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ANSWERED on Mon 15 Apr 2013 - 7:32 pm UTC by JD Umiat

Question: Wheelchair-accessible canal and river holidays in the UK

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 15 Apr 2013 11:36 UTCMon 15 Apr 2013 - 11:36 am UTC 

Who has wheelchair-accessible canal and river boats for hire in the UK?

I know about the Bruce Trust and the Bruce Wake Trust; I would like to know about similar entities providing a service along the same lines. It is not essential for them to have "Bruce" in their name. (Goak here.) Surely these two (excellent) groups cannot be all that there is?

You might get a flavour of what I'm after by looking at:


In what I'm looking for, it is essential for them to be serious about proper wheelchair access, which for a start is going to mean a lift or two and preferably a hoist: even better if the latter is a permanent hoist track rather than portable kit. Some evidence of serious thought given to the bathroom/toilet situation would also be welcome. It's not essential that they are a charity - commercial hirers would also be interesting as long as they know what they are talking about with access. Uncle Jim with a plank, loads of goodwill, and a bit of baler twine is not eligible here, no matter how well-intentioned.

Some boats have adaptations to give the wheelchair user the ability to drive the boat if their mobility and upper-body strength wouldn't permit it on the average boat - basically a remote for the throttle and a remote power drive for the tiller. This is also NOT an essential part of the definition for the purposes of this enquiry but is very, very interesting to know about. :)

Day boats and non-self-drive trips are interesting but not the subject of this enquiry - I might ask that question separately some time, but not now.

Please help me to find some more boat rental possibilities as excellent as those offered by the two Bruces!




 15 Apr 2013 11:40 UTCMon 15 Apr 2013 - 11:40 am UTC 

Sorry, should have said: "anywhere in the UK and Ireland".


JD Umiat 


 15 Apr 2013 19:32 UTCMon 15 Apr 2013 - 7:32 pm UTC 

Hello, Nevilly


 I spent quite a bit of time on this question before I realized you wanted self-drive boats only. So, a few of my suggestions below might not be of interest. I left them on the list just in case they might come in handy at a later date!

  BEATRICE - Our Specially Adapted Narrowboat - Suitable for Disabled or Wheelchair Use - Fitted with Ramps, a Lift, a Large Wetroom with Seating and an Adapted Galley Kitchen

CanalAbility - Boating Without Boundaries
  Our four purpose-built, fully centrally heated and accessible broad beam boats enable everyone to take a full and active part in the boating experience all year round.

If you have restricted mobility or are a wheel chair user you will like our boats. Each boat has a lift and other adaptive technology to allow everyone to take an active part in the operation of the boat. Unlike the majority of canal boats, all of our boats have disabled toilet facilities and our holiday boats have full wet room rather than just a shower tray or a bath.

Accessible Boating

  A Charity offering opportunities for people with access difficulties to go boating on the Basingstoke Canal from Colt Hill Wharf, Odiham in Hampshire, UK.

We operate 2 self-steer boats: DAWN, a day boat; and MADAM BUTTERFLY, a cruising boat.

Both craft are specially designed and equipped with facilities for less-mobile passengers who have able-bodied assistance.

Self-drive hirings are open to both novices and experienced boaters alike, because full tuition tailored to individual requirements is provided at the start of each cruise by trained Despatchers. If you have any concerns about boat handling, please contact us, as we will provide whatever support you need.


The Lyneal Trust is a registered charity that provides holidays and canal boat trips for people with disabilities with their families, friends or in groups from its base at Lyneal Wharf.

All our facilities can be hired separately or in combinations together, by anyone who considers they have a disability, and their family and friends.

Warrington Disability Partnership

 The Wizard is a specially adapted 40 foot long narrow boat, complete with ramps, a lift and central heating (if the day is chilly) so that up to ten passengers can enjoy a day afloat on the beautiful Bridgewater Canal along with a fresh cup of tea.

She was commissioned and built by St James Church, Westbrook, Warrington in 1987 using funding from various sources including the councils Wizard lottery’ (hence the name), Children in Need, Granada telethon, British Waterways, Cheshire County Council and numerous other local businesses and charities.

Wizard is available to families in the Warrington area. Other groups are most welcome to use the wizard but we do ask for a higher donation the only criteria being that a family or group must have a person who is disabled with them on the trip.

 On DART trips we encourage people to participate as much as they want to in activities both on and off the boat. On this page we offer a selection of activities that are freely available. This list is a start, not all activities are suitable for everyone or available on all navigations, and you will be able to think of many others yourselves.

 Running the boat

    Helping with morning and evening engine checks.
    Helping with locks - this can take many forms from helping to operate 
     the gates and paddle gear to holding onto ropes.
    Helping with cleaning and tidying up


Seagull Trust

 Founded in 1978, the Seagull Trust Cruises charity offers free cruises on Scotland’s canals for people with special needs. From small beginnings, Seagull Trust Cruises hosted over 22,000 passengers on more than 2,000 cruises in 2010.

A completely voluntary charity, cruises run from branches at Ratho near Edinburgh, Falkirk, Kirkintilloch and Highland. In addition, a purpose-built holiday boat based at Falkirk is available.

Stockport Canal Boat Trust

 Offers canal day trips for people with disabilities around the canals of North West England aboard the specially designed , wheelchair friendly , canal narrow boat 'New Horizons. '

Willow Trust


You might also be interested in a Tall Sailing ship adventure!
Jubilee Sailing Trust
Join our Tall Ships and sail with the Jubilee Sailing Trust (JST), a registered charity that owns and operates Lord Nelson and Tenacious. These are the only two tall ships in the world designed and built to enable people of all physical abilities to sail side-by-side as equals.  
  I hope these suggestions help!
JD Umiat




 27 Apr 2013 22:13 UTCSat 27 Apr 2013 - 10:13 pm UTC 

Many thanks for this interesting and very useful answer. As a result, we are already talking to one provider about whom we didn't previously know.

Nice job, well done and thanks again.

Sorry for the slow reply - too much going on that doesn't involve boats!


JD Umiat 


 28 Apr 2013 01:29 UTCSun 28 Apr 2013 - 1:29 am UTC 

I'm so glad I could help! Have fun and thank you so much for the tip!




 28 Apr 2013 10:47 UTCSun 28 Apr 2013 - 10:47 am UTC 

That's the kind of question and answer that makes one feel good.




 1 Nov 2014 06:19 UTCSat 1 Nov 2014 - 6:19 am UTC 

Some boats have adaptations to give the wheelchair user the ability to drive the boat if their mobility and upper-body strength wouldn't permit it on the average boat - basically a remote for the throttle and a remote power drive for the tiller. This is also NOT an essential part of the definition for the purposes of this enquiry but is very, very interesting to know about.



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