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

Boating Holiday Special Offers – four days left…

Save 10% off the Summer Holidays from selected marinas

See below for further details on applicable holidays – valid until 12/03/12.

Visit the Thames and the Dreaming Spires of Oxford:

Combine a family boating holiday aboard one of the youngest narrowboats in the country with a sight seeing break in Oxford. Skirting the Cotswolds, the Oxford Canal meanders alongside picturesque parks – great for a family picnic and a chance to walk the dog. Visit Oxford with its dreaming spires, ‘home’ of Alice in Wonderland.

Magnificent Architecture - Oxford University

Magnificent Architecture – Oxford University

Check availability for Discounted Boating Holidays in Oxford:

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Explore the stunning Pennine and Yorkshire Waterways:

Explore Yorkshire’s Secret waterways, where the scenery is grander, the waterways less crowded – and the beer cheaper!  Three canals cross the Pennines, each with its own character, but all showing the determination of two centuries ago to get goods moving across the hills and build prosperity.

Yorkshire Views

Yorkshire Views

Check availability for Discounted Boating Holidays in the Pennines:

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Visit the World Heritage Roman City of Bath by boat:

Save 10% this Summer when you visit the World Heritage City of Bath by boat. Set in rolling Somerset and Avon countryside, explore the quaint villages of Bradford on Avon and Trowbridge, experience the Avoncliffe and Dundas Aqueducts and visit the Roman City of Bath on selected boats from Bradford on Avon.

Historic Views of Bath

Historic Views of Bath

Check availability for Discounted Boating Holidays in Bath:

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

Norfolk Broads Sailing Yachts- the gems of the Broads

The Norfolk Broads wouldn’t be complete without the sight of traditional yachts with their sails billowing in the breeze – the perfect place to enjoy some of the best inland sailing anywhere in the world. Broads yachts are built to harmonise with their surroundings and offer a choice of both traditional gaff rig sails to catch every breath of wind or modern bermudan rig for ease of handling. Most traditional yachts feature cosy traditional interiors evoking a sense of yester year and a slower pace of life.

Norfolk Broad Sailing Yacht- Gem of the Broads

Norfolk Broad Sailing Yacht- Gem of the Broads

Sailing on the Norfolk Broads is ideal for those with a little previous experience of sailing. If however, you are looking to sail for the first time on the Broads, Upton Marina can provide some introductory instruction, which can be booked in advance at a charge of £15.00 per hour. This will include sailing on the river to demonstrate basic sailing manouevres in confined waters plus exciting sailing on the open waters of the larger Broads. The duration of this instruction can be extended if further tuition is necessary, this will be charged at an hourly rate.

Sailing Yacht Rigs:

Perfect for a family of four with a little previous sailing experience  is the yacht ‘Coriander’ with 3 single beds and 1 double.  This 30ft yacht has a modern Bermudan rig with a 10hp Yanmar Diesel in the fore peak. The bermudan rig is most familiar to those with dinghy or coastal sea sailing experience and often includes a furling jib as well as the standard triangular mainsail. By comparison, the gaff rig, featured on the yacht ‘Windjammer’, is a more traditional Broads sail arrangement and is perfect to catch every last breath of wind. ‘Windjammer’ is a fast and elegant yacht built using  traditional styling and she is equipped to a high standard. She sleeps 4 comfortably in a double and two singles.

'Tornado' - Bermuda Rig (left) and 'Windjammer' - Gaff Rig (right)

Sailing yachts are the essence of the Norfolk Broads and have been present on the waters for over 50 years, hiring a sailing yacht is a perfect way to familarise yourself with the waters and forget the stresses of everyday life.

Search for your Sailing Yacht holiday:

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Or click to search for all our Norfolk Broads Boat Holidays or to search for boat holidays available for narrowboat 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.

New boats for hire in 2012

Just for all you boating fans out there, here’s an exclusive first look at some of the new boats for 2012 on the Waterways Holidays website and a reminder of some of the boats that were introduced in 2011.

Norfolk Broads Boat Hire:

‘Olympic Light’ from Potter Heigham- New to the Norfolk Broads in late August 2011.

Brand New in August 2011 'Olympic Light'

Brand New in August 2011 ‘Olympic Light’

A luxurious dual steering 6 berth motor cruiser with two shower rooms (full sized showers in each). Fully equipped with bow and stern thrusters to aid the boat when mooring or manoeuvring. Hydraulic drive with stern housed engine helps to make the boat quieter for those on board. There are LCD TVs and DVD players in both the saloon and rear cabin, with a satellite tracking dome to receive Freeview channels. There’s lots of handy little extra’s, such as a stereo radio/CD player with a premium sound system, LED lighting and a wine rack in the galley.

‘Radiant Emblem’ from Horning- Brand new to the Norfolk Broads in 2011.

'Radiant Emblem'

Brand New in 2011 ‘Radiant Emblem’

A specially designed aft cabin cruiser. Combines a spacious interior saloon with a flying bridge up top, features modern home comforts including satellite TV. The master cabin is aft of the saloon and provides a nice space away from the rest of the accommodation. The forward two cabins have a separate shower compartment and toilet compartment. The upper helm allows for excellent views across the marshes and beyond.

Watch this space! New Norfolk Broads for 2012

‘Royale Light’ from Potter Heigham

A high class dual steering motor cruiser being built this winter. Fully equipped with three fixed double beds in three cabins fitted with sprung mattresses and two en suites. The upper sundeck is being built with seating for six and two sunbathing platforms for those wishing to soak up the rays.

Check out the Waterways Holidays facebook page for exclusive pictures of this boat being built at the Potter Heigham marina.

‘Quartet’ from Wroxham

A 5 star cruiser perfect for a party of four. With two double cabins, an en suite in the rear cabin and powerful full sized showers. Satellite TV with DVD and USB facilities available on board.  This yard also supply dog life jackets as well for pet lovers wishing to bring their furry friends.

UK Canal boat holidays:

‘Heron’ from Rugby-  New to the UK Canals late October 2011.

Brand New Narrowboat 'Heron'

Brand New Narrowboat ‘Heron’

Classic cruiser stern boat, with well equipped galley including full sized fridge and a free standing cooker.  The furnishing is modern light wood and there is a solid fuel stove providing a flare of the traditional working narrowboats as well as full central heating on board.

‘Princess class’ from selected UK marinas-  New to the UK Canals early August 2011.

New Princess Class

New Princess Class

A cruiser stern narrowboat fitted to a high standard with a double bed and sprung bed mattress for extra comfort. The 47ft canal boat is carpeted throughout and has white walls and light wood furnishing for a light and airy finish. The shower in the bathroom, located next to the fixed double cabin, is full sized for extra luxury.

Watch this space! New canal boats due to be completed in 2012

‘Buckingham’ from Sowerby Bridge

Explore the historic Yorkshire Canals aboard 56ft ‘Buckingham’ from the base at Sowerby Bridge. Perfect for families of four to six, ‘Buckingham’ has a flexible bed layout with sprung mattresses on all permanent beds. Facilities on board include a radio/CD/mp3 player with four speakers, a TV/DVD player and 230v power for extras like the microwave and hairdryer.

‘Dove class’ from selected UK marinas

Coming to the waters in mid December are the Dove class boats available from Aldermaston on the Kennet and Avon canal, Gailey on the Grand Union Canal and Worcester & Avon. Flexible bed layout allowing for double or single beds, depending on the party. Fully equipped galley with some handy extra’s such as a microwave, toaster and filtered coffee machine.

‘Bond class’ from selected UK marinas

The four brand new bond class boats are available from Great Haywood, Bradford on Avon, Oxford, Bath, Trevor and Wootton Wawen, so plenty of marinas to choose from!  These boats are fully equipped with flexible sliding doors for added privacy between cabins, and large stern and foredeck for groups to relax together in the open air. They are fitted with two shower and toilet cubicles with full sized showers as a luxurious perk.

‘Rachel’ & ‘Madeleine’ from Stockton & Warwick

Explore Warwickshire aboard two beautiful brand new narrow boats for 2012. Both still being built, 45ft ‘Madeleine’ will have a semi-traditional stern with a light interior providing comfortable accommodation for a family of four. 50ft Narrow boat ‘Rachel’ will be ideal for couples, complete with fully equipped galley, light interior and plenty of storage space.

Check availability for new boats in 2011 & 2012:

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Click: Norfolk Broads boat hire to search for our live availability of Broads Holidays, or click: Canal Boat Holidays to search for our live availability on the UK Canals. Or give us a call on 01252 796400 to talk to one of our friendly team, the office is manned 7 days a week.

Narrowboat Holidays on the Ashby Canal

Waterways Holidays are delighted to introduce an excellent start location to our canal boat holidays for 2012. Situated on the Ashby Canal in Warwickshire, the marina is perfectly nestled in the scenic countryside, just a hop and a skip away from Warwick, Birmingham and Coventry.

Canal Boat 'Carlton'

‘Carlton’ is a luxurious 56 ft narrowboat. Perfect for two couples with a fixed double bed and a make up additional double in the Saloon. The narrowboats at Stoke Golding marina are fully equiped with a galley featuring oven, hob, electric fridge with small freezer, microwave, toaster and Cafetiere.  They also include a welcome pack including fresh flowers, some nice biscuits, coffee and tea for your arrival. The boat ‘Carlton’ is a cruiser stern canal boat so there is plenty of room at the rear for the skipper to be seated with family and friends whilst navigating the hire boat.

Cruising from Stoke Golding:

A boating holiday on the Ashby Canal offers 22 miles of lock free cruising, perfect for those seeking a relaxing break. You can meander along the Ashby Canal and pass the historic scene of the Battle of Bosworth or cruise onto the Coventry Canal, cruising into the City Centre through Warwickshire countryside. Coventry offers something for everyone, famous for its historic cathedral, the area is steeped in history. You can also experience Coventry’s buzzing nightlife with an assortment of bars, pubs and clubs and the largest casino in Britain.

Stoke Golding

Stoke Golding

Route Recommendations:

3/4 night break:

Stoke Golding to Atherstone + Return: (13 hrs out and back) lock free cruising.

Stoke Golding to Rugby + Return: (19 hrs out and back) 1 lock at Coventry.

7 night break:

Stoke Golding to Great Haywood + Return: (44 hrs out and back) 16 locks each way.

10+ night break:

Stoke Golding to Gas St Basin + Return: (50 hrs out and back) 50 locks each way.


Search for your boating holiday from Stoke Golding Marina:

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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.

The ‘Lapworth Ring’

Ring Stats

42 miles
approx. 26hrs

A ring route that we recommend for a beginners first one way route as it is an achievable distance and not too lock heavy.

Along this route you can experience the Great British countryside at its finest one day and the next stop off for a touch of the hustle and bustle in Birmingham’s City Centre. With the benefit of being able to retire to your floating mobile holiday home in the evening after dining out in one of the many restaurants Birmingham has to offer.

Which Canals are part of the Lapworth Ring?

  • Stratford upon Avon Canal
  • Grand Union Canal
  • Worcester & Birmingham Canal

    Lapworth Lock

    Lapworth Lock

Cruising from the Lapworth Junction, where the Stratford upon Avon Canal meets the Grand Union Canal, you have a flight on 14 locks to navigate, to start your journey towards Birmingham. From Lapworth Locks you can see the Lapworth Church Spire in the horizon, nestled amongst shrubbery and white walled cottages. The Stratford Upon Avon Canal is the most lock heavy canal on this route, so starting your cruise with this navigation does allow you to cruise more leisurely after entering the Gas Street Basin at Birmingham. Lapworth is home to a few gastro pubs such as The Boot Inn, offering high quality food with a relaxed pub atmosphere, visible from the canal, amid the country lanes.

The Brandwood Tunnel, an intricate 322 metres redbrick tunnel built in the mid 1790’s, leads up to where the Stratford Upon Avon Canal meets at Kings Norton with the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. Just past Lock 77, on the Worcs & Birmingham Canal, is the town of Bourneville and Cadburys World, a perfect stop off for chocolate lovers. The canals where crucial for Cadburys development, bringing milk deliveries from Ports at Southampton and London.

Travelling further North towards the City, the Worcs & Birmingham Canal is frequently joined by the railway line, weaving over the canal. Along the East, the University of Birmingham is one of the first indicators that you are approaching Birmingham, although the route is still dominated by rural views and overhanging foliage.  The canal seems to meander through built up areas as though detached from the rest of civilization, with tree lined footpaths just a stones throw away from shopping centres, sports facilities and Birmingham’s Hospital.  Waterfront apartments and restaurants welcome you to the Gas Street Basin, with limited mooring spaces available at the hub.

Canal Boat at Gas Street Basin

Canal Boat at Gas Street Basin

After the Aston Locks you are just over half way through the ring. The Grand Union Canal on this stretch until Knowle is lock free, allowing you to pick up the pace slightly, especially if you’ve found it difficult to tear yourself away from the hub of Birmingham!  Knowle is home to the Knowle Park just 5 miles south of Solihull, a nice stop off for an afternoon of stretching the legs or picnicking on a sunny day. The village has all the amenities you could need as well if you are in need of topping up the essentials, or dining out in the evening.

This circular route is easily achievable in a weeks hire, with time to explore the various villages and Birmingham centre. The closest marinas situated near this ring are Alvechurch and Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. From these marinas, allow approx 3 hours to reach the junction of the Stratford upon Avon Canal, Kings Norton.  This mini ring is an additional part of the bigger Black Country Ring, details which will follow soon!

Search for your boating holiday on the Lapworth Ring:

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For how long?

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

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

For a visual representation of the Lapworth Ring see below:

Lapworth Mini Ring

Lapworth Mini Ring

Romantic boating holidays for Valentines Day

The romantic season is steadily approaching us… If you’re not sure of the best way to spoil that special someone, may we offer you some boating inspiration!

Selected marinas are open from the 10th February to accomodate the romantic traveller. What better way to get into the mood than floating on the tranquil water thought Britain’s finest countryside with a bottle of wine and a few nibbles.

Swanley Bridge marina has hire boats available from the 11th February. This marina is located on the northern section of the Llangollen Canal, near Hurleston Junction, offering hirers a selection of route options. You can spend a week cruising down the Llangollen Canal and over the magnificent Pontcysyllte and Chirk Aqueducts into Llangollen town centre. Or you can navigate onto the Shropshire Union Canal, choosing to cruise North towards the City of Chester, or South down through rolling Black Country landscapes towards Market Drayton.

Prices start at £725.00 for the week, or £459.00 for a short break, on the four berth boat, ‘Debbie Jane’ from Swanley Bridge Marina.

Ellesmere on the Llangollen Canal

Ellesmere on the Llangollen Canal

For couples who love for the party scene, book a City Break in Britains Capital.  Willow Tree marina has hire boats available from the 10th February. This marina is situated just a short taxi journey from Hayes and Harlington Station in Yeading.  From here you can experience Central London, cruising down the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal to Little Venice, where you cruise onto Regents Canal ending at Limehouse basin.  London will quite simply be bustling with romantic events, with something to suit every couple’s taste. Be sure to book your table if dining out!

Prices start at £974.00 for the week, or £491.00 for a short break, on the four berth boat, ‘Duchess 4’ from the London Marina.

If you are looking for luxury comfort for two with the option of not navigating any locks, ‘Sarah Louise’ or ‘Caroline’ at Cathiron marina offer the perfect romantic getaway.  From this marina you can cruise north up the Oxford Canal, past Coventry and onto the Ashby Canal for rural views and lock free cruising. Floating down these scenic waterways, you cannot help but find yourselves relaxing and enjoying a bit of quality time together. The boats are both equipped with one fixed double on board and a solid oak trim to give the boat that extra cosy feel.

Prices start at £660.00 for the week, or £525.00 for a short break over the Valentines week on either Sarah Louise or Caroline.



So go.. indulge yourselves this Valentines day!

If you would like any more information on any of the boats we have available for the Valentines period, please do not hesitate to get in touch, our number is 01252 796400.

To search for any of holidays on the canals click: canal boat holiday or to search for any holidays on the Norfolk Broads click: Norfolk Broads boat hire.

The Four Counties Ring

Ring Stats

110 miles
approx. 55hrs

A circular route which is perhaps slightly more challenging in terms of it’s level of difficulty, but well worth the effort!

The Four Counties Ring satisfies boating holiday goers looking for rural views, with the Cheshire plains visible from your narrowboat, and pastoral scenes amid the Cheshire locks climbing to the panoramic views at ‘Heartbreak Hill’. The ring route offers a diverse mix of wildlife, countryside views, quaint villages and city life.

Which canals are part of the Four Counties Ring?

Trent & Mersey Canal boat holiday

Trent & Mersey Canal boat holiday

  • Shropshire Union Canal (1827)
  • Middlewich Branch (1833)
  • Wardle Canal (1829)
  • Trent & Mersey Canal (1777)
  • Staffs & Worcs Canal (1771)

Cruising up the Shropshire Union Canal with it’s rolling countryside, the southern stretch of this navigation offers lock free cruising until Market Drayton, a traditional market town. The town is full of 17th Century architecture and has been home to gingerbread for the last 200 years. Cruising north takes you through Adderley and to Nantwich, a historic town just south of Hursleton Junction containing over a hundred listed buildings. Passing through the town by boat you cross the Nantwich aqueduct and north to the Middlewich Branch.

Middlewich is set in the middle of the Cheshire salt industry, from the canal you can see mountains of salt next to the remains of Roman salt sites. Middlewich is home to an impressive set of historic halls and gardens, such as Little Moreton Hall, one of the most famous Tudor Halls in England,  Rode Hall and Dorfold Hall. Cruising from Middlewich to Stoke-On-Trent via the Trent & Mersey is the most lock heavy section of the ring. The Cheshire Locks are a flight of 26 locks dating back to the 1770’s which raise the canal from the Cheshire Plain to the Summit Level at Kidsgrove.

The Trent & Mersey Canal is home to the spooky Harecastle Tunnel just north of Stoke on Trent, which spans approximately 1.75 miles. Mooring just south of Stoke-on-Trent you can explore the city on foot, spending time discovering the famous Staffordshire Potteries Museum & Art Gallery and Wedgewood Museum. Staffordshire is perfect for foodies, Stoke-On-Trent has plenty of fine food restaurants & every October the market town on Stone hosts a 3 day Food and Drink Festival to celebrate the best of Staffordshire’s local food produce.

Tixall Wide Scenic Views

Tixall Wide Scenic Views

As you pass the Haywood Junction onto the Staffordshire & Worcester (Staffs & Worcs) Canal the waterways widen, rumour has it that when this section of the canal was built the landowner had insisted that the canal be widened as he thought narrow canals were unsightly! This is now referred to as Tixall Wide just southeast of Great Haywood. The Staffs & Worcs Canal stretches approximately 20.5 miles from the Haywood Junction to Autherley Junction, where to continue on the Four Counties ring, you cruise north back onto the Shropshire Union Canal. There are 12 locks on this stretch including a flight of four locks just as you cruise past Gailey.

We would recommend a 1 week holiday minimum for those wishing to complete this ring route, depending on daylight hours and level of experience. Although 10 days would be make for a more comfortable cruising schedule as to achieve this route in a week you would need to cruise approximately 9.5 hours a day. For those with no previous experience who really want to do a ring route rather than an out and back journey, there are shorter circular routes that we would recommend you try first, such as the Droitwich Ring or Birmingham Ring- watch this space for articles relating to these one way circular routes!

Search for your boating holiday on the Four Counties Ring:

Departing between which dates?
For how long?

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

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

For a visual representation of the Four Counties Ring see below:

Four Counties Canals Map

Four Counties Canals Map

Norfolk Broads Winter Renovations for 2012

Over the winter the waterways may become quieter but behind the scenes the marina staff are still working as hard as ever, maintaining the boats and updating their interior furnishings.

Duet Class boats emerging from the Boat Shed

Duet Class boats emerging from the Boat Shed

Our partners at Norwich marina, Thorpe St Andrew on the Norfolk Broads are busily updating their Duet Class boats in their boat shed by the water. Further pictures can also be viewed on the Waterways Holidays Facebook page & in our winter boats album.

Updates include:

  • New cookers
  • New fridges
  • New paint and varnish jobs
  • New upholstery

Watch this space for new interior photos!

Check Availability for Norfolk Broads boat hire

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If you would like to talk to one of our friendly team with regards to Norfolk Broads boat holidays or any of the boating holidays on the UK canals, please do get in touch. Our number is 01252 796400 and we are open 7 days a week.

The 2011 Barton Charter Yacht Regatta

Waterways Holidays at the Barton Regatta

Waterways Holidays at the Barton Regatta

We recently had great fun at the hire boat sailing regatta on Barton Broad. The Waterways Holidays team chartered ‘Tropical Wind’, a 29ft Bermudan rigged yacht from the marina at Upton on the Norfolk Broads.

A long established and popular event, the regatta takes place during Autumn each year and is open to participants who have previous sailing experience. Over 30 yachts compete in a series of races and enjoy social events, all culminating in an evening of good food and prize giving.

We asked Lesley at Waterways Holidays about her time at the 2011 Regatta, sponsored by Waterways Holidays.

Which races did you take part in? Did you win any?

We took part in the Shake Down Race, the All Comers Handicap Race, the Ladies Race and the Crews Race. Unfortunately on Monday the weather was too windy to sail. Very few competitors were able to sail Wednesday afternoon as there was not enough wind! We were joined by Tony Howes, who helmed the boat for the first time in the Crews Race.

We came second in the Crews Race, 15 seconds behind first place. We won the Martham Ferry Boatyard Trophy for Tuesday’s races. We came third in the Ladies Race after an unplanned detour!

What was the highlight?

It was great to feel part of such a fun and friendly event. I enjoyed the evening entertainment, sailing themed songs courtesy of Ted Handley and his harmonium.

Any words of advice for 2012 competitors?

Book a 7 night holiday on a sailing yacht so that you have a little time to familiarise yourselves with the yacht before you start. You’ll also get time at the end of the regatta for more relaxed sailing.

The most important thing to remember is that it’s the taking part that counts 🙂

Thanks Lesley for giving us your review of the Barton Broad Charter Yacht Regatta.

Why not take part next year? The 2012 Barton Charter Yacht Regatta is 13th – 20th October.

Click for: Norfolk Broads sailing holidays