Thursday, 25 March 2021 22:36

Canal boat operators report an upsurge in bookings for holidays afloat Featured

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BOAT hire operators on the Kennet & Avon Canal in Wiltshire have reported an upsurge in bookings following the Government's restrictions on overseas travel.

With many people being forced to take a 'staycation' this year because they can't holiday abroad, leading hire boat leisure group ABC says bookings have increased dramatically for canal boat breaks.

Haley Hadley, of ABC Leisure Group at Hilperton Marina, said: "We are now fully booked for Whitsun week.

"Customers are desperate to get away and a narrowboat holiday is the perfect holiday to getaway with your family or bubble and remain safe.

"We are very busy as obviously we have all the customers that have transferred from last year to this year on top of the high demand for holidays as people can't travel overseas.

"What we are also seeing is people who had short breaks booked extending them to weeks and those with weeks booking 10 nights, two weeks or another holiday with us.

"We have 15 locations across the UK and our base on the Kennet & Avon is one of the most popular. We are preparing all the boats now at Hilperton ready to welcome guests here on April 12. Sadly we just missed out on Easter."

The Canal & River Trust, the charity that looks after 2,000 miles of waterways across England and Wales, says leading hire boat operators have reported their fleets are rapidly getting booked up for the boating season ahead, particularly from May half-term onwards.

Trust chief executive Richard Parry said: “Research shows that simply being on or by the water makes people feel happier. Hire boat holidays offer a relaxing getaway whilst staying local and safe.

"Spring, summer or autumn, all are the perfect time to get aboard a boat, with all your own facilities, and discover the magic of the nation’s canals.”

The 87-mile Kennet & Avon Canal from Bristol to Reading is generally regarded as one of the UK's very best for natural beauty and the opportunity to see a wide variety of wildlife.

Day boats began operating again on the canal from Monday (March 29), providing a fun way to keep the children entertained during the Easter break.

Single household holidaymakers may cruise away from April 12 in England and stay in self-catered accommodation overnight.

In line with this government guidance, operators are now accepting bookings for trips from this date onwards.

From May 17, two households or the 'rule of six', will be able to make bookings for staycation trips including hire boat holidays.

Mr Parry added: "All restrictions will hopefully be relaxed by June 21, pending government advice and announcements.

"Early booking is advised to avoid disappointment as the summer months are proving very popular.

"Many operators are offering flexible bookings for peace of mind, so if circumstances shift you can speak to them about changing or cancelling your booking."

To find out more about canals and rivers go to

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