Norfolk Broads boat hire – Attractions & Discounts

The Norfolk Broads offer such a wide variety of activities ranging from children’s theme parks and zoos, to nature trails and historical sight-seeing to high street shopping and fine dining. There is so much available for holiday makers on boating holidays on the Norfolk Broads, either by the water or setting off to explore by foot.

For holidaymakers looking to experience something unique in the UK with no locks to navigate, wide open waters with beautiful vast skies, and activities galore, this is the family holiday to choose.

Norfolk Broads

Norfolk Broads

Heres a selection of the family friendly activities and sight-seeing opportunities for you, and their accessibility from the Waters in the Northern Broads.

Adventure Parks & Animal Parks:


Location: Horning Road, Norwich.

A magical world adventure park set in the midst of woodland. Full of family centred activities, allowing children and adults alike to let their imaginations run wild.

Nearest mooring opportunities: Horning on the River Bure and a short taxi journey to the park.

Wroxham Barns

Location: Tunstead Road, Hoveton.

Full of activities, such as craft shops and workshops for the children, mini golf course and children’s funfair and a farm area with farm animals.

Nearest mooring opportunities: Moor at Wroxham on the River Bure. There is a regular bus service from Roys to the Barns and return.

Pleasure Beach

Location: Great Yarmouth

Seafront amusement Park,  with traditional fun attractions and some modern high-octane rides for the thrill seekers.

Nearest mooring opportunities: Mooring up at Acle village or just before and get a taxi to Great Yarmouth.

Nature Trails, Gardens & Sightseeing

Norfolk Broads Sights by Water

Norfolk Broads Sights by Water

Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden

Location: School Road, South Walsham.

Providing woodland walks, gardens and pet friendly walking grounds with picturesque scenery, an area bustling with wildlife.

Nearest Mooring opportunities: 15 minute walk or short taxi journey from South Walsham Broad on the River Bure.

Ranworth Nature trail

Location: Ranworth near Horning

Footpath trail off the Ranworth Broad with a selection of short and longer walks available, navigating by boat to the Broad, where the reeds and woodland provide habitats for a variety of wildlife, leading to a floating Wildlife conservation centre.

Nearest Mooring opportunities: Ranworth Broad on the River Bure.

Hoveton Hall Gardens

Location: Hoveton

15 acre garden with seasonal foliage, a must see for the avid gardeners and with children adventure trails you’ll be sure to keep the children entertained. Onsite is a tea room and opportunities to take a selection of plants and seeds back to your hire boat.

Nearest Mooring opportunities: Wroxham on the River Bure.

Just cruising on a Norfolk Broads boating holiday, the flat landscapes offers expansive scenery with so much wildlife to spot, an abundance of windpumps and historic churches and Abbeys. Experience the essence of Norfolk.

Book now and take advantage of the Special Offers at selected marinas!

Potter Heigham marina special offer: FREE PARKING for one car and first pet travels FREE on pet friendly boats. Plus FUEL PRICE CAP, pay no more than the fuel deposit. Book by 25/06/12.

Wroxham marina special offer: 20% DISCOUNT for holidays dates between the 14 – 27 June 2012.

Horning marina special offer: 25% DISCOUNT for all June 2012 Holidays.

Click to search for all our Norfolk Broads boat hire or to search for all boating holidays available.

The Black Country Ring

Ring Stats

75 miles
approx. 45hrs

A ring route that requires two weeks to navigate, an extension of the previous Lapworth Ring post- more suited for those looking for a longer UK boating holiday.

Which Canals are part of the Black Country Ring?

  • Birmingham & Fazeley Canal
  • Coventry Canal
  • Trent & Mersey Canal
  • Worcester & Birmingham Canal
  • Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal
  • Grand Union Canal

The Black Country Ring encompasses the Cannock Chase woodland, a medieval royal hunting forest, with wild deer still roaming this SSSI.  The star attraction is the Black Country Museum established in 1975 and covering 26 acres. The museum celebrates the Black Country area’s traditions with over 50 authentic shops and houses, allowing you to step back in time and appreciate the historic way of life.

Starting at Autherley Junction on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal, cruising north towards Stafford centre, the first two hours of cruising will be lock free to ease you into steering the boat and taking in the Staffordshire countryside. At Gailey the locks begin, starting with a flight of four. Penkridge is situated on the left, a traditional market town, with important Staffordshire heritage derived from the collegiate church, which still dominates the sky views.

North from Penkridge is Stafford town centre, a perfect place to stop for the night to eat out and experience the local culture, with its mixture of wooden beamed and contemporary architecture. Victoria Park is also located in this town, equipped with a new play area for the children, a sensory garden and riverside walks are also available here. From Stafford, you charter the waters towards the Trent & Mersey Canal, passing Tixall Wide at Great Haywood (info on the Four Counties Ring post.)

Rural Boating

Rural Boating

Cruising down the Trent & Mersey Canal, we recommend stopping off near Rugeley and making your way to Cannock Chase if you have a little time to explore. There’s so much to do and see here, including Chasewater Country Park, where you can do varied walks along the water, pony trekking, wildlife centre, Go Ape outdoor climbing centre, Chasewater Railway, Silverblades Ice Rink and a small theatre, to name a few! Not to mention taking advantage of the great Staffordshire scenery.

From Rugeley to Tamworth the waterways are virtually lock free, allowing you to make up some time if you spend a little longer than expected sampling the many activities!  At Tamworth you will find Drayton Manor Family Theme Park, packed with lots of family friendly roller coaster rides, a couple of restaurants and a conservation area. Mooring up near Watling Street at Fazeley Junction on the Coventry Canal, providing you with some choice of whether you’d prefer to eat out at a nearby pub Indian or Chinese!

From Fazeley Junction, you are approximately 8 hours cruising to Aston Locks near Gas Street Basin. From here you can choose either to navigate the extended section of this ring, through Lapworth (click for Lapworth Ring article) or cruise through the Birmingham navigations for a shorter route. We recommend a 7 night holiday minimum to complete the ring, perfect for those with a little previous experience to soak in the Staffordshire countryside and Birmingham City Centre.

Search for your boating holiday on the Black Country Ring:

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Here is a visual illustration of the Black Country route without the extended Lapworth section.

Black Country Ring

Black Country Ring

Canal Boat Holidays – Very last minute amazing jubilee offers!

Special offers available:
‘Grace’ at Barnoldswick  £919.00 inclusive of 20.12% discount for the week commencing Saturday the 2nd June 2012.
Hire Boat 'Grace' on the Pennine Canals

Hire Boat ‘Grace’ on the Pennine Canals

Experience the Pennine Countryside on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. You can make your way to Leeds City Centre through glorious scenery and cobbled streets climbing through the forests of the Dales.

‘Dundas’ at Bradford on Avon £999.00 inclusive of a 50% discount from TODAY for the weekend.
Rural Family Cruising towards Bath

Rural Family Cruising towards Bath

10 berth boat allowing a group of friends or a large family a vessel to cruise the Kennet & Avon Canal to Bath City Centre. With plenty of rural countryside leading you to the centre where you can moor up and walk across to experience Bath by day or by night.

Offers only available for the next 24 hours! To book and take advantage of these amazing special offers call and speak to one of our friendly team on 01252 796400, or click to check all of our discounted boating holidays !!


Canal Boat Hire on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal

The longest canal network in Northern England, the Leeds & Liverpool canal was constructed to provide transport of industrial materials to the market towns. The canal meanders through spectacular Pennine Views, passing mill houses and through staircases of locks.

We offer holiday hirers the opportunity to depart from either Barnoldswick marina or Foulridge marina which is just North of Burnley. From this location, you can cruise East and reach Skipton, navigating through the rural Greenberfield locks. Stopping off at Skipton you can have a gander around the market stalls, the Castle and eat in one of the pubs or restaurants. You can then depart on your narrowboat to experience a mixture of lock flights and lock free cruising. The Bingley Five Rise locks are a spectacular sight, they open directly one after, the other with a total rise of 60ft.

Views of Greenberfield on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal

Views of Greenberfield on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal

Alternatively, you can cruise West towards Wigan, sailing over the rooftops at Burnley passing through a combination of countryside and urban stretches. The area is full of industrial history, such as Weavers Triangle in Burnley, which is home to a lot of textile production and houses historic mill houses. From the marina just south of Blackburn you can choose to cruise to the top of the Wigan flight in a short break or if looking to cruise west for the week you can reach Manchester City Centre.

This canal network offers experienced boating holiday makers one way hire from Hebden Bridge to Barnoldswick or from Foulridge to Sowerby Bridge, passing onto the Rochdale Canal or Calder and Hebble Navigation. The Leeds and Liverpool offers the relaxed rolling countryside of the Pennines, with farmhouses, barns and the occasional market village or town.

Search for your boating holiday on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal :

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Or click to search for all our Canal Boat Holidays or to search for motor cruisers available for Norfolk Broads boat hire.

To speak directly to one of our friendly team at Waterways Holidays Ltd, call us on 01252 796400, open 7 days a week.

SUPER SAVER for this weekend on the UK Canals!

This weekend only, whilst the sun is out, the marinas at Lower Heyford, Lechlade and Bradford on Avon, are offering up to £600.00 off weekend hire on selected boats.

Bath City

Bath City

Save up to £600.00 on city breaks to Bath or Oxford this weekend!

Oxford is seven hours cruising from the Lower Heyford marina, heading south. Shop until you drop, immerse yourself in culture, party the night away, or simply relax.

Ten berth ‘Heyford’ reduced from £1,499.00 to £899.00

Or start at Bradford on Avon marina and head west for an almost lock free cruise to Bath, passing countryside fields and stopping off at one of the many canal side pubs, descending the locks to the city centre if you wish.

Ten berth ‘Dundas’ reduced from £1,499.00 to £899.00, six berth ‘Corsham’ reduced from £1,099.00 to £699.00

Save up to £400.00 on relaxing upper Thames cruising this weekend!

Head upstream on the beautifully peaceful Upper Thames to the Head of Navigation at Inglesham with opportunities to stop off in the countryside, whilst downstream you can visit Kelmscott Manor and Buscot House.

Six berth ‘Godstow’ reduced from £1,099.00 to £699.00

Rural Boating Break

Rural Boating Break

Book now to avoid disappointment!

Call us on 01252 796400 to book

Or click for all our special offers currently running: Canal Boat Holidays on the UK Canals or Motor Cruisers available for Norfolk Broads boating holidays.

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The Fenland Waterways

Bridge over the Waterways

Bridge over the Waterways

March Marina is situated on the outskirts of the village, once an island floating amongst the marshy fens, now a market village situated on the River Nene. The river banks are lined with pretty thatched cottages and reeds with scenic views.

As you depart March and head south you will pass St. Wendreda’s Church, named after the Saxon Princess, the church is known for its roof that features 120 angel carvings. Cruising to Peterborough is easily achievable in a weekend break taking 6 hours to reach, passing the historic town of Whittlesey and through marshy waterways. Ferry Meadows Country Park is also located on the waters, with a variety of activities available such as horse riding, walking, windsurfing and sailing. The park is an ideal mooring point for all the family before making your way to Peterborough.

Peterborough is home to a rich heritage as well as a large selection of shops and dining opportunities. In a weekend break you could choose to spend the day off your hire boat and explore the city by foot. Perhaps browsing the local boutiques or visiting Cathedral Square in the city centre for alfresco dining with plenty of street entertainment. A collection of unique sculptures can be visible from the water or closer inspected by foot, they are often located in areas of great beauty such as Thorpe Meadows, Lynch Wood or Burghley House.

Ely Marina is situated on the River Great Ouse within easy reach of the town centre, once home to historic leader Oliver Cromwell. The towering Ely Cathedral, known locally as the Ship of the Fens, is visible wide and far around the flat countryside of East Anglia. From this marina you can leisurely cruise south and merge onto the River Cam to float into Cambridge in a weekend break, taking approximately six – seven hours cruising.

Ely Cathedral

Ely Cathedral

Float down to Cambridge past Wicken Fens and the Nature Reserves, where there is a wealth of things to experience in the City Centre. Whether you are looking to experience the heritage of Cambridge, the nightlife entertainment through theatre performances or one of the many bars, or if you’d rather a healthy walk to explore the local scenery. There really is something for everyone to experience with a large selection of shops to browse or restaurants and pubs to dine in. The City also offers water lovers the opportunity to take to the River in slightly less orthodox form of vessel, sailing down the marshy flatlands in a wooden Punt.

For one week plus holidays from Ely, why not cruise past Huntingdon and St Neots and make your way to the cultural town of Bedford where the navigations end. This is achievable in a week with approximately 6 – 7 hours a day. There are a wide selection of villages tucked away down country lanes along the River, each with their own historical significance.

Search for your boating holiday on the Fens:

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Or click to search for all our Canal Boat Holidays or to search for motor cruisers available for Norfolk Broads boat hire.

To speak directly to one of our friendly team at Waterways Holidays Ltd, call us on 01252 796400, open 7 days a week.

Canal Boat Hire on the Lancaster Canal

The Lancaster Canal offers boating holiday makers the chance to experience the scenic views of the Lancashire rolling countryside, Forests of Bowland, Morecambe Bay and Lancaster City Centre.

The Lancaster Canal stretches from Tewitfield to Preston, covering 41 miles of lock free contour built canal. From Preston in the South, dating back to the Doomsday Book, the Canal meanders through rural Lancashire passing market villages such as Catforth and Bilsborrow. At Bilsborrow you can moor up your narrowboat and visit the award winning Garden Centre and Cafe. Situated across the water at Barton, you can browse the horticulture, grab a cup of tea and cake before returning to your canal boat. Cruising North you approach the medieval village of Garstang, a place full of history and culture, explore the town centre with its unique craft shops and boutiques. The village offers several walks as well through the sweeping rural valleys and fields.

Glasson Branch on the Lancaster Canal

Glasson Branch on the Lancaster Canal

Moor up to experience the Glasson Branch by foot, it is worth a detour if you have time. Glasson port was once a fully functional method of transporting goods via the River Lune until Preston Dock opened. Now a quiet village boasting some spectacular views, on this stretch you will encounter six locks, travelling through the open countryside as you approach the port. The dock is now a quiet backwater at the mouth of the River Lune.

Lancaster City, originally a Roman settlement, is full of interesting architecture, museums and shopping facilities. Lancaster Castle provides lofty views of the City and Coastline, as does the Victorian domed building, Ashton Memorial, overlooking Morecambe Bay. There are plenty of restaurants to pick from here, if you’re stopping off for the night. Or if its just a flying visit you can grab a cup of tea and snack to go at one of the tucked away cafes. The maritime Museum is just off the water front as well for those interested in the history of the port and the merchants activity.

Returning to your hire boat, you can cruise out of the city North to Tewitfield, where the Lune Aqueduct will shortly become visible. An impressive piece of architecture designed by John Rennie and completed in 1797, the aqueduct carries the canal for 664ft at a height of 61ft. A canal boat holiday on the Lancaster Canal really offers the perfect combination of historic architecture and culture, scenic Lancashire Countryside views and a coastal experience, all accessible by boat!

Search for your boating holiday on the Lancaster Canal :

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Or click to search for all our Canal Boat Holidays or to search for motor cruisers available for Norfolk Broads boat hire.

To speak directly to one of our friendly team at Waterways Holidays Ltd, call us on 01252 796400, open 7 days a week.

Dawn’s canal boat holiday – Grand Union Canal

A member of our booking team at Waterways Holidays took to the waters again. Dawn, accompanied by friends, family and Meg the dog, booked a canal boating holiday on the narrowboat ‘Jade’ from the base at Linslade. We thought it might be useful to supply you with a day-to-day diary of a weekend boat hire from Linslade.

Hire Boat 'Jade'

Hire Boat ‘Jade’

Day 1 – We arrived at Linslade marina at 1 o’clock to collect the boat ‘Jade’. The marina is located 1/2 hour cruise north of Leighton Buzzard.

After studying our canal guide and chatting to the lovely staff at the marina, we took their advice and decided to cruise north from the Linslade marina with the hope of reaching the bottom locks before Stoke Bruerne and walking to the Canal Museum. This was the furthest that the marina staff advised for a weekend cruise. We boarded promptly at 1.30pm and set off with our boat instructor, Pete, after receiving tuition at the yard. After running through the lock tuition for the benefit of my novice boaters, Pete said his goodbyes. We started cruising at 3.50pm. The Canal navigates following the River Ouze and meanders much like the river up to Stoke Hammond. The landscape begins quite hilly with expansive woodland and then towards Soulbury flattens to reveal some very well maintained grounds.

Approaching Stoke Hammond

Approaching Stoke Hammond

We arrived at Stoke Hammond at around 5.15pm and cruised past what appeared to be an old pump house that was being used as part of someones farm grounds. Here we stopped off to pick up some freshly laid eggs for the following morning fry up. Just pass this farm is a connection to the Milton Keynes Boundary Walk, if you fancy stopping off the stretch the dogs legs for a nice scenic walk.

We decided to stop for the night at 6.30pm stepping off our canal boat to eat at the Bridge Inn for some pub grub. Ideal for those with dogs and families, very accommodating.

Day 2 – Set off the following morning at 9.50am to begin our cruise towards Milton Keynes and Yardley Gobion.

We began by passing the outskirts of Milton Keynes with light industrial buildings to one side and a large nature reserve along the other, it’s a great route with ever changing landscape! We stopped at The Black Horse Bridge pub for a nice lunch at 1pm, we decided the weather was nice enough for eating in the pub garden with nice views of the canal. After starting off again we came across some professionally painted walls that appeared like graffiti and then passed over a main road on the Grafton Street Aqueduct with some impressive views.

Grand Union Canal - Aqueduct

Grand Union Canal – Aqueduct

We got a little way laid by the dredger boat on the water on the second day. A group of volunteers had dedicated their weekend to clearing up the waterways. Unfortunately their hard work did slow us a little, which meant we decided to turn an hour or so short of the Canal Museum. We came to the decision that it would be better to turn around rather than panic to get the boat back to Linslade on Monday morning! And of course, we knew we’d have to pass them again on our way back to the marina.  Just goes to show how tricky it can sometimes be to plan your route before hand.

We turned our hire boat at Yardley Gobion, a village just south of Stoke Bruerne, just past the pretty Solomon’s Bridge. Cruised back to Thrupp Wharf and ate dinner at The Navigation Pub. Here children and pets are welcome in the eating area or garden. There is a selection of real ales and bar food available, and it had a really friendly atmosphere.

Day 3- Departed Thrupp wharf at 10.30am to start heading back to the marina.

Heading back past Milton Keynes we noticed in the far distance what appeared the metal structure of a theme park ride, after further research we’ve determined this to be Gullivers Theme Park, featuring rides, splash zone and dinosaur area. If your travelling with the children and have a spare couple of hours, it looked at exciting place to stop! We cruised to a point along the canal an hour or so from the Linslade marina for our last supper- spent on board the boat. After our meal, we had a stroll up the tow path back toward the Soulbury Three Locks and enjoyed a nightcap at the lockside pub. By the way, the food looked great there too. Although you may choose to eat out at the Globe Inn on the last night, which also looked nice and served good food. (Mooring at the Globe in would have only left us 30 minutes cruising back to the marina, but we ran out of light!) Mooring just beyond the three locks left us with one hour’s cruising to get back on time.

We arrived at Linslade marina for 9am on Monday morning. Staff were ready and waiting for us. We were directed to our mooring and helped tie our boat up for the final time. We handed over the keys, off loaded our belongings and said a fond goodbye to our very comfortable home of three nights.

We all agreed, the weekend was thoroughly enjoyable as it was pretty active, but cruising along at 4 miles per hour, you get the relaxing feeling of watching the world go by. My novice boater friends fell totally in love with life on a narrowboat and have vowed to do it again… So the only question is where next?!

Linslade Marina

Linslade Marina

Facts about the Grand Union Canal:
  • link from London to the Midlands- once the busiest canal network in the country
  • constructed for transport from 1805
  • the 137 mile long canal is the longest single canal in Britain
  • the mainline Brentford to Birmingham consists of approximately 166 locks

More photos will be up for Dawn’s Boating Holiday on our Waterways Holidays Facebook page.

Search for your boating holiday from Linslade Marina:

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Or click to search for all our Canal Boat Holidays or to search for cruisers available for Norfolk Broads boat hire.

To speak directly to one of our friendly team at Waterways Holidays Ltd, call us on 01252 796400, open 7 days a week.

Wootton Wawen Easter Boating Holiday Breaks

Hurry! We are booking up fast for the Easter weekend!

A perfect boating holiday for family groups of four are the Wier Class boats, ‘Teddington’ and ‘Shepperton’ from Wootton Wawen marina, near Stratford upon Avon. This class of boat is perfect for a family of four with a fixed double and two singles in the galley area. These boats are showing at a price of £625.00 for the weekend all inclusive.

From Wootton Wawen, you can amble down the Stratford Canal into Shakespeares town and experience a traditional british town, steeped in history and surrounded by Warwickshire countryside. From the marina to Stratford is a flight of 11 locks and two locks, taking approximately 4-5 hours, leaving you plenty of time to stop off for a long afternoon in the town and cruising onto the Upper Avon navigations.

BW House on the Waters

BW House on the Waters

Easter boating is proving to be a very popular family break, with the increasingly early Summers, this is a great time to try something different for a weekend away 0n the UK Canals in the glorious British sunshine.

One Way Canal Boat Hire in Southern England!

Last Minute Special Offer!

The marina at Lower Heyford on the South Oxford Canal are offering a one way hire to Lechlade marina on the River Thames, on the 6 berth four star boat: ‘Godstow’.

This one way is suitable for a weekend break, commencing either the 29th/30th March 2012, if you can start on the Thursday the 29th this would give you a bit more cruising time. The marina will also provide a mini bus at Lechlade to return you to your car. Hurry this offer won’t be around for long!

SAVE £500.00!  Price reduced from £899.00 to £399.00, ALL INCLUSIVE!
Lower Heyford Marina

Lower Heyford Marina

Route Description: Starting on the South Oxford Canal, cruising through picturesque scenery, to Dukes Cut. From here you navigate onto the River Thames cruising West towards Lechlade. The route takes approximately 17 hours, working out about 7 hours a day for the Friday- Monday. Or if you can commence the holiday on the Thursday, this would make for a more leisurely cruise, and an opportunity to stop off at Oxford City Centre.

Call us on 01252 796400 to book