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  • Top tips for your first winter on a narrowboat

    winter narrowboat

    Narrowboat living all seemed so lovely during summer, the long evenings, watching ducklings become ducks and general social canal life.

    But soon the sun will be replaced with long dreary mornings and ice cold wind, so just what do you need to survive your first winter on a narrowboat?

     

    Inside is warmer than you think!

    First things first, a relatively modern narrowboat is actually pretty cosy inside. Most will have central heating as standard and if you have a fire as well, you can keep warm for free with kindling gathered from the towpath.

    It probably goes without saying that other top tips for keeping warm include dressing in layers and moving  around for extra heat.

     

    But outside is colder ….

    Hyperthermia is a real risk for anyone spending too long outside in the cold damp weather. Make sure you don’t spend too long outside in one go, and you have proper winter clothing and a good supply of hot drinks.

     

    Prepare for hold ups

    If you plan to keep on cruising during the winter it is important to realise you may need to be flexible with your plans. If the canal freezes over you can cause serious damage to your boat if you try to force your way through it. Make an itinerary that takes into account you may be hauled up for a couple of days while you wait for the ice to subside.

    If you are held up by ice, under no circumstances walk on it – nor let your dog or cat. It could be much thinner than you think and drowning is a real risk.

     

    Prevent burst pipes

    Not only are burst water pipes expensive, a pain to fix, and a creator of huge amounts of mess, they also leave you without central heating - something no one wants in the dead of winter.

    To try and prevent this, make sure you have about 30% anti-freeze in your water and heating system.

     

    Be safe

    A dark, slippery towpath is not your friend. If you are heading out alone always carry a torch and a charged phone and tell somebody where you are going. A safety whistle is also good idea in case you slip into the canal.

     

     

  • England’s best canal-side pubs

     

    Whether you are pulling up to the bar from the water or land, England is host to a wide range of glorious canal-side pubs.

    And despite no promises of sunshine, we can’t think of a better place to spend a long lunch, or lazy evening.

    It was a tough job, but here are some of our favourites (in no particular order):

     

    narrowboat canal

    1) The Narrowboat, London

    Situated directly on Regent’s Canal in Islington this pub attracts people from all over London who love its proximity to the canal.

    We think the food on offer is great too and they are famous for their Sunday roasts. Be warned though, this is London, and you won’t see much change from a tenner for two pints.

     

    2) The Blue Lias, Warwickshire

    If you aren’t local or pulling up in your narrowboat, The Blue Lias also has two large fields you can caravan in from April to October - and we recommend you do as it’s one of the finest canalside pubs we know.

    Whilst it’s wonderful to experience the pub in summer, it also offers a delicious winter menu. Because it’s small (and popular) it does get crowded at times, but we think that only is a good thing.

     

    3) The Saracan’s Head, Lancashire

    Boasting an all-day menu this pub is great for both drinks and food. Beautiful and airy on the inside it also has a big garden outside for when the sun shines.

    Right next to the Halsall Warehouse Bridge, there are some great walks nearby. It’s on the banks of the Leeds Liverpool canal and (we think!) home to some of the friendliest staff in the business.

     

    narrowboat canal

    4) The Three Horseshoes, Hemel Hempstead

    Even when the sun isn’t out this 16th century pub is worth visiting thanks to its roaring log fire indoors. If the sun does come out, well you’re in for a treat as you can sit right on the edge of the towpath gazing at the local wildlife as the sun sets.

    Serving both food and drink, this is a very popular spot.

     

    5) The Two Boats, Warwickshire

    It’s another entry for Warwickshire, but the country does possess a very fine stretch of canal – so we might be a little biased!

    The Two Boats is a beautiful old pub with tonnes of character and good beer on tap, though it’s its chunky chips that regulars all rave about. A really great place just to sit and watch the world go by or pull up for lunch on your narrowboat.

  • Everything You Need to Know About Narrowboat Time Sharing and Part Ownership

     

    If you've ever dreamed of spending your days drifting quietly down the English waterways and exploring the countryside, and your evenings in a cosy country pub or tucked up with a good book, then part-owning or time sharing a narrowboat may be the choice for you.

    Find out more about the differences in each option:

    narrowboat boats canal

    Time Sharing

    This is where you purchase the right to spend a certain amount of time a year aboard a narrowboat. When you buy in to one of these schemes, you are often called the ‘Owner’ by the management company, but you don’t actually own the boat in any way. The boat is held in trust by a club that owns a fleet of narrowboats for the purpose of time sharing them out to people.

     

    In time shares, ‘Owners’ have little or no say in the way that the boat is managed; you may not even get the same boat each time that you opt in. You pay an annual fee to cover the costs of all the boats in the club, rather than contributing to the running of a particular boat.

     

    On the plus side, this could be a good step in between hiring a boat for the week, and committing to part owning a boat, which can be quite costly. It’s an attractive option if you only want a short amount of time a year on the water, and is more flexible as many clubs are part of a larger time share arrangement and offer you the choice to spend a week abroad instead if you’d prefer that occasionally.

     

    narrowboat boat canal

    Part Ownership

    For those of you that would a narrowboat of your own, but can’t afford the cost of buying one yourself, part ownership is the next best thing. It’s where a syndicate is formed of people who each pay for a share of a boat, and differs from time sharing in that this group of people actually own the boat until they sell their share, or collectively decide to sell the boat.

     

    Each of the owners is then entitled to use the boat for a number of weeks a year which is proportional to their share; for example, if you bought a 1/12 share, you get to use the narrowboat for 4 weeks a year. Which weeks you get depends on the method used to decide, which can either be random, done on a rotating list basis, or ad hoc in smaller syndicates.

     

    There are companies who manage the acquisition of the boat, as well as arranging moorings, insurance, boat licence, servicing and maintenance, for a fee of around £400 a year per 1/12 share.

    The other option is to organise the syndicate yourself, which probably works best if you’ve got a group of people together that already know each other, want to part-own a boat, and have the time to manage it themselves.

     

    It will cost you between around £7k and £11k to purchase your share, but be aware that you will also be responsible for the running costs, which over the years will probably amount to more than the price you paid for the share in the first place.

     

    With the part ownership option, you face a bigger financial commitment, but you get the satisfaction of actually owning your own boat, which is likely to be of a much better specification than one you wold get in a time share arrangement.

     

  • How to keep a family narrowboat holiday fun!

    While there really is nothing more delightful than a family break on the waterways, sometimes things don't always run as smoothly as they do on dry land - especially if rain gets involved!

    However, with a little preparation a narrowboating holiday with your children can become both an entertaining and educational experience.

    Here's how to have a  really memorable trip:

    canal narrowboat narrowboating children kids

    Get back to nature

    The British canal and waterway system is simply teeming with life, with birds, insects, fish and mammals all living in abundance within short reach of the banks. This is a great chance for your kids to explore nature and learn more about the environment – if you have the inclination you can even use it as an opportunity to explain more about the impact humans have on the land by pointing out the effects of littering and pollution.

    There is also something beautifully therapeutic about feeding the ducks. For most Brits it’s actually our earliest encounter with any sort of wild animal and even adults can get involved with this enjoyable pastime – which is twice as fun when you’re doing it from the deck of your own canal boat. Turn it into a game with the kids and see how many ducks they can get following the boat and your Hansel & Gretel-esque trail of floating breadcrumbs.

    Get active

    A canal boat holiday is rife with opportunities for getting the children active. They can help with steering and mooring the boat, opening and closing the locks as well as simply running or walking alongside it. Canal paths are also a great, safe space to ride their bikes, and with one person needed on the towpath anyway to open and close the locks, they’ll have somebody close by to supervise them. When not in use the bikes can be secured to the roof.

     

    canal narrowboat narrowboating children kids

    Enjoy flexible fun

    One of the greatest things about life on the waterways is the flexibility it affords you – if you have very tiny kids they may not be ready for a full fortnight away from home so a single week would be better, or you may want to take things slow and moor up for a few days at a time – spinning out your trip over multiple weeks. Whatever suits you and your children, you can arrange it with a narrowboat holiday.

    Essentials to bring on a family canal boat holiday

    • Board games –a wide selection will ensure some indoor entertainment when the weather turns bad.
    • Waterproofs – this is Britain remember and there is nothing to put a literal dampener on things than feeling a bit soggy.
    • Dogs – your furry friend is going to love the canal as much as you do. Just remember to bring all their associated gear: leads, bowls, bed and the all-important poo bags!
    • Books – it wouldn't be a real boating holiday without a bedtime reading of  Kenneth Graeme’s The Wind in the Willows.

     

     

     

     

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