We have reached the end of the glorious 2018 boating season here on the Kennet & Avon Canal, and all our boats have returned home to Devizes and are being readied for the new year.  A through deep clean and maintenance schedule is already underway, so that the first holidays in early Spring 2019 will be perfect! We don’t hire the boats over the winter months as there is little demand for holiday boating in the cold weather, but mostly because of the hazards associated with a frozen canal and towpath. The canal will freeze over if the temperature drops below zero for a few days, just the same as a lake or pond. If the canal actually freezes, then boating becomes very difficult and we do not want our boats used as icebreakers. But also, of something goes wrong on your boat it is difficult to get to you along the frozen towpaths, so even minor repairs become hazardous.

So during the winter months, our boats hibernate until February. March usually sees a change in the weather and the risk of frost is much reduced. Despite the cold start to this season, 2018 was the hottest year we have known in years and so many of our boaters had amazing holidays afloat in England. We had a record number of visitors from abroad, who came to discover life afloat for a while, to relax and enjoy a little English Holiday afloat. The Kennet & Avon is central to the England’s Great West Way and we are delighted that this area of outstanding natural beauty has been recognised so that more people will discover it’s treasures. If you have come to explore, then a base afloat for a while will give you the opportunity to access the cities and sites, from Stonehenge and Avebury to Bristol and Bath, then off to London to visit the Royal palaces. A relaxing contrast to the bustle of city life, a cruise along the canal at the sedate pace of a narrowboat may be what your holiday is missing.

This winter I will be visiting the Christmas markets in Bath, and hope to see the pretty lights glittering as they reflect in the still waters of the Avon there. I shall also take a trip to see Hungerford with real Christmas trees all decorated in white light lining the high street down over the canal. It is such a picturesque little town and looks so festive. We are looking forward to seeing it lit up in December. And who knows, I might even skip across to Amsterdam, Copenhagen or somewhere on the Dutch Canals to see how they do Christmas there!