Cruising on Europe’s canals

Once the canals of 18th century England were the region’s main transportation for goods. The canals connected cities so that commerce could take place. As the railroad came into prominence, canals fell out of use. But today Europe’s canals are back—for the leisure industry.

Great British walks : 100 unique walks through our most stunning countryside
edited by Cavan Scott.
London : BBC, 2010.
A practical guidebook featuring a range of outings, from gentle strolls through peaceful scenery to more challenging journeys to the very heart of the great British wilderness   Combining insightful and descriptive writing about the British countryside with easy-to-follow practical information and clear, detailed mapping, this guide will inspire travelers to explore some of the most striking areas that the nation has to offer. The 100 walks are spread across varying terrain and cover regions across the country, from the Peak District and Lake District in the Heart of England to the highlands of Scotland and the rolling hills of the South East. This compact guide offers the tried-and tested knowledge of the Countryfile Magazine team-providing detailed descriptions of routes and levels of difficulty, comprehensive Ordnance Survey mapping, and practical information to help travelers plan their trips.
Lodging in Britain's monasteries
Eileen Barish.
Scottsdale, AZ : Anacapa Press, 2009
This timely, new addition to a unique, thrifty travel series is the key to planning an unforgettable adventure that combines true value with gracious hosts. Welcoming monks and nuns extend hospitality without religious obligation, and guests will enjoy the customs and culture of each country.
Houses of the National Trust : outstanding buildings of Britain
Lydia Greeves.
London : National Trust, 2008.
Includes index.

Cruising the old waterways is a way to relax and experience history of the region. Boats are commonly hired for a week or two. They have cooking and sleeping facilities on board. Boaters agree that life on the canals is slow moving and peaceful. Within a week’s travel you may move only 30 miles! Stopping at pubs along the way that cater to the boating industry is one way to savor the slow trip. You can walk into the town centers of villages that dot the canals for shopping or entertainment.

Decorated boats

England’s first narrow boats were decorated in a unique style of folk art. Families who lived and worked on the boats proudly personalized their vessels with “Roses and Castle” paintings.

Each part of the boat was a given its own color with the hatch, floor, and cabin all painted in contrasting colors. A lively motif of diamonds and diagonals was popular.

The boat people passed on their traditions to succeeding generations. Today, a classic narrow boat still displays the boaters’ art that has not changed in 200 years.

Canal Art

England’s canal system is served by a fleet of  27,000 “narrow” boats less than 7 feet wide. The British Waterways system maintains the canals, locks, and bridges that serve the leisure boaters. In France both narrow boats and modern wide bodied boats are common. Boaters learn to operate the locks that make up the waterways system. Adjusting the water level to move a boat up or down in a lock takes little skill or strength thanks to the well designed lock system engineered more than 100 years ago.

Imagine piloting your own boat through the quiet waters of Burgundy! A more beautiful scene can hardly come to mind.

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff