Top 10 Boating Experiences
Explore England's rivers, canals and broads.
1. Punting in Cambridge
There’s no better way to see Cambridge’s colleges than by hiring a punt and cruising along the Backs. Even without the distraction of beautiful buildings, manicured grounds and champagne-quaffing students, a punt isn’t the easiest thing to handle. But that just makes it more fun…
2. Sailing on the River Severn
At 220 miles long, the River Severn is England’s longest river, and a great place to sail. Start at Bewdley and you’ll pass rolling countryside, a fair few pubs selling “scrumpy” cider and – rather appropriately – the National Waterways Museum at Gloucester Docks.
3. Kayaking in the Lake District
For thrills and plenty of spills, squeeze yourself into a kayak in the Lake District . A popular white water location is the River Cocker, which is relatively negotiable apart from the surprise drop below Harris Park. Keep an eye out for it…
4. Narrow Boating between Windsor and Oxford
This short stretch of Thames between Windsor and Oxford has got to be one of the best places to take a narrow boat. There are pubs aplenty (think riverside and ye olde), history by the barge-full (Windsor Castle, Eton school and the Oxford colleges) and tons of wildlife – from swans and kingfishers to stoats and coots.
5. Canoeing in the Norfolk Broads
You’ll want to take your time exploring the Norfolk Broads, which is why a canoe is a good idea. If you’re looking for birds, head for the reed-fringed Hickling Broads, or if you’re feeling brave paddle to Malthouse Broad – it’s said to be haunted by a 12th-century monk who appears in the early mornings…
6. Speedboat through Central London
Relive all those James Bond fantasies by taking a RIB speedboat down the Thames (they even play the theme tune during the trip). You’ll pass the Houses of Parliament on your left, before the London Eye looms into view on your right. After that the sights come thick and fast, as you speed down to the Thames Barrier.
7. Sailing in Cornwall
Cornwall’s dramatic coastline and sandy beaches are crying out to be explored. So why not grab a sailing boat and explore the smugglers’ coves and sheltered waterways of Carrick Roads – or float your boat over to the Scilly Isles?
8. Pleasure Boating along the River Tees
This medieval trading river starts in the Pennines and ends in the North Sea near Middlesbrough, and was once home to shipyards and steelworks. Nowadays it’s been regenerated, though, so you can now join a bunch of other pleasure boaters who regularly take to the serene waters for a cruise.
9. Canal Boat on in The Fenlands, East Anglia
Hundreds of miles of waterways criss-cross the Fens – and a canal boat is the perfect way to navigate them. Due to its extreme flatness, there aren’t too many locks to trouble yourself with, although you might tempted to stop rather a lot at pretty villages like Oundle and Flore...
10. Canadian Canoeing on the River Tamar
It’s quite normal to see a salmon leaping or an otter slivering into the water along the River Tamar in Devon . And, in a Canadian canoe, you’ll be about as close as you can get to them…
Psst... Handy Hints
If you want history with your Cambridge punt, why not hire a guide ? They’ll negotiate the river, while regaling you with tales of the city’s past.
Take your binoculars on a trip to the Norfolk Broads, so you can spot terns and other birds at Hoveton Little Broad.
Be sure not to miss historic Greenwich as you whizz past on a speed-boat ride down the Thames – it’s where modern maritime navigation began after all…
Kayaking on the River Cocker? There’s a very handy exit point by Jennings Brewery , where you can moor up and take a brewery tour.
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