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Hire Base near(ish) to London


Melbourne_Boaters
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Long time reader, first post on the forum.

 

Looking to plan a trip to UK next year in June/July with a 10-14 day narrowboat journey near to London as part of the trip.  Our thinking is we could hire from Wyvern and decide on our journey to stop where we are and just train into central London for a day or three using the boat as a base.  We did a similar thing a few years ago and moored at Cowley Peachey.  Over the years have done the GU, Thames Ring, Warwickshire, etc so feel like we are half competent.  Hiring from Wyvern or Napton Narrowboats on most occasions to give an idea of the boats we've used.

 

Before we commit to another Wyvern hire which would mean doing the Southern GU for a third time, thinking of where else would be closer to London to make the cruise > moor > cruise model work?  I was thinking e.g. from somewhere near Oxford on the Thames or on the Eastern part of the K&A?  We just don't seem to be able to find hire companies with similar standard boats in those locations?

 

Would really appreciate anyone's thoughts on hire companies who would have good boats for a party of 6?

Thanks!

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Farncombe Boathouse near Godleming hire narrowboats on the river Wey and are probably licensed for the Thames or can be.

 

Caversham Boat Services at Reading on the Thames have narrow boats.

 

Alvachurch have a hire base at Aldermarston on the K&A near Reading.

 

Anglo Welsh operate a few boats from near Eynsham Bridge on the Thames.

 

College Cruisers in Oxford on the canal.

 

Be aware that you are very likely to have to pay for mooring on the Thames although there are some free spots. The old EA 24 hour moorings now seem to demand you have a mobile phone to contact and in some cases pay some private company when you arrive while some/many municipal and private moorings seem to be using a car parking outfit to extort money from boaters wanting to moor.

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Quote

 

Oxfordshire Narrowboats have a train station "right outside" where you can get to Banbury and thence to London Marylebone. They also have a B&B onsite which might work out cheaper than 'wasting' you  hire time.  Very nice boats. 

On the Thames

Osney  and Goring locks have moorings - first night free, second £5. You can't book these. Train stations nearby.  Goring has a bookable mooring (very popular) at the top of the lock that sometimes can take NBs. Ring the lockie. The resident   is very helpful. There are other possibilities which I haven't listed, but would need a cab ride.

Avoid Reading.

There aren't many hire bases for NBs on the Thames and some of the boat are very tired - the main market is for cruisers.

That's enough for starters - come back for more details (if any of my suggestions make sense for you). 

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4 minutes ago, OldGoat said:

Oxfordshire Narrowboats have a train station "right outside" where you can get to Banbury and thence to London Marylebone. They also have a B&B onsite which might work out cheaper than 'wasting' you  hire time.  Very nice boats. 

On the Thames

Osney  and Goring locks have moorings - first night free, second £5. You can't book these. Train stations nearby.  Goring has a bookable mooring (very popular) at the top of the lock that sometimes can take NBs. Ring the lockie. The resident   is very helpful. There are other possibilities which I haven't listed, but would need a cab ride.

Avoid Reading.

There aren't many hire bases for NBs on the Thames and some of the boat are very tired - the main market is for cruisers.

That's enough for starters - come back for more details (if any of my suggestions make sense for you). 

Rarlway station.:rolleyes:

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2 hours ago, Melbourne_Boaters said:

Thank you for the suggestions - feels like the Wyvern / GU combo isn't all bad?  But some new suggestions to google this weekend.

Strewth Mate (shouldn't say that you're from Melbourne?) - you said in an earlier post that you'd  be doing the GU for a third time - there are other waterways, you know..

The Thames above Oxford has 'proper' locks - but a bit rural

Anglo - welsh have some respectable narrow boats at Eynsham (above Oxford).

How long do you want to spend on the water?

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If you have been happy with Napton narrowboats, they have a second hire base at Autherly Junction, which is a taxi ride away from Wolverhampton train station. It’s just under two hours from Wolverhampton to London Euston by virgin trains. Train fares are reasonable if you book well in advance but can be exorbitant if you purchase on the day of travel.

 

 This would mean that you would be cruising a different part of the country using the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal and the Shropshire Union canal. But it would entail you visiting London before or after the canal part of your holiday and using London hotels.

 

Birmingham airport isn’t too far from the Napton narrowboats base. Qatar airways and Emirates fly out of Birmingham if that helps with your planning.

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You've not mentioned this point, I think, but in case you were thinking of taking a hire boat on the tidal Thames that is basically no longer possible. After an incident a few years ago the Port of London introduced some stringent new requirements for hire boats. Black Prince closed their London base in part because they could not sensibly cope with them.

 

I ought to know, but don't, if hireboats are allowed to do the (much tamer) Teddington to Brentford stretch.

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Thanks Simon,

 

Good point re the Teddington-Brentford leg.  We have done that a couple of times before but should check.  Our plan B could be to do a 4 day stay in London and a 10 day boat hire so that opens up the Napton/Autherley option so we could add a new waterway to our collection.

 

The other option that would open up is to try the Eastern end of the K&A for 10 days?  We are keen to see the countryside, but not in a rush.

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Perhaps you could look at stations which are near canals, so that you could moor up and then visit London. One which springs to mind (because we moor in the area) is Banbury on the Oxford Canal: station about 10 minutes' walk from (extensive) town centre moorings, fairly frequent trains to London Marylebone which take 60 to 80 minutes to make the journey. Several hire bases on the canal - one of which, Oxfordshire Narrowboats, is adjacent to a railway station, but you have to change trains to get to London Paddington so it takes a bit longer.

Edited by Athy
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18 minutes ago, Melbourne_Boaters said:

Thanks Athy,
Looks like doing a 10 day trip plus 4 days in the capital is going to work better.  Oxfordshire Narrowboats are quite pricey I see...

As it is many years since we hired, I am unsure of prices. But there is something in the old saying "you get what you pay for". Napton Narrowboats are also well thought of, so perhaps pricey too. On the South Oxford there are Twyford Narrowboats, which look older and less cared for, and so perhaps have lower prices. I think they have only two or three boats.

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3 minutes ago, Melbourne_Boaters said:

Thanks Athy,
Looks like doing a 10 day trip plus 4 days in the capital is going to work better.  Oxfordshire Narrowboats are quite pricey I see...

That's because they're good quality boats. There are some very tatty boats around as well.

 

If you want to use the boat as an hotel (no reason why not) then you must consider how you're going to charge the batteries as you won't be cruising. Needs 4-6 hours of motoring every day to charge them.

I wouldn't be happy leaving a boat unattended all day in urban areas either.

The solution to the above is use a marina with electric hookup (if the boat has charging facilities).

A posh marina on the Thames is about £20 per night so not ruinous.

Think on it and I may come back with suggestions for the Thames (my patch) and perhaps someone else will comment on the GU

3 minutes ago, Athy said:

As it is many years since we hired, I am unsure of prices. But there is something in the old saying "you get what you pay for". Napton Narrowboats are also well thought of, so perhaps pricey too. On the South Oxford there are Twyford Narrowboats, which look older and less cared for, and so perhaps have lower prices. I think they have only two or three boats.

Good to have some corroboration! Anglo Welsh have a fleet in the Eynsham area and their boats are in the mid range - quality wise (their boats are larger and cater for 'groups'...

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All good, it is Friday night here, so will have a better look tomorrow.  The Oxford price comment is vs. Napton / Wyvern who we think rent very good boats (or put another way, we have always been happy with them).

 

Original plan was 14 day trip with a stay in London - we have done Packet Boat and Battlebridge in the past, so all good for power.  Less of an issue with 4+10 trip where we will end up cruising most days.

 

I'd happily do Napton again with their bigger beds but the family wants to do K&A...First World Problems....

 

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