefer to sail in an area with few cities and lots of nature
  • St. Ives’s market and the Medieval chapel bridge
  • Ferry Meadows Country Park – perfect for anglers and hikers
  • Visit Cambridge, its famous university and the King's College Chapel
Map of Cambridge
Swimmer jumping in the river near Bristol

Bristol area

If you want to experience southern England, then a boating holiday in the Bristol area is just right for you. You’ll pass by Roman history in Bath and if you appreciate beautiful scenery and a rich wildlife, then the base here is one of the best starting points there is.

Highlights in the Bristol area: 

  • Sailing on the beautiful Kennet & Avon Canal
  • Day trip to Bristol
  • The Roman baths in Bath – a UNESCO-protected city
  • The historical market in Devizes, Wiltshire
  • Distinctive aqueducts and the view of the Avon Valley
  • Beautiful scenery and a rich wildlife
  • Tithe Barn at Bradford-on-Avon; Great Britain's finest example of a monastic stone barn, surrounded by an artist studio, galleries and tea rooms
Map of Bristol

Practical information about sailing in England and Wales

Below you will find practical information that might be nice to know when booking a riverboat in England.

Bridges

An exciting part of your boating holiday in England is passing under the many bridges - and sometimes even through tunnels. When staying on the upper deck of the boat, be aware that there is rarely standing height under bridges, so drive slowly, sit down, and keep an eye on the kids. Where necessary there will be handed out map, on which it will be marked what bridges to be particularly aware of.

NB! Osney Bridge on the west side of Oxford is too low to pass!

Toilet

When possible use the local toilet buildings. The toilets on the boat are emptied into a tank container onboard, which has a very limited capacity. Therefore, use only a little paper at a time and do not put anything in the toilet that can clog the tubes! Always use a plastic bag for paper and waste to avoid clogging.

With normal use the tank should be emptied sometime during the week. Look for the blue/white sign for ‘pump-out stations’ during sailing and when in the marinas.

Lock fees and other fees

The lock fees are included in your boat rental when booking a riverboat in England, however, you may face a few fees if wanting to enter private waterways (but it is rare).

“Weirs”

There are often marked so-called ”weirs” on the local maps. A weir is a small, artificial damming that is often seen in one side of the river/canal. It is often marked with a bold line or written in red, “weir”, that is drawn partly out into the water or were the river meets another river.

Keep your distance, as the current can be quite strong near the weirs. Also remember to keep a certain speed, so the boat will not get caught in the stream. Should the engine stall, you should quickly throw out an anchor.

Speed limit

Note the speed limit on the signs (usually 5-10 km/h).

The fines for exceeding the speed limits are high, as the animal and bird life and anglers thrive in the peaceful nature along the riverbank. The greater the speed – the more violent waves, the more uncertain it becomes for all. It definitely is not a popular move, if you get to be the reason why the beer is spilled all over the table on your boat – or someone else’s.

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