Slap on the sunblock (yes, even in autumn!), grab a lifejacket and get out on the water. Exploring by boat is an exciting way to view Britain’s amazing coastlines, wonderful waterways and beautiful countryside.
Perhaps it’s time to discover a new passion on the water and go on an adventure!
Enjoy the British boating boom
River cruising and narrow-boating holidays are more popular than every before. There has been a 150% surge in canal boat bookings as Britons seek an alternative to camping, caravanning or seaside hotels. Canal boats offer the chance to live in luxury whilst traversing some of the UK’s most scenic destinations. There’s also the option of creating a flotilla of two or more boats which can be particularly appealing to families who have been separated during lockdown.
Row along the River Thames or take a canal boat through The Fens. Explore Coniston by canoe or go barging on the Broads. Set sail in Sicily, cruise on the Ouse, or if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, enjoy watersports at Go-Paddle. The possibilities are endless!
Family fun – all aboard!
Being on the water is the perfect canvas for adventure and relaxation. Time to reflect, space to explore and a magical opportunity to enjoy a fabulous break.
Family boating is a great way to create lifelong memories. You can bond over shared fun and the teamwork needed when it comes to things like navigating locks, docking, anchoring and watersports. It’s also a great way to develop skills that easily transfer to all areas of life. Skills such as decision-making, craftsmanship, mechanical skills, nautical terminology, and water safety.
Relax and unwind – enjoy the peace and quiet of boating
Boats offer complete freedom on where to go and which route to take. There’s no timetable, no pressure and no traffic jams or queues. Quaint villages and nature reserves, coupled with delightful pubs serving tempting home-made dishes just about everywhere. Just moor up and see where the day takes you!
With narrowboat speed limits of 4mph and 2,000 miles of calming canals to cruise along, stress levels are reduced. A whole new, much steadier and tranquil pace of life takes over. Plus, a boating holiday is estimated to be around 20 times better for the planet than spending two hours flying for a holiday overseas. Did you know, a boat uses just a third of the fuel of a car and emits a sixth of the pollution? What a way to save the planet!
Boating also has major health benefits, so get unplugged and swap the computer screen for sunscreen. Enjoying the great outdoors and interacting with the physical environment is a major boost for health and wellbeing. Proximity to ‘blue space’ – sea and coastline, rivers, lakes, canals – is associated with many positive benefits such as less polluted air and more vitamin D boosting sunlight.
Lap up the luxury while boating
Modern canal boats and river cruisers are the epitome in luxurious travel and the demand for high-end designs and mod-cons now means boats can be fully equipped with all the home-from-home essentials. Central heating, hot water, TVs, DVD players, showers and flushing toilets, barbeques and, of course, Wi-Fi!
Barbeques on board, picnics on the river’s edge and wonderful pubs, cafes and restaurants are aplenty along the way. Boating and exploring can be a haven for foodies. In fact, there’s always a charming pub serving hearty fayre just around the bend. Britain’s waterways are littered with a myriad of superb places to eat and drink. Getting to explore them is just another brilliant bonus of river and canal cruising. There is nothing more satisfying and relaxing than finishing a long day of bobbing around on the water with a nice pint in a sunny canal-side beer garden.
History and heritage of British waters
The waterways of the UK have changed over time, both naturally and due to human intervention. The Industrial Revolution changed the shape of our nation completely. This was largely due to the remarkable canal network that was carved into our landscape in the mid 18th century to link pre-existing natural waterways. Two hundred years of peat digging and rising sea levels brought us the largest navigable waters in the UK, The Broads. Among others, these waters offered the most economic and reliable way to transport goods and commodities in large quantities and enabled Britain to become the world’s first industrial power.
Today, our waterways are brimming with history. From gorgeous national heritage sites and stately homes, to awe-inspiring feats of architecture. Thousands of historic structures spread throughout Britain’s canal and river system. World Heritage Sites such as Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and the three-mile long Standedge Tunnel are just two that are well worth a visit. Over the years, they have become a magnet to a huge variety of wildlife. There is always something to seen, be it in the heart of a city or drifting through quiet countryside.
Confident in control of your boat
It’s easy to master driving a boat and navigating the waterways. A hire company or sales agent will explain how everything works and offer demonstrations, ensuring a safe, controlled and confident captain is at the helm. From day cruisers and bass anglers to wave riders and white-water rafters. The armada of different types of boats on offer are divided into four categories:
Narrowboats, day cruisers, yachts and bow riders all fall into this category. Cruisers are geared to those looking to spend time relaxing or entertaining on the water. Some offer room and features sufficient for a day cruise; others feature cabins and amenities for overnight stays.
Open cockpits in the stern allow for more bow deck space to make it easier to fish. While smaller vessels don’t have much room for seating, larger craft may include cabins for overnight trips.
These boats have towing capabilities and offer a faster, more thrilling ride. They are specifically designed to accommodate water skiers and wake boarders.
Modest crafts such as sail boats, kayaks, canoes, wakeboards and dinghies are ideal for exploring lakes, rivers and oceans. They are perfect for getting out on the water quickly. Power and propulsion are provided by wind and some good old-fashioned elbow grease.
Finding the perfect spot for your boat
There are an increasing number of marinas dotted around the country on inland waterways or beside the sea. This means there are many more opportunities to have a permanent mooring. That can be a full-time abode or a lock-up-and-leave holiday home. Many marinas offer boat owners benefits from security, tuition and assistance. Sometimes alongside shops to stock up on gear, clothes and food for their sailing adventures.
There are hundreds of boating holiday operators across the country that have different types of crafts for hire on a day, weekend, weekly or longer-term basis. Hitting the waterways in a hire craft is the perfect way to dip your toes into the water and to find out if messing about on the river really is for you.
Tingdene Marinas offer berthing at 9 different, stunning locations across the canals, rivers and Broads of the UK. We’ve also got dayboat hire at Broadlands Marina, Upton Marina and Hartford Marina, plus partnerships with watersports providers across the country.
This article features in Issue 3 of Tingdene Life – check it out here.