5 great Marinas to start your canal trips in the UK

1. The Anderton Marina

The Anderton Marina is located in the county of Cheshire in the North Western part of England. This marina offers a wide range of boat sizes and trip lengths to those who want to take a canal boat holiday. They have a 60-foot high hydraulic lift that transports the boats to the River Weaver where your journey will begin. The first stop on your trip will be Chester. Here you will see the magnificent Chester Cathedral. Also included will be the chance to explore the Roman Amphitheatre. The Chester Zoo is also a popular attraction, exhibiting over 7,000 animals. This particular trip can vary in length from 3 to 14 days.

2. Blackwater Meadow Marina

Blackwater Meadow Marina is located in the West of England in the county of Shropshire. Your journey from here will start at the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. This aqueduct spans 1000 feet over Dee Valley and when you cross over in your boat it feels as if you are suspended in the air. The first stop made will be at Llangollen where the yearly International Musical Eisteddfod is held. July is the best time to visit so that you can witness the competitions between people of over 50 countries. The Chirk Aqueduct and Castle are two other historical sites that can be visited on your journey. Depending on your choice this trip can last anywhere from 3 to 14 days round trip.

3. Aldermaston Wharf

Aldermaston Wharf is another place to plan a canal boat holiday. From here you can take your journey on the Kennett and Avon Canals to visit a wide variety of historical places. Windsor Castle is a major tourist attraction and on this holiday you will actually be able to tour this historic castle. For shoppers, there is a stop at the Oracle which is located in the heart of the town. This area offers a wide range of shopping experiences. Oxford and the Roman Baths are two more stops that are along the canal routes in this package. For a round trip, it is anywhere from 3 to 14 days but there are packages that offer other time frames.

4. Coventry Marina

Coventry Marina is located in the city of Coventry, England. Holidays from this marina include many historical sites. Such as the original ruins of the Coventry Cathedral that was bombed in World War 2. For museum lovers there is the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum. This museum contains much that would interest anyone visiting, such as exhibits on Natural History and those on Archaeology. Also included with a canal boat holiday from this marina is a visit to the famous Warwick Castle. Again, these trips vary in length from 3 to 14 days depending on what you choose to do.

5. Falkirk Wharf

Falkirk Wharf is located in the central lowlands of Scotland, in the city of Falkirk. The canal boating holidays from here cover a wide range of historical sites and is sure to be unforgettable. From the city of Ediburgh to Glasgow you will be able to explore a wide range of what makes these cities famous. Callendar House is also another stop on this trip. It is steeped in history that covers over 600 years and touches on the lives of many historical figures. The trip can be as long as 14 days and everyone of them worth doing to explore all there is to see.

History of the British Canal Network

History of the British Canal Network

The original purpose of the British Canal Network was for commerce and travel. At the time roads were just being constructed and were very muddy. Being so muddy made the roads hard to travel so for any type of mass transit the canals were the safer and faster route to take.

The first canals were actually constructed in the Roman times. These were mainly used as land drainage canals or for irrigation purposes. However, there were short canals that connected the rivers that could be navigated.

In the Middle Ages the canals were improved so that building materials for various projects could be transported in safety. During this period castles and monasteries were built in abundance which meant that having the canals were more important than in previous years. With the improvement of the canals the government began regulating the goods transported on the waterways.

During the 16th century is when the major improvements of the canal navigation system began. In fact 29 major navigation improvements for the riverways took place between the 16th and 17th centuries. This set the stage for the Industrial Revolution that began in the late 18th century.

The Industrial Revolution brought the modern canal system into being, mainly due to the demand for a economical way to safely transport goods in large quantities. Locks were installed in abundance to help travelers and goods avoid the dangerous rivers or rivers that were simply difficult to navigate. It was during this time that the idea of a “pure” canal came into being. Instead of letting where a river was located determine how goods were transported the “pure” canals could be constructed so that the goods could be shipped where they needed to go in the least amount of time.

There are two canals that are debated about as having claim to being the first “pure” canal. One is the Sankey Brook Navigation and the other is the Bridgewater Canal.

Grand Union Canal in winter c.1930
Grand Union Canal in winter c.1930

Transportation along the canals has changed over time as well. One of the first ways that boats were moved up and down the river was by having horses pull the boats along. This method of moving the boats was highly successful. One horse could pull a boat that was carrying about thirty tons of weight. With such a high rate of success this method was actually used until the 1950s but with the introduction of steam-powered boats, it was soon obsolete.

In the beginning there were no families that lived and worked on the canal boats. Instead the crews were all male and their families occupied homes along the banks. This continued until after World War One. During the late 19th century wives and children began coming aboard to provide extra labor and reduce the costs of extra hires and rent for their homes.

From their meager beginnings the canals have evolved to provide not only recreation but jobs for many people. Even though some are artificially made they still have served a purpose and without them who knows how different the transportation of goods would have been over the centuries.

Canal Boat Holidays

Canal Boat Holidays

A canal boat holiday is a unique way to spend your time off. There are many different canal boat holidays to choose from, depending on what time of year it is. Not only that but there are many different boats to choose from. The information on how long the boat rides will be, what to take with you and the different routes and the time it takes to travel them will be listed and discussed in detail.

The size of the canal boats can range anywhere from a 2-4 berth to a 6-12 berth. If it is a solo holiday then the smaller boat would be suitable. However, if this holiday is meant to be a family adventure then you should look into renting a larger boat. The smallest canal boat, 2-4 berth, can only have a maximum of 2 people on board. The 6-12 berth can hold a maximum of 12 people. This gives you an idea of what to look for depending on the size of your holiday party.

Now, when you plan your holiday be sure to take into account how long you want your trip to last. The boating package you choose will determine how long it will last. Some of them can last as little as 3 days while others can last up to 14 days. All along the routes are areas where you can stop and sightsee. Again where and what you do depends on the package you choose. This time traveling includes the return journey. Every marina that offers these canal boat holidays have different size boats. When you begin to plan your holiday be sure to find out the sizes of the boats offered and when they are available.

As to what you should take with you the first thing on the list should be a camera. All along the routes taken on these canal holidays have many well-known sights that you will want photos of to take back home. You could even film your canal boat trip. Why not get a GoPro and camera stabilizer and show the world how much fun a Canal boat holiday is? There is a great selection of camera stabilizers at gimbalreview.com. Now, since there is limited space on a canal boat a small carry on or crushable bag would be sufficient. You might have to make a stop to do laundry but it does not take much time to get that done. It is better to pack light so that you will have more room and it will be safer. As to food, you should definitely take along supplies for breakfast. However, all along the canal routes are restaurants and pubs where you can stop and have lunch or dinner.

A canal boating holiday is a great way to slow down and actually relax. People’s lives today are so busy and fast paced that we often do not take the time to slow down and enjoy life. On a canal boat holiday, the pace is much slower and you can simply enjoy sights that you would not otherwise have time to see. Not only that but it can also be an adventure especially if it is your first time taking to the canals by boat instead of viewing everything from the shore.