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First time boaters annual cruising plan


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Hello everybody.
My partner and I have decided to spend our first year on our 60ft narrowboat cruising!

Our plan is very loose and we don't have anywhere in particluar we need to be (thankfully). However, our plan so far has been to go from Coventry towards Wales (and do the Llangollen), then backwards onto the Shropshire Union canal to then travel down to Bath/Bristol area. From there, the Kennet and Avon seems lovely too. We will be starting our journey mid June (when I expect the canals get busier) so we will hopefully be enjoying Wales in the summertime. We are both nature lovers and enjoy bird-watchig and fishing etc...

 

Prior to this, we are going to give ourselves some time cruising up and down the Ashby canal in order to get comfortable with the boat, though we have both driven and stayed on boats before.

 

We have some broad questions and just generally would like to hear about other people's plans for cruising around all year.

1) Where did you cruise in your first year of boating?

2) How far in advance do people plan their journeys?

3) Are there any areas which would be espeially seneic and palatable for first-timers?

4) Is there a route which is particularly quaint with tearooms and such? (we like cake!)

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21 minutes ago, OTL said:

then backwards onto the Shropshire Union canal to then travel down to Bath/Bristol area. From there, the Kennet and Avon seems lovely too.

Are you thinking via the Severn Estuary from Sharpness Avonmouth and up the Avon to Bristol to get from the Shroppie to Bristol/Bath? If so, this is considered a bit hard core in a narrowboat. Needs preparation of the boat and most use the services of a pilot.

Jen

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Many people will plan out the year in detail and try and stick to it. Many people will do the opposite and hardly plan at all. The nice thing about the canals are that you can choose where and when you go - as long as the CRT can keep it all open.

For a first year, your plan seems ambitious and you will be doing a lot of miles. I agree with Jen that the Bristol Channel is one of the more demanding routes for a narrowboat. It's not a nice place to be at times in a well equipped keel boat!

Loads of cake wherever you go!.......as long as we're not in lockdown.

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Don't plan in detail!!
Have a few simple aims and enjoy those.
Planning in detail may mean you miss something.
And I agree with the above, forget the Sharpness to Bristol trip for now. If you must see the K & A go the long way around and down the Grand Union to the Thames.

  • Greenie 2
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10 minutes ago, Dr Bob said:

Many people will plan out the year in detail and try and stick to it. Many people will do the opposite and hardly plan at all. The nice thing about the canals are that you can choose where and when you go - as long as the CRT can keep it all open.

For a first year, your plan seems ambitious and you will be doing a lot of miles. I agree with Jen that the Bristol Channel is one of the more demanding routes for a narrowboat. It's not a nice place to be at times in a well equipped keel boat!

Loads of cake wherever you go!.......as long as we're not in lockdown.

The first decision is which way we turn when leaving the marina then its plane sailing until the next junction

  • Greenie 1
  • Happy 1
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We plan similar to Brian, leave the marina and decide left or right and then take it from there.  Usually we plan for a short leisurely trip and end up doing a mammoth cruise.

  • Greenie 2
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We tend to decide on a couple of places we want to go or a couple of events we would like to attend and then set off. The route and timings decided on our few destinations in mind. We do it this way as I like to have the odd target to aim for and it gives me an end point to aim at otherwise I just tend to bumble about.

  • Greenie 1
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Hi,  I'm sure you will have a great time no matter what! That's the beauty of it. We have planned journeys before and it's amazing how you can clock up the miles. We also amble along and that too is a brilliant way to travel. I do think it will be extra busy out there in June though so we are playing it by ear this year. We will settle for just getting on our boat. Seriously thinking of cruising all year too!

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17 hours ago, Jen-in-Wellies said:

Are you thinking via the Severn Estuary from Sharpness Avonmouth and up the Avon to Bristol to get from the Shroppie to Bristol/Bath? If so, this is considered a bit hard core in a narrowboat. Needs preparation of the boat and most use the services of a pilot.

Jen

Thanks for your reply, Jen! No I think we will be avoiding the brackish and tidal areas for our first year. We've seen enough videos and it just looks too stressful for our first year! We are more than happy to go the long way around (Grand Union/Oxford) as we are in no hurry to be anywhere, luckily.

17 hours ago, Dr Bob said:

Many people will plan out the year in detail and try and stick to it. Many people will do the opposite and hardly plan at all. The nice thing about the canals are that you can choose where and when you go - as long as the CRT can keep it all open.

For a first year, your plan seems ambitious and you will be doing a lot of miles. I agree with Jen that the Bristol Channel is one of the more demanding routes for a narrowboat. It's not a nice place to be at times in a well equipped keel boat!

Loads of cake wherever you go!.......as long as we're not in lockdown.

Thank you Dr Bob! I think it'll definitely be beneficial to keep our plan flexible - cake included.

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My first year, I picked the boat up from Braunston then went:

 

Grand Union to Lapworth, Stratford Canal to Brum, Birmingham and Fazeley Canal to Fazeley Junction, Coventry Canal to Fradley Junction, Trent & Mersey to Great Haywood Junction, Staffs & Worcs to Aldersely Junction, BCN Mainline to Brum, then to Stratford via Kings Norton Junction, onto the Avon for a few days, then back to Brum for a winter mooring.

 

That was plenty enough for me.  I was working full time though.

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21 hours ago, OTL said:

Our plan is very loose and we don't have anywhere in particluar we need to be...

I start with a plan like this, but I am prepared to be more flexible if needs must... ;)

 

 

(I think you've made a really good start!)

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24 minutes ago, Sea Dog said:

I start with a plan like this, but I am prepared to be more flexible if needs must... ;)

 

 

(I think you've made a really good start!)

Follow the weather, look at the forward forecasts and head in that general direction. Southwards generally favours better weather, and if you want the K&A, then a trip on the Thames is more than worth the EA fee. If you're predominantly round the midlands to start with, then you can change your mind at will. Just remember, where you don't get to this year, there's always next.

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