The Best Canal Routes in the UK



 

Enjoy your time in the UK

Express English College would like to help you to enjoy your UK experience. The British Countryside can be very romantic, nature-friendly and family friendly. It’s the perfect way to enjoy a bank holiday or a weekend.
Green open spaces are great for exercise, cycling or hiking and if you add a waterway, it becomes the perfect recipe. It’s a great way to spend time with family or friends. The number of activities that can be done are amazing. Boat trips, fishing or wildlife watching give you a break from your daily routine and is a great way to have fun.
During the Industrial Revolution, canals were used to transport goods, minerals,  wood and other materials up and down the country. Nowadays, they have been transformed into a countrywide network for pleasure, to slow down and enjoy walking or boating in outstanding river scenery.
Around the country, you will have the possibility of observing wild mammals, fish, birds and reptiles such as: Water voles, otters, polecats, stoats, minks, Mallard ducks and swans, blue Kingfishers, dormice, carps, frogs and other wildlife.
Some examples of  colourful flowers that can be seen on the British countryside are trees like weeping willows, majestic oak and maple trees or flowers like bluebells, water lilies, or yellow irises.
Don’t think that going on a canal barge is a boring activity,  because the canal routes also offer a wide variety of  activities like swimming, picnic opportunities, and collecting seasonal fruits like blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, chestnuts, hazelnuts or mushrooms.
 

Six of the best canal routes in the UK:

1  The Kennet and Avon Canal (from Bristol to Reading):  It was built to link Bristol and London. It has always been a rural slow canal perfect for family cruising. There are genuinely nice cycling routes nearby in Avebury and you can also view the well-known White Horses cut into Wiltshire chalk down.
2  Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal (from Brecon to Pontymoile): This is good choice if you are looking for peaceful and quiet holidays. Along the way you will see static houseboats, electric narrow boats and dog-friendly walkers. You will love the small villages, admire huge aqueducts from the Roman times and if the weather is good you can take a dip in the River Usk.
3 Trent and Mersey Canal (Preston Brook, Cheshire, Derbyshire and Derwent Mouth): This is the best shot for history and the traditional English pub.  It was the first industrial canal of the country: coal, wool and pottery were transported through its river course.  While you sail though this route you will go through 21 locks. If you are a music lover, stop and go into any of the beautifully decorated pubs and enjoy the sound of traditional rhythms and songs.
4° Warwickshire Ring (Grand Union, Oxford, Coventry and Birmingham): This is a totally different route from those mentioned above because you will find yourself  going in long loops. Visit breath-taking Oxford  and its narrow canals, explore Birmingham and feel like a king/Queen in Warwick and see its medieval castle.
5 The Forth and Clyde Canal (Scotland):  You will start the journey passing by charming Glasgow streets, restaurants and galleries to continue to tree-shaded valleys. You will enjoy urban and natural sceneries. You cannot miss a must-see icon of Scotland, the kelpie’s Horses Head sculpture at the start of the Firth of Forth.
6 The Leeds and Liverpool Canal: The route is known for the transport of different wood and manufacturing towns such as Wigan, Burnley, Blackburn or the really interesting Saltaire. If you are a foodie you cannot miss its high-quality restaurants, cafes and bakeries. One of the visitor’s favourite places is The Sound Bar in Skipton where you can also visit Mother’s Shipton Cave.

Tips for your Trip

  • Learn some lingo before the start of your journey. For example; a barge means any kind of floating boat or structure.
  • Remember that towpaths are a part of the British waterways network and so are the canals. So take some time to enjoy a hiking or a cycling route.
  • Go slow: Three miles per hour and 15 minutes per lock. Don’t rush and chill all the way along. When you come back to daily life you will feel refreshed.
  • Enjoy the time playing cards and with your family and friends. Time with beloved friends or relatives is very precious.
  • Do not forget your binoculars, interesting books and musical instruments. It will make the trip more enjoyable. You can also have a better view of the wildlife.
  • Take into account that the boat’s kitchen is very tiny so don’t bring too much with you. If you do, you won’t try out magnificent local products such as cheese, bread, honey, fish, meat or traditional cakes. It would be a shame not to taste British organic juices, ciders or beers.

 
If after reading this post you are already dreaming about a sunset picnic in the middle of the countryside, next to your canal boat,  take some time to google canal barge holidays UK.
If you have the opportunity of doing any of these routes, contact our office at our English School in Manchester and let us know about your time in the UK.  It will be a unique experience with your friends and family in the UK.

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