Your largest choice of self-drive canal boat holidays throughout the canals of Northern England. No previous boating experience necessary.

Narrowboat Holidays on the Canals of Northern England


Northern England Canal map - boating holidays

Hire a narrowboat on the canals in Northern England and navigate across the Pennine Waterways via one of 3 main canals. Choose the wide open vistas on the mighty Leeds and Liverpool, the picturesque Rochdale Canal or narrow Huddersfield Canal with the longest tunnel in the country. These waterways are packed with industrial history, modern day commerce and agricultural land, passing through cobbled towns and villages. All three have their own character and all offer magnificent views.

Take a boating holiday along the Trent & Mersey Canal and explore the history of the potteries at Stoke on Trent and the salt works around Middlewich. Take your hire boat for a cruise onto the River Weaver via the Anderton Boat Lift, marvelling at this unique feat of Victorian engineering. Or cruise the pretty lock free Lancaster Canal for coastal views of Morecombe Bay just beyond Lancaster.

Travel along the Macclesfield Canal - one of the highest on the network which skirts around the Peak District - plenty of opportunity for walks and photography.

Local Attractions:

Bingley Five star

Bingley Five Rise: Staircase locks on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. This flight of five are the steepest set of locks in the UK.

Standedge Tunnel star

Standedge Tunnel: This spooky tunnel is over 200 years old and the longest canal tunnel in Britain! (Be sure to book your passage to navigate the tunnel.)

Barton Swing Aqueduct star

Barton Swing Aqueduct: This aqueduct carries the Bridgewater Canal over the Manchester Ship Canal, a unique swing aqueduct, dating back to 1893.

Peak District star

The Peak District: A national park packed full of fun, active & free things to do, take a walk through the forests, enjoy horseback riding or rock climbing.

Anderton Boat Lift star

The Anderton Boat Lift: Experience this amazing feat of engineering, dating back to 1875, take your hire boat up in this lift and onto the River Weaver.

Bingley Five Rise Standedge Tunnel Barton Swing Aqueduct The Anderton Lift Peak Forest Barnoldswick Silsden Garstang Sowerby Bridge Congleton Acton Bridge Anderton Leeds

Lancaster Canal, Lancashire

This waterway originally linked Preston to Kendal (not currently navigable beyond Tewitfield - under restoration) and comprises 41 miles of navigable lock free contour built canal. On offer are scenic Lancashire countryside views, closely following the coastline in places and an opportunity to explore Morecombe Bay as well as Lancaster City centre. There are interesting towns and villages along the route with shops and pubs, so you won't go hungry. Canal boat holidays are a perfect way to cruise to a city without needing to worry about car parking! Explore the selection of cities accessible by boat.


Garstang Garstang.

Leeds & Liverpool Canal -traditional narrowboats

Leeds & Liverpool Canal

This canal is the longest in England at 127 miles and has 91 locks. Navigate the deepest lock flight, the Bingley Five Rise, the impressive Burnley Embankment and take a breather at Greenberfield with picturesque views of rolling fields, before you descend through stone cobbled villages. At either end of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, are the two cities, Liverpool to the West and Leeds to the East. With the recently constructed Canal Link the canal now travels further into the heart of Liverpool and the historic Albert Dock (passage has to be prebooked). Other points of interest include the mile long tunnel at Foulridge, the market town of Skipton and the Victorian model town of Saltaire - a Unesco World Heritage Site. This Northern England canal boat holiday is perfect for those looking for a packed week exploring the diversity of the North.


Barnoldswick Barnoldswick. Silsden Silsden. Leeds Leeds.

Calder & Hebble Navigation, Yorkshire

Another canal navigating the rolling Pennine hills with plenty of locks and endless scenic views. You can pass through Halifax and onto the Rochdale Canal from the historic basin at Sowerby Bridge. Cruising West on your narrowboat, operating plenty of lock flights, you can cruise on to the Huddersfield Broad Canal and then the Huddersfield Narrow Canal to experience the Standedge Tunnel, one of the original 7 Wonders of the Waterways. Passage through the tunnel has to be prebooked and staff from the Canal & River Trust escort each hireboat through as the tunnel is very low and narrow in places - a truly unique experience that takes about 2 - 3 hours.


Sowerby Bridge Sowerby Bridge.

Rochdale Canal, Yorkshire

A lock frequent canal with lots of villages and market towns. Pass by cobbled streets, stone churches and interesting old towns including Hebden Bridge and Todmorden village, home to a rich heritage of Victorian architecture, situated in the midst of three valleys, an ideal opportunity for a scenic walk where you can spot a variety of birds and wildlife.


Sowerby Bridge Sowerby Bridge.

Macclesfield Canal, Peak District

Cruising through rural scenery with the Peak District Forest to the east of the waterway, the Macclesfield Canal offers holiday hirers a tranquil boating break and is also part of the Cheshire Ring. The waterway is 26 miles long and has 13 locks, 12 of which are in one flight just north of our marina at Congleton. It is one of the 'newest' canals on the canal network, opening in 1831. It has some fascinating 'roving' or 'snake' bridges built in such a way that the tow horse did not have to be unhitched from the rope when the towpath changed from one side of the canal to the other.


Congleton Congleton.

Rochdale Canal - hire boat at Hebden Bridge

Bridgewater Canal, Cheshire Ring

This waterway was one of the first to be built by the pioneering Duke of Bridgewater to carry coal from his mines at Worsley and is brimming with history and British heritage. A broad canal 39 miles long it is now part of the Cheshire Ring, a popular route with holiday makers. Cruise over the famous Barton Swing Aqueduct, which carries the Bridgewater Canal over the Manchester Ship Canal. Navigate your hire boat into central Manchester or cruise south to the Trent & Mersey Canal.

Trent & Mersey Canal

A diverse canal with lots to experience. Climb the Cheshire locks to 'Heart Break Hill', take the Anderton Lift onto the River Weaver, or navigate through the historic home of the Potteries: Stoke on Trent. From here, the Trent & Mersey Canal spans into the central England waterways.


Anderton Anderton. Acton Bridge Acton Bridge.

A Northern England boating holiday is perfect for the active boater and novices alike, for more information on the UK Waterways, click to view the interactive map of the UK inland waterways.