‘Muddy Waters.’ A brand new family canal boat holiday experience

Muddy Waters

Muddy Waters

Children and adults alike are set to love an entirely new boating holiday experience – child friendly narrowboat ‘Muddy Waters’ on the South Oxford Canal.

The base at Lower Heyford boasts a modern fleet of beautifully maintained narrowboats sleeping up to twelve people. The latest addition to the hire fleet is 69ft ‘Muddy Waters’, a semi-traditional style character narrow boat designed especially with children in mind.  Sleeping up to four adults and four children in two doubles and four single bunks, ‘Muddy Waters’ is packed full of goodies, including fun features for children and extras for adults.

Features for children…

Located in the bow of the boat, the dining area has been magically transformed into a children’s playroom. Complete with bean bags, a widescreen TV with Wii games console and a play table, the playroom is the first of its kind on a narrowboat. There’s plenty of extra storage for toys and a large floor space for family play time. When you book your holiday you will receive a free ‘Muddy Waters’ children’s book to read before you start your big adventure.

Muddy Waters features for the children

Muddy Waters features for the children

Extras for adults…

The playroom is situated at the front of the boat next to the children’s bunk beds, so the children don’t need to sneak past mum and dad! In the top corner of the playroom there is a camera which is linked to a TV monitor at the stern of the boat, so whilst driving you can still see and hear your children playing for peace of mind.

Not just a holiday for children, the rear galley is a sophisticated space designed with adults in mind. The TV monitor doubles as a TV/DVD for adults wanting to stay up past their children’s bedtime in the evening. Waiting for you on arrival is a bottle of wine and other grown up goodies.

Muddy Waters extras for the adults

Muddy Waters extras for the adults

The local area…

Situated on the South Oxford Canal and close to Oxford City centre and the River Thames, there’s an abundance of things to see and do. A fusion of contemporary culture and historic charm, Oxford City centre has lots to offer. Skirting the Cotswolds, the Oxford Canal meanders alongside picturesque parks – great for a family picnic and a chance to walk the dog. A must see for children is Oxford University’s grandest college, Christ Church. This building was the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s novel, ‘Alice in Wonderland’. J.R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis frequently visited Oxford centre to relax in the many public houses.

Within easy reach of your floating holiday home is the magnificent Blenheim Palace. Set in 2100 acres of beautiful landscaped parkland, the Palace is the birthplace of Winston Churchill and home to the 11th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough.

An adventure on ‘Muddy Waters’ brings imagination to life; it’s simply an unforgettable canal boating experience for all ages.

Check Availability for ‘Muddy Waters’

Departing between which dates?
For how long?


Click here to search all our canal boat holidays or give us a call on 01252 796400.

Tags: ,
Posted in Holiday Inspirations by Waterways Holidays. No Comments

Canal Boating Holidays on the Mid Worcestershire or Droitwich Ring

The sleepy Droitwich Canals have just reawakened after almost a century of closure.  Years of restoration work estimated at a cost of approximately £12.7 million have been invested into the reopening of the canals. The canals and the River Severn link to form the Mid Worcestershire mini Ring-perfect for three night breaks.

Picturesque Bridge on the Canals

Picturesque Bridge on the Canals

The Droitwich Canals, being some of the oldest, were designed by James Brindley, to connect the River Severn with Droitwich town’s salt industry in 1771. After the introduction of the rail network, and following competition from other industrial developments, the Canals were no longer required. The mid 1920’s saw the last boat to cruise the Droitwich Canals before their closure.

The ring stretches approximately 22 miles and consists of 30 locks, achievable in a short break and ideal for holidaymakers wanting to do a ring that isn’t too ambitious.

Dawn, from Waterways Holidays, took to the waters to experience the Mid Worcestershire Ring last week, following the Droitwich Canal Opening and Water Festival.  We thought it might be interesting to share a few of her personal experiences of the mini ring with you:

Having just done the Mid Worcestershire Ring, how easy did you find it to achieve in a weekend break?

It was comfortable, although we did keep an eye on the time as there are so many distractions along the way! The boat yard at Stoke Prior was really helpful. On arrival, they chat with you about the route, places to moor and eat out before you depart.

What did you experience each day?

Day 1

We left Stoke Prior at about 3pm and arrived at Dunshampstead within 4 hours of rural cruising, to moor up for dinner at The Fir Tree Inn.  The Fir Tree Inn is a pub/restaurant recommended to us by the marina, with lots of great food on the menu and a good selection of real ales and wines.

Worcester Cathedral from the Waters

Worcester Cathedral from the water

Day 2

We arrived at Worcester City centre at about 3pm. If you want to go into the City centre, then its best to moor up above lock 3, and simply cross the bridge. Worcester is a very picturesque city with lots of charming architecture and greenery. The magnificent Worcester Cathedral can be seen towering above the City from almost everywhere. The afternoon was spent exploring the beautiful City and shopping with the girls in the many high street stores.  After a pub dinner, we moored overnight at one of the 48 hour mooring spaces.

Day 3:

We journeyed up the River Severn, a stretch with no free mooring spaces- so don’t forget some change if you’d like to stop.  The only lock you come to on this part of the river is manned, so just wait for the go ahead and drive the boat in, watching the lockkeeper do the work. It took approximately two hours to get to Droitwich Spa and we moored up at Vines Park, where you can eat out in the town or shop at the Waitrose nearby. We discovered Droitwich is a town known for its salt spa, which is equal in salt density to the Dead Sea. This area is a very pretty, historic hub with lots on natural heritage sites.

What was the highlight?

“Being able to do a ring in the weekend- even if you’re a beginner”

Thanks Dawn for giving us your review of the Mid Worcestershire Ring.

Check Availability for the Mid Worcestershire Ring

Departing between which dates?
For how long?

Canal Boating Holidays in rural Warwickshire

Stratford upon Avon Canal, home to the birth and death place of William Shakespeare, is an area steeped in culture and history, all of which you can experience yourself when you hire a narrow boat for a holiday getaway. Waterways Holidays offers canal boating holidays from various bases such as ‘Wootton Wawen’, ‘Stratford upon Avon’, ‘Warwick’ and ‘Napton’, all situated in rural Warwickshire. No previous experience needed as tuition is given on arrival, a perfect holiday break for families and couples alike.

Hatton Flight

Hatton Flight

Starting a canal boat holiday at Stratford upon Avon, you are situated near the Bancroft Basin and riverside gardens. From this base you have the option to cruise south onto the Upper Avon Navigation, or north up the Stratford upon Avon Canal. The canal offers more locks, suited for the energetic boater, and connects to the Grand Union Canal within 11 hours of cruising. If you are looking for a slightly less active route with less frequent locks, why not try cruising down the River Avon. Suited for a weekend getaway, you can reach the market town, Evesham within 7 hours of departure. This town is renowned for fruit and veg growing, with beautiful fruit blossoms in spring surrounded by medieval buildings. Near the River, is Abbey Park, a local garden, with its Victorian bandstand playing music on Sunday afternoon’s right through from June to September, perfect for those lazy summer afternoons.

In a week’s break you can even reach Warwick from cruising onto the Grand Union canal, and experience all the delights of this city centre, such as Warwick Castle and other magnificent historical buildings. Cruising along this canal, you will come to the Hatton flight, consisting of 21 locks, great for entertaining the children and for a heart pumping work out! Travelling by canals through Shakespeare’s country gives holiday goers the flexibility to moor up their hire boat and visit any sites of interest, whilst having the comfort of being able to return to their portable home on the water. You can pick from a large list of available attractions, pubs and restaurants nearby and simply start cruising!

This weekend on the 2nd and 3rd of July, Stratford upon Avon will be celebrating the River Avon and Stratford canals, with their annual Stratford upon Avon River Festival. The festivities include yoga and martial arts classes, local bands, food and drink stalls, firework displays and lots of boating river displays including a man in a coracle!  More than 2,000 visitors are expected to gather to soak in the celebrations and be entertained by the River displays. The town is said to be transformed full of carnival atmosphere, there’s a children’s zone with face painting, donkey rides and a pirate ship to keep the kids entertained, and plenty of riverside Pimms, local ales, and delicious food treats for the adults to indulge in.

For more info, 0845 127 1020 or click here

Check Availability for Narrowboat Hire in Rural Warwickshire

Departing between which dates?
For how long?

What items do you need to take on your boating holiday?

It is always useful to purchase a map (we recommend a Nicholsons Guide) before you depart on your boating holiday so that you can work out where the locks are and areas of interest to visit.

Don't forget your food & drink essentials on the 'Bullrush' at Linslade

Your food & drink essentials shown on the ‘Bullrush’ cruising from the marina at Linslade

In terms of items, here are a few items we might suggest:

  • Sensible, non-slip shoes
  • Torches for walking along the tow path in the dark
  • Soft bags instead of suitcases- easier to store
  • Gloves for working the locks
  • Towels (depending on the boat)
  • Hand cream and mosquito repellent

The sun’s rays are much more powerful when you are on the water, so sunglasses, protective cream and a sun hat are recommended.

All your cooking utensils, crockery and cutlery will be supplied onboard, sometimes the yard will also supply some waterproofs for the helmsman. Although we always hope you won’t have to use them!

If you haven’t been on a boating holiday before and would like a list of suggestions for things that may be useful on the boat, we can supply a list on your confirmation e-mail.

Posted in Boating Q & A's by Waterways Holidays. No Comments

Do you have to pay for mooring?

Moored up on the Norfolk Broads

Moored up on the Norfolk Broads

Most of mooring along the canals are free. Occasionally leading up to and in city centres you may be charged for overnight mooring. In Bristol dock there is an overnight fee of £35 every 24 hours for example, and areas of the River Thames may also charge to moor up.

On the Norfolk Broads, you have a choice of free 24 hour overnight moorings along the river bank or within many of the holiday hire boatyards or you can choose to moor on one of the many moorings operated by private Trusts where you will pay an overnight charge or around £10 per night (in cash).”

You can only moor up when it’s not private mooring spaces allocated for people who own boats. You are not able to moor up anywhere were you are obstructing a lock or bridge. There are often mooring posts or rings along allocated areas where you can tie the rope around, or you can use the pins provided on-board. Full tuition will be supplied on arrival.

Posted in Boating Q & A's by Waterways Holidays. No Comments

What is the difference between a fixed bed and a dinette double bed?


Bed Layout

Bed Layout

A fixed bed refers to a bed that can remain set up for your whole holiday. If however you are looking at a layout that shows a dinette double bed, it will have to be made up in the evenings. During the day a dinette double comprises of a sofa bench area, often in an ‘L’ shape, with a temporary table, which is the dining area on-board. To assemble the bed in the evening you either drop down or pull out the table area and put a cushion on top.

The number of fixed beds can sometimes help to determine the price of the boat.

Posted in Boating Q & A's by Waterways Holidays. No Comments

What is the difference between 12 volts and 240 volts power supply on the boats?

240V plug socket on-board a Narrowboat

240V plug socket on-board a Narrowboat

All of the boats have 12V power unless otherwise stated. The 12V boats however, can power already built in appliances like colour TV’s, DVD players, CD players & radios, fridges and lighting, most of which is supplied on the boats as standard. 12V boats have a cigar lighter socket on board which means that all you are able to charge is your mobile phone in the same way as you would in a car.

Some boats have a 240V power supply however.  This means that they may have 3 pin sockets on board. Please note that there is always a wattage restriction on the 240V boats, the restriction is dependent on the boat itself and means that you may not be able to use appliances that you can normally use at home. Please do check when booking if you would like to take any electrical items on board that may need to be plugged in.

Posted in Boating Q & A's by Waterways Holidays. No Comments

Pet friendly Norfolk Broads boating holidays

Evening Light at Horsey Windpump

Evening Light at Horsey Windpump

Are you looking into booking a holiday or weekend getaway? Boating on the Norfolk Broads allows you to take the feeling of home with you on holiday, including your pets! There are plenty of pet friendly boats available for hire throughout the year, all over the Norfolk Broads and UK canals. It’s ideal for people trying to avoid expensive kennel fees. For first timers looking into taking a pet on board a motor cruiser, I would suggest the forward steering cruisers for canine comfort. This style of boat is generally one level in the interior and you can also let you pet sit on the front well.

It goes without saying that buoyancy aids will be supplied for all the crew, the yards at Potter Heigham and Wroxham also supply large/medium and small dog life jackets for a minimal refundable deposit.  Life jackets are kitted out with a handle on the back so you can easily pluck your pet from the waters.

Things to See and Do on the Norfolk Broads

There are lots of picturesque walks and trails, accessible via the waterways. Packed full of wildlife, the Broads are Britain’s largest nationally protected wetland.  The trails provide a perfect opportunity for stretching your pet’s legs (and yours too!) Why not try the ‘Coltishall to Horstead walk’, which crosses the River Bure and takes you past historical sites such as Saint John’s Baptist Church, dating back to 1284.

The open fishing season starts on the 16th June and runs until 14 March 2012. All you need to fish in the Broads is a current Environment Agency rod licence, available from post offices. Once moored, fishing off the boats is very popular; the rivers are packed full perch, bream, pike, rudd and tench, guaranteeing even the most inexperienced fisher a bite! I’d suggest visiting the retail store: ‘Latham’s’ at Potter Heigham, if you’re considering fishing. It’s one of the largest fishing tackle retailers in the UK and supplies everything you may need, from bait to rods, all at discounted prices.

To top it off, for your evening meal you can moor up at one of the pet friendly pubs along the riverside or walk into the towns for even more choice. A few examples of pet friendly pubs are: The Red Lion in Coltishall, Bridge Inn in Acle and Bernley Marshes in Great Yarmouth.

Don't forget the pet friendly boats on the UK Canals too!

Don’t forget the pet friendly boats on the UK Canals too!

Tips for First Timers bringing their Pets on the Boats

  • Bring your own bedding and dog bowls
  • Don’t forget your pet food and some treats
  • Taking your dog’s lead is essential for dining out and walking on the trails
  • Don’t forget the marinas at Wroxham and Potter Heigham will supply pet buoyancy aids for a small refundable deposit
  • Always bring a torch for the evening walks
  • A couple of spare towels, in case your dog decides to take a dip!
  • Responsible dog owners always take poo bags and don’t allow pets on to the boat upholstery
  • The dog will generally prefer to be near you when the engine is running for a bit of reassurance so be aware of your pet at your feet.

For further de tails, 0845 127 1020 or click here

Canal Boat Holidays on the Welsh Canals

Wales is home to two navigable rural canals, the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal and the Llangollen Canal. These canals are always a popular choice for people looking to holiday in the UK and both offer unique and awe-inspiring experiences.

Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal:

Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal

Dating back over two hundred years, this canal meanders through picturesque Welsh countryside from Pontypool to Brecon town centre, covering 36 miles and 6 locks.  The waterway cruises through the Brecon Beacons National Park so there is plenty of wildlife to spot such as kites, herons and kingfishers. Although the Mon & Brec canal is arguably one of the most unspoilt canals in Britain there are also plenty of canal-side pubs to stop at for your evening meal!

The canal offers a very tranquil and laid back boating holiday, ideal for beginners and experienced boaters alike. It’s a great canal to escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life, running along the River Usk and cruising through the peaceful woodland. The canal was originally an industrial motorway, transporting raw materials from nearby quarries by boat to Newport. Relics of the industrial revolution are still visible in many places, with old coal mines, lime kilns and abandoned tram line remains dotted along the waterways. There is also a more decorative historical artefact to visit at Cefn Brynich, a beautiful aqueduct dating from 1812.

Well worth a mention is the boat yard at Gilwern, north of Goytre Wharf. They have started a canal boat revolution by introducing electric boats to their fleet.  These super quiet electric motors can cover 18 miles in a single charge. Recharging is simple – there are lots of recharging points along the Canal, at which you can hook your boat up & simply switch the power on.

Llangollen Canal:

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

There are also many treasures to experience on the Llangollen Canal, which crosses the border from Shropshire in England into Wales before finally terminating at Llangollen. The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, the ‘Stream in the sky,’ passes over the River Dee valley, and is simply a must see if you are cruising this Welsh Canal. The aqueduct is a Grade I Listed structure and World Heritage site. It spans 1,000ft and is 125ft high, giving you the feeling that you’re travelling on a magic carpet ride.

You can also moor up and visit the Llangollen town centre, a little market town surrounded by the River Dee. The railway at Llangollen is a volunteer-run preserved railway, which even supplies taster sessions where you can learn to drive a traditional locomotive! The town is steeped in history and also has a castle ruin that has been abandoned since 1282, named ‘Dinas Bran’. Well worth the climb to check out the view of the attractive town.

You can easily cruise the entire length of either the Llangollen or Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal’s in a week break, a jam packed holiday perfect for all.

Check Availability for the Welsh Canals

Departing between which dates?
For how long?

Call 01252 796400 or click here to search live availability.

Our boating holiday on the Kennet & Avon Canal

The Waterways Holidays team have just returned from their holiday afloat on the Kennet & Avon canal. We enjoyed our time so much we thought it would be nice to let you know how we got on!

Everyone receives tuition, even the staff at Waterways Holidays! So after receiving a detailed show through of the boat, handling tuition and lock instruction from Richard at Aldermaston Wharf, we set off on our weekend hire of 63ft narrowboat, ‘Crofton’.

Two Boats leaving a Lock

Two boats leaving a Lock

Narrowboat hire is fairly straight-forward, we spoke to many narrowboat owners, during our mini-adventure and the best advice we were given is to take everything slow; not to rush and to go at your own pace. We took some time out to take a few pictures along the way – hope you like them!

Each lock presented a slightly different challenge along the Kennet & Avon canal, being a little bit different to the others- brilliant for keeping kids entertained! One lock that was particularly memorable was the Monkey Marsh lock, one of only two surviving turf-sided lock’s built in the 1700’s.

Cruising on a boat is a very social way to travel. The crew all works as a team, whether you’re jumping off to set the next lock, opening a swing bridge or steering the boat. Families walking past on the tow path really enjoy the sight of a narrowboat on the waters, everyone is really friendly!

A holiday on the canals is unique way to explore surroundings, whether somewhere completely new or a chance to rediscover your local countryside. There is so much wildlife to spot from the boat; we were able to see deer, rabbits, herons and lots of birds of prey such as red kites, it really feels like your cruising along with nature.

As well as navigating through the countryside, by Saturday afternoon we were in Newbury town centre. You cruise right through the town and come to a lock next to the beautiful St Nicholas church, which has been the spiritual centre of Newbury for over 900 years. Here you can stop off and get any supplies you may need, have a bite to eat and mosey around the shops if you fancy! There is also a market running on Saturdays, selling a variety cheeses.

View from Newbury Lock

View from Newbury Lock

On our last night of our Waterways voyage we decided to venture into Thatcham for a meal out at a pub, just a stone’s throw away from the canal. The Swan, a converted stable house, had a bustling atmosphere, friendly staff and a ‘pub grub’ menu. There were a selection of local brews available and the pub itself was decorated with vintage posters.

On our arrival back to the marina, we discovered a quaint country house that had been converted into a Café and Souvenir shop. The Aldermaston Visitor Centre, located on the canal next to the marina itself, served a selection of café treats and lots of little souvenirs with some information about the canal’s history upstairs.  Seated outside on the benches, relaxing in the sun next the water- A perfect way to end our holiday along the Kennet & Avon canal.

Aldermaston Wharf is located close to Reading on the picturesque Kennet and Avon Canal, which runs from Reading city centre to Bristol.  If you would like to have a look at our holidays along the Kennet & Avon, or any stretch of the UK Canals, why not have a look at our website or give us a call at 01252 339026. For our latest spring offers just click here.