Here at MTM towers, we’re always looking for new and different adventures and one type of holiday we’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing is to stay onboard a boat. My husband’s uncle recently purchased his own canal boat, and he’s been telling us how much we would really enjoy a family boating holiday. After such a glowing review, it’s quite possible this is something we will do together later this year.
The Appeal of Boating Holidays in the UK
I really like the idea of gently sailing past scenic English countryside and stopping off in quaint villages to sample local delicacies in the many waterside pubs. It really does sound relaxing, especially if the weather is warm. I can just see myself kicking back with a glass of wine in hand while my husband mans the controls – and we take in the peace and calm of our surroundings.
But as complete boating novices could we really manage to skipper a real, proper boat through the UK’s narrow rivers without causing absolute chaos? And would it be a suitable holiday with young kids?
Norfolk Boating Holidays
My initial misgivings about a family boating holiday are completely unfounded. As long as you follow some simple guidelines, there is no reason at all why you can’t have an enjoyable time on a boat and, with so many beautiful locations across the UK – there are more than 2,000 miles of navigable inland waterways in Britain including the Norfolk Broads – it’s a great and different way to explore our green and pleasant lands, such as sightseeing the many attractions that Norwich has to offer, or meandering the stunning gardens and woodland at nearby Raveningham Estate. While the Sea Life Centre in Great Yarmouth would be a great way to learn about marine life against the backdrop of the beach – a great day out for the whole family.
It’s also a very sociable type of holiday where I’ve been reliably informed, you will meet lots of helpful people along the way. And, with no itinerary to keep to, you will have the freedom to go at your own pace and decide where you would like to moor up for the night.
If you’re wondering if a boating holiday in the UK is for you, then check out MTM’s checklist:
Do you need previous boating experience to hire a canal boat or barge?
None at all. Before you hire a canal boat, you’ll get a full tutorial and be shown how to use the controls and safety equipment onboard, as well as how to manoeuvre and moor the boat safely. Meanwhile, most companies offer a practice run before you depart on your boating holiday.
Will it be a suitable holiday for families?
Of course! I didn’t realise that children as young as 14 are able to operate canal boats and barges under adult supervision. Kids can also help plan the route, work the locks, cast off, navigate and keep the boat in shipshape condition. Lifejackets are provided by the hire company – so little ones will be safe while out on the deck.
And, with so much to see along the way such as bridges, castles, viaducts and other boats, there’s certainly plenty to watch out for. Activities such as horse riding, fishing, pony trekking, hill walking, climbing and canoeing all come with the boating territory, too.
What facilities do canal boats have?
I never knew boats came so well-equipped! Not only is it possible to cook a decent hot meal onboard, keep warm and dry if the weather should take a turn for the worse, but unlike camping, you do get flushing toilets and hot and cold running water. A bonus in my humble opinion.
If the kids do succumb to boredom, which I very much doubt, then the TV and DVD player, as well as being able to charge up your mobile devices, means they’ll be entertained whatever the weather. And, while living quarters are somewhat cosy, which some would consider all part of the fun, the boats definitely provide all the home comforts that you would need for a relaxing holiday.
Have you ever been on a boating holiday? What tips would you offer to first-timers?
* This post is in collaboration with Herbert Woods who provide boating holidays in the UK