After eight years of boat ownership I'm reverting to hire boating this year! I'm not getting rid of Starcross, far from it, but I've been invited to join some friends, who are also boat owners, for a short break on the Union Canal in Scotland. Even if we did take either of our boats up to Scotland on a lorry neither of them is big enough to accommodate five people in comfort and as we are only going for four days anyway hiring is the only sensible option.
We are hiring from Marine Cruises who are new to me, although I see from their website that they also have bases at Swanley on the Llangollen and Kings Bromley on the Trent & Mersey (so Ray on "No Direction" will know them).
We'll be starting from their base at the foot of the Falkirk Wheel and have a choice of three routes:
West along the Forth & Clyde to Glasgow; east along the same canal to Grangemouth or along the Union Canal to Edinburgh. We've opted for Edinburgh, partly because that way we get to do the Falkirk Wheel without having to annoy the operators by coming straight back down again and partly because with only four days Edinburgh is more reachable than Glasgow. Another factor was that on the Forth & Clyde all the locks and swing bridges on the way to Glasgow are worked for you by Scottish Canals, the publicly-owned body that's taken over from British Waterways in Scotland, which means that you have to book a passage and stick to a timetable, which we didn't want to do.
As well as the Wheel we get to go through two locks, a tunnel and across the aqueducts over the Avon and Almond rivers. It'll be the first time I've been on a hire boat since becoming a boat-owner (the last time was in 2000 for my 50th-birthday cruise) so I'll be looking out to see just how we are treated by other boaters!