Taking a cabin cruiser from Le Boat on a voyage down the Thames is an adventure of a different kind.
We’d been watching the weather forecast for a couple of weeks and everything was pointing towards a glorious week. We were going to explore the mid reaches of the River Thames. We’d been on boating holidays many times before, but this wasn’t the narrowboat we were used to.
Le Boat offer roomy, bright boats with all mod cons. Because the locks on the Thames are wider than those on the canals, the boats are correspondingly bigger and roomier.
Shopping For The Trip
So on our way to their base at Benson we did as recommended and made a stop at a supermarket in nearby Didcot. We stocked up on all the essentials we thought we’d need for our trip. There’s plenty of fridge space on board. So we were able to keep our food (and drinks) nice and cold for the duration.
However, as described above, this was an adventure. We didn’t know when we set off where we would be that night. We were just going to ‘wing it’ and see where we ended up. As it happened, we spent our first night a few miles downstream at Goring. Here we found free public moorings available just below the locks. It’s actually a good place to stop, close to pubs, restaurants and shops.
The boats are really easy to handle (drive). And with the luxury of a bow thruster, even novices can get to grips with the boats very quickly. It’s not exactly racing though, as we only ever get up to 5 miles per hour whilst cruising. It’s a sedate, easy pace which actually adds to the whole experience.
The diversity and quantity of wildlife makes the whole river cruise experience absolutely fascinating. The tranquility of the river, despite it passing through villages and towns never ceases to amaze. We spent part of a morning just watching the red kites soaring in the sky. Herons can be found perched motionless around almost every bend in the river and swans with their clutches of cygnets paddle around the boat when it’s moored in the hope of a little treat or two.
The most striking thing about our cruise was the silence. Despite being never more than a couple of miles from a town or village, the silence was striking. They say you never miss what you’ve never had. This could never be truer than when describing the silence of the rural riverbanks. It really is other-worldly in many ways.
Our boat, a ‘Tango’ had an outdoor deck space where, on the warmer evenings, we sat and ate our dinner al fresco watching the world go by. Even when the weather’s misbehaving, there’s plenty of room in the well-equipped saloon to enjoy a meal, drink, or whatever takes your fancy. There’s a shower and toilet on board, so it’s as close to a hotel stay as you could make it.
Nice and Easy
The boating community is a very friendly one. Offers of help with moorings, friendly waves in passing and chats with the lock-keepers all add to the very relaxed and laid-back feel to the holiday. Any apprehension that may exist before setting off soon disappears when you begin to realise how easy and ‘nice’ the whole experience is.
We continued to venture downstream, stopping off for extended meal breaks en route. Many of the pubs and restaurants have their own moorings, so you can literally just park up and step across for something to eat and drink. On one of the days we chose to stop for a lunch at the Swan in Pangbourne, a delightful olde-worlde pub just above Whitchurch lock.
Coming back upstream on the penultimate day of our trip we both agreed that it had been absolutely delightful. Would we do it again? Absolutely. It was a real breath of fresh air that actually makes you wonder what the merits of a foreign ‘package holiday’ really are. This is all picture-book stuff at a pace of your own choosing. It’s independence, privacy and freedom like you’d never experience at a hotel.
About Le Boat
Le Boat is the No.1 provider of inland water boating holidays, bringing together 50 years of experience, expertise and memories. It has a fleet of large self-drive cruisers, allowing entire families to stay on board and to explore their chosen region.
Le Boat and Covid-19
All Le Boat holidays by their nature are socially distanced and provide a great way to reconnect with loved ones and to make the most of the great outdoors. Holidaymakers are being reassured by Le Boat’s Covid Safety Charter, which was implemented last year and applies to all its destinations at home and abroad.
Boating holidays aboard a Tango are fun for a family or up to three couples. The big sundeck encourages relaxing and socialising, as does the grand saloon with radio/CD player and MP3/USB connectivity.
A four-night self-catered cruise on the River Thames during the 2021 boating season, starting and finishing at Le Boat’s base at Benson, on board a Capri sleeping up to four, is priced from £449 per boat / £150 pp. Transport to and from the base is not included.
Le Boat will operate on the Thames until 31 October 2021. Next year’s boating seasons starts on 1 April and concludes on 31 October 2022.
Contact Le Boat (023 9280 9124 or www.leboat.co.uk)