Why not try… holidaying on a canal boat?
Erin paid a visit to Hire a Canalboat at Sawley Marina to find out first-hand what a canal boat holiday is all about…
With the busy pace of our modern lives, a holiday which forces us to slow down, relax, and see the world with fresh eyes sounds like just what the doctor ordered. A canal boat holiday ticks all these boxes.
Arriving in Sawley Marina, reputedly the largest inland marina in the UK, fills you with a sense of wonder. This is new territory, especially for someone like me who has never set foot on one of these charming vessels before.
Many of the canals around Nottinghamshire were created to serve local industry – shipping coal and precious WedgwoodChinato the Empire’s international transport hubs ofLondonandLiverpool. Today they create an interconnecting network of leisure waterways across the region, offering holiday makers a chance to explore the English countryside at a relaxed pace.
Hire a Canalboat operates a fleet of 50 luxury boats out of Sawley Marina, and has also recently started a second arm of the business from Whixall Marina on the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire.
The business, now in its fifteenth year, is overseen by Jamie Hill – a passionate advocate of canal boating as an essential tourist experience inEngland.
“We often see people very frazzled – straight off the motorway after a busy week. But as soon as they are on board, the tempo changes – the stresses of life are left behind at our reception desk,” he says.
“Canal boating gives you a completely new perspective on the world – the things you see, the people you meet – nothing compares. You can navigate through a village you’ve driven through many times, and discover it as an entirely new place from the water.”
First things first – upon arrival, guests go through a thorough training process on land, with the main purpose of ensuring they enjoy their holiday as much as possible.
“We give people the confidence to relax and get the most from their holiday. Handling a boat can be stressful if you don’t know what you’re doing, so the hands-on training is there to help people build their confidence before setting out on their own,” says Jamie.
From tying the boat up to navigating locks – the training starts on solid ground with a special course and an instruction DVD specific to the Hire a Canalboat fleet.
When it comes time to set-out on your journey, there are a myriad of routes and options to explore.
“The team provides guidance on suggested routes, but most people love being able to just make it up as they go along and do as much or as little as they feel,” Jamie says.
Take the time to enjoy the simple pleasures of life at three miles per hour. Moor for lunch at a canal-side pub, stop for a potter around a quaint local village or pass the breeze with one of your fellow boaters.
You can moor just about anywhere as long as it is safe to do so and the Trent and Mersey canal is interconnected with the main system, meaning the route taken is completely up to you and the time that you have available.
The canal boats themselves are luxuriously furnished and deceptively spacious, sleeping either up to four or six people and equipped with all the modern conveniences – an oven, microwave, hob, fridge and digital TV. This is definitely not roughing it – the boats offer everything you’ll need whether on a three night break or a two-week escape.
The team at Hire a Canalboat are passionate about boating – with a number of the crew living and breathing the boating life and calling a canal boat ‘home’.
Thorough checking of the boats will ensure your journey is hassle free – this smoothly oiled operation will fill even a first-time boater with confidence. These people certainly know what they’re doing, and even if something goes wrong along the way – which is highly unlikely – they offer assistance at all hours.
“Many of our guests return year after year, and we also attract a large number of visitors from overseas, especially from far flung destinations such as Canada, the United States, New Zealand and Australia – countries where there is no such thing as a canal boat holiday,” says Jamie.
The canal boat is a quintessentially British experience, and with the sun shining over the still waters of Sawley Marina, it seems there could be no better way of taking some well earned time off.
For more information visit www.hireacanalboat.co.uk