The boat search results show the bases from where boats are available on various dates, and the routes that can be taken with typical times, distance, and number of locks.
Out and Back Routes
An ‘out and back’ route is the most flexible way to travel. When you hire a boat you have total flexibility over how fast you go, where you stop, and how many hours you cruise. You only need to return the boat to the same base by the correct finish time!
Not only do the canal features look different in the opposite direction, but the return route gives a chance to stop at places missed on the outgoing journey. These routes are the only option for short breaks.
One Way Routes
On a 'one-way' route you start at one boat base and finish at another. These routes let you cover more length of canal than 'out and back' routes but you have to pace yourself to make sure you finish on time. One of the most popular one-way routes is along the Canal du Midi in France.
Arrangements can be made for the crew of the boat to be transported in the opposite direction.
Canal boats travel at walking pace, about 3 to 4 miles per hour, so there is ample opportunity to enjoy the scenery and unwind. Allowing 15-20 minutes per lock you can estimate cruising time by adding the number of locks and miles together and allowing 3-4 'lock-miles' per hour, depending on how energetic or leisurely you wish to be. Boats are not allowed to cruise after dark so a June or July cruise will allow more cruising hours per day than a journey in March or October.
How Long a Cruise?
The details of each route give an indication of how many hours are needed to cover the route. The normal hire length is a week, but 10 or 11 days, or two weeks, give more time to explore the attractions off the canal. You can therefore decide how many hours you wish to spend cruising per day.
What will I do?
Cruising the canals opens reveals scenic views around every bend and the natural world of birds, flowers and wildlife. See historic houses, market towns, rural villages, and occasional industrial heritage. Stop at attractions for young and old, and take a welcome break or meal at a waterside restaurant. In addition to off-canal interest, the canal itself offers continual activity with locks to go through, tunnels to navigate, and aqueducts to cross.