Narrow Boating to Cambridge

Our narrow boat trip to Cambridge

Friday

We set off early on Friday morning in the car to Ely to collect the boat. It was a long drive, but eventually we arrived. We parked in the car park to see damaged narrow boats – we got worried that we would have an old boat. We were shown to a nice looking blue boat named “Muscadet”, our home for the next three days. We were quite relieved. It was what we expected – but more narrow.

The space was small but big enough for us. The captain started the boat and took us out onto the canal after instructions from the guy. We went slow but it gave us a chance to get used to the steering. I took over the boat for a bit and it took a while to get used to it. I steered into a few rowers and nearly bumped into the banks.

We made our way to The Five Miles from Anywhere pub and hydrated our thirst! We stopped on a slipway and for half an hour, blocking locals from launching the boat into the water. We got a bit of stick from the locals so decided to move on quickly.

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Parking over the slipway at the Five Miles from Anywhere Pub
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A good old pint to keep us going!

We continued full steam ahead and stopped at the Bridge Hotel with our friends and family and had a classic pub lunch. This is where we stayed over night.

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Parking over the slipway at the Five Miles from Anywhere Pub



Saturday
The sun was shining into my eyes and I woke up to find that it was 6 in the morning. At this point I had a bad sleep and decided to go for a walk with the captain. After a full breakfast and tea we were all ready to go! We set off in good time and I took more charge of the boat  – making our way down the canal and trying to avoid boats and rowers! We met friends at a Loch and my parents bricked it. I had caused a tidal wave when lifting the gate on the loch. Oops. We made our way to Cambridge and arrived at 11.30. We hydrated ourselves in Fen Delton at the Plough Inn with a nice beer. This was essential as “what’s a holiday without regular pub stops”! We continued the journey to be reunited with more friends and indulged in another pub lunch. The beef and ale pie was simply irresistible.We then went into town for a walk and a bit of shopping. Who could forget shopping on a holiday. We returned to the boat to get ready for our evening meal at Magdalene College. I would recommend a hotel room for this as we seem to appreciate a big shower and space far too much. I realised the when we were fighting for the mirror and shower. We eventually left for the meal with the boat facing downstream. We had a set, delicious three course meal and made sure that we all had a few nice drinks in the pub.

Sunday (Morning)After a meal in Magdalene college Cambridge, we returned to the boat facing upstream and went to bed; only to realise the a few of our dinner guests had rotated the boat 180 degrees at 2am when we were all asleep. Despite this, they did us a favour and turned the boat around for us. We took friends on a tour the later that morning and  made sure that we stopped at the nearest pub! We dropped them back off outside their hotel after our pint and finally made our way back to Eily, concluding our journey. We moored by the Five Miles from Anywhere pub, had a lovely meal and were grateful that our boat was safe and would not be moved in the night!

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Chicken and Bacon Caesar Salad at the Five Miles from Anywhere pub



Monday

It was an early start this morning as we all had to pack up our stuff. We travelled for 45 mins up the canal and arrived in Ely
in time for the handover. It was now time to hand the boat over. It was sad as we all had enjoyed the trip more than we expected and were now converted narrow boaters.

Based on the trip and our my experience, I have devised pros and cons of narrow boating:

Pros:

  • It is relaxing.
  • You can see swans and birds – be one with nature.
  • You can rev the engine to your hearts content (up to 4 or 7 mph).
  • You feel part of the canal community and can wave/bond with other canal users.
  • The canal gets you away from the digital world and busy cities .
  • The boat has a kitchen and good sized living room and sleeping areas.
  • You can make multiple pub stops to keep you hydrated up and down the canal.
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Parking over the slipway at the Five Miles from Anywhere Pub



Cons:

  • It can be a bit rocky, especially when people are getting on and off.
  • The beds are very small and you may fall out on a few occasions.
  • It could get boring at times as there is little technology.
  • If you have muscle or strength you may be required to moor the boat, help with locks and assist with ropes and boat turning. Watch out!
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Trying to pass the time by drawing the landscape!



Recommendations

Despite this, I would recommend narrow boating to anyone. It was peaceful and gave me time to yourself. You can steer the boat fast or idly and feel part of a community and nature. There are enough facilities on the boat to stock up with beers and food, to make your weekend fun!

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