Canal Boat Holiday, Wales

Our British friends were curious as to how we decided to rent a canal boat. Apparently a canal boat holiday is a Very British Holiday. Many people had stories of having done one as a kid with their families. I’m not sure where I got the idea, but I think I thought the kids would enjoy doing something active, and that it was something that doesn’t really exist in the US, that I know of. There are many canal networks and rental operators in the UK. Some of the canals go close to more sightseeing areas like Oxford or Stratford-on-Avon, but they looked pretty busy with boats and I didn’t want to be operating the boat in traffic. Also, some of the canal boats are pretty spartan. I was looking for a relatively quiet canal with a relatively comfy boat. This led us to the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal network (or, the Mon & Brec) in the Brecon Beacons national park in Wales. We rented our boat from Beacon Park Boats. Because the canal boat allowed dogs, Meg came too.

We again considered whether we should rent a car but decided that taking the train made more sense. We could have taken a slightly more direct route to Wales, but in the end it was easier to take the sleeper train to London and then the Great Western Railway west to Wales. This trip is where Meg really got her transportation stripes, riding multiple trains and buses (dogs are allowed), and then on the boat. On the smaller trains we did buy a ticket for her just so we could have some more room, but it wasn’t required. The sleeper train left from Leuchars at 11:23 p.m., arriving in London at Kings Cross at 7:00 a.m.


Leuchars has a dedicated waiting room for the Caledonian Sleeper, with complimentary snacks and drinks (and wifi).


From there we gave Meg a walk, got some breakfast, and took a bus over to Paddington Station, where westbound trains leave from. Our train went to Newport, and there we changed trains for Abergavenny.


Breakfast and dog walk in Tavistock Gardens, our go-to dog-friendly area near Kings Cross Station.


Meg rides a double-decker bus, on the way to Paddington Station.


Paddington at Paddington


Train to Newport, then Abergavenny


Time to practice some Welsh!


From Abergavenny we took a local bus to the village of Crickhowell on the River Usk, close to the point on the canal where our boat was located. In Crickhowell we picked up some groceries, had lunch at the Bridge End Inn, and then walked a little less than a mile to the boathouse on the canal.


Walking to catch bus in Abergavenny


Bus to Crickhowell


Streets of Crickhowell


Bridge over the River Usk, near the Bridge End Inn


Boatyard at Beacon Park Boats

I’m going to let a kid write the next post to tell you what our boat was like.

If you want to follow:


  1. Mary Pat Dixon | | Reply

    This is pretty unbelievable. I didn’t know you had had a canal boat adventure. Meg looks like a real seasoned traveler. I look forward to more information….

  2. Granddaddy | | Reply

    What fun that must have been. The advantage of a canal boat trip for the landlubber is that you can’t get blown out to sea by a storm, there is no tide to worry about, you don’t have to worry about a compass, and if you sink, it’s only a few feet deep. And there are no sharks.

  3. Lydia | | Reply

    Dad, apparently you can take canal boats on the River Severn and the tide can be a factor. There were also some other navigational hazards like people fishing into the canal, and a guy training his retrievers by throwing a ball into the canal directly in front of the oncoming boat.

  4. Nana | | Reply

    So glad to hear about the Wales holiday. Again, Lydia gets the praise for figuring out the public transportation aspects of this adventure. Extra treats for Meg’s tolerance. There is a canal system in the US, the Erie Canal. Here’s a link to a bike the Erie Canal trip the Carters could do sometime.

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