HIRING A NARROW BOAT
Remember your 2019 holiday? It probably involved long airport queues (still happens), crammed flights (that too) , all-inclusive hotels (now with alcohol limits), and watered down cocktails by a pool crowded with excitable children.
Over the last two years British holidaymakers have discovered the ease, fun and relaxation of travel on England’s canals. Lockdowns had many of us craving freedom and, with limited options available, new discoveries were made – such as cruising the aqua highways in your very own floating home.
Whether you’re considering a slow adventure or looking to try before you commit to buying your very own boat – renting a narrow boat has never been more appealing. But how much does it actually cost to hire one?
When planning your trip, there are a few things to consider when it comes to adding up the cost of hiring a canal boat.
How much does it cost to hire a Blue Otter Narrow Boat for a week?
(The budget below is based on a couple or small family)
- Blue Otter boat hires in Yorkshire and Warwickshire average £170 – £260 per night – varying between low and high season. There are cheaper options available, but Blue Otter boats are fitted out like a live-on-board with a high quality lifestyle in mind.
- We hire our boats out at a minimum 4 nights in Warwickshire, and 5 nights in Yorkshire. Most people hire for 7 nights, some for two or three weeks.
- We don’t offer day boat hire, but there are plenty of other boat hire companies that do allow you to dip your toes in the water (pun intended) with a 9am – 4pm teaser cruise
- Fuel – no extra charge. You’ll start cruising with a full tank included in the price, which is sufficient for 3-4 weeks of cruising. Narrow boat fuel tanks typically hold 200 litres. Engine consumption is around 1 litre per hour of cruising and you can cruise between 8am and 8pm along the canals
- Mooring – £0 (see section on mooring advice) visitor moorings are free. The permitted length of stay varies on location, but generally allow for 2-3 days per mooring site.
- Food – £30–£300 depending on whether you’re cooking onboard or eating out all week.
- Fresh water – £0 there are free taps along the canal that hook up to a water hose (also included on board) for free and safe drinking water.
- Bedding and showering? £0 – You’ll find bedding, towels, a gas oven, fridge, pots, pans, cooking utensils and crockery on board. All our canal boats have central heating. Toilets are fully flushing toilets and showers are fed by the boat’s hot water tank.
- Canal activities – £0, even for passage-assisted locks such as the Bingley Five Rise on the Leeds Liverpool Canal
Does the time of year affect the cost of your narrow boat hire?
When planning any trip, deciding when to go does affect the pricing. All seasons have their appeal and not one is right for all but different times of the year do see price fluctations, as with any flight and holiday.
Low Season – the canal cruising season for Blue Otter opens in March, which marks the low season until end of April
Peak season – rates rise from May until September
Low-mid season – rates drop again through October and November
All enquiries go through our booking agent Hoseasons. We do not accept direct bookings so that in cases of illness, last minute cancellations are protected. Click here for Skipton (couples) and here for Wootton Wawen (families) to check availability and pricing for your exact dates.
Spring, Summer and Autumn offer different surprises along the canal. Wildlife awakens throughout April with ducklings, cygnets and goslings learning to swim. Lambs flank the banks and Spring blossoms appear. Bluebells and wild garlic herald the transition into warmer days.
In Summer the kingfishers are darting through the reeds, sunshine and al fresco dining to glorious sunsets aren’t a guarantee in the UK, but when the weather is fine, the views are stunning.
In Autumn the leaves turn golden it’s time to enjoy a warm cider or mulled wine with a view.
When are the seasons and how does the cost of narrow boat hire fluctuate?
- Low season (ca 15th March to 30th April) – narrow boats start from £170 per night
- High-mid season (1st May to 21st July) – narrow boats start from £200 per night
- High season (22nd July to 31st August) – narrow boats start from £260 per night
- Low-mid season (1st September to 31st October & end of November season permitting) – narrow boats start from £170 per night
How much does it cost for an overnight stay?
Arguably one of the most important parts of planning your trip is the location. One thing renting a narrow boat gives you is freedom. The ability to go wherever your heart and mood takes you. From wild mooring spots at no extra cost to maintained private marinas – the cost can vary per night.
Most of our guests stay on the moorings along the towpath and managed by Canal Rivers Trust not requiring any extra fees.
Do you need to book moorings in advance?
The towpath visitor moorings are management by the Canal Rivers Trust. Each one varies depending on the location and popularity of the mooring, but generally no advance bookings are required. The towpath signs will inform how long you are permitted to stay there – usually anywhere between 24 hours and 7 days.
Outside of the official visitor moorings and private land, where possible and attractive…and the mood takes you…you can moor up anywhere and legally stay for a maximum of 14 days.
For private moorings and marinas, it’s always wise to call ahead and enquire about availability and price. These usually begin from £8 upwards, more if there is an electric hook-up and shower facilities.
How many of you will there be?
No matter what your group size. Whether you’re travelling as a couple on Blue Otter Skipton or with a family on Blue Otter Wotton Wawen, where the sofa turns into a bed for the kids or another couple, we have a narrow boat suitable for you. Most would assume the larger the narrow boat, the higher the price, and whilst this isn’t always the case, it’s definitely something to factor in.
Make sure you check the number of berths is suitable to your group size before booking.
How much does it cost to eat and drink on a narrow boat?
Our boats have cooking facilities with gas ovens and there is always an option to eat in to keep the costs down. Cooking in a narrow boat is a whole new and fun experience on it’s own. You’ll find mooring along a valley, in a woodland or at the bottom of a lock will inspire you more to whip up a delicious meal to compliment the view.
If you’re on a budget, we recommend you plan your meals beforehand. On arrival at your starting point, stock up the cupboards with your own weekly shop, supporting the local producers. For those with a higher budget, you may be looking to eat out more regularly, whether it is at one of the numerous canal side pubs or a top star restaurant along the way.
How much do activities cost on a narrow boat holiday?
Life on the canals is all about enjoying the beauty of life in the slow lane. You’ll be cruising at a maximum of 4mph, and cruising for up to eight hours a day. Many cruise just for a couple of hours between towns, moor up, find a pub and beer garden, and get to know the towns intimately.
Much of the fascination along the canals are the engineering feats such as the Bingley Five Rise Locks on the Leeds Liverpool Canal, traversing over aqueducts, under bridges and opening bridges. All of these are at no extra costs, other than a little elbow grease.
You can also plan your cruising around hiking routes and generally exploring, in which case it’s unlikely you’ll need a big budget for activities. Narrow boat holidays encourage you to spend more time outside in nature, and the slow pace makes it a perfect opportunity to get the camera out and do some wildlife spotting! There is also a lot to be said for mooring up, and enjoy quality time on the bow with your favourite book or going for a run along the towpath.
What will I need to bring on my narrow boat holiday?
As little as possible. Here at Blue Otter, we pretty much have you covered when it comes to the essentials.