Canal Holidays in the UK

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Eco-Friendly Holidays

A narrowboat holiday cruising the canals of England on a Wyvern Shipping barge may be "greener" than you think.

Read on to find out why...


The Canals

The canals of Britain were originally built for transporting materials and goods around the country (find out more on our History of the Canals page). Industrial use of the waterways all but finished in the 1950s, but most canals were kept open mainly because of the growth in holiday hire boats. The canals are now a network of waterways that are brilliant for leisure, recreation and, of course, nature!

A Wyvern Shipping boat surrounded by beautiful nature on an English canalCountless animals thrive on the waterside, like ducks, herons, kingfishers, otters, butterflies, newts and many more (learn more on our Nature & Wildlife page). The canal network provides abundant habitat for many animals that live and nest in the bankside trees, bushes and hedges. Wildflowers grow along the water's edge and water lilies thrive in the gently flowing waters.

Canal water is not stagnant (unlike ponds or some lakes) so doesn't attract blue-green algae and is generally clean and unpolluted, just like the country's rivers.

Many local councils have recognised the importance of canals for conserving the natural environment (as well as recognising important cultural heritage buildings like 19th and 20th Century warehouses and lockkeeper cottages). Many Conservation Areas (CA's)  have been created around canals, such as the Grand Union Canal Conservation Area, The Regent's Canal CA, The Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal CA, The Oxford Canal CA and the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal CA, to name just a few.

Our Narrowboats

Here at Wyvern Shipping, our high-quality narrowboats have many eco-friendly features.

  • It has been estimated that a canal boat holiday produces 20-30 times less carbon emissions than flying for two hours across Europe.
  • The boats are fitted with Kubota Beta 43 Engines that have E-TVCS (Three Vortex Combustion System) technology that results in a "drastic emissions reduction" compared to older engine models.
  • Kubota engines are known for their "great reliability and long service life" as standard, leading to less breakdowns and less replacements, thus saving on resources.
  • When the engine is running, hot water for use in the galley/bathroom is freely produced as a by-product of the engine's cooling system!
  • The boats are more lightweight than usual narrowboats and require less ballast, so the engine doesn't have to work as hard to push the boat along the water. Also, the hulls are built with a sleek, aquadynamic design that reduces drag through the water and decreases the wash, which helps minimise erosion of canalbanks.
  • Wyvern Shipping uses PEFC and FSC certified wood and timberOur wood and timber is sourced from Jewson and BGN Boards, who are both PEFC Certified and FSC Certified (schemes that ensure sustainability in wood production).
  • The entire Wyvern fleet has now completed a major lighting upgrade that has resulted in every boat being fitted with energy-efficient LED light bulbs in place of the old type of bulbs. This results in less 'wear and tear' on the battery, extending the battery's life. The working life of the alternator is also extended as it doesn't need to work as hard, plus fuel is saved as the engine works less hard to power the alternator.
  • Waste from the toilet is kept in a hygienic tank and is pumped-out into the urban sewerage system after your holiday; none of it goes into the canal!
  • The drip-tray system employed underneath the engine ensures that no oil ever seeps into the canal through the bilge.
  • Wyvern Shipping believes in using high-quality products and materials when building and maintaining our fleet of narrowboats, for increased reliability and durability of parts. This decreases the need for replacing and repairing, resulting in the saving of raw materials.

Other Ways We Help

  • Wyvern Shipping cuts down on waste by recyclingCustomers are able to easily recycle using the many bin bags we supply as standard on our boats. There are numerous recycling collection points along the canal network that you may use during your holiday.
  • The waste from the boatyard is collected by Biffa, that use technology designed to "achieve a high recovery rate" of recyclable materials when sorting the waste at their Material Recycling Facilities.
  • Waste oil from the fleet's engines is collected by Safety Kleen, who then either process it to produce a "high specification fuel oil for industry" or recycle it for "reuse as a base oil".
  • Our brochure is available in electronic format and customers are able to return their paper-copy of "The Boater's Handbook" to the yard for reuse after their holiday if they feel they no longer need it. Both these measures save paper.
  • We sponsor Stoke Hammond Lock, which involves maintaining the lock itself and its surrounding greenery.
  • Every year Wyvern Shipping help a team of volunteers in "cleaning up" any rubbish that has found its way into the canals.

Here at Wyvern Shipping we strive to ensure you have a brilliant holiday on the beautiful canals while we play our part in preserving the natural environment.

If you would like to hire a Wyvern Shipping narrowboat, please explore this website and find out more!

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