Top 10 tips for reducing plastic waste afloat

The recent Blue Planet II series highlighted the alarming amount of plastic found in our oceans and consequently in the animals that live there. Sadly our inland waterways are also affected by plastic waste – and a staggering 80 per cent of marine debris comes from inland sources.

With this in mind, and to help plan ahead for your next canal boat holiday, we’ve put together a list of super easy ways to reduce the plastic waste you might generate on a narrowboat holiday and the amount entering our waterways:

  1. Avoid products with microbeads. Much of the plastic polluting our waterways and oceans is microplastics which derive from bigger items breaking down, but also from products like face wash and toothpaste. Try to avoid using cosmetics with ‘polypropylene’ or ‘polyethylene’ on the ingredients list and go for natural biodegradable alternatives.
  2. Bring a refillable thermos. If you stop off to buy a coffee somewhere on your canal barge holiday you won’t need a disposable cup, for which there are limited recycling centres.
  3. Reduce your use of plastic bottles. You will need to have bottled drinking water on board your boat (though you can use water from the boat’s tank to boil and make a cup of tea), so we suggest bringing one large bottle or canteen, decanting it into reusable cups and topping up at water points.
  4. Bring your own shopping bags. Remember to pack your re-useable bags every time you shop and avoid products with excess packaging.
  5. Separate your recyclables and make use of recycling facilities. Most canalside rubbish compounds only accept boaters’ bagged domestic rubbish, but there are an increasing number of boaters’ recycling points and many of our canal boat hire bases have recycling bins too.
  6. Bag all rubbish. Make sure the bags are tied securely so that they can’t spill open. Only dispose of your bagged domestic rubbish inside bins marked domestic waste and don’t forget to close the lid.
  7. Don’t dump it! If the bins are full, keep your rubbish securely on board until the next available waste disposal point.
  8. Avoid leaving bagged rubbish next to a litter bin. It’s not a collection point for boater’s rubbish and can be an invitation for animals to break into the bags looking for something to eat, spreading litter everywhere.
  9. Help clean up. Join one of the many Plastic Patrol or Canal & River Trust Towpath Taskforce events taking place across the country.
  10. Every little helps. If you don’t fancy taking part in an organised event, why not pledge to pick up and dispose of at least one piece of canalside litter a day while on your narrowboat holiday?

Hope these tips are helpful. Let’s help keep our waterways clean for everyone to enjoy.


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Top 12 Canal Boating Tips for Novices

You don’t need to be an expert to hire a canal boat and each year around one fifth of narrowboat hirers are new to the waterways. To help make your first canal boat holiday smoother, we’ve put together our top 12 canal boating tips for beginners:

  1. Keep to the right. Unlike cars on our roads, canal boats travel on the right side of our canals and rivers, so when you meet another boat, keep to the right.
  2. You don’t need a licence to steer a canal boat. And boat steering tuition is provided as part of our holiday packages, but if you’d like to get ahead of the game, take a look at the Canal & River Trust’s Boaters Handbook Video for some sound advice 
  3. Steering basics. Push the tiller right to go left, and left to go right and put the engine in reverse to stop.
  4. Use your horn. To warn canal boats coming towards you when approaching sharp bends and as you enter a tunnel.
  1. Lock logistics. Always have a steerer on the boat when in a lock and make sure the boat is kept forward of the cill (step).
  1. Close the gates behind you.  Check all paddles and gates are shut after you’ve used a lock, unless you see another boat approaching.
  2. Sharing is caring. Always share a lock with other boats if possible to save water and it means you can share the lock operation too.
  3. Tunnel tricks. Switch on your headlight before entering a tunnel, and if it’s a one-way tunnel, first make sure there’s no boat inside.
  4. Slow down to walking pace. There’s a 4mph speed limit on the inland waterways but basically you’re going too fast if you’re creating too much wash which disturbs wildlife and erodes the banks.
  5. Reduce your speed even further. When you are approaching bridges, locks, bends or junctions, and when passing other canal boats or anglers.
  6. Mooring musts. When mooring up at busy spots, make sure you don’t leave a big gap and never moor opposite winding holes, on bends, near to bridges, on lock landings (unless waiting to lock through) or at water points (unless filling up).
  7. Tying up. To keep your boat secure, you need to tie it to the bank with a rope from both the front and the back, and on rivers you should fix your upstream rope first.But above all relax & enjoy your trip!


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Be Inspired

We offer a range of different types of holidays such as City Breaks, Relaxation Cruises and Popular Destinations

City Breaks
Rural retreats
Popular places

So why choose Anglo Welsh?

Over 55 years providing unique canal boat holidays in England and Wales.
Modern and spacious narrowboat and wide beam barge hire – from 2 to 12 berths.
Wide choice of narrowboat hire locations and canal boat holiday destinations.
Canal boat holiday routes for novices & experienced boaters.
Flexible holiday booking, no hidden costs.
Family friendly and pet friendly holidays.
Great days out on the water.
Luxury canal boat hire and Thames boating holidays.

Anglo Welsh. So much more than narrowboats

...but don't just take our word for it




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