Canal Holiday FAQs

These are the questions we are asked most often, so we hope you find this information helpful.

See also our Website Help pages.

For how long can we hire a canal boat?

Boat hire is less flexible than car hire, and canal boats can only be hired for fixed length holidays. Hires usually start between 2 and 4pm in the afternoon and finish around 9am in the morning - check when booking. Boats are normally available for a week, or a short break. A weekend short break is 3 nights, usually from Friday afternoon to Monday morning, with a midweek shortbreak of 4 nights, usually from Monday afternoon to Friday morning. Weeks can be combined or a short break added to make longer holidays.

Is there a minimum age?

Most boat firms have insurance which requires hirers to be over 18. Some firms do not allow single sex parties. Those that do may often require an individual Security Deposit refundable on satisfactory return of the boat.

Is any boating experience needed?

Most boats are extremely easy to handle, with one lever controlling speed and forward or reverse direction. Tuition will be given at the start of the holiday so no previous boating experience is necessary for the boats on this website. You will also be shown how to take the boat through a lock. Of course, the longer the boat the more precise the driving needed!

Is a boating licence needed?

You do not need a licence or certificate to steer a boat for up to 12 people, the maximum canal boat size.

What does the boat hire charge include ?

The hire charge is quoted for the boat with up to its specified maximum number of people. A full tank of fuel gives two weeks cruising time on average. A Fuel deposit maybe required and will be advised/confirmed when booking. A compulsory non-refundable Damage Waiver is also charged to remove the Damage Excess on the insurance. Cancellation Insurance is strongly advised - this may be included in the hire charge, or may be a compulsory or optional extra depending on boat operator. Personal Insurance may also be offered.

Your boat also comes equipped with a full tank of water, which can be refilled at any of the numerous water points. This may need to be refilled daily depending on water usage.

Can we bring our pets?

All our boats are pet friendly and some may allow up to 2 well-behaved pets. There may be a charge per pet to cover additional cleaning. This information is shown in the details of the boats on our website, but should be checked when you are booking your boat

Where can we cruise?

There are thousands of miles of rivers and canals in the UK, so you can take the boat anywhere within your time constraints. You can plan where to cruise with our guides to each route, but you can also order Canal Guides from us when you book your boat. These also show major points of interest, shops and pubs. There are a small number of waterways (including the River Avon) for which you may need an extra licence.

Can we fish on any rivers?

In Scotland and Ireland, you can usually fish at any time. In England and Wales, any time except the 'close season' - mid March to mid June - and you will need an Environmental Agency licence. These are available from Post Offices and should be obtained in advance of your holiday.

Where do we stop overnight?

Mooring along canal towpaths is free, but be careful not to restrict access to locks or bridges. Mooring spots near popular pubs and eating places can get busy at peak times. You can also tie up at private or local authority marinas, quays and harbours, where a small charge is usually made. The canal guides also show mooring places.

Can we walk or cycle along the towpaths?

Many towpaths have been upgraded to be good quality walking or cycling routes. Some hire firms allow bicycles to be taken on a suitably protected boat roof, but this may not be possible on routes with many lift bridges.

Can I charge my mobile phone or camcorder?

If your phone or camcorder can be charged from a 12 volt cigar lighter supply in a car it will work from the similar socket provided on the boat. You will need to bring your own lead.

Can I bring my electrical appliances?

Many boats only have a 12 volt supply, and are provided with special hair driers to work on this voltage. Boats with a 240 volt supply cannot supply enough output for mains-powered hair driers or appliances of similar power. Low powered items like laptop computers can be used on some of the boats which have 240 volts. Please check when booking.

What are the pick up times?

Pick up times vary from base to base, 13:00 – 14:00 or 14:30 depending on which one you choose. Return is 09:00.

Canal Boat Canal at Bath Lock and Bridge on the Grand Union Canal 5 Rise Lock Grand Union Canal