Narrow Boat on Canals

Nov 2nd, 2009, 07:35 PM
Original Poster
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Narrow Boat on Canals

Please tell me your experience.
jetsetj is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2009, 10:28 PM
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Labor intensive and sodden.

I have done both the narrow boats in the U.K., and canal boats on the continent, and MUCH prefer the automated locks, well maintained towpaths, and superior support structure of the canals of France and Holland. It is usually warmer too.

Still, ditch crawling anyplace is a lovely way to spend a holiday.

nukesafe is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2009, 12:25 AM
Join Date: Apr 2005
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good fun, but then I've only done it on the Thames where all the locks have keepers to do the heavy work! If the weather is good it's great. If it's bad and you've got a bunch of people stuck inside, not so good.

Did one narrow boat and one small 'cruiser' boat - preferred the narrow boat as you did feel as if you had more room, weirdly enough.
nona1 is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2009, 01:36 AM
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There are many people who are narrow boat enthusiasts, while for others the experience is very like purgatory.

Ideally, you cruise along in dappled sunlight, stopping regularly at charming pubs. Folks wave as you pass by.

In reality, you may find yourself rushing, in the rain, to try to get back to your starting place by the time for the end of your hire. You have "incidents" at locks which hold you up, and the pubs you find are dark and cold, and don't serve food because it's Monday.

It can be a voyage to remember, or one which breaks up marriages and friendships. You really need to be able to get on well with the people travelling with you, and be tolerant of their mistakes and foibles.
chartley is online now  
Nov 3rd, 2009, 03:41 AM
Join Date: Mar 2004
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There is a river in England with our surname so of course we had to do a narrowboat trip on it!

All I can say it was an experience - something so totally different that we tended to disregard the terribly small and confining space (the boat was supposed to be able to take 4!).
Floating down the river was wonderful but after I had leaped onto the grassy banks from a moving vehicle, tied up, ran across the narrow lock gates to let us through, then closed them which is most important, then leaped back onto the moving boat I was a nervous wreck! The energy it takes for one person to do all that time and time again is astonishing.
The damn Locks seemed to appear all within minutes of each other at times.

I could never attempt it again as at 65 I have even less agility. A nice Canal du Midi trip with a boat captain will do me nicely!
tod is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2009, 11:41 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Myself, husband and adult son have spent a total of five weeks on British canals in two visits. We have planned another week during our trip next year. I do relate to the reply above as I am also 65 and arthritic but that's why we take a son! We have used narrowboats on the Llangollen, Shropshire Union, Monmouth and Brecon and Union (Scotland) Canals and a cruiser on the Caledonian Canal (also Scotland and a very different experience).
My advice is to try to find a canal with long stretches of lock free cruising. Our favourite so far is the Mon and Brec through the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales. It is very beautiful and only has one set of locks in the middle.
The Union Canal from the Falkirk Wheel Boat Lift (a wonder of the modern world) to Edinburgh has no locks apart from a couple after the wheel which have a lockkeeper.
We enjoy boating but prefer rural areas to cities (some canals go right through the centre of large cities like Birmingham and Manchester.)
It is not as easy as it is made out to be, the boats are heavy and locks and swing and lift bridges do tend to appear just when you have relaxed, but it is a lovely slow and uncrowded way to see some of the country.

RosemaryM is offline  
Nov 4th, 2009, 03:27 AM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 3,654
Well it's nice to hear of some canals that are almost lock-free Rosemary! Thanks!
A good insight into canalboating is a book called "Narrowboat to Carcasonne" I really enjoyed reading it.

We spent a day at the Falkirk Wheel two years ago and it is a real marvel. Unfortunately it was a public holiday and very crowded so was not able to get into a boat and experience the wheel lifting the boat up and then placing it back on the canal basin.
tod is offline  
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