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Canal holidays, one of the slowest forms of travel, are set for popularity boom

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Photo credit: Country Living

Photo credit: Country Living

From Country Living

When we are allowed to travel around the UK again, according to the government’s four-step roadmap out of lockdown in England, it looks like staycations will be the holiday of choice for many this year.

Many UK booking companies have already reported a rise in the number of bookings for 2021 which are a mix of advance bookings and postponed bookings from 2020. Glamping, holiday cottages and group accommodation where families can reunite when it’s safe to do so are in high demand.

But it’s not just land-based accommodation expecting a surge in bookings once restrictions lift. Canal holidays are also becoming increasingly popular as people want to explore the UK from a different viewpoint. Traveling on a barge down one of the UK’s many canals at 5mph can offer a slow, relaxed perspective of the British countryside.

Photo credit: Country LivingPhoto credit: Country Living

Photo credit: Country Living

Photo credit: Mark WattsPhoto credit: Mark Watts

Photo credit: Mark Watts

The gentle bob of the water rocking you to sleep, the team camaraderie of opening and closing locks, and the slow pace of life is appealing to many.

Leighton Jones, Operations Director at Black Prince Holidays says: “2021 looks like it will be a busy year for canal holidays. Availability is already limited because reservations that couldn’t go ahead last year have been moved into this year, and people who missed out in the rush for summer getaways when lockdown was first lifted have played it safe by booking ahead.

“Compared to other types of holiday, there’s a relatively small number of narrowboats available to hire each year, so popular dates look likely to sell out soon. If you’re planning to take a narrowboat holiday this year, our advice is to start planning now.”

Photo credit: Country LivingPhoto credit: Country Living

Photo credit: Country Living

Things to know before you go on a barge holiday

  • Plan your route before you set off and decide where you’d like to moor each night, allowing a bit of leeway for unexpected canal traffic and holdups.

  • Learn about locks and how they work. Make sure at least one person on board is fit enough to open and close them.

  • Make sure at least two members of your party are comfortable driving the boat.

  • Go prepared with food and drink, bearing in mind storage and fridge/freezer space is likely to be limited.

  • Be prepared to cosy up. Narrow boats are, as the name suggests, tight on space. It is ideal for one family or bubble to travel on but you can not socially distance on a barge.

  • The routes are beautiful! Pack a wildlife guide and look out for kingfishers along the way. A local travel guide is handy too so you can learn about any landmarks you might pass.

Take a tour: Caldon Canal (Stoke-on-Trent to Froghall) with Black Prince Holidays

Photo credit: Country LivingPhoto credit: Country Living

Photo credit: Country Living

Photo credit: Mark WattsPhoto credit: Mark Watts

Photo credit: Mark Watts

Photo credit: Country LivingPhoto credit: Country Living

Photo credit: Country Living

Photo credit: Country LivingPhoto credit: Country Living

Photo credit: Country Living

Photo credit: Country LivingPhoto credit: Country Living

Photo credit: Country Living

Photo credit: Country LivingPhoto credit: Country Living

Photo credit: Country Living

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