What is a canal boat?
Canal boats used to mean industry and business, going way back to the 1700s when companies started to realise the value of using these vast waterways to transport their goods. Whilst trying to write this, I found myself getting lost down a canal-boat-rabbit-hole of facts and history about canals and waterways. Now this either means that I'm an extremely uninteresting person or (please be this) that there is such a lot to read and learn about and this is what makes the canals such a great place to be. If you have some time I would recommend having a look at the Canal and River Trust website to get an idea of how important canals were in days gone by.
Once railways were introduced, the economic use of canals experienced a rapid decline. Whilst on your canal boat stag do, you are more than likely to see the remnants of the canals' industrial past. Whether you're fussed or not is a different matter altogether, but you will almost certainly come into contact with a lock or two, involving you with a historic part of the UK.
Now that they are no longer used for such vast commercial purpose (apart from money for your stag do of course), canals are a serene escape from the norm of manic driving activities and expensive nights out. Of course, most canals are a short distance from (or even run through) large towns and cities, such was their purpose. This means that if you fancy an activity or two or even a night out*, then it's certainly possible. Canal boat trips for stag dos can ultimately be tailored to your requirements and it's well worth getting in touch with us to discuss what you're looking for.
*Take a look at our Summer Stag Do ideas article for some ideas on which activities to do
Best Stag Do Canal Trip destinations
There are loads of routes to choose from across the UK for your canal stag do. Whether you fancy travelling to Chester to have a look at some monkeys or taking a trip into Birmingham to do some buggy racing, there is something to suit all groups. On the same route, 2 groups may decide to do completely different things as well, so your trip can and will be completely unique to your stag do weekend. Take a look below at the most popular places to go for your canal do stag weekend, which should help you and the group to narrow down your ideas.
Canal Boats South West - Bradford-on-Avon
- Caen lock flight; a true feat of engineering -
From the small town of Bradford-on-Avon there are different routes to suit every group. You can head East towards Devizes and have a chilled out cruise for a couple of days. There aren't many local towns or cities close to the canal with this trip, making it one of the more 'easy going' options for your weekend. That's not to say that there's absolutely nothing to do on this route if it's your preferred choice. Have a look at what is around you on this trip below:
Pubs - The Somerset Arms in Semington, The Barge Inn in Seend Cleeve, Three Magpies in Sells Green, Black Horse Inn above Caen Locks. Several in Devizes to choose from. Only a 40 minute drive to Bath or 15 minute drive into Trowbridge from Devizes with a bit of prior planning or taxis.
Activity ideas - A 30 minute drive / taxi trip from Sells Green to a great indoor karting centre
Points of interest / miscellaneous - There are 29 locks in close succession, called the Caen locks, 16 of which are one-after-the-other. Whilst you may decide that you don't have time to tackle all 29 of these (it usually takes 5-6 hours from bottom to top), you will at least have time to appreciate this feat of engineering.
Alternatively, you could head towards Bristol, passing through Bath which is a much busier option. Although it is unlikely that you'll have time to get all the way to Bristol city centre, you should definitely be able to find somewhere to moor up on the edges of this amazing stag do city (see our blog about top stag do ideas for Bristol or a Bristol Stag Do on a Budget).
Pubs - Almost endless possibilities in Bath and Bristol, but have a look at our Bristol Stag Do Bars post to see if you can find the one for your group. Whilst on the way towards Bristol, there are also various pubs to visit, such as the Jolly Sailor at Satlford or The George Inn on the edge of Bath
Activity ideas - Again, Bristol is set up for anything, so whether you fancy a Brewery Tour, driving, shooting or any other activity, have a look at our Bristol activities page to see what you like and then get in touch. Bath is also great for a stag do, so have a look at the Bath activity options here.
Points of interest / miscellaneous - Saltford Weir and Lock, west of Bath. Bath town also has a myriad of things to do and places to see, many of them going back to the towns famous Roman roots.
Canal Boats Midlands - Tardbigge
One fantastic option in the Midlands is to head from Tardbigge to Lapworth. This is a great route for all levels of boating experience and a 'quieter' route. After initially heading for Birmingham, take the Stratford canal South and find yourself in the picturesque village of Lapworth with a whole host of pubs to choose from. If you're looking to do some activities during your trip, this may not work as timings may get a little 'tight', but it's perfect if you're looking to escape from busy towns and cities. You can alternatively choose to stick in Birmingham and have a night out, or partake in some stag activities.
Pubs - The Weighbridge or The Crown Inn in Alvechurch are great choices whilst travelling towards Birmingham, being right by the canal. Obviously there are lots of pub options in Birmingham and then once in Lapworth, there are lots of pubs to choose from, so take a look and see which take your fancy.
Activity ideas - Have a look at our Birmingham activities page to see what is possible.
Points of interest / miscellaneous - Canal tunnels are a feature of this trip, one of which is the Wast Hill tunnel at 2.5km long (takes approximately an hour to pass through safely).
- Take on some tunnels on your canal boat stag do trip -
Canal Boats North West - Bunbury
Heading from Bunbury, you can travel South towards Market Drayton (you won't have time to get quite that far) and escape into the countryside. If you'd like to get away from any well-populated areas, the Southward trip down the Shropshire Union Canal is great and here's a brief list of what is possible for your stag do canal boat trip:
Pubs - The Barbridge Inn is worth a visit and one of the only pubs between Bunbury and Nantwich, where there are various pubs to choose from.
Activity ideas - This trip is one of the more scenic and countryside-bound trips, so if it's activities you're after the Chester-bound trip will be best suited to your stag do canal boat trip. However, you could moor up and visit the de-classified Hack Green nuclear bunker, which was a secret facility for government in case of nuclear conflict.
Points of interest / miscellaneous - Nantwich town has the highest number of listed buildings of any town in the UK.
If you're wanting to keep busier and get in to a town or city, then heading for Chester is probably a better option. Have a look at our suggestions of what there is if you choose this option:
Pubs - The Shady Oak next to the canal is a great, traditional pub and Chester has loads of pubs to choose from.
Activity ideas - Moor up in Chester and catch a train to Liverpool for a night out or stay in Chester with a great choice of places to choose from. Play Bubble Football in Chester to add a little bit of adrenaline to your weekend, have a few hours at the races (depending on events happening at the racecourse), have a brewery tour and some food or just moor up somewhere, kick back and relax. Chester Zoo is also a great day out and taking a group of stags to the zoo seems logical.
Points of interest / miscellaneous - Chester has a lot of Roman heritage to explore, as well as famous landmarks like the Eastgate Clock.
- Chester is great as part of a canal boat stag do trip -
Canal Boats South East - Eynsham
The best route to take is towards Oxford. This route is a lot of open countryside, with great views of the sweeping Oxfordshire landscape. Oxford is a beautiful town with plenty of heritage, such as it's world-famous university and punting boats. You will also travel on the river Thames, making this trip an absolute stunner!
Pubs - The Trout Inn near Kings Lock or The Perch are both options to look at before reaching the multitude of pubs in Oxford. If you travel a little further along, there is also The Isis Farmhouse or The Tandem.
Activity ideas - Once you get into Oxford there are loads of things to do. Have a look at our list of stag do ideas for Oxford.
Points of interest / miscellaneous - King's Lock on the way to Oxford has it's own small island if you fancy stretching your legs. Osney Bridge in Oxford, built in 1888 is nice and low to keep you on your toes.
- Oxford provides a stunning canal boat stag do trip -
What is on board a Stag Do Canal Boat?
You might be wondering what the facilities are like on your vessel and you may be surprised! Obviously each boat varies as they are all unique and all of them even have names, but usually they include the following:
- 6-12 beds in various formats, but usually single beds/bunk beds (can sometimes have double beds).
- Storage space (wardrobes/cupboards).
- Bathroom with toilet and shower.
- Small galley- gas oven, electric fridge, hot and cold running water.
- Plenty of seating.
- Television and often CD player/radio.
Stag Do Canal Boat Costs / Information
So now we've shown you where to go and how to make the most of your stag do canal boat trip, there are a few things you should know about the costs that can be involved with a canal boat trip. This should help you to be fully prepared to give the group all of the facts, so that none of them can argue that a canal boat trip is a fantastic idea:
Initial deposit - All boats are only held for a short time without at least 25-50% deposit, so it's important to be aware of this and let the group know. After the initial deposit from everyone, the boat(s) can be booked and then you won't need to worry about payments until a couple of months before you go (see the 'balance payments' section below).
Fuel - Costs for fuel are often included in the price of hire, but this can vary from boat yard to boat yard, so we will look into this for you upon your initial enquiry.
Damage waiver - These are usually refundable after your trip, providing the boat(s) is (are) returned in the same condition in which you took it away. The waivers can range from £250-£1000 per boat, but again it depends on the boat yard we are using.
Balance payments - Most boat yards require full payment a couple of months before the stag do and it's good to know, so that you can give everyone as much notice as possible. Then they don't have an excuse not to pay on time!
Speeds - There is a speed limit of 4mph on most of them, but you'll still be able to do plenty of distance over the course of a weekend. You are asked to make sure to pass other boats, moored or moving, at a nice gentle speed and generally if you're creating wake or wash then you're going too fast. These boats are designed to be an easy-going method of transport.
Locks - Some locks are operated by lock-keepers, whilst others will require operation by you and your 'crew'. Every boatyard will make sure that they give you all of the information that you'll need for your trip.
Rivers - Generally these trips operate on canals, but some may have sections of rivers included (the Avon and Thames to name a couple). In these instances, the people at the boatyard will advise on the most suitable routes for the experience among your group.
Perfect your Canal Boat Stag Do.
Now that you've read what a great idea a canal boat stag weekend is, all you need to do is get in touch with us at Essential Adventure to discuss exactly what you would like. We'll then set about putting together a bespoke stag do canal boat trip for you to put to the group. Once we've got the package just as you'd like it, we'll ask for a deposit from the you to get the boat in motion. We will get everything booked for you and set everyone up with their own online accounts for their deposits. This helps to take the stress out of sorting out an amazing weekend, meaning that you'll be able to kick back with everyone else and have a truly memorable time!
With so much to consider, we'll summarise all the best bits about a stag do canal boat weekend for you:
> Hundreds of miles of waterways to explore across the UK.
> Self-catering and a variety of bed arrangements make it super flexible.
> All starting points offer options to accommodate extra activities.
> Generally no more expensive than a private house and much more fun. Take your house with you.
Canal Boat Stag Do Summary
Choosing a canal boat as part of your stag do can be fantastic fun as well as being a little more chilled out than a full on city centre venue. Here's a recap of what you can expect:
- Superb alternative to a city centre event
- Great value for money
- Choose additional activities along the route
- Take in some great scenery
- Moor up and sleep right outside the pub
- Great facilities on board
- Available in many areas
- Accommodation included!
Book your Canal Boat Stag Do
Now we've shown you how great your stag do canal boat weekend could be, get in touch to receive the following benefits from us:
- We will discuss your requirements and suggest the best canal boat stag do trips.
- We'll give you all the information and prices for any stag do canal boat weekends you're considering.
- Once you're happy, we will get everything booked for your stag do canal trip with an initial deposit.
- Everyone will be set up with their own payment accounts, for their initial deposits (usually required within 7 days for canal boat stag do bookings) and balance payments.
- Access to a full itinerary and contact details for the relevant boat yard.
So if you're looking for a canal boat stag weekend, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us!
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