The riverside pub is as integral to the canal cruising experience as locks and narrowboats and fortunately this long-established tradition  shows no sign of fading. Canal cruising is a holiday that demands nothing but relaxation, and, as your canal boat meanders along one of the many picturesque canal networks that criss-cross the length and breadth of the UK, choosing the best canalside pubs to moor alongside for lunch or dinner has the potential to be the most arduous decision of the day.

On some circuits you’ll feel as if you’re passing by a riverside pub every couple of miles, whereas others are few and far between. Some are located in urban centres while others are surrounded by nothing but peaceful, relaxing swathes of green. Yet these canalside watering holes all share certain traits: they overflow with charm and character and offer patrons a sense of their origins as a social place where the passing canal trade could gather after a day’s work to quench their thirst, restock their supplies, and stable their horses.

Three of the Best Canalside Pubs

  • The Dusty Miller, Wrenbury

The Llangollen Canal, which stretches from Shropshire into Wales, is one of the most popular circuits in the country. As you cruise towards Pontcysyllte Aqueduct from Llangollen Canal, you’ll pass the pretty village of Wrenbury where the Dusty Miller awaits. Dating from the 18th century, this grand red-brick building was originally a corn mill, before being converted into a cozy waterfront pub in the 1970s. Today, you can relax in the beer garden while sipping a real ale and dining on dishes made from fine local produce. Staff can also point you in the direction of the best pub walks to stretch your legs before boarding your narrowboat.

  • Stourport Ring – Camp House Inn

On the River Severn, just north of Worcester Marina, canal cruisers on the Stourport Ring are recommended to visit the Camp House Inn in Grimley. This quintessential country pub is beloved by canal cruisers for its chilled beer and cider, hearty pub fare and gentle views – as well as the ducks and peacocks that roam the grounds.  

  • The Swan Inn, Burton-upon-Trent

With a prime position at Fradley Junction, where the Coventry Canal meets the Trent & Mersey Canal, the Swan Inn is the perfect spot to spend an afternoon watching the passing canal traffic. For narrowboats based out of Gayton, this popular pub is beloved for its friendly service, relaxed atmosphere, and menu of traditional favourites including a delicious weekend carvery. 

Canaltime with CLC World

Everyone, from beginners to advanced canal cruisers, can enjoy canal boat holidays. UK canal routes exist from the north to the south of the country and can be discovered on CLC World’s Canaltime fleet. Each narrowboat is totally self-contained and can sleep either four or six guests. Facilities on each boat include a bath, shower and toilet, as well as a kitchen equipped with a refrigerator, microwave and cooking utensils. 

From four marinas – Anderton, Blackwater Meadow, Gayton and Worcester – you’ll board your narrowboat and embark on a total detox from the hustle and bustle of daily life, where green landscapes are your constant companion. As you discover the best canalside pubs, you’ll raise a toast with new friends to this perfect way to holiday!