Five years ago this month I went on a short canal boat trip with Daphne and Stephen along a stretch of the Leeds - Liverpool canal starting just south of Skipton and turning around at Barnoldswick.
Despite crossing from Yorkshire into Lancashire, it was probably only a round trip distance of about 15 miles as the crow flies but as canals don't go in straight lines, it was more like 26 miles we travelled. Also, if that crow had been on a canal boat going at about 4mph and also been able to work the many locks that raise and lower the canal waters up and down the sloping terrain, it would've taken it 3 full days to make the trip.
Which is how long it took us.
As long as you have someone with you fit enough to work the locks, a canal trip is a wonderful way to chill out and see the stunning countryside of the UK from a unique perspective. After years of volunteer work cleaning and restoring many disused stretches, there are now 2,200 miles of navigable canals in the UK with the vast majority of these miles being in England. The Leeds - Liverpool canal is 127 miles long so we only saw a very small part of it but it was more than enough to make me want to see more.
Despite occasionally crossing over or under a main road, the canal took us out into the countryside, well away from the busy traffic on those congested roads and after just a short time from setting off, the loudest noise we heard was the relaxing (and comforting) putt putt of the boat engine as it pushed us gently along. Wildlife took no notice of our peaceful passing and swans and other waterbirds were our constant companions.
As it got dark, we'd simply tie up by the side of the canal for the night and have supper in the cozy surroundings of a local pub before returning to the boat to sleep.
It was an idyllic break and often I'd just stretch out on the top of the boat and watch the world go by at 4mph.
Here is a 15 minute video I put together at the time and it gives a good impression of the relaxing weekend we had.....well apart from working those damn locks !