Britain’s best boat trips: the Tiverton Canal, South West

Take a traditional horse-drawn boat trip along the Great Western Canal in Devon, one of the most beautiful stretches of canal in the country.

Tiverton Canal Co


The Tivertonian is a wide beam trip boat that operates between April and October and is pulled by horse, allowing passengers a rare chance to experience this original method of travel along the canal. The most popular public trip is a 2.5-hour return journey through the Great Western Canal Country Park nature reserve between Tiverton and East Manley. A tour guide is on hand to offer a mixture of anecdotes and history regarding the canal and also the tradition of horse-drawn barges.

Sights include a memorial to a military plane that crashed in 1961 when the pilot deliberately directed his plane away from Tiverton and into the canal after the engine failed, so as to ensure nobody was killed other than himself and his co-pilot. At the end of the journey, there’s a chance to cross a splendid aqueduct by foot at Halberton. The aqueduct was based on a design by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and passed over Brunel’s own railway has it puffed beneath. From their Tiverton base, the company also run a floating café and gift shop, and offer rowing boats and canoes for hire.

Other horse-drawn boat trips include the excellent Kennet Horse Boat Company, which has daily trips of up to three hours during the summer from Kintbury on the beautiful Kennet and Avon Canal, and Horse Drawn Boats along the Llangollen Canal, which depart from Llangollen Wharf. All are highly recommended, as they give a great insight into the history of the canal as well as a pleasing break from noise and pace for those who find the 4mph of a diesel engine-powered craft a little too much to handle.

Take the trip

Find out more from the Tiverton Canal Company,