Hiring a Canal Boat for the Day (UK)

Last Tuesday was my Dad’s birthday, and we always do something awesome for his birthday.
My Mum and I have birthday’s over Christmas, so doing outdoorsy stuff isn’t ideal.
My brother’s birthday is April, but he hates a fuss, so we rarely do much then either.
As a result, we make it really count for Miguel’s birthday.

This year, we hired a canal barge for a few days – and it was awesome.
I’m from the school of people who don’t believe in holidaying in your own country and even I loved it.
I’m alright with taking short breaks, but I’d definitely consider taking a canal boat holiday in the future!

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We booked our cruise through Claymoore Boat Hire to sail from Sunday afternoon until Tuesday morning (Me, my brother & Mr Kitty visited for the day on Sunday for a little shindig, then left my parents and the pooches to continue their journey in peace).

Booking was really simple, and we were sent a confirmation email immediately.
It was more expensive than I expected, but I hadn’t considered everything provided (Fuel, Accomodation (duh), Heating, Water etc). It cost us roughly £180 per night, which after proper consideration is very reasonable.

When we arrived to pick up the boat, it was ready and waiting – engine running and hot to trot!
We loaded all our stuff up and were given a quick Narrow boat Operation and Canal Etiquette lesson from the staff (who were friendly and thorough).

The boat itself (we hired the Cheddleton Mill) was beautiful – very clean and pretty spacious., with the capacity to comfortably sleep 4.
The toilet was very cramped, and the steps up to the steering platform were quite steep, but I think that’s standard.
It might be difficult for older people, or those with mobility issues to get comfortable here.
In general, though, the boat was snug, clean and had all the amenities you could hope for – fridge, kettle, shower, radio. Even a TV!
They even provide toilet roll!

Amazingly, the steering is very simple, and despite the size, the boats are not difficult to maneuver.
They are pretty heavy, so mooring can be a challenge, but with 5 of us aboard, it wasn’t that difficult.

The canal boat culture is so lovely too, everyone you pass gives you a wave and a smile, people are happy to help if you run into difficulty (we didn’t but some gents in front of us did) and most of them have dogs…

Like I mentioned above, we took the dogs with us too, as they are well and truly part of the family.
Charlie wasn’t keen on getting onto the boat – he’s a very nervous dog due to his autism.
Here, you can see him being melodramatic for the camera:

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(There was no force being exerted over him here, btw! Plus, he did settle in quite quickly)

His brother, Bobbie, was less worried, and almost immediately became captain of the barge.
Bobbie loves swimming, and we hadn’t even set sail before he was in the water – I assume he had fallen in trying to jump onto the deck, and I had to drag him out.
Traditionally, he only gets in places where he can get out.

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In fact, he was really sweet – he stood at the front of the boat looking for ducks, then as they swam behind the boat he’d run down the galley to see them at the back, too – his little tail never stopped wagging all day.
He loves to watch ducks.
After a while we lifted him onto the roof, and he sat with his birdseye view of the canal for the rest of the evening.
What a babe!

We sailed from Preston Brook to Timperley – we had originally aimed to get to Castlefield, but canal travel is a spot slower than we imagined, and it went dark quite early as it was cloudy.

Here is our vessel!

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In all, I would highly recommend canal cruises for a short break in the UK, especially if you have pets you’d like to take along – just don’t try to be too ambitious with your destination. It took us about 7 hours to travel 16 miles.
It’s very leisurely.

I’d rather like to give this a go again, perhaps in the South of England, or even in France.

Have you done this before?
Would you like to give it a go?

kit

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