- About us
Shire Cruisers Boating Holiday FAQs
We have not been on a canal boating holiday before. Do we need experience
or a driving licence?
The boats are easy to handle. If you've never been on a
narrow boat before, then we'll make sure you know what you
need to. Before your holiday we'll send you our Information
Pack which includes a DVD showing the right way to handle
the boat and work locks, as well as detailed route
There is more information in the manual and
cruising guides on your boat. When you start your canal boat
holiday we will give you a thorough briefing on the waterway
and your boat. One of our experienced staff will show you
how to handle the boat and work the first three locks on
Check out our
boat hire training and Handover Procedure - it's Quality
Assured by British Marine.
How fast will we travel?
You will travel at not very brisk walking pace, sometimes a bit less. Locks take perhaps 15 or 20 minutes. So reckon on around 3 1/2 locks and/or miles per hour. Rushing won't gain you much; dawdling can make it slower.
Will there be queues?
There's much less traffic in the north than in the midlands. So you're unlikely to have to queue for locks, water points or moorings. if you do, you'll have the chance to meet friendly other boaters. And you should make a positive effort to share locks with another boat, to save precious water.
Which route should we choose?
If this is
your first canal boat holiday, or you want a leisurely trip,
choose an 'out & back' holiday so that you are not committed
to any particular schedule. Our out & back routes from
Barnoldswick are relatively light on locks.
If you have
canal boat holiday experience, enjoy locks and want an
active holiday with about 8 hours boating a day - a one way
trip or ring might suit you. Ensure that your whole crew is
keen to do this. Each route description has more
Are there lots of locks on all routes?
To get across the Pennines, the engineers built many locks.
Experienced boaters often see the activity and skill of
doing locks as one of the main attractions, and so prefer
our more hilly routes. But some of our routes are less
heavily locked, so there should be something to suit
Are the canals easy to use?
fascinating to travel on waterways which are over 200 years
old, but their age means that few structures are of modern
design. This is essential to their charm and you must make
allowances if sometimes things are harder to use than you'd
Is it easy to turn round?
You make a three (or many more than three...) point turn at designated places called
winding holes. These are at frequent intervals along the canal, marked
in the guides on your boat. A little thinking ahead will mean you'll have no difficulty.
Can we bring our pets?
Yes - see our
pet-friendly boating holidays page for hints and tips.
We make no charge for one dog (or cat, hamster, goldfish... )
Please keep them off the upholstery. Extra dogs will be
Are there plenty of pubs?
Yes - see our
Yorkshire canal pubs page for listings. Not so many pubs are literally on the canalside, but all the ones we list are easy to reach, and we give their postcode so that you can finbd them with your phone.
We also send out a list with your Information Pack, which is continually improved by our customers' recommendations and suggestions.
Can we get provisions and water as we go?
Yes - there are plenty of shops and free water points en
What linen will be provided?
single duvet set with pillows, pillowcases and blankets as
required. We will send you a bedding order form. Tea towels
are provided. Towels are available as an extra at £5 per set (free to those who book from
Can we charge up our phone, or bring hair
There are normal UK 3 pin sockets
which can handle anything up to 1kw, including chargers,
hair straighteners and sleep apnoea machines. A microwave
and mains hairdryer are provided. There is 2-pin razor socket. There is also a
cigar-lighter socket, as in a car, for 12v chargers.
What if we cancel?
You may receive a
partial or full refund, depending on how much notice you
give, and whether we are able to re-let the boat. See
Condition 5 .
What about insurance?
You are covered
for damage to the boat and third party claims for accidents
involving the boat up to £3m. You are responsible for the
first £500 of any claim, repairs, or loss of equipment. You
will buy a non-returnable waiver of that liability for £50.
Our insurance does not cover you for personal accidents and
personal possessions, or for cancellation charges. Unless
you already have it, we strongly recommend that you obtain
suitable cover (see
Do we need a minimum crew?
In order to
control the boat through locks and swing bridges you need a
minimum of two participating adults: one to handle the boat,
and one to work the lock or bridge (this is the physically
more demanding of the two jobs). Neither can be primarily
looking after other people or dogs. Older teenagers can be
very helpful, but remember that the hirer is responsible for
their supervision. If you have two adults plus small
children, don't plan too ambitious a route, and be open to
child-centred distractions such as ducks or swings. If you
have adults with restricted mobility, or who need care, you
may need extra crew. Please see our
Accessibility page. We regret we cannot hire to
single-handed boaters, however experienced.
Is TV reception good?
Many of our canals
are in the bottom of valleys, and reception can be poor. We
suggest you watch important matches in the pub!
Will the children be bored?
Not for a
moment. Children love the excitement of canal boat holidays,
especially when they can help at locks. There are also lots
boating things to do along the way - for example,
Eureka!, the famous museum for children. As long as children
are sensible there is no danger, but we do recommend that
they (and any adult non-swimmers) wear life jackets, which
we provide free.
Many children find the whole boating
experience so captivating that they forget their normal
electronic pursuits. But lots of other children appreciate
our HD TVs with DVD players and radio CDs. The TVs have HDMI
sockets for use with gaming machines. There are power points
to charge up phones, tablets, laptops, cameras etc. We don't provide wifi, but you can use your own phone as hub.
Do you provide 'free' wifi?
No. The systems presently available require the boatyard to purchase large quantities of data, to be used by some customers effectively at the expense of others. And the signal is too often poor in our valley bottoms, and the technology is not yet reliable. Meanwhile, if you can find a good signal, you can use your phone as a hub.
What do your other customers think?
Do we have to pay for locks or moorings?
No. We have paid the boat licence fees. Towpath mooring
is free, and widely available - all down one side of the canal, except that places on the rivers have no towing path, and you should not moor close to locks. You do not have to reserve or pay for mooring. The offside (opposite the towpath) is private property.
Will we have enough fuel and gas?
will have enough free fuel for about 2 weeks' normal
cruising. If you need a toilet pumpout or additional gas we
will repay you. On adventurous fortnights or longer trips,
you may need to buy more diesel.
Will our car be OK?
All parking is free.
At Sowerby Bridge, you will park in our yard, behind
gates locked at night (you will have a key).
Barnoldswick is in the marina car park, by arrangement with Lower Park Marina.
Parking in Ashton is in the locked yard at Ashton Packet Boat Company.
Vehicles are left at
Can we bring bikes or canoes?
Yes - but they have to live on the roof, so please bring something to protect our paintwork. There are plenty of fantastic rides into the hills - see Cycle Calderdale. For canoe licences, see Canal & River Trust
Can we hire bikes?
Yes - you can hire bikes from Happy Days in Sowerby Bridge, a social enterprise dedicated to helping the homeless. You can also hire bikes from the railway stations at Hebden Bridge, Todmorden and Halifax - see Bike & Go.
Can we fish?
The fishing is let to many
different clubs, only some of which issue day tickets. You
must have a National Rod Licence.
Are all routes always available?
waterway holiday, traffic may occasionally have to stop
because, for instance, of emergency repairs to structures,
flood on rivers, or water shortage on canals. The Canal &
River Trust works very hard to prevent delays, but be
prepared to change your route at short notice if something
goes wrong. We would do everything we could to help, but you
would not be entitled to compensation and must make every
effort to get the boat back on time.
Why are none of your boats longer than 56'?
To fit the short locks on the Calder & Hebble
Navigation, between Sowerby Bridge and Dewsbury.
What if we break down or have an accident?
You will have our helpline number. We will give you
advice, or come quickly to sort out your problem.
Can we get a copy of your Brochure?
Can you recommend fleets in other parts of the
We are members of
between us we have nationwide availability of good quality
How do we find you?
What are the best trains
How do we reach you from the airport?
you recommend somewhere to stay the night before?
Please see how to find us at
Sowerby Bridge and
Barnoldswick, and our
Where to Stay pages for these answers!
When will our boat be ready?
takeover time is 1pm. You will appreciate that we're very
busy until then making sure everything is right for you, so
please don't be early! There are good
lunch places in Sowerby Bridge and Barnoldswick, so you
can meet up with the rest of your party.
...and when do we give it back?
Please be back by 9am and let us have the boat clean and tidy by 9.30am.
Any more questions?
Please ask and we'll
be happy to tell you anything we can. Call 01422 832712. It
sometimes helps to discuss the features of different boats
before you choose. If you can visit Sowerby Bridge to look at them, so much
the better - but, before you set out, check which boats will
be in the yard on the day. In winter time, be prepared to
see boats stripped out for maintenance. Our Barnoldswick base only has staff on turnround days.
Use this form to check availability. When you find the boat you want, click 'Book this holiday now' and you can pay your
deposit or hold for 48 hours - or ring 01422 832712.
The counties are the names of the boats, not where they start from! Click the map for routes, and the boat for details