Canal Boat Hire Firms

There are many, many boat hire firms in the U.K. and Europe. These are the ones I know of that have a web presence. Many firms are now on the web, but there are probably still some that are not; I have not attempted to list those. Boats are hired (rented) from boatyards. Hire is usually by the week, though some 3/4 day hires ("short breaks") are also offered by some firms.

Many ads can be found in the pages of canal and waterway-related magazines.

See also hotel boats.

When contacting any firm, please tell them you saw them listed on the internet on "George's Canal Pages" at

Important! See disclaimer.

Table of Contents

Since this page is so large, I've added this table of contents here at the top.

On this page:

Last minute bookings

Agencies - for boats in the U.K. and Europe

An agency is a representative for one or more boatyards. Agencies often do the advertising for the boatyards they represent, as well as handle reservations (bookings).

Large Hire Firms - U.K.

These are, I think, the largest hire firms on the U.K. canal system. They each operate from several bases.

For another view of these, see Map of Hire Bases in England and Wales, and Map of Hire Bases in Scotland

Hire Firms with Specialised Offerings - U.K.

Canal Holidays for Disabled People

Canal Holidays for Schools and Youth Organisations, and Other Groups

Day Boats

"Day boats" have no sleeping accommodations - they are just boats you take out for the day.

Hire Nightly or B&B

Highly flexible booking schedule

Long Term Hire/Lease

One-way trips

Depart from one boatyard and finish at another.

Broad-beam "narrowboats"

Also referred to as "wide beam".

Electric Boats

The only electrically powered boats that I'm aware of for multi-day hire are operated by Castle Narrowboats, on the Mon & Brec Canal in S. Wales.
Chertsey Meads Marine has electric day boats for use on the Thames.

"Trad" (traditional) Narrowboats

Lists of Hire Firms and Agencies - France

See also Hotel Boats

For web pages of individual hire firms, see the French Waterways Links page .

Large Hire Firms - Europe

Smaller Hire Firms - UK and Europe


For another view of these, see Map of Hire Bases in England and Wales.

Canal name abbreviations used below

Unfortuately, now that APCO (the Association of Pleasure Craft Operators) has become part of British Marine, the useful pages they had on hire firms is no longer available.


For another view of these, and large firm bases, see Map of Hire Bases in Scotland

Note: several of the Large Hire Firms - U.K. have bases in Scotland


Note: the Llangollen Canal in Wales connects to the main English canal system, and therefore can also be reached via boats hired in England. For bases on or near the Llangollen, see the Map of Hire Bases in England and Wales and zoom in to the row of markers about 50km south of Liverpool (as the crow flys).


comments on R. Barrow cruising - on, Jan 2013


See the French Waterways Links page (Previous entries in this category have been moved there.)



This pages are provided as a public service. There is no implied recommendation for any of the firms listed, nor is any criticism implied for any firm not listed. No firm has paid for any listing. If you decide to try canal boating, you do so at your own risk.
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