Warwickshire narrowboat canal holiday, England


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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Warwickshire narrowboat canal holiday, England


Narrowboat life is closer to being off-grid than land dwelling. By it's very nature, you need all of the necessary fuel and resources on board the boat. Electricity and hot water are a bi-product of chugging along the canals, and any extra power needed comes from 2 solar panels on the roof. The water tank has to be physically filled every few days and monitored closely. The boat is heated with waste wood donated by friends, family and contacts. All waste has to be carried, or in the case of the toilet pumped, off the boat by hand.

In short, it feels like this way of life is much closer to the resources humans rely every day. We can't just flick a switch or press a button, we're connected to the process itself. This means that we're much more aware of what is being used and where it comes from. We naturally conserve our resources. Many of our guests are passionate about being greener and off-grid living, so they are often really inspired by the way of life on board Spirited Away.

We also encourage people to arrive on Float by Boat trips by public transport. Making it as easy as possible by providing local pick-ups and drop-offs from bus stops and train stations. Bikes can also be stored on the roof of the boat.

There's a roof garden on board Spirited Away, made out of up-cycled drawers and pallets, where we grow fresh herbs, lettuces, spinach, spring onions, radishes and strawberries.

Almost all the furnishings, from crockery to curtains, are up-cycled, donated or from charity shops. It makes for a quirky atmosphere and also means that we're always reusing things that might have otherwise gone to waste.

Wildlife and nature is dearly important to us. We encourage people we meet to "take only photographs, leave only footprints", quietly observing the natural world without causing any harm or interference. In the future, we'd love to run conservation breaks in conjunction with wildlife charities, where there are specific parts of the day for cleaning up sections of the canal or encouraging biodiversity.


Canals pass through tiny rural villages where there often isn't a lot of passing trade or commerce. We know these areas well and direct guests towards independent, local produce. This counts for the food cooked for trips too, buying what we can from farm shops and independent providers.

There's a long history of selling from the towpath alongside boats, whether that's cakes, artwork, boating equipment, dog treats, cheeses or traditional hand-painted 'roses and castles' trinkets. Guests are generally fascinated by these stalls and we point them out whenever we see them.

Stating the obvious, water is a central feature of our community. When using locks to take the boat up and down hills, it's easy to waste water if you don't know what you're doing. We spend time introducing our visitors to the etiquette and conservation of canal life. This means making sure lock gates and paddles are always closed properly and that right of way is given to boats where the lock is in their favour. Keeping a low speed while cruising along preserves habitats and young creatures nesting on the banks.

Respect for other waterways users is also a huge part of our community. Many boaters, like us, are proud that it is a way of life where people take time to say 'Hi' to each other and have a chat. By not rushing and always showing an interest in fellow boaters, greeting strangers as friends, we help to preserve that tradition.

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