Would you like a change from your typical timeshare holiday? The big resorts in Orlando, Palm Springs and Hawaii all have their appeal, but when you're ready to try something quieter, more adventurous, and totally unique, how about vacationing on your own canal boat in England?Cruising the canals on your own private narrowboat can be peaceful and scenic
You can exchange your timeshare to spend a week cruising leisurely through a network of canals in the UK, aboard your own private narrowboat. This offbeat vacation is sure to make a memorable trip!
A private cruising vacation on a canal boat
Having your own boat means you can set your own schedule and go where you want, when you want. You can spend most of your time cruising around the canals, stopping occasionally when you reach an interesting spot. If you find a place you like, you could stay there a couple of days, using your narrowboat as a base while you explore the area. You could even spend the entire time on board at the marina, using the boat as a floating condo, but then you'd be missing out on the boating part!
Before you take off on your voyage, knowledgeable instructors will go over everything with you, and make sure you understand where to go, how to use the boat, and all the safety precautions you should be aware of.
For the most part, you'll be traveling along quiet canals. The water is calm, and the pace is slow. The recommended speed on these narrowboats is a leisurely 3 miles per hour, so picture floating through the countryside enjoying the scenery, not speeding along leaving a foaming wake behind you.Some routes involve going through a series of small locks on the canal
Some canals are pretty flat, while others have small locks you need to pass through to go up or down a level. There's even one canal that crosses an aquaduct, so you're boating high above the surrounding scenery.
Along the way, you'll find forests and bridges, castles and villages, shops and pubs. After a day of cruising, touring and exploring, what's more inviting than a friendly pub?
What life is like on a narrowboat
Because they need to fit through narrow canals and locks and under low bridges, these boats have to be long and slim. The floor plan is linear, and each room is limited to the width of the boat. As on other boats, space is at a premium, and the design makes the best use of the space available.
Staying on a narrow canal boat is kind of like being in a skinny RV on the water. You have your own self-contained space with everything you need, and you travel around with it where you choose.The main cabin on your narrowboat offers space to relax
This isn't a vacation for exciting nightlife. It's about living at a slower pace for awhile, enjoying the simpler pleasures in life. You might spend some time strolling along forested pathways, curling up with a good book, or enjoying an evening of conversation over a pint or two.
You can choose to cook your meals on board, since each boat has a compact galley with dishes, cookware and kitchen facilities. If you're more into exploring than cooking, you can find pubs and restaurants ashore and eat many of your meals out instead.Each narrowboat has a small but capable galley
Pros and cons of a narrowboat vacation
- Staying on a canal boat makes for a unique vacation. This is a very cool way to see parts of the countryside that most tourists never see.
- You've got flexibility and you're in charge. There are canals around the country, with different scenery and sights. You can choose your starting point based on what you're most interested in, and then pick your own route and stopping points from there.
- You can combine a week on a narrowboat with a more typical tourist itinerary. For instance, spending a week in London doing city sightseeing and activities plus a week on the canals, would give you a fascinating and varied vacation in England.
- A narrowboat vacation is relaxing and leisurely - a chance to slow down, enjoy the scenery, and soak in the feel of the place. It will take you far, far away from the fast-paced world that most of us live in.
- This isn't a luxury resort. You don't have concierge service, housekeeping service, a swimming pool or spa treatments. A canal boat vacation doesn't have the comforts and amenities of a big timeshare resort.
- If you're used to staying in spacious villas, this may seem small and crowded. On the other hand, if you've ever stayed in an RV or sailboat, you'll be familar with living in a smaller space.
- On one of these boating vacations, you need to take care of things that don't normally concern you at a timeshare, like refilling your water tanks when they get low.
UK narrowboat timeshare options
There are several companies that provide narrowboat vacations for timeshare owners, in various parts of England. You can often find these available for exchanges or extra vacations on RCI and Interval International. Here are a few possibilities to get you started.
Canaltime at Sawley
Canaltime at Sawley Marina - This marina is located near Nottingham, and you can cruise through the land of Robin Hood. You can explore Sherwood Forest, wander along footpaths, wonder at castles, and visit villages and museums in this historic region. The narrowboats have 1 or 2 bedrooms, and sleep up to 6.
How to stay here? These canal boats are available on RCI (code #6073, gold crown).
Variety Cruisers - These canal boats are based in Derbyshire, 40 miles north of Birmingham. Well-appointed boats let you cruise through this scenic area, discovering its canals, locks, bridges, and villages. All boats have comfortable interiors and capable kitchens. The marina offers a store, picnic area and wifi.
How to stay here? These canal boats are available through II (code CUI).
Classic Narrowboats - This operation is also based in Derbyshire. The extensive marina facilities include everything from hairdressers to butchers. Aboard your boat, you can cruise along the canals and discover picturesque villages, hand-operated locks, museums, and shops. 2 or 3 bedroom boats can sleep up to 8.
How to stay here? These narrowboats are available on RCI (code #6426, gold crown).
Destination details for UK narrowboats
- Where it is - You can find narrowboats based in marinas in different parts of England. Check out different options, and select one you feel has the most appealing sights nearby.
See Canal map of England.
- How to get here - If you're making a narrowboat timeshare stay the core of your vacation, you can fly into whatever regional airport is nearest your base marina. If you're doing a combination trip, you can fly into London, then travel to the marina by train and taxi.
- Weather - This will vary a bit with your specific cruising area, but in general, expect a temperate climate. Highs are usually in the 60s from June to Sept. Winter can be chilly and damp, with highs in the 40s from Dec through Feb. You may find some rain any time of year.
See Weather averages for Derby, England.