Waterways, Canals and Boating Holidays

Yorkshire has more than 100 miles of coastline, dozens of rivers and reservoirs and an ancient canal network.  Once at the heart of our textile industry, they're great places to explore and enjoy.  Gently stroll along miles of tranquil towpaths, stopping off in towns and villages along the way, or cruise along at the helm of your very own narrowboat.

Yorkshire’s Canal Network

For those wanting to stay a bit drier, there's the canal network to explore.  

Canal & River Trust looks after around 270 miles of inland waterways, covering an area which stretches from South Yorkshire to the River Tees in the North East. Yorkshire's waterways, including the 127 mile long Leeds & Liverpool Canal and large freight ways of the River Aire, combine rural appeal with historic purpose.

Get out and enjoy our wonderful canals and rivers, try one of these fantastic FREE guides from the Canal & River Trust.

The canals and rivers provide countless opportunities for walking, cycling, wildlife spotting, picnicking, angling canoeing or canal boat holidays. They weave through famous attractions such as Clarence Dock in Leeds, with bars, shops, restaurants and a casino, through to the highest, longest and deepest canal tunnel in Britain at Standedge Tunnel, near Huddersfield, built by navvies with enormous difficulty.  Huddersfield Narrow Canal runs for 20 miles and near Lock 23E in Slaithwaite, you'll find the country's only working Guillotine Gate on a narrow canal.

The Leeds & Liverpool Canal is one of the most spectacular in the country. Unlike many other canals, boats sit above the canal bank so you really can watch the world go by.  It meanders through some of the most picturesque countryside in England, taking in some of Yorkshire's most famous historic towns and villages along the way.  The canal weaves its way through the Yorkshire Dales, into Skipton and onto Bingley, home to the Five and Three Rise Locks, which are often described as wonders of the waterways, before reaching the World Heritage Site of Saltaire village.

Visit Sowerby Bridge Basin, home to Tuel Lane Lock, the deepest lock in England, and the joining point of Calder & Hebble Navigation and Rochdale Canal.  The Rochdale Canal climbs up the Calder Valley through the towns of Mytholmroyd, Hebden Bridge and Todmorden to its summit at Walsden. A gentle walk with plenty of stopping places.

This assortment offers a unique blend of bustling city centre lifestyle and dramatic countryside landscapes - an ideal contrast for a short break.

Yorkshire's waterways play host to a whole range of events throughout the year - from small, charity walks and Towpath Tidy days, to annual festivals such as the Waterways Festival in the pretty market town of Skipton in May and the Rushbearing Festival in Sowerby Bridge, near Halifax. Why don't you explore Yorkshire's canals and unleash the possibilities just waiting to be discovered.

Take to the Water

Passenger trips

Take a trip with A&G Passenger Boats along the Sheffield and Tinsley canal - they offer festive and Santa cruises throughout December too.

British Waterways runs regular cruises into the darkness of Standedge Tunnel, the deepest canal tunnel in Britain, from their Visitor Centre at Marsden. Take the half-hour tunnel cruise into the heart of the Pennines, in the glass-roofed narrow boat (watch out for those drips!).

YorkBoat: Make the most of your time in York and take to the river! Sit back and enjoy the sights of York City and country by day or by night, whatever the weather.

Skipton Boat Trips offer public and private canal cruises on the Leeds & Liverpool canal for families and groups. Cruises on offer range from Afternoon Teas to Fish & Chip Cruises, to one-hour public cruises running from March to December.

Self-drive day boats

If you prefer to be at the helm, you can hire a boat for the day from these operators:

Snaygill Boats, another operator based in Skipton, have two 32ft narrow boats, Amber and Toby, available for day hire.

York Marine Services, Bishopthorpe, York, offers self drive motorboat hire on the River Ouse.  Navigate the River all the way to the Linton Locks or Naburn (over 30 miles) or just cruise up to the historic city of York and take in the sites.

York Marina is situated just 4 miles south of the historic city of York, York Marina is ideally located for exploring the River Ouse and connecting waterways across the North of England. The marina is family owned and operated and provides a safe haven and the best facilities locally for all boaters wishing to explore the surrounding waterways.

Boating Holidays - Narrow Boats and Hotel Boats

Don't forget too that you can change the view from your self-catering accommodation minute by minute, by choosing a canal cruiser. 

Lady Teal, the only five star hotel boat in England, is purpose built, providing a boutique hotel experience cruising Yorkshire's waterways. Complete with ensuite facilities and flushing toilets, there's no need to compromise aboard this boat.

Shire Cruisers, Sowerby Bridge: Discover a different Yorkshire - afloat! Cruise the canals and rivers on your own well-appointed narrow boat.  Shire Cruisers give friendly, helpful, individual service, with exceptionally thorough training, so you can relax and enjoy your holiday. Their boats are all Quality Assured to make sure they are as good as you expect. Whether you have three days or three weeks, they'll give you an amazing break.

Silsden Boat Holidays, Silsden, West Yorkshire, offers canal boat hire for family boating holidays, weekend and short breaks on the canals and waterways of the Yorkshire Dales including the Leeds and Liverpool canal.

Hapton Valley Boats, are located at Reedley Marina in the heart of Pennine Lancashire. This rural location is the perfect setting for the start of your canal boat holiday. They are an independent company who pride themselves on being professional but affordable.

Bear Boating - bearBOATING is the home of "The most luxurious hire boat EVER" (Waterways World 2013). We offer canal boat holidays on the Leeds Liverpool Canal which includes locations such as Granary Wharf, Saltaire, Gargrave and Skipton. bearBOATING is also an RYA registered Training Centre that welcomes people who are new to boating.