5 reasons to get afloat on the inland waterways this summer

Head inland for the ultimate staycation

Canal barge and footpath

With more than 4,700 miles of navigable canals and rivers in the UK, it’s the ultimate setting for your next holiday. Whether you’ve got a day, a week or a long weekend to spare, there’s no better way to relax, unwind and explore.

Here are our top reasons to get afloat with your friends and family on the inland waterways this year.

1. Take a break

Cruising the inland waterways is one of the most relaxing ways you can spend time on the water. Escape from the stresses of modern life, take it easy and watch the world go by as you meander at your own pace through the countryside.

If you’re concerned about cabin fever, don’t worry, it’s easy to hop on and off the boat and there will be plenty of opportunities to stretch your legs on the towpath.

Woman helming canal boat on the inland waterways

2. Fun for the whole family

Kids love trying new things, so get them involved! Plan the route together and make sure there’s a job for everyone. From casting off, stowing everything away, making sure the ropes are neatly coiled, mooring, operating the locks and even having a go at steering – under supervision of course!

For younger children, why not put them in charge of looking out for landmarks and wildlife?

Woman and child stood at bow of canal boat smiling and pointing at something in the water

3. Get familiar with the locals

The inland waterways are abundant with wildlife. So, whether you’re in a city or out in the countryside, you’ll be surrounded by nature.

For children, make it a game and see how many birds, fish and other animals you can spot each day. Why not download a game or guide to help identify the different species? The Canal and River Trust have loads of great resources on their website including a nature spotters guide for kids, all available to download for free.

Ducks on the inland footpath

4. Step ashore

Most charter boats will come equipped for cooking onboard, but it’s also a great opportunity to enjoy the riverside pubs and cafes which are plentiful.

With such a rich and important heritage you’ll be faced with a little bit of history every day, from historic buildings and bridges, to tunnels and locks reminiscent of an earlier time.

For longer holidays, there are many attractions and activities close to the canals that you may also want to see and do. Have a go at pottery painting in Stoke-on-Trent, or follow in the footsteps of the Romans in the ancient city of Bath. If you’re looking to burn off some steam, why not rent a kayak or bike and enjoy the waterways from a different perspective?

The best part – you’ll find it all right on your doorstep!

Man and woman on inland waterways holiday

5. Time together

Best of all is the time you’ll spend with each other. Every day will be an opportunity for the whole crew to work together, as you learn something new and set off on another adventure.

Man and woman on canal barge enjoying breakfast

Getting started

Most hire companies won’t require any previous experience or training, however the prospect of taking responsibility of a boat, especially for the first time and if you have a young crew in tow, can be a daunting prospect.

The RYA Inland Waterways Crew and Helmsman courses will teach both beginners and seasoned boaters everything you need to know in just a couple of days. Find out what it takes to be in charge of your own boat, operate the locks and remain safe and confident on the canals. 

For more information about RYA courses and to find a training centre near you, or in your ideal holiday location, visit rya.org.uk/training/inland-waterways.