Milton Keynes: The ultimate destination for a stress-free family canal boat holiday

Calling all adventurous families with teens in tow! Craving a canal boat holiday that combines the relaxation of narrowboating with something more thrilling to keep the kids entertained? Look no further than Milton Keynes – an unexpected holiday destination where slow travel meets heart-stopping rollercoasters.

Milton Keynes has something for everyone - offering the perfect blend of green spaces, historical intrigue, and adrenaline-pumping theme parks, it is an ideal destination for a memorable narrowboat holiday that has something for all the family.

Plus, with no locks, child friendly marinas, and a great public transport network to help you explore the city, it’s also a great place for those who are hiring a narrowboat for the first time.

If you are currently planning your next family canal boat holiday Milton Keynes should certainly be on your itinerary. Here, we’ll explain why!

Two happy children peeping out of a narrowboat

About Milton Keynes

Nestled in Buckinghamshire, north of the Chiltern Hills, Milton Keynes offers families a unique blend of history and modern charm. This meticulously planned city boasts a surprising past, with evidence of Roman settlements and a charming medieval village at Stony Stratford, plus green spaces, interactive museums, and a variety of family-oriented attractions.

Hiring a narrowboat in Milton Keynes provides a very different perspective of this often over-looked city, and allows you to avoid (almost all of) the 130 roundabouts it’s often famed for. It also boasts an extensive network of redways – shared paths for cyclists and pedestrians – perfect for exploring beyond the Grand Union canal and enjoying everything the city has to offer!

Holiday narrowboat moored in front of two white metal bridges

The Grand Union Canal in Milton Keynes: Lock-Free Canal Holidays!

The canal played a crucial role in Milton Keynes' development in the 18th century. It served as a vital transportation artery, carrying goods that fueled the town's growth. Today, the canal offers a charming glimpse into the town's history.

Winding its way gracefully through the heart of the city, the Grand Union Canal offers a tranquil escape for a canal boat holiday with an 11-mile stretch of lock-free canal cruising, making it ideal for first-time narrowboaters and families with young children.

As you cruise along the tranquil waterway, keep an eye out for the charming villages and historical landmarks that line the banks. You might even spot playful otters or majestic herons amidst the lush greenery.

This unique blend of historical significance, natural beauty, and a beginner-friendly canal section makes Milton Keynes a great destination for an unforgettable family canal boat holiday.

Highlights of your Milton Keynes canal boat holiday

There is a unique swing bridge near Campbell Wharf which adds a touch of historical charm to your cruise.

If you venture as far as Cosgrove in north Milton Keynes, you can enjoy a trip across Cosgrove aqueduct, a 60 ft long cast-iron trough aqueduct that passes over the Great Ouse.

Save up to

Marinas on the Grand Union Canal, Milton Keynes

  • Campbell Wharf Marina: This modern marina is located right next to Campbell Park, a sprawling green space that offers something for everyone. Kids will enjoy the large playground with a variety of equipment, while parents can relax on the grass or take a stroll around the lake. There's also a miniature railway and a cafe on site.

  • Stad Wolverton Marina: Stad Wolverton Marina is a great place to relax and watch the boats go by. The marina also has a number of restaurants and cafes and is a great stopover point during your narrowboat holiday. 

Holiday canal boats moored in a marina

Best places to visit in Milton Keynes during your canal boat holiday

    • Gulliver's Land Theme Park: Gulliver's Land Theme Park is a great day out for families with young children. The park has a variety of rides and attractions, as well as a zoo and a splash zone. Distance: This great attraction is located right next to the canal near Campbell Wharf Marina and Campbell Park.

    • Xscape Milton Keynes: Thrill-seekers of all ages will love Xscape Milton Keynes . This giant indoor complex offers a variety of activities under one roof, including indoor skiing, snowboarding, a climbing wall, a soft play area, and a multiplex cinema. It's a great place to spend a rainy day or for an afternoon of active fun. Distance: Xscape Milton Keynes is located just a 20 minute walk from Campbell Wharf Marina.

    • The National Museum of Computing: The National Museum of Computing is a must-see for any techie or history buff. The museum houses a collection of historic computers, from the early days of computing to the present day. Visitors can even try their hand at using some of the old machines. Distance: This museum is located about a 40 minute walk from the Grand Union Canal at Fenny Stratford (or grab a taxi in from Fenny Stratford train station and be there in 5 minutes!).

    • Milton Keynes Museum: The Milton Keynes Museum tells the story of the city's history, from its prehistoric beginnings to the present day. The museum has a variety of exhibits, including a reconstructed Victorian street and a collection of vehicles. Distance: A short 10 minute walk from Wolverton.

    • Bletchley Park: Bletchley Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was home to the codebreakers who cracked the Enigma code during World War II. Visitors can tour the historic site and learn about the important role that Bletchley Park played in the war. Distance: Bletchley Park is located about a 30 minute walk from the Grand Union Canal at Fenny Stratford.

    • Theatre District & the Centre:MK: Milton Keynes' Theatre District is home to a variety of theatres, including the Milton Keynes Theatre and the MK Playhouse, while the huge indoor shopping centre offers a huge range of popular brands for those in need of some retail therapy. This area of the city also also has a great variety of restaurants and bars. Distance: The Theatre District & Centre:MK is just a 25 minute walk from Campbell Wharf Marina.

    Save up to

    About our luxury canal boat hire near Milton Keynes

    View of the 3 locks pub from the Grand Union canal in Stoke Hammond

    Flexible Canal Boat Hire Options

    Here at Chiltern Canal Boat Holidays we offer narrowboat hire for short breaks, week long holidays and longer. We have a choice of luxury narrowboats available to hire for couples and families.

    Click here to find out more about our canal boat holidays>>

    Great Value Canal Holiday Prices

    Our simple all-inclusive pricing means that everything you need is included in the holiday price you are quoted at the time of booking. So, you can be comfortable in the knowledge that there’ll be no hidden extras to pay for when you arrive, or when you return the boat (some other narrowboat hire companies in Milton Keynes may require payment for things like parking or firewood on arrival, or will charge you at the end of your holiday for diesel used - but we don’t!).

    Plus, it’s just a 30% deposit to book your canal holiday today, and the remaining balance is not due until 6 weeks before your trip. Flexible payment options and methods are available.

    Click here to see our canal boat hire prices and a full list of what’s included>>

    No Experience Necessary - Full Training & Equipment Provided

    As well as lots of useful information to help you prepare before you arrive for your narrowboat holiday, we also provide all our guests with a comprehensive practical introduction to narrowboating and staying safe on the canal.

    At the start of your trip with Chiltern Canal Boat Holidays, our experienced crew will:

    • Show you how to operate all the onboard facilities

    • Teach you how to drive and moor your hire boat

    • Take you through a canal lock so you can gain hands-on experience under our guidance, before setting off on your own

    • Provide life jackets, safety equipment and information to help everyone stay safe around the water

    Bringing the kids? Don’t worry… we are a narrowboating family with a young child, so we understand the anxieties of having little ones near the water! Our introductory session will include the whole family - we’ll help you get into a routine that’s right for your group, and getting younger family members involved where it is safe to, so they feel part of the crew too!

    Find out more about narrowboating in our Beginners Guide here>>

    What our guests say...

    5 Stars
    We left the marina instilled with confidence thanks to Corinne and Gareth's instructions. All four of us, along with Tilly Dog, were excited to head off - it was not disappointing, despite the weather. The waterways are calm and relaxing, you meet friendly folk along the way and the locks were good fun and great exercise! Our lovely narrowboat had everything we needed and more..... can't wait to do it all again. Thank You.


    5 Stars
    Thank you Corinne, Gareth ( and we can’t forget Scott) for letting us experience life on your canal boat on a lovely stretch of water and in a beautiful boat. We almost achieved our aim having the children screen free by end of week. The kids have asked if we’ll be doing another canal boat trip so cannot think of any higher praise.

    Bentley Family

    5 Stars
    Our first time on a canal boat. When we picked the boat up, Gareth talked us through everything we needed to know and even showed us how to operate a lock or two and made sure we had the hang of driving. The boat had everything we needed and we were pleasantly surprised by how comfortable the bed and everything else was…….especially as one of us is over 6 foot. Thoroughly enjoyed our few days on the canal and would recommend Chiltern Canal Boat Holidays.

    D & S Glover

    Small canal boat moored under trees in autumn

    Narrowboating in Milton Keynes - FAQs

    How long is the canal through Milton Keynes?

    From Fenny Stratford to Cosgrove is 11 miles.

    How many canal locks are there in Milton Keynes?

    There are no locks on the section of the Grand Union canal that runs through Milton Keynes.

    Where can you moor a narrowboat in Milton Keynes?

    There are several marinas in Milton Keynes that offer visitor moorings such as Campbell Wharf. Alternatively, you can moor for free anywhere along the public towpath (unless indicated otherwise by local signage).

    Blog Date: 10 May 2024

    Author: Corinne Newman, Co-Owner of Chiltern Canal Boat Holidays (author biography)

    Return to the Blog>>