Choosing your canal holiday route
When you hire a canal boat you can choose where you want to go - but make sure you can get back by the finish time! You will normally have to return the boat to the starting base. There are well established routes can you can take - these depend on the canal.
A Ring is a circular route covering a number of canals, so the route taken always returns you to the base from which you started. A Ring route takes at least a week, with a number of possible starting bases. Popular Rings include the Four Counties Ring, Stourport Ring and the Avon Ring.
Out and Back Routes
Some canals offer such a wealth of places to see and places to stop that an ‘out and back’ is the most leisurely way to see everything. Just pace yourself to make sure you have enough time to return to your base by the end of the holiday. These routes are the only option for short breaks. Not only do the canal features look different in the opposite direction, but the return route gives a chance to stop at places missed on the outgoing journey.
Canal boats travel at walking pace, about 3 to 4 miles per hour, so there is ample opportunity to enjoy the scenery and unwind. Allowing 15-20 minutes per lock you can estimate cruising time by adding the number of locks and miles together and allowing 3-4 'lock-miles' per hour, depending on how energetic or leisurely you wish to be.
Canal boats are not allowed to cruise after dark so a June or July cruise will allow more cruising hours per day than a journey in March or October.
What will I do?
Cruising the canals opens reveals scenic views around every bend and the natural world of birds, flowers and wildlife. See historic houses, market towns, rural villages, and occasional industrial heritage. Stop at attractions for young and old, and take a welcome break or meal at a canalside hostelry.
In addition to off-canal interest, the canal itself offers continual activity with locks to go through, tunnels to navigate, aqueducts to cross, and swing or lift bridges to open.