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Adventure afloat: Yorkshire’s canal boat holidays to restart


Canal boating holidays will be available again from 12 April as the lockdown eases – and Yorkshire boating firms are being kept busy as many holidaymakers look to stay in the UK this year.

Waterways and wellbeing charity Canal & River Trust, which looks after 500km of the region’s waterways, is urging people to try something different this year and sample Yorkshire from the water.

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Yorkshire and the North East has some of the best scenery in the country, and the Trust now has nearly 150km of its waterways across the region covered by the prestigious Green Flag Award, which recognises spaces that boast the highest possible environmental standards, are beautifully maintained and play an important role in the local community.

Sean McGinley, director of Yorkshire & North East, said: “Research shows that simply being on or by the water makes people feel happier. Boat holidays offer a relaxing getaway whilst staying local and safe. Spring, summer or autumn, all are the perfect time to get aboard a boat, with all your own facilities, and discover the magic of the nation’s canals.”

It seems holidaymakers across the country wholeheartedly agree, with leading boat operators reporting their fleets are rapidly getting booked up for the boating season ahead, particularly from May half term onwards.

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Shire Cruisers operates 20 holiday boats across all of Yorkshire’s waterways. The company has seen a large rise in interest and bookings for 2021, and while they still have some spaces left, those interested in booking a boat are urged to act quickly.

Director of Shire Cruisers Nigel Stevens said: “We’re certainly very busy. We do still have some spaces left but people will need to book soon.

“Boating is such a fantastic way to see Yorkshire – not only all the different places but also from a different angle. It’s such a contrast to normal life – you’ve got things to do, but in a calm way, so rather than just sitting on a beach, it really does make you think of something else rather than worrying about the mortgage or everyday things.”

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For those looking to travel in extra style, Nick Mead, who runs luxury hotel boat Lady Teal along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, said: “As a 5 Star Hotel Boat, we are looking forward to having guests aboard again from May 17th.

“The canals and rivers across Yorkshire and Lancashire are just fabulous. The last year has been challenging to us as a business, as it has for everyone, but bookings are strong for this year and into the future.

“A staycation on the waterways provides a totally different view of our wonderful countryside.”

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Who are boat holidays for?

A canal boating holiday will allow you to be recharged by nature and enjoy the calming effect of holidaying by water, taking in stunning views as you cruise along the nation’s breath-taking waterways.

Life aboard a boat offers something new for everyone, even your much-loved furry friends. You do not need to have previous experience driving a boat to book a canal boat escape, as holiday packages include tuition for beginners.

Canals and rivers are glorious during the spring and summertime. Cruising away from life on dry land is ideal for anyone who would relish a change of scenery and enjoy a peaceful adventure. If you love connecting with nature and the great outdoors, then booking a holiday by water could be the best thing you do all year.

When can I go on a canal boat holiday?

In England:

  • From 29 March 2021, day boats (which are often run by different operators to holiday boats) can begin operating again in England – providing a fun way to keep the children entertained during the Easter break.
  • Single household holidaymakers may cruise away from 12 April 2021 in England and stay in self-catered accommodation overnight. In line with this government guidance, operators are now accepting bookings for trips from this date onwards.
  • From 17 May 2021, two households or the “rule of six”, will be able to make bookings for staycation trips including hire boat holidays.
  • All restrictions will hopefully be relaxed by 21 June 2021, pending government advice and announcements.

In Wales:

  • Self-contained accommodation is expected to reopen in Wales from 27 March 2021, provided cases of the virus remain low. This will mean that people living in Wales will be able to travel with their household from this date.
  • Early booking is advised to avoid disappointment as the summer months are proving very popular, though there is still lots of availability for May.

No need to worry

Many operators are offering flexible bookings for peace of mind, so if circumstances shift you can speak to them about changing or cancelling your booking. Check details with your holiday operator.

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