Chiltern Canal Boat Holidays is a family business, run by Gareth and Corinne, a husband and wife team who have been together for more than 20 years. Over the years we have enjoyed boating holidays across the UK, and when at home, spend a lot of our time walking and exploring the local canals and green spaces of the Chilterns with our dogs.
A few years ago we found out that I (Corinne) was being made redundant from my 20 year career, and with a young son and a desire to get away from the 9-5 rat race, we together made the decision to start a family business. But what were we going to do???
Gareth has always enjoyed having a project to keep him busy, the last being converting a van into a campervan. After a fishing trip one weekend, he came home and suggested we buy a narrowboat that could be renovated. With his expertise in interiors and a background in mechanics, and my experience of business, originally for a hospitality company, the idea of running a boat hire company was born. Plus, as we both grew up locally and know all the best places to visit in the Chilterns, it seemed like a great idea to be able to offer an enjoyable holiday experience for others in the area we know and love.
So, we went out and bought a 50ft narrowboat which we thought would be a great family boat (Narrow Escape)! It was a little dated but perfectly sound, and a great starting point to create something of our own. And then, just a few weeks later, the new found word of 'Covid' entered our (and everyone else's) lives. Sadly it meant it was not a good time to be starting a tourism business so we spent our lockdown working other jobs whilst renovating the boat and building up our vision for the business.
Thankfully in 2021 when lockdowns were finally over, we were ready and raring to go. We got our license from the CRT, launched the website and started to welcome guests in May 2021. During that first season we both continued to work other jobs alongside the boat business, and were very grateful to have a successful (albeit hectic) first year. We were fully booked from mid-June through to the end of October, and received nothing short of 5 start reviews from our customers.
With that success, and our continued work elsewhere, we were in a lucky position to be able to purchase a second boat at the end of the year. Gareth spent the winter lovingly renovating this smaller 27ft boat, and in early 2022, we were excited to launch Mini Escape for couples to enjoy.
So that's our story. It won't necessarily influence you into booking a holiday with us, but, if you do, you'll know a little bit about who we are, and we'd love to get to know about you too!
Thanks for reading our story....
Corinne & Gareth