Canal Boat Trip - July 2001

In the summer of 2001 we went to England for my son David's graduation from theatre school.  During our time there, we rented a canal boat for four glorious days on the Grand Union Canal.  We rented our boat from The Wyvern Shipping Company, Ltd. (I highly recommend renting from this company) located in Leighton Buzzard which is about an hour and a half northwest of London by train.  This is a family owned business with over 20 beautifully appointed narrowboats.  They come equipped with everything you need for your trip.  All you need to bring is food and your clothes.  Our boat, "Jade", was 53 feet long and was the standard width of 7 feet.  It had two bedrooms, two baths - one with a shower, a galley with stove, refrigerator and sink, and a living room which doubled as a dining area and extra sleeping area at night.  It even had a color TV and a radio/CD player.  It was powered by a quiet-running diesel engine and had a generator for electrical power.  

When you get to Wyvern, the pilot walks you through the boat pointing out where everything is and how to operate it.  You are then taken out onto the canal and instructed on how to drive the boat and the etiquette of proper canal boating.  Shortly thereafter, you reach the first set of manually operated locks where the pilot shows you how to operate them.  The pilot then gets off the boat leaving you to your own devices.  The speed limit on the canal is 3 miles per hour, but a lot of the time you are going quite a bit slower.  Any time you pass a moored boat or fishermen, you must slow down to "tick-over" speed and I can tell you from personal experience that you can walk faster than "tick-over" speed.  The water in the canal does not flow (except when you are going through a lock) so there is never any chance of motion sickness.

The slow pace of your trip, instead of being an annoyance, is actually one of the luxuries of canal boating.  You slowly wind you way through beautiful English countryside and every so often you come to one of the many quaint pubs which are located beside the canal.  In the evening, when you are ready to stop for the night, you moor up at any public mooring and sleep on the boat.  During your trip, there are many towns and villages where you can stop and explore.

Click on this link to go to the Wyvern website at  If you end up renting a canal boat from them, please tell them that I sent you.  If you want to learn more about canal boating, you may also want to visit and or for more narrowboat rental information.

Below are some pictures from our trip.  Clicking on any image will open up a larger view.  Use your browser's "Back" button to return to this page.

Wyvern truck and narrowboat
At the Wyvern Shipping Co. dock
Katy looking out the bedroom window
Our boat - Jade
A beautiful bridge
Solomon's Bridge at Cosgrove
Narrowboat marina
Narrowboat marina
Soulbury locks
Soulbury locks
Katy on the side-deck
Katy walking the side-deck.
The Bridge pub at Fenny Stratford
The Bridge pub at Fenny Stratford.
Waterpoint along the Grand Union Canal
Filling the water tank at one of the many waterpoints along the canal.
River Ouse Aquaduct
River Ouse Aqueduct
Elderly duck crossing at Yardley Wharf
"Elderly Duck Crossing" at Yardley Wharf
Lock and Canal Museum at Stoke Bruerne
Stoke Bruerne Lock with the Canal Museum and Museum Shop in the background on the right.
The Boat Inn pub
The Boat Inn pub at Stoke Bruerne.
The Navigation pub in Stoke Bruerne
The Navigation pub in Stoke Bruerne
Rose and Castle canal art
"Rose and Castle" motif canal art
Canal art with flowers
More canal art and flowers
Entrance to the Blisworth Tunnel
Entrance to the Blisworth Tunnel which is 2/3 of a mile long.
View from above the mouth of the  tunnel
View from above the mouth of the tunnel.  The concrete ring is a replica of a "slice" of the tunnel wall.
Canal-side pub
On of many canal-side pubs.
Lady and her dog going through a lock
A lady and her dog make their way through a lock.
Canal view
View of the canal from one of many bridges that cross over the canal.
A pub sign
Decorative pub sign
Tunnel beneath the canal
Pedestrian tunnel going under the canal so that boaters can get to the Barley Mow pub from the public mooring.
Tea for the tillerman
Tea for the tillerman
(With apologies to Cat Stevens)
London's Little Venice
London's "Little Venice" on the Grand Union Canal.
Canal restaurant in Little Venice
Restaurant over the canal
Narrowboat with gondola
On of the many beautiful moorings in Little Venice.  Notice the gondola on top of the narrowboat.
Canal boat mooring with flowers
Flower lover's heaven.
Narrowboat cafe
Narrowboat cafe


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