My father-in-law, Mike, has never quite got over the private yacht charter sailing trip that we went on in the Whitsunday Islands in Australia. It was a fabulous adventure and he has been forever seeking to re-live it on another watercraft trip. Ideally, he would love to do a catamaran sailing trip somewhere fairly exotic, but for his 70th birthday, the family decided to book a slightly more practical, local adventure of a week of canal boating along the Kennet and Avon in the south of England. He was just glad to be taking control of another boat to be honest. We'll do the cat on another occasion.
We booked the boat from Foxhangers Canal Holidays who operate from a wharf near Devizes in Wiltshire. Given that there were seven of us and two dogs, we booked the longest narrowboat on offer measuring 69 foot long! It was a bit of a beast to manage around some of the tighter turns and the smaller locks, but we were glad of the extra space indoors for the down time. Having said that, a narrowboat by its definition is narrow, and can be tricky at times to move around, especially when you've got multiple people trying to cook breakfast at the same time, or getting past the dining table when everybody's seated. Ho hum, first world problems.
The weather was fairly kind on our trip and I think that makes a big difference when you're all wanting to be out on the decking when the boat is cruising along. There were plenty of pubs to stop at along the way, and some really good examples including The Barge Inn at Seend Cleeve, The Somerset Arms at Semington, The Cross Guns at Avoncliff, The Bathampton Mill, The White Hart in Bath, and Hall & Woodhouse in Bath.
Overall, a really good trip for us all. Relaxing, adventurous and a lot of laughs. The Kennet and Avon is good stretch of water from Caen Hill Marina to Bath and has everything first-timer canal boaters could wish for on a week-long narrowboat trip. Glad we checked that one off of our to-do list. Can't see us rushing back to do another one any time soon, mostly due to the cramped living conditions and the poor night's sleep you get on small beds with thin mattresses. I suspect that fabled catamaran trip will be next on Mr Mike's wish list!