Canal Holidays Masthead

Canal Holiday Route Planner

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.

The links on the right take you to descriptions of the major routes. You can then search for boats that are available for those routes, and go on to make a booking.

Canal Rings

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 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.

One Way

There are a few boats operating One Way routes on the Pennine canals. These offer the chance to cruise from one base to another, with the crew of the boat transported by road in the opposite direction. These routes are fairly energetic and are only suitable for experienced boaters.

There is plenty of time for leisurely activitiesCruising Times

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.

Blue Water Holidays
Association of Cruise Experts
Canal Holidays, Bowers Wharf, Skipton, BD23 2PD, United Kingdom