Is the London Bridge operated manually

England & Scotland by narrowboat

Visit The Queen’s Country by houseboat

The so-called Inland waterways, the English network of inland waterways, offers a unique opportunity to get to know the land of the Queen. You travel nostalgically and comfortably at the same time Waterways with the Narrowboats, modern houseboats in classic, elongated shape, which are equipped with bathroom, kitchen, beds and the most important household items.


Waterways: relics of the industrial revolution

The UK's many canals date back to the Industrial Revolution. At that time they were used to transport coal, ores and goods from the sea ports on the coast or the mines inland to the emerging industrial centers. The bottleneck of this system, the many hundred locks, determine the measure of 72 feet (approx. 22 meters) in length and 7 feet (a little over 2 meters) in width, which still characterizes the appearance of the boats to this day. The canals are now used almost exclusively for leisure and tourism.

Typical: traveling by narrowboat
Narrowboating means traveling through tranquil villages, mooring in historic cities like Warwick, Chester or Oxford and visiting metropolises like Edinburgh, Birmingham and Manchester. In keeping with the spirit of pleasure craft, the route is the destination here too: you cross picturesque landscapes, learn to fear in kilometer-long tunnels and drive up and down the hills using sluices.

Driving without a boat license
The speed of the narrowboats on the canals of 4 mph (approx. 7 km / h) encourages races and small talk with walkers, joggers and cyclists on the riverside paths. The tiller control and the motors, which can be operated via 1-lever control, enable easy maneuvering that even inexperienced users can master after a short time. Before departure, you will receive a briefing that will teach you how to drive safely. A boat license is not required! The upcoming locks all work in the old-fashioned way, i.e. in manual operation.

Should you ever need help, you won't be left alone for long on the British waterways. Small talk with other boat crews and mutual assistance with locks are a matter of course and make traveling by narrowboat so charming.

Should you ever need help, you won't be left alone for long on the British waterways. Small talk with other boat crews and mutual assistance with locks are a matter of course and make traveling by narrowboat so charming.

Narrowboats: boat types and sizes

Narrowboats are offered up to the 5-star standard. Accordingly, they are modernly equipped with a refrigerator, stove, TV, DVD, central heating, hot water and a shower - sometimes even a bathtub. They are available in different lengths: for 2-4, 4-6, 6-8 and even 8-10 people, whereby the second number must always be understood as meaning that the sofas in the salon are converted into beds or a spare bed in the evening is available. So if you want to do without the nightly remodeling, the first number always applies to your needs.

For driving on the Inland waterways At least 2 people are always required per narrowboat: one at the helm and one to operate the locks. If there are small children, a third adult or young person should be on the boat to look after the young children.

ADAC partners such as Fair Winds Yacht Charter offer various floor plans that can be booked there or via the ADAC Yacht Charter search, the ADAC comparison and booking portal. The most popular boat types are listed below:

2-4 people: Narrowboat type P2 / D2 / D4 / L4
4-6 people: Narrowboat type P4 / D4 / S4 / L4 / P6
6-8 people: Narrowboat type D6 / P6
8-10 people: Narrowboat type D8

To the ADAC yacht charter search

Trip suggestions

Whether villages where time seems to have stood still or modern metropolises. Tea time, pub, castle or shopping - the United Kingdom is all of this and can be found on the banks of the canals. You can tailor your tour to suit your preferences or take inspiration from one of the routes that Fair Winds Yacht Charter and ADAC have put together for you.

When choosing the tour, criteria such as the number of locks, the daily travel time and sights, but also the demand for idyll, leisure and shopping offers are decisive. The following suggested routes cover different areas, travel times and sightseeing interests.


For beginners: Acton Bridge - Stratford - Wigan & back

[1 WEEK - 6 LOCKS - 4 HOURS / DAY]


This boat trip is ideal for people looking for relaxation who want to travel many kilometers without locks. After leaving the Acton Bridge Marina near Manchester, head north on the Bridgewater Canal. The canal is the oldest in the system and named after its builder, the Earl of Bridgewater. The Bridgewater Canal was used to transport coal from the mines to Manchester. The mine entrances can still be viewed today.

The spectacular swing bridge over the Manchester Ship Canal leads the Bridgewater Canal over the sea access of the port of Manchester and is swung to the side as seagoing vessels pass. In Wigan, take the time to visit the Trencherfield Mill Pier Museum (early 20th century cotton mill).


  • Manchester: Museum of Science and Industry - The Lowry Center - Old Trafford [ManU]
  • Barton Swing Aqueduct
  • Worsley
  • Wigan: Pier and Museum
  • Trencherfield: Trencherfield Mill


Through Scotland: Over the Forth & Clyde Canal / Union Canal

[1 OR 2 WEEKS]

With a daily travel time of three hours, you can cover the routes Falkirk - Edinburgh - Falkirk or Falkirk - Glasgow - Falkirk in one week. The starting point is the Falkirk Marina between Edinburgh and Glasgow. If you want to add both Scottish metropolises to your travel program, you better plan a 14-day tour, as there is a lot to see. Double the daily travel time, you can do the entire tour in a week.


  • Lochrin Basin
  • Ratho (Edinburgh Canal Center)
  • Almond Aqueduct
  • Niddry Castle (privately owned)
  • Linlithgow Palace and Loch
  • Avon Aqueduct
  • Falkirk Wheel (boat lift, in the manner of a Ferris wheel)
  • Rough Castle
  • Banknock
  • Cadder Church
  • Possil Loch Nature Reserve
  • Port Dundas (Glasgow)
  • Union Inn


The Warwickshirering


The Warewickshirering is also known as the Midland Ring. On its banks are cities such as Birmingham, Rugby and Warwick (Castle tour is a must). After leaving Marina Napton near B’ham, you drive through wide canal and lock passages followed by narrow narrow canals as well as entire rows of locks (e.g. Hatton Flight). If time permits, side trips to Coventry and Stratford upon Avon are possible.


  • Warwick: Warwick Castle Mills Gardens
  • Stratford-Upon-Avon: Shakespeare Theater
  • Birmingham: Cadbury World  and Gas Street Basin
  • Fazeley - Tamworth: Drayton Manor Park & ​​Zoo


Llangollen Canal: Chirk - Hurleston and back - Llangollen - Chirk

[1 week]

This tour takes you there and back from Chirk, Wales, the full length of the beautiful Llangollen Canal in a week. In the direction of Hurleston you cross the Chirk Aqueduct and you go down over two locks to Ellesmere with its lakes.

You will reach Hurleston through rolling, rolling landscapes. The way back lets you enjoy everything all over again. You end the week with the passage of the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct over the Dee Valley to Llangollen.


London Calling: Via the Limehouse Ring

[4 days or 1 week / 25 locks / approx. 4 hours per day]

This ring takes you clockwise to the heart of London. First through Little Venice to the Paddington Basin. This way you can visit Portobello Road Market, London Zoo, Regents Park and Lords Cricket Ground. The ring then takes you to the Limehouse Basin, past the great restaurants and pubs as well as the docklands and museums.

From the Limehouse Basin you can access the Thames and travel upstream. A radio license is required for this section of the route from Limehouse to Brentford. An SRC license (Short Range Certificate) is sufficient. If you don't have a license, you can get a radio pilot on board for a fee. The journey takes two to three hours. There is no stopping place. You must also have tide maps on board to tell you when the Thames Lock is open. Once on the Thames, you have the opportunity to admire the famous bridges, the Tower of London, the Millennium Wheel, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben from this very special perspective.

Further upstream you will come to Brentford. Just a few minutes' walk from Brentford are the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and the Kew Bridge Steam Museum - both are well worth a visit. From Brentford you will enter the Grand Union Canal, negotiate the Hanwell Flight (lock staircase) and return to the starting point.


  • London: Little Venice, Portobello Market, London Zoo, Regents Park, Docklands, Museums, Tower, Millennium Wheel, Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and much more. m.
  • Brentford: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Bridge Steam Museum


Territory information

Speed ​​limits
The boats achieve speeds of 10 to 12 km / h on open water. The canals of the Inland Waterways are usually so narrow and shallow that the narrowboat cannot reach a speed of over 7 km / h. There is no general speed limit or water protection police on the canals. Out of consideration for bankers and fortifications, however, common sense (common sense) is required.

Night driving bans / invisible weather
Do not drive in the dark and in thick fog. You may only drive with reduced visibility if you set up your driving style in such a way that every situation that arises is manageable. The boats have a searchlight and a sound signal system (which can also be used before tight curves etc.), but no position lights (red, green, stern). It is therefore forbidden to drive zero in the dark or in visibility. If you drive anyway and there is an accident, the insurance cover is seriously jeopardized.

Correct behavior

There is right-hand traffic on canals and waterways.


There are no mooring fees in marinas. You can moor anywhere where it is not expressly forbidden.


All canal locks are operated manually, i.e. the slides (valves) are moved with hand cranks and the gates are opened or closed by the crews using long wooden levers with white end pieces.

The function of the locks is explained in detail to beginners. With some charter providers, including Fair Winds Yacht Charter, a member of the basic crew accompanies the crew through the first lock. If there is no traffic in sight, you leave the lock with the gates closed. If oncoming traffic is in sight, the gates can be left open.

Final remarks

Narrowboat driving is z. At the moment another typical English holiday pleasure - that means that approx. 90% of the crews you meet are English. The rest comes from the European continent.

Tickets to museums are often much cheaper if you order them online.