Canal Books That Are on Our Must Read List

canal boat

We love to be beside a canal

International travel during 2021 is going to be somewhat fraught and with those destinations that do become easily accessible being hugely overcrowded, the staycation seems to be the way forward for us.

Combining our love of boats with our new-found interest in the campervan we have had converted to our own specifications, it becomes somewhat obvious that the canals of Great Britain will play an important part in our holiday plans.

And so, as we begin our research, we have come across two new books that make very interesting reading.

The first is Water Gypsies the first ever complete, illustrated historical chronicle of living afloat on Britain’s waterways.

Water Gypsies the first ever complete, illustrated historical chronicle of living afloat on Britain's Canal

Written by Julian Dutton who was himself born and grew up on a houseboat, the book traces the evolution of boat-dwelling from an industrial phenomenon in the heyday of the canals to the rise of life afloat as an alternative lifestyle in post-war Britain.

For centuries, living on Britain’s waterways has been a rich part of the fabric of our social history, from the fisher-folk of ancient Britain to the bohemian houseboat dwellers of the 195Ds and beyond.

Today an estimated 30.000 people live aboard houseboats across the UK.

Drawing from diaries and personal accounts, Water Gypsies is both a vivid narrative of a unique way of life, and a valuable addition to social history.

Water Gypsies, with a forward written by the canal loving actor Samuel West, is published by The History Press and will be available in paperback format from them in April this year for £14.99

The second is an updated second edition of The Canal Guide by Stuart Fisher.  In this beautifully illustrated guide Stuard introduces us to 55 of Britain’s most fascinating and attractive canals

It is an attractive guidebook shows off just how rich our waterways heritage is.  What we like most about the book is the ‘places to visit’ feature for each canal.  Here Stuart picks out 3 places within walking distance of the towpath and another 3 slightly further away.

In each of the 55 chapters, he gives a lively background to the history, wildlife and pubs alongside each waterway, as well as a handy map and useful information for visitors.

Through the beautiful cities of London, Bath and Oxford, traversing stunning countryside and national parks, and exploring some of the best Victorian engineering and industry, this book is an inspiring and thoroughly enjoyable read, as well as a perfect resource for anyone thinking about planning a day out or a holiday along Britain’s wonderful canals in the future.

The paperback book will be available from Adlard Coles which is part of the Bloomsbury Group on 4th March and will cost £18.99