Our wanderings on the canals

This page links to logs of our many trips on the canals of the UK. The canals are a fantastic resource with several thousand miles of waterways covering most of the UK.

From Andrew's first canal trip at the age of 10, we have had various trips on hire boats, owned a share in a boat for 3 years and in 2014 bought our first boat - a 33 foot narrowboat called Mind Like Water!

In 2021, we sold Mind Like Water and bought a 57 foot narrowboat called Vegvisir which will take us around the canal system as we enter our retirement.

Inland Waterways Association

Inland Waterways Association logo

We have been members of the Inland Waterways Association for many years. It was the original organisation set up in the 1940s to campaign to save the UK's canals which were see as outmoded and irrelevant and were in danger of being filled in.

We are in the Shrewsbury District and North Wales branch. Andrew in on the committee and is Editor of the branch's newsletter called the "Shroppie Fly Paper" which appears 3 times a year. You can see the back-issues online here.

The branch web page is at

NB Vegvisir

NB Vegvisir name graphic

Our first boat, Mind Like Water, was an excellent introduction to owning a boat. We went on many memorable trips on her but all limited by the 2 weeks we could manage in the summer holidays. Her open plan layout was fine for that length of trip but would be limiting if we wanted to go further.

In August 2021 as Andrew retired (with Alison planning to follow in early 2022), we planned to start looking at longer boats. Ideally 57 foot to give us access to the whole UK canal system and newer than Mind Like Water to give more confidence for increased use.

So... In early August, we were taking part in our Inland Waterways Association annual lockwind (the first after the 2020 event was cancelled due to Covid-19). This took place at Cholmondeston lock near Venetian Marina on the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union canal.

As we had bought Mind Like Water from Venetian Marina back in 2014, we though we would take the opportunity to see what they had on brokerage, purely to gather information about what was around of course...

We looked at two boats. One was too long at 60 foot and had been badly fitted out by the previous owner. The other, however, was very nice and, to cut a long story short, we bought her! We took ownership on 1sr September 2021 and started to get to grips with a bigger, more sophisticated boat.

She was originally called "Ganzee" but we had renamed her "Vegvisir" (the Viking / Icelandic compass symbol). Logs of our trips on "Vegvisir" can be found on the Narrowboat Vegvisir blog.

NB Mind Like Water

For years we had been dreaming about buying a narrowboat when we retired. In March / April 2014, a series of events got us thinking "What if things go wrong and we end up never having made that leap?"

We there and then resolved to actively look for a cheap boat that would get us on the water sooner rather than later. Friends and family will know that when we when we start thinking about doing things, events have a habit of moving quite quickly…

Hence we found ourselves, at the end of May 2014, the proud owners of a 33ft cruiser stern narrowboat called "Mind Like Water"!

NB Mind Like Water

The name comes from David Allen, creator of the GTD (Getting Things Done) system. It's a martial arts term which refers to reacting appropriately to events; neither over-reacting or under-reacting, not fretting about what might happen but taking events as they come. It's a concept that came to mean a lot to us during the events which triggered our boat purchase. So when buying the boat "Mind Like Water" seemed like an appropriate name. Here a link to an article by David Allen about Mind Like Water.

Logs of our trips on "Mind Like Water" can be found on the Narrowboat Mind Like Water blog.

We thought that having previously owned a boat-share, we knew a lot about boats... Wrong! Well we did know a fair amount about handling a narrowboat but owning one is a different kettle of fish! No management company to delegate work to when things go wrong. It's been quite a learning curve but such a great experience.

We are currently moored at the Nantwich Canal Centre. It's about 1hr 15m drive away so very convenient for weekends and about 10 minutes walk from the centre of Nantwich which is a very nice town. Lots of good pubs and various festivals during the year.

Cheshire Ring 2011

We had one canal trip on a hire boat after Sojourn which was a fantastic two week trip around the Cheshire Ring in April 2011 which was about the only two weeks of sun that year!

NB Sojourn

For 3 years (2005 - 2007) we owned a share in a narrow boat called Sojourn. She was part of the Ownerships fleet. Unfortunately Ownerships is no more... After the death of the owner (Allen Matthews) in early 2010, it was discovered that he had embezzled £1.8 million.

Many owners lost money but we have encountered quite a few who have either transferred to another management company or now run their syndicate themselves and are still boating. Even though we sold our share a couple of years before the crash, it still feels like a narrow escape!

During our time on Sojourn we covered 516 miles and 497 locks

Narrowboat Sojourn

You will find links to logs and photos from our time on Sojourn below.

NB Sojourn 2007

August 2007
Stratford on Avon and Warwickshire Ring

April 2007
Coventry Basin and Ashby Canal.

NB Sojourn 2006

August 2006
Grand Union Canal from Napton to Milton Keynes.

April 2006
Oxford Canal from Napton to Banbury & Aynho.

February 2006
Stoke on Trent (Etruria Marina).

NB Sojourn 2005

August 2005
Kennet & Avon Canal from Devizes east towards Hungerford.

May 2005
Kennet & Avon Canal from Devizes to Bath.

February 2005
Trent & Mersey Canal from Etruria (Stoke on Trent) to Middlewich.

Shropshire Union Canal 2001

August 2001
Shropshire Union on the Cheshire Cat boat "Summer Breeze"

Our first family canal trip was on the Shropshire Union Canal in August 2001. It was on a hire boat from the Cheshire Cat fleet. At the time it WAS the Cheshire Cat fleet but they now have 4 boats.

Earlier logs by Andrew's father (Rodger Smith)

These three logs were written by Andrew's father (Rodger Smith) on earlier trips.

The first is from a canal trip on the South Oxford Canal way back in April 1970 which, it is fair to say, was the start of our interest in canals. Andrew was only 9 at the time and clearly the trip had a profound effect!

The second of Rodger's logs is from a second trip on the same stretch of canal in 1982.

The third log covers a trip on the Llangollen Canal in September 1990 when Alison had her first go on the canals.

September 1990
Llangollen Canal

August 1982
Oxford Canal from Napton to Lower Heyford

April 1970
Oxford Canal from Brinklow to Banbury