A short canal break on a boat is the ideal introduction to a narrowboat holiday: our Weekend Canal Break offers everything from history, culture or adventure to total escapism and relaxation. It's also a perfect introduction to canal boating for the novice and we love to welcome young families right through to larger party groups all of whom we are determined to help to enjoy an unforgettable first experience afloat.
You may not know but a narrowboat is almost toally unique to the English and Welsh canal network. They're not called long boats or barges. Narrowboats are 7ft wide to fit the canal locks and tunnels that were built around 200 years ago. You'll be amazed how comfortable a canal narrowboat can be - so why not try a weekend afloat on one of our specially designed narrowboats built and operated here in Oxfordshire!
Your weekend narrowboat break starts between 13.30 and 16.00 on Friday and finishes at 09.00 on Monday (although many hirers hand the narrowboat back on Sunday afternoon to get back for work on Monday). If you arrive in good time you will have two whole days of boating and the remainder of Friday afternoon to enjoy your canal weekend afloat.
Choose from our perfectly-located holiday boat hire bases at Lower Heyford in rural Oxfordshire on the Oxford Canal or historic Bradford on Avon close to Bath on the Kennet and Avon Canal. Combine the unmatched rural charm of the Cotswolds and River Thames with a visit to Oxford; meander along the idyllic Oxford Canal toward Cropredy; or cruise to Bath on the K&A Canal through the stunning Avon Valley toward world-famous Bath and Bristol – home of the world’s first steamship – SS Great Britain. Or, if you’re really wanting to work lots of locks, go to Devizes and ascend and then straight back down the famous Caen Hill Locks the very next day!
WEEKEND CANAL BREAK FROM LOWER HEYFORD, OXFORDSHIRE
Heyford Wharf is a 220yr old working village boatyard located midway between Banbury and Oxford, close to the M40 about 1hr north of London. It's rural setting is complemented by its own rail station (Heyford) located directly alongside the boatyard with trains from London Paddinton, Reading, Oxford & Banbury. Set in a pretty Oxfordshire village the wharf is also home to the highly-regarded, licenced, Kizzies Bistro serving waterside breakfasts, light lunches and cream teas. Heyford Wharf also features our own Canal Cottage B&B if you wish to arrive the day before your break or wish to stay on after to explore the local area further....
SOUTH: From our canal boat base at Lower Heyford you can reach world famous Oxford along the Oxford Canal in around 7hrs if it’s culture, history and nightlife you’re after - on the way there is the pretty canalside hamlet of Thrupp (4hrs) and several waterside pubs together with a mixture of rural and urban-yet-sylvan cruising. You could avoid Oxford altogether and choose to take a rural cruise upstream onto the River Thames as far as Eynsham (7hrs) or Bablock Hythe (8hrs) - total tranquilllity! Or you can even do the smallest canal 'Ring' by turning onto the Dukes Cut and the River Thames as it flows across Port Meadow, giving you the iconic view of the Dreaming Spires, then cruise down as far Christchurch Meadow and the famous College Boat Houses before returning through the secretive Sheepwash Channel to re-join the Oxford Canal and moor at 'Jericho' close to the heart of the city before your homeward journey the next day.
NORTH: If you prefer countryside pubs and villages choose to cruise north on the Oxford Canal along the outstanding Cherwell Valley nestling along the Cotswold Borders perhaps as far as bustling Banbury (6hrs), the charming historic village of Cropredy (9hrs) - also the home of the world-famous Fairport Convention each August - or just simply cruise to a remote rural mooring away from all of the hustle and bustle of everyday life. There is an excellent pub at nearby Aynho Wharf (3hrs) for a great meal out for your first evening aboard, Cropredy offers a choice of two...and The Barley Mow at Upper Heyford for your last evening is a friendly traditional local.
Click below for cruising maps from Lower Heyford, Oxfordshire
WEEKEND CANAL BREAK FROM BRADFORD ON AVON, WILTSHIRE
Bradford Wharf is the original 220 yr old working wharf for the town located conveniently close to the centre and railway station. The wharf is also home to a thriving drydock and boat repair business so when you arrive you'll immediately be able to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the waterways!
WEST: From our Bradford on Avon base it's an easy 6hr cruise along the Kennet & Avon Canal to Bath - World Heritage City and so much more. You need not negotiate any futher locks than Bradford Lock (which we help you through at the beginning of your weekend break) and there are good moorings above Bath city centre. Along the way the K&A Canal is a thriving community with lots of places to moor in the countryside. The towpath is also an excellent cycleway so bring your bike if you want some more active adventure! The K&A canal meanders along the beautiful Avon Valley crossing the river at two impressive stone aqueducts: Avoncliffe and Dundas. There's an excellent pub at Avoncliffe (1hr) - large parties should pre-book this - and also the waterside George Inn at Bathampton (5hrs) as well as the lovely Angelfish Cafe at Dundas Aqueduct (4hrs). If possible a visit to the amazing Claverton Pump alongside the K&A canal between Dundas and Bathampton is well worthwhile, and there's the American Museum high up on Claverton Down nearby.
EAST: If you'd prefer to get some boating in maybe you'd prefer to head east towards Devizes and the famous Caen Hill Locks. In a weekand you'll not have time to climb them but you could cruise as far as Foxhangers to walk and admire this Wonder of the Waterways from below - by now you'll have already climbed 8 locks and negotiated a few swing bridges. There's an excellent waterside pub, The Barge Inn, at Seend and another one close by at Sells Green - both serving good food and local Wadworth Ales - and the journey is almost entirely rural....
Click below for cruising maps from Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire: