If you’re looking for a great day out with a difference then I would absolutely recommend hiring a canal boat for a day. I recently did this with 9 of my friends, hiring a boat from Ellerbeck Narrowboats for 8 hours. It’s completely different to a party boat experience, as you get full control of the boat. You can steer it along a 12 mile stretch of the Leeds Liverpool canal in whichever direction and at whatever pace you fancy, moor when you feel like it, and it’s a no-stress situation because you aren’t allowed to pass through any of the locks (which would make things more technical). It’s as simple as steering your boat along the canal at a leisurely pace, whilst enjoying a party atmosphere with whatever food, drinks and games you bring along.
We had such fun on our canal boat and I think it’s the perfect day trip for a birthday or celebration, so I’ve decided to share these 10 tips for making sure you have the most fun on your narrowboat day trip.
1. Go with a fun crew
Everything is fun when you’re with the right people, so choose your crew wisely! It helps when at least one of your group is great at driving, but it’s a low pressure environment and it wouldn’t really matter if you were all rubbish at it. Our boat capacity was 10 people and although it is quite a squeeze, it is worth having all the extra hands on board so that a few people can drive whilst others prepare food.
2. Have a nautical dress code (just for fun)
We decided to embrace a nautical theme for the day, which was pretty fun and makes our photos look extra special. A dress code is obviously optional.
3. Have a go at steering
Everyone on board should give it a go at the helm. Canal boats travel at a low speed so there’s really nothing to be worried about, although turning them around is slightly trickier.
4. Cook up a tasty breakfast
The first priority after setting sail has to be a delicious breakfast. Our boat had a hob and grill on board, and sausage sandwiches and bucks fizz were a welcome morning treat.
5. Enjoy the views
Take some time to enjoy the picturesque scenery and, at certain points, gaze enviously at luxurious waterside houses that you can’t possibly afford. Make the most of the scenic photo opportunities so you’ll always have reminders of your memorable day.
6. Play games
No day of fun is complete without a few games, and it’s simple enough to moor up the boat so that everyone on board can join in.
7. Serve Pimms and afternoon tea
Once breakfast is done you’ll need to consider other meals, and I think something typically English like Pimms and afternoon tea would be perfect. We had a kettle on board for making hot drinks.
8. Moor up for a break
We moored up once for games and a second time to pay a call to a waterside ice cream parlour. I’m sure there are plenty of other stops we could have made too, if we’d fancied visiting a pub or having a short stroll.
9. Prepare for the weather
It’s England and impossible to predict the weather. We prepared for everything, with blankets for the chilly morning, wet weather wear in case of rain, and (luckily, because it turned out glorious!) sun cream.
10. Take it easy
This is not a fast paced day by anyone’s standards. It’s a leisurely, casual, fun-filled, fun one, so enjoy the slow pace and take the chance to relax with friends.