Canal Experience Days

Due to COVID 19 restrictions, we've responsibly temporarily suspended our Canal Experience Days. But keep an eye on this page because as soon as we can safely return to them we will.

If you want to get out on the water? There's no substitute for experience!

You can watch YouTube videos and read all the books available. But at some point you'll want to get hands on and put that knowledge into practice.

£180.00 for about 6 hours Narrowboat Experience Day for 2 adults..... Read on.

That's why we introduced our accompanied Canal Experience Days where you have the opportunity to take full control of a 62 foot narrowboat whilst having an experienced boater on hand to guide and advise as you need.

It's completely down to you how much or how little you want us to help. Taking over steering, operating the locks or just being there for a friendly chat. You can relax in the knowledge that there's someone there to help.

About Canal Narrowboat Experience Days

When we started offering Maddison for hire, we became aware people who were new to boating may feel they lack the confidence to spend a lot of money booking a holiday on the canals because they were daunted by the size of the boat or thought they might not enjoy it.

To bridge this gap, we decided to offer a unique opportunity for two people to spend a day aboard Maddison with a seasoned Skipper, learning how a Narrowboat works, how to handle her and operate the canal infrastructure. By getting hands-on you'll also learn about canal etiquette and the rules of the canals. We can also advise you about living aboard, marina costs and the costs involved in owning a Narrowboat.

Picture of the boat being moved in a Marina
Picture of the Dad and Son in Law waving from the rear deck of the boat

Who are Canal Narrowboat Experience Days for?

Considering a boating holiday? - Canal Boat Holidays are very popular but hiring a boat can be seen as a big step into the unknown if you haven't any experience. Spending a day aboard Maddison with a seasoned Skipper to accompany you gives you confidence and an in-depth insight into UK Canal Boating.

Thinking of buying a Narrowboat? - You'll gain an enormous amount of hands on knowledge from your day with us. You'll also be able to discuss the pros and cons of boat buying, mooring options or even living aboard a Narrowboat.

A unique day out? - A treat for yourself or a gift for someone special. A day aboard Maddison will be remembered forever. Have a look below to see what the experience involves.

About your Experience Day

Getting to our mooring

Narrowboat Maddison is moored at Otherton Boat Haven in the market town of Penkridge, Staffordshire ST195NX. By car we are just under 5 miles from the M6, junction 13. There is free gated parking with CCTV at the marina for one vehicle.

By train we are only a few minutes taxi ride from Penkridge Railway Station.

Click here for a google map.


Given the changes in our unpredictable British weather, we find the key to success with your clothing is..... Layers. As we run these days in the winter as well, it's best to plan for chilly and possible wet weather. With this in mind, we suggest warm trousers, a couple of tee shirts, a fleece and waterproof coat. That way, you can add or remove layers dependant on the conditions.

For example, if its wet but warm, you can wear a tee shirt under your waterproof. You stay dry but don't overheat. If the weather turns cool but dry. Tee shirts and a fleece will be better. If you have some lightweight waterproof over trousers, then definitely bring them along. One suggestion we will make is to get a pair of Neoprene gloves, similar to the ones anglers use. They will keep your hands warm even when wet.


Waterproof solid shoes with a good grip are essential. Remember, if you intend to operate the locks you'll need sturdy footwear to prevent slipping.


Bring your own packed lunch with you. Preferably something you can eat on the go such as sandwiches as we will be cruising all day to make the most of the time.


We provide complimentary tea and coffee all day. Make yourself at home aboard Maddison and feel free to use the galley whenever you want a brew.

For more information, have a look at our Experience Days, Frequently Asked Questions page.


9am - Arrive at our base, Otherton Boat Haven in Penkridge Staffordshire ready to board the boat. You'll be walked through the boat and shown how the equipment on board works. When we're ready to cast off, you can get straight down to handling the boat whilst we have a chat about canal etiquette, good practices and general rules of the road. Have a look at The Boaters Handbook video on our Know-How page to get an understanding of boating.

Continuing along the canal, you will get lots of opportunities to practice steering, mooring up, passing boats and generally have a chat about boating. We'll turn around at a convenient winding hole (turning point) half way through the day and retrace our route back to the mooring.

3pm - Dependant on how busy the canals are. Return to the marina and disembark.

Price & Availability

Each of the days shown as AVAILABLE on the calendar are about 6 hours long and start at 9am finishing at approximately 3pm.They are designed for a maximum of two people which gives ample opportunity to get hands-on. The Canal Experience Day for two people is only £180.00 for 6 hours. All we ask is a £80.00 deposit and the balance of £100.00 paid one month before your Experience Day. If you book less than one month in advance, we'd ask for the full balance to be settled at the time of booking.

How to book - Simply have a look at the available dates for one that suits you and then contact us on the form at the bottom of this page to request a booking. We'll then email you details of how to book. We usually respond within the hour, but at the latest the same day.

Our Plain and Clear TERMS & CONDITIONS are available here.

Contact Us - Mobile 07477 643432. Email