Stylish holidays & days out aboard Britain's finest self drive narrowboats
Menu
A weekend away

Now here's an idea for a weekend... Starting on a Friday morning at Tackley station, next to the crossing, you’ll see a large sign for the Oxford Canal Walk next to the railway crossing...

Read more

Take the path away from the station and village for about half a mile until you reach a junction. Turn left here towards Kirtlington and continue for for another half a mile to Pigeon Lock on the Oxford Canal.Turn left and walk along the towpath for about 3.5 miles and you’ll arrive at Heyford Wharf.

Here at our Heyford base is our shop selling refreshments - and when the weather is fine you can relax alongside the canal with a cream tea from Kizzies bistro. At this point you could take the train back to Tackley. However, if you’ve planned ahead you could have a canal boat waiting for you and with a few provisions picked up from the shop and a rucksack carried on your walk (you won’r need a lot on the waterways) you’ll be ready to go.

Take your canal boat up to Banbury, taking in Somerton Deep Lock and passing through Aynho (perhaps stopping for a meal at the Great Western Arms), you’ll arrive in Banbury ready to explore the area or continue further on the canal. On you return to Heyford on Monday morning you can hop on a train back to Tackley and head for the Gardiner Arms pub in the village.

Simply Brilliant!

We have just returned from a weekend break aboard Windsor; a 2-4 berth narrowboat hired from Oxfordshire Narrowboats at Lower Heyford. As a family of 4 comprising 2 adults, an 11 year old and 9 year old, the boat was a good size for us.

Read more

The boys slept on chairs in the ‘living room’ that converted into beds. We had a double bed in a separate compartment. 

On arrival in Lower Heyford, we had a little difficulty finding the wharf and initially parked in the parking area at the train station. We then saw the wharf over the canal and drove the very short distance over the canal. The sign is a little faded but once you know I look out for it seconds after crossing the bridge, it’s easy enough to spot. 

There’s not lots of parking available but the idea is that you only park there while unloading your vehicle before moving it to the secure parking at the railway station (not the station car parking though). Having returned to the wharf by crossing the blue bridge, we reported to reception (in the shop to the left of the bistro Kizzies), found the toilet (singular), and then registered our arrival. We were then promptly greeted by Eric who advised us to load Windsor and then let him know when we were ready for our boat instructions. 

There was ample storage space onboard and the narrowboat was spotlessly clean. As well as a welcoming bottle of wine, the boat was well stocked with cutlery, crockery, pots and pans etc. There’s a decent oven onboard as well as a decent size fridge. In addition, there was ample cleaning products, a stiff brush and dustpan and brush so the narrowboat can be kept clean. 

Once all our gear was loaded, we called Eric for our boat introduction. This was detailed and he went through the boat’s facilities and how to do the daily checks of oil and coolant as well as how to check for water leaks. 

Before long (about 45 minutes) we learned how to start and stop the engine and then we were off. 

As we had decided to head towards Banbury, Eric accompanied us to the first lift bridge (205) where he showed us how to operate it with a key before he left us (and headed back to the wharf). We then cruised up to the first lock where we were met by Greg who demonstrated how to operate the lock. Greg’s job was to demo the lock to all northbound newbie narrowboat captains. 

At first it seems overwhelming but a bit of common sense meant that after a couple of locks, it becomes second nature. 

Having mastered our first lock (Allen’s Lock), we were left to enjoy the weekend. 

As mentioned, our plan over the weekend was to head north to Banbury before heading south to the wharf. 

Our rough itinerary was as follows:

Friday - depart wharf
Stop at the Great Western Arm in Aynho (Bridge 190) at 6:30pm and eat there before spending the night moored there

Saturday - cast off at 10am and head up to Banbury, turn around at the Winding point at Grimsbury Wharf, moor in Banbury Centre, do some shopping before heading back down to moor just north of Twyford Wharf at Bridge 177

Sunday - at 9:30am head south to the GWA for lunch before a couple of hours of relaxing on the narrowboat and then a leisurely cruise down to Allen’s Lock to moor for the night 
Monday - an early start setting off at 8am to get Windsor back for 9am

This itinerary worked well. All of the locks were single-boat width so we didn’t need to share with other boats. There were no tunnels although there were many tight gaps and low bridges to negotiate. All were problem-free with numerous opportunities to practice. 

On the northbound leg, you’ll be going up locks and then going down them as you travel south. 

As we only traveled 15 miles or so, the narrowboat didn’t need refuelling and the water tank didn’t need refilling. It could be topped up at wharfs on route. One thing to mention is that spotting water points is a challenge. 

A couple of points that could be helpful:

- there are two electrical sockets on board and these are only for low power devices such as mobile chargers
- the shower is small and not very high. Be prepared to improvise with the shower head if you’re tall
- the mobile phone signal is a bit patchy in places especially if you want 4G
- the TV reception on route is hit and miss. At Allen’s Lock we had no signal for example 
- the food at the GWA was superb but you pay for the quality. It was worth it!
- don’t expect to go far. You’ll be travelling at walking speed at best and rack lock takes at least 15-25 minutes. You may also have to wait for others to use the locks
- the towpaths are well maintained for the most part and walking along them is a great way to break up the jpurney
- watch the video provided by Oxfordshire Narrowboats a few times before you leave home. Pay particular attention to mooring and lock operation. If traveling north from Lower Heyford, skip the sections on tunnels and rivers

We had a brilliant time aboard Windsor. We were really lucky with the weather and had no mechanical issues. Booking the holiday was a breeze and the information book received with the booking confirmation was detailed and worth reading a couple of times. The staff at the wharf were brilliant and we couldn’t fault anything about Oxfordshire Narrowboats. 

We loved our time aboard Windsor so much we’ll be booking a midweek break for August 2018 as soon as we get home.

A great Fun Day Out

We set off with the map in hand, just wonderful… Everyone enjoyed the journey including the 5 year old, we did dad a bubble wand for her which she loved as chugging along the bubbles came out easily in the breeze.

Read more

We passed an area where there were many cows in the canal so this was very funny to her too. Lots of birds and even saw a crane, beautiful… Everyone on the other boats are always very friendly and helpful if you need to ask anything…. What a great fun day out it had been, all ages enjoyed so much so that we thought we will book a long weekend next year...

Thank you Sue S from Milton Keynes for your lovely review on TripAdvisor!

Good Boats

"We have hired boats on various canals since the early eighties, the boat we had from here was of a good standard and well kept.

Read more

Great cruise going north, filling in some of the Oxford which we didn't get to about 20 years ago." Thank you DJDJG for you review on TripAdvisor for your comments...

DIY Canal Cruising

"This was our first experience of canal long boats and we (4 adults and 3 children) were a little apprehensive. We received a warm welcome from the very friendly receptionist, fitted with life jackets and taken to our long boat.

Read more

We were given excellent instructions from friendly experienced staff who, despite heavy rain, explained everything in detail. We were then guided on the first section, shown how to manoeuvre and open/close locks before being let loose. There was a choice of direction depending on the length of hire and we chose the easy way. We were given suggestions for good places to stop for meals, mooring and wanders. The boat was immaculate, clean everything, good linen, towels, heating and even a small TV. There is a not a lot of room, the showers are cramped but better than we expected. Once you have steered a few miles and dealt with a lock it is all very straight forward. We had a great time and highly recommend this company."
what a lovely review on TripAdvisor - thank you Andrew C

Lovely Review!

Two mature couples with a 20 year old daughter were the crew. After arriving at Lower Heyford the boat collection was very much straight forward and took about 2 hours. The staff were kind and explained all aspects well and efficiently. We were on a 7 day holiday and started North up the Oxford canal on a Saturday.

Read more

After 4 days we had got as far as the Grand Union canal, then we returned South and back down the Oxford canal for the remainder of the days and went past Oxford Narrow boats late afternoon on the Thursday. On Friday we turned round at Thrupp,. 

Annie's Tea room in Thrupp was nice . So was the Wharf Inn at Fenny Compton, and if you stay in the centre of Banbury near the Shopping centre the is Jay Pur a good Indian restaurant only 0.3km from the canal.

I really enjoyed my time here, and it was my first canal holiday!

Lovely holiday on Farnborough

Recent guests very kindly left us this feedback: Really quiet engine and a well fitted boat, so we had everything we needed for our holiday. Beds and bedding all very comfy and the showers are smashing! We loved the wooden holdbacks for the curtains, a million times better than slippery metal poles!

BIG BOAT MID WEEK SALE!

BIG BOAT MID WEEK SALE! Prices massively reduced for midweek breaks on our 69ft 8-12 berth boats on off-peak periods (excludes school holidays).

Read more

If you'd like to book now, please CLICK HERE.

Superb Holiday on Chalford

We had a superb holiday. It took us a while to get used to the boat, but once we did it was a very enjoyable experience. Chalford's interior was of a very high standard so it made us feel very comfortable. 10/10

Luxury Boats for Two

Super-comfy new armchairs recently delivered to Oxford and Windsor 47ft 2/4 berth boats! These really do have a luxurious feel and will make a trip away for two even more pleasurable.

New 'Oxford' now launched

This Easter we launched our new boat 'Oxford' and we are delighted to say that it's been a roaring success already! Fancy taking it for a holiday along the canal this summer?

Great time

Feedback from a recent short break... "Great time. Boat was well equipped and very warm inside (even at only 7° outside). Good family fun - will definitely come again"

Fabulous feedback!

All of our feedback forms ask our guests to give a holiday rating out of ten and we are delighted to see that our season is starting well with consistent 9, 9.5 and 10 - one guest even gave us 20 !!

Wonderful holiday

Wow, our guests keep leaving us lovely reports - and it's still early in the year so it isn't even very warm yet! Here's another... "Wonderful holiday, lovely clean boat, well equipped and warm. Helpful and friendly staff".

Read more

We really appreciate these comments, thank you to all our guests who take the time to tell us about their experiences!

Brian and Wendy

Brian and Wendy took our boat 'Farnborough' out for a holiday recently and left us this wonderful feedback... "Lovely boat, lovely time, beds very comfortable, show round and instructions very informative and helpful. All in all, great fun"... Thank you so much!

Brian and Jackie

Thank you to our guests Brian and Jackie, Ellie and Lawrence for their lovely comments after their holiday with us... "We loved it, the best ever for us. And all you lovely people, thank you"

Bright, sparkly day boats!

All of our dayboats are having a fabulous refresh and will be bright and sparkly in time for the summer. They will have lots of lovely updates and we are sure you'll find them a total joy...

Read more

Hire one of our dayboats this summer and experience their new super-silent engines, wonderful bright and airy interiors, great gallery fixtures and (not to be forgotten) brand spanking new loos!

New 8-12 flexi launching at Heyford!

We are really excited to announce the upcoming launch of 'Twyford' in May 2016. Just in time for the summer, 'Twyford' is an 8-12 berth flexi with lots of space to enjoy a family holiday or a friends' get together!

New boats at Bradford-on-Avon

Our new boats, 'Bath' and 'Claverton', have now been launched at our Bradford-on-Avon base - come and experience them by taking a weekend, a midweek break or a longer holiday. We think you'll like them!

Summer 2016, 2-4 berths

We still have some availability for our 2-4 berth boats this summer. Why not think about a week on the canal with the children, or a fun weekend with friends?

Read more

Our boats have flexible sleeping arrangements, either doubles or a mix of doubles and singles, the choice is yours. Take a look at the pictures here. You can book online (CLICK HERE) or give us a call if you have any questions.