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  1. Thank you everyone. I will check out the Leeds & Liverpool. South Oxford still seems to be in the lead. I'm sorry to ask so many questions, but I also have some questions about types of narrowboats. I am a little confused about the rear of the boat. As I understand it, there are several types of sterns (traditional, semi-traditional and cruiser). But looking at pictures on the web, Wyvern's seem different than any other company's stern. I really like what we had on that trip for two reasons. First, it meant that we could all be out in the rear of the boat together. Usually, one or two of us would be perched on the boxes while another one of us would be standing and steering. Also, sometimes when my back hurt, I could sit or half-lean on the box while I steered, but even then, there was room for both kids to sit out there with me. I can't quite remember, but I think one would perch in front of me and the other would sit on the second box. It was really nice. So I think that I would want something similar. Knowing my teens, if they have to stand for any length of time in order to be outside with me, they are more likely to retreat indoors to their phones/music/screens/books. The goal of the trip is for us to have significant screen-free time together, and in small quarters, I am sure that they'll want to retreat to get away from each other (and me!) from time to time. That is OK. But I don't want them to retreat merely because it is more physically comfortable to be inside their cabin instead of out with me. Also, Wyvern at least, wanted me on the deck whenever a child was steering. That rule about adult presence makes sense (though to be honest, my kids learned so much more quickly than I did and are just generally more physically fit). But if I am standing outside whenever either kid is steering in addition to all the time that I spend steering, I will basically be standing for the entire day every day of the trip. I just don't think that I am physically up to that many hours in a row unless we only spend 4 or so hours a day cruising and build in lots of time to be moored for me to rest or for off boat activities. If I can sit while the kids are steering, we could probably up the time to 6+ hours if we want to since I'd be able to be resting and outdoors at the same time. That is a long-winded way of asking whether any other companies have boats like Wyvern, if not, which type of stern would be most suitable for us? Clearly traditional is out, but I am unclear whether we would find the cruiser or semi-traditional stern to be the most comfortable for all of us to be outside together most of the day. And given that I may be doing the lion's share of steering, what type of boat would be the least physically taxing? I am assuming the shorter the boat, the easier it will be to steer. Is that true? Ours was 45 ft from Wyvern and that was fine. Thanks!
  2. Wow. So many possibilities even if I am only looking at Napton Narrowboats and Black Prince. It is really hard to figure out given at the moment, I don't have many constraints besides money of course and it has to be sometime in June, but money spent on the boat is money that does not have to go to an airbnb or hotel. We could even spend longer and try a ring, but it feels like a ring might be a lot of pressure to cruise a certain number of hours per day. I am consoling myself by believing that we probably can't go wrong no matter which option we choose. I will check with hire companies about being a solo adult. Wyvern was OK with it, but I realize other companies may not be. Anyway, it sounds like no one really recommends the three that I had originally identified (Monmouthshire & Brecon, Llangollen or Lancaster) or the Scottish canals. Is that true? Many thanks!
  3. Huge thanks! I'm off to do more research with a focus on the South Oxford and the Ashby and Coventry canals.
  4. Hello everyone. I am looking for suggestions for a canal holiday next June. We are from the United States, but we will be visiting family in London this summer. I hired from the Wyvern Shipping company two summers ago in August. I was a solo adult with my then 11yo and 13yo children. Thanks in part to the advice in this forum, we had a fantastic time for our four days --we didn't get very far (and had a few mishaps), but we enjoyed ourselves immensely and met a few lovely and friendly people along the way. We went north from Leighton Buzzard and did not quite get to Blisworth tunnel though if we had pushed ourselves harder, we might have made it. I would like to return next summer. The kids will be even older (13 and 15) and thus even more able to help. Though honestly, even at 11 & 13, my kids actually grasped how to steer the boat and work the locks far more quickly than I did! However, I am not entirely sure where to go. We would like to have more time since four days wasn't quite enough. I am thinking more like 7-10. We enjoyed working the locks, but we don't particularly want or need a lot of them. Ahead of our trip, I thought we'd do a lot of eating at pubs, but we actually only ate out once. Instead, we cooked on the boat itself. Mostly, we just liked the gorgeous scenery and spending slow lazy time together as a family. Really we just read, chatted, played games, listened to music, went on a couple of walks, and watched the scenery go by. That plus learning to actually operate the boat was quite enough for our four days. Still, I do wonder if the kids might get bored during a 7-10 day trip and want some more variety beyond just cruising especially now that they will both be teenagers, but I don't really know. Anyway, having tried to do some research, I was considering the following canals: Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal --seems very scenic and pretty with not too many locks The Llangollen Canal --again seems scenic. From what I read, it will be busier than the others, but still pretty quiet in June. The Lancaster Canal --I like the idea of seeing the sea shore from the canal. Is that true? But I am very open to suggestions. Part of me would like to try the South Oxford or the Stratford-Upon-Avon Canal or The Union Canal in Scotland just because all three of those might let us see places that we would enjoy visiting like Oxford, the Royal Shakespeare Company and Edinburgh. But it sounds like they all might be harder to navigate and it might be difficult to find places to moor. We have almost a month in the UK and maybe it is better to keep the narrowboat portion of our trip separate from the city sight-seeing. I don't really know what I am asking here except advice for choosing a route now that we are no longer quite novices but still aren't experienced narrowboaters. We loved it enough to do it again, but we don't really know where. Maybe a route that offers a few places to stop and explore, but we don't need a lot. And as a woman alone with two kids, I do want to feel safe and I'd like to hire from a company that will be helpful and friendly. Wyvern was really great. We could also just do Leighton Buzzard again under the theory if it worked well once, why not repeat. Thanks!
  5. Thank you everyone for the responses. I like the idea of having a contingency plan and also the idea of a route in which there are more people to help with the locks if needed. The kids still insist that they have no interest in the museum, but I just showed my son a video of the tunnel, and he was intrigued. So if we made it that far, it could be exciting. If not, the museum will be at least a fallback place to visit. Can I just ask how urban that route north from Leighton Buzzard is? The Wyvern website made it sound as if we would see more nature and wildlife if we headed south instead. Thanks!
  6. Hello. This summer, we have rented a 4 night narrowboat hoilday from Wyvern (Leighton Buzzard). We are brand new to boating. There will be one adult and two kids (11 and 13). We will start on Monday afternoon and return Friday morning. I am hoping for some advice about routes. Realistically, how far might we get and how many hours per day should we plan to spend actually on the move? I will likely be the only person driving the boat while the kids operate the locks. We are trying to decide whether to head North or South from the Wyvren base. We'll be headed out in during the school holidays which I realize is prime season so the canal might be busy, but I think that we would prefer whichever is the quieter route. On the other hand, we are open to advice maybe half the fun is getting to meet other boaters/families? Right now, we are leaning towards heading south towards Berkhamsted since it seems like that might be the prettiest route. On the other hand, we could also go south towards Aylesbury. Is the southern route actually prettier and quieter? I am not sure why I have that impression. Are the locks in one direction easier to operate than the other? Alternatively, we could head north to Gayton Junction so that we could experience tunnels and aqueducts as well as the canal museum. It seems like it might be the more "exciting" route. My kids seem to think that they just want to enjoy the scenery, read a lot, take photos, journal, play lots board games and do some walking. Neither seems that interested in sightseeing or visiting the canal museum, but I'm wondering if we will regret not doing the northern route, which seems like it might have more "things to do and see" along the way. Note, they are too old to be interested in playgrounds and that sort of thing, but I am slightly worried that they will drive each other crazy in that sibling way due to four days of close quarters. In any case, any advice about routes would be appreciated as well as any tips about narrowboating in general. Or I suppose we could toss a coin to decide. Thanks!
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