FORGET THE TENT, REAL GLAMPING IS ON A CANAL BOAT. DISCOVER THE PERFECT FESTIVAL ACCOMMODATION ALL YEAR AROUND.
Conquer unpredictable weather and enjoy litres of cider, gallons of gin, the chance to see your favourite acts, a weekend of great arts, crafts and music, unique experiences and even great food all while enjoying a life onboard a narrowboat.
Skipton is a top tourism destination for the rolling hills of the Yorkshire dales, a 900-year-old castle, cobbled streets, independent shops and a popular canal. Named Britain’s happiest place to live, discover its many charms with a festival visit and Blue Otter canal boat holiday.
Here is a selection of just a few events you might like to combine a visit to the Yorkshire Dales and a local festival with a canal holiday. Whether you choose to simply stay in Skipton on the boat or journey along the canals to the festival destination, there is no shortage of reasons throughout the year to enjoy a narrowboat experience.
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This year’s waterways festival celebrates the theme Swinging Sixties, so bring out the flower power and join us for some otterly good times! Blue Otter Skipton will once again be participating in the illuminated boat procession with our decorated boat! We’ll also be sharing information and collecting donations for the International Otter Survival Fund – Look out for us if you are visiting!
A 4-DAY ROUNDTRIP CRUISE FROM SKIPTON TO SALTAIRE TAKES IN NATIONAL TRUST ATTRACTIONS, BINGLEY FIVE RISE LOCKS AND A UNESCO HERITAGE TOWN
Begin your canal journey in the historic market town of Skipton, gateway to the Yorkshire Dales and home of the Blue Otter on the Leeds to Liverpool canal.
Cruise slowly past the moored boats of Skipton and within 20 minutes you’ll be at your first swing bridge, located on the edge of town next to the Rendezvous Hotel.
Some of these swing bridges can be difficult to open. If you do find yourself struggling, ask a passerby on the tow path to provide some extra strength. You’ll soon discover most folk you meet on the canals, be they trekkers or fellow boaters, will be happy to lend a hand.
Next up is the electric bridge in Lower Bradley. To avoid mistakes and traffic delays it’s important to read the instructions carefully before turning the key and closing the road to traffic. When you do, you’ll be impressed by the power at your fingertips and in no time at all, you’ll be back on board the Otter and the cruising continues.
Shortly after Lower Bradley you’ll pass through a swing bridge adjoining the Polish Airmen Memorial Site, there to honour the memory of seven brave Polish allies brought down in WWII.
History and the stunning vistas of Yorkshire and Lancashire continue to unravel as you pass two more swing bridges before entering Kildwick. It’s worth mooring up here to take a stroll around St Andrews, an impressive Anglo Saxon church once frequented by the Bronte sisters.
If you’re ready for lunch or just thirsty, check out the White Lion, a 17th century pub located behind St Andrews with open fires inside and a beer garden out the back.
By now you’ll be getting the hang of the swing and electric bridges and feeling at home with the sights and sounds of life on the canals. Ducks, swans and fellow boaters can be relied on to keep you company. Much less common are sightings of kingfishers as they dart in and out of the woods, almost skimming the surface of the canal before they disappear from sight. Stay alert and you might get lucky!
After working a few more bridges you’ll enter the larger town of Silsden. Like so many towns along the Leeds to Liverpool, industry came to Silsden via the canal. None of the mills still standing operate in their original form, though an increasing number are being renovated as office and living spaces.
Leaving Silsden the land becomes defined by steep slopes interspersed with thick woodland and country gardens, many of them left to grow wild.
Those interested in wild and fascinating buildings might like to moor up outside East Riddlesden Hall, a 17th century manor house now owned by the National Trust and open to the public.
Between enjoying the tearooms and walled gardens guests should keep an eye out for the reputed presence of ghosts in the Starkie Wing. Hidden away in the same wing are the infamous ‘hiding holes’, installed to safeguard Catholic Priests in the 17th century.
Perched on a plateau overlooking the River Aire, East Riddlesen Hall was the filming location for the 1992 film ‘Wuthering Heights’ and for series 8 of the paranormal TV program ‘Most Haunted’. You have been warned!
By the time you arrive at the top of Bingley Five Rise Locks you may well be ready to moor up for the evening. Choose your space and enjoy a sundowner above the rooftops and mill towers of Bingley. There are numerous bars and restaurants should you choose a night out on the town, alternatively, cook up your own feast aboard ‘the Otter’.
The locks are open from 8am till 5pm. Because of the complications involved in working a staircase lock, full time lock keepers from the Canal and River Trust will be there to help you traverse your way through, so all you’ll need to do is listen to their instructions to stay safe and enjoy a smooth transit.Built in 1774, the five rise locks are the steepest in the country and represent an impressive work of engineering. As such, they often attract a crowd of ‘gongoozlers’ – that’s ‘canal talk’ for describing people who peer into boats.
The ‘five rise’ are quickly followed by Bingley Three Rise Locks before the canal meanders through the leafy conurbation of Shipley, over an aqueduct crossing the River Aire before descending two more locks into Saltaire.
Built in 1851 by the industrialist Sir Titus Salt, the self-named Saltaire is worthy of its UNESCO Heritage title and well worth a good few hours of your time. Mill towers in pristine condition rise above this model Victorian village, interspersed with museums and concert halls, galleries, restaurants and parkland buzzing with activities. Salts Mill is a true hidden gem and home to a permanent David Hockney exhibition.
Illustrations by Ben Hopkins.
GUIDE TO DISTANCES
Skipton to Kildwick
Distance – one way: 4.5 miles | Locks: 0 | Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Skipton to Silsden
Distance – one way: 6.5 miles | Locks: 0 | Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Skipton to Riddlesden
Distance – one way: 10 miles| Locks: 0 | Time: 5 hours 30 minutes
Skipton to Bingley Five Rise Top Lock
Distance – one way: 12.5 miles | Locks: 0| Time: 6 hours 50 minutes
Skipton to Saltaire
Distance – one way: 15.5 miles | Locks: 11 | Time: 10 hours 15 minutes
RELAX AND ENJOY RURAL VIEWS, INDUSTRIAL-ERA HERITAGE, SUNLIGHT SPARKLING ON CALM WATERS AND BIRD LIFE CHORUSING YOUR CRUISE
With more than 2,000 miles of inland waterways across Great Britain, here are a few highlights that made us curious to explore the beauty of England’s canals. Taking a break from fast-paced office environment, life slows to a walking pace when cruising these beautiful flowing highways that were once packed with cargo vessels. If you’ve ever harboured a dream of a life afloat, a narrowboat is one of the sweetest spots to spend British summertime.
A Ring of Two Roses
A three week canal journey from Skipton can take you through the North and South Peninne’s breathtaking scenery. Drift through Yorkshire and Lancashire cities, open meadows, market towns, dramatic hillsides for a taster of this region’s diverse surroundings. On Blue Otter Skipton narrowboat you can take two of three trans-Pennine canals: the Leeds and Liverpool, and the Rochdale, in a journey of 220 locks over 175 miles.
Traversing the canals are a great way to experience the “backbone of England” and give a unique insight into contrasting urban settlements that reside around Leeds, Huddersfield, Manchester, Blackburn and Burnley. Time your cruising right, and you can take in some premier football league matches along the way.
A Bard Aboard
Explore centuries of English history along the Avon Ring, a circuit of 109 miles and 131 locks. Moor opposite the Swan Theatre in Stratford upon Avon, near picturesque mills on the River Avon, visit Tewkesbury, cruise the majestic River Severn to Worcester, then ascend the longest flight of locks in Britain on the Worcester & Birmingham canal. Blue Otter Wootton Wawen is perfectly positioned to take you on all of these canal routes.
Shakespeare’s presence lures narrowboaters along the waters with a mile-long tunnel leading to the Stratford upon Avon canal. Here a real treat awaits along the longest aqueduct on the English canals, Edstone. If you time it for when the Shakespeare’s Express steam train is passing, a cloak of smoky steam will magically surround you, while passengers wave from cream and brown-liveried carriages.
Home to the best-preserved 19th-century docks in Britain, Gloucester is surrounded by listed warehouses. This inland harbour was once busy with ships carrying timber and corn from around the world. Cargo was transhipped on to the Severn and then the canals.
Cruise on your narrowboat from the historic docks and stop where the mood takes you, but be sure to take in Worcester Cathedral and the Norman abbey at Tewkesbury as you mosey down the water highway.
Cruise the Canals
Blue Otter narrowboats are available for week-long or month-long rental, enabling you to journey far and wide along the English canal network. Just contact us with your request with when and how you envisage your time on board relaxing and enjoying rural views, industrial-era heritage, sunlight sparkling on calm waters and bird life chorusing your cruise. Take turns piloting the boat, operating locks and swing bridges – rewarded with a refreshment or brew on board after each busy section! Locks are a great opportunity for sharing tips from fellow boaters and canal banter. Either way, lazy afternoons with a tipple of choice in hand are always a good idea!