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Top Narrowboats and Canal Boats in the UK

August 17, 2023
Boat insurance

Considering buying a narrowboat or canal boat? Read our blog to find out the pros and cons of both along with model examples

narrowboat in front of a bridge

If you've ever dreamt of a leisurely and picturesque life on the water, owning a narrowboat or canal boat in the UK could be the perfect choice. These charming vessels allow you to navigate the country's extensive network of canals and rivers, offering a unique lifestyle with stunning views and a sense of tranquility. In this blog, we'll explore some of the best narrowboats and canal boats available in the UK, along with their pros, cons, and price ranges.


moored, green narrowboat


  • Traditional Charm: Narrowboats have a classic design, evoking a sense of nostalgia and romance.
  • Customisation: There's a wide variety of narrowboat designs, and many builders offer customisation options to suit your preferences.
  • Cost-Effective Living: Living on a narrowboat can be an affordable alternative to traditional housing, with lower expenses and no council tax.


  • Limited Space: As the name suggests, narrowboats are narrow, which means limited living and storage space.
  • Maintenance: Regular maintenance is required to keep the boat in good condition, especially if it's made of steel.
  • Mooring Challenges: Finding mooring spots can be difficult due to high demand, especially in popular areas.

Price Range:

Narrowboats can vary significantly in price depending on size, age, and condition. Prices can start at around £20,000 for older, basic models and can go up to £150,000 or more for larger, luxurious boats.


a. Traditional Stern: Classic narrowboats with a small open area at the back, often used as a social space.

b. Cruiser Stern: Narrowboats with a larger rear deck, providing more seating and manoeuvrability.

c. Semi-Traditional Stern: A blend of traditional and cruiser sterns, offering some covered space and a social area.

d. Tug Style: Inspired by historical working boats, tug-style narrowboats have a distinctive appearance and functional design.

Canal Boat:

canal boat at the side of a canal

a. Pros:

  • Wider Space: Compared to narrowboats, canal boats typically offer more living and storage space.
  • Stability: The wider beam of canal boats provides added stability and comfort on the water.
  • Easier Navigation: Canal boats are generally easier to navigate, especially for beginners.

b. Cons:

  • Less Traditional: Canal boats may have a more modern design, which might not appeal to those seeking a traditional look.
  • Higher Costs: The wider the boat, the higher the mooring fees, which could add to the overall cost of ownership.
  • Less Manoeuvrable: Due to their width, canal boats might not be as agile as narrowboats in certain tight spaces.

Price Range:

Canal boats' prices can vary similarly to narrowboats, with older models starting around £15,000 and larger, more luxurious boats reaching up to £200,000 or more.


a. Trad Stern Canal Boat: Similar to traditional stern narrowboats but with a wider beam, providing more internal space.

b. Cruiser Stern Canal Boat: Canal boats with a cruiser stern, offering a balance of interior space and an open rear deck.

c. Euro Cruiser Canal Boat: Modern designs with a Euro Cruiser stern, often featuring contemporary styling and ample living space.

d. Dutch Barge: These boats are inspired by Dutch barges, known for their distinctive shape and spacious interiors.

And if you want to really push the boat out…

Luxury Widebeam Boat:


  • Spacious Living: Luxury widebeam boats offer the most living space among the options, making them ideal for long-term cruising or liveaboard living.
  • Modern Amenities: Many luxury widebeam boats come equipped with modern amenities such as central heating, full kitchens, and luxurious bathrooms.
  • Comfort and Style: These boats often have stylish interiors with high-quality finishes.


  • Higher Costs: Luxury comes at a price, and widebeam boats are generally the most expensive option.
  • Limited Mooring Options: Due to their width, finding mooring spots can be more challenging and costly.

Price Range:

Luxury widebeam boats can start around £100,000 and can easily surpass £300,000 depending on the size and level of luxury.


a. Widebeam Cruiser Stern: Luxury widebeam boats with a cruiser stern, offering a sociable space at the back.

b. Widebeam Euro Cruiser: Modern, widebeam boats with Euro Cruiser sterns, featuring stylish and comfortable living spaces.

c. Widebeam Dutch Barge: Luxurious widebeam boats inspired by Dutch barges, providing a unique and elegant living experience.

Choosing the right narrowboat or canal boat in the UK ultimately depends on your lifestyle preferences, budget, and desired level of luxury. Whether you're seeking a traditional narrowboat, a practical canal boat, or a spacious luxury widebeam, the UK's waterways offer a vibrant community and a chance to embrace a unique way of life.

What about insurance?

Insurance is crucial for narrowboat and canal boat owners. It provides financial protection against unexpected events like accidents, theft, or damage to the vessel. Narrowboat insurance ensures peace of mind, safeguarding your investment and enabling you to enjoy the waterways without worrying about the potential financial burdens that may arise.

Any other tips?

Before making a purchase, it's essential to research various boat builders and dealers to find the best fit for your needs. Visiting boat shows and speaking with experienced boaters can provide valuable insights. Remember to consider the ongoing costs of boat ownership, including mooring fees, licenses, insurance, and maintenance.

For more information and a range of boats available, check out reputable websites like Boatfinder Brokerage, Apollo Duck, and Whilton Marina.

So, why wait? Embark on a fantastic journey through the UK's canals and rivers, embracing a unique and enriching lifestyle aboard your very own narrowboat or canal boat.

Disclaimer: Prices mentioned are based on research at the time of writing and may have changed. Always verify the current prices with boat dealers or brokers before making a purchase.

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