What makes the clients of CanalAbility come back for holidays again and again? Often the answer we receive is that each holiday on our boats can offer something different. It can be an adventure on the British waterways, a relaxing escape from the fast-paced world, connecting to the nature, quality time with the family and a lot more! And why not everything at once?

We thought we should share with you Mr Woodhead’s diary from his holiday on a boat in 1950 – 1952. We found excerpts from his diary on Wild Over Waterways information pack. 


“… Tuesday 19th Damp and watery at first

12.30 Cast off as sun broke through, and up under Skinner’s bridge. Pleasant paddle against breeze up through pretty part of river past Chequers inn and ferry (Bablock Hythe). Then through meadows with a few weekend bungalows to a stretch with dense woods of higher ground on the right bank. Through North Moor Lock – rather pretty with goats. On through vast fields of dandelions and buttercups. Very pretty and expansive with tall hedges of trees in the background.

Wind dropped and sun shone brightly as we paddled on up under Ridge’s Wein foot bridge and then through typical pastoral England to New Bridge. This is one of the fine stone bridges on the Thames. On the left bank is a fine looking hotel and on the right the quaint Thorn Bush Inn. Along here is a straight reach, with low rather damp looking hay fields on the left bank and a sort of common on the other – a rolling pasture with cattle and thorn bushes and high ground behind (Harrow Down Hill).

(The Windrush right joins the Thames just along the bridge, left bank).

Evening was settling down as we paddled up looking for a pleasant mooring. At last we rounded a bend and found just what we wanted on the right bank just below small island with hut. Shallow little bay with fairly high banks to keep off the breeze. Very large field along with distant uninhabited farm buildings. Fine rabbit hole near by – enjoyed by Ben.

A very good day’s journey. Pleasant country, sunny day with plenty of clouds for photography. Good morning.


… with boats for hire. (no shops but a hotel). The whole dominated by a very tall poplar which can be seen for miles.

Banks getting lower as the river curved left then right towards rather modern looking lock keeper’s house at Radcock Lock.

White water lilies about half way between the bridge and lock. Ben tried to jump ashore at lock but fell back into river. Woman worked lock. Fine flowers, well kept. On under Old Man’s Bridge – a rather dilapidated foot bridge. Past 2 women and 2 Pekinese in posh camping just towing up.

By this time bright and sunny only occasional cloud and wind still strong. Some very lovely stretches down to Rushy Lock (Took snap looking back at river of haystack above Rushy Lock).


And a skiff came out of Rushy Lock as we went in. Busiest day we have seen on Thames. People seem very pleasant at lock. Got water from pump. Very pretty lock and surroundings.

Paddled back into backwater below  lock. Ri took snap of wier. On down winding river looking for good camping place and came to Tadpole Bridge. Both took snaps. Tried mooring where we did last year below bridge but too windy.

7.00 Men failed to pass going up. Moved on down stream. Moored behind small island (on overgrown heap of mud) by RAF prohibited area. Very sunny and warm. Many cattle came down to drink…”

What do you think? Are canal boat holidays the same nowadays? 🙂