Canal boats are a great way of winding down into a relaxing holiday, escaping the pace of everyday life. Whether it is a the long 3000 mile journey down America’s Intercostal Waterway or just a day out in England or Republic of Ireland. So why not ship yourself off to one of Teletext Holidays great canal boat holiday destination across the globe.
A canal cruise is a leisurely way to explore rural France. There are hundreds of kilometres of canals to explore, and established British tour operators who make arrangements for you.
Burgundy is one of the most popular regions. Here you’ll find the Canal de Briare, Lateral, du Nivernais, de Bourgogne, du Centre, de Roanne a Digoin and de la Marine à la Saône. The entire route links the Mediterranean to the Atlantic.
You’re spoilt for choice in England, which has a huge network of canals. In the south the Kennet and Avon Canal and the Grand Circle are popular routes, with the latter passing London Zoo and the grand houses and parks of central London.
In the Midlands, try the Warwickshire and Leicestershire rings. Further north, head for the Cheshire ring or the trans-Pennine Leeds and Liverpool Canal.
The Caledonian Canal traverses the Scottish Highlands, linking Fort William to Inverness. Actual manmade canal and lock sections are minimal and the network links a series of long, skinny, natural stretches of water – including Loch Lochy, Loch Oich and the infamous Loch Ness.
Yachts and motor boats are available for hire, and in most cases no previous sailing experience is necessary.
Republic of Ireland
Ireland’s network of canals, loughs and rivers take boaters straight into the heart of the country. The Grand Canal stretches from Dublin to the Shannon, with a junction to the River Barrow.
The Royal Canal has recently been restored and the revamped Ballinamore and Ballyconnell Canal links the Shannon to Lough Erne, in the north. The brickwork of the 16 locks and numerous stone bridges have been restored.
The Llangollen Canal is one of the most popular in Britain, stretching for 41 miles from Cheshire into the Welsh hills. Iron aqueducts contain the canal at Chirk and Pontcysyllte, with a 120-foot drop on the non-towpath side at Pontcysyllte.
The Llangollen passes sheep pastures, ending beside the River Dee at the foot of Snowdonia. To the south, the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal winds through the the Brecon Beacons.
The canals and rivers of the Friesland region are lined with vegetable plots, herds of black and white cattle, windmills and villages with welcoming cafes and restaurants.
Locks are kept open throughout the summer and most moorings are free.The southern waterways are busier, leading to Amsterdam, a city built around canals. Cafes spread along streets beside the water and gabled houses line the route.
The canals around Venice offer a different boating experience from the typical boat holiday. The city’s grand waterways are ports of call for ships from around the world.
Out towards the ocean, the lagoon canals around Chioggia are far more peaceful, surrounded by a nature reserve and dotted with small islands and tiny fishing villages. Explore the backstreet canals by gondola, or head off on foot and join the crowds.
Regarded as one of the world’s most impressive engineering feats, the Panama Canal links the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It’s far removed from the small, narrowboat canals of Europe, but passage through it is part of many cruises.
Though the 50-mile journey takes less than 24 hours, there’s a great sense of the exotic as passengers glide through the middle of two giant continents.
Stretching for 3,000 miles from Canada down to the east coast of the US, to the tip of Florida and from the Florida Gulf to Texas, the Intercoastal Waterway is America’s best-known inland boating route.
Canal purists may prefer the Erie Canal though. It connects the Great Lakes to the east coast of the US, stretching from the city of Buffalo, on Lake Erie, to Albany, on the Hudson River.
The Göta Canal crosses the southern tip of Sweden from the capital, Stockholm, to Göteborg, linking the Baltic to the North Sea. Once a busy shipping route, today commercial traffic is limited and converted steamships are used as floating hotels.
The canal is 240 miles long. Those on slower vessels looking for a shorter section of the route could opt for the waterways around Stockholm or the huge lakes of Vättern or Vänern.