Our guest Pet Inspectors Billy and Mavis took to the waters on their first-ever dog-friendly boat trip. Starting at Benson Base, they set sail to cruise down the beautiful banks of Thames, where they enjoyed a mix of wonderful countryside views and fabulous rural walks, whilst also stopping off to discover some delightful waterside pubs and villages en route.
Here’s what got their nautical tales wagging…
“An amazing, yet super relaxing adventure!”
Boat trip route: Thames (Benson Base return) Trip duration: 3 days Guest Pet Inspector(s): Billy the Cocker Spaniel & Mavis the Beagle cross. Dog-friendly rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
We started our trip at the Benson Base, a lovely quiet spot situated at the rural end of the Thames, where we found ourselves surrounded by beautiful countryside and farmland. When we arrived – all new to boating, the friendly team at Le Boat talked us through the whole boat and took us out for a test drive to make sure both us and the doggies were 100% confident before setting off on our way.
As we got to our first lock, we were filled with nervous excitement, but we soon came to learn that boating is not nearly as intimidating as first thought and in fact is really easy to do! Some boats are manned by a lock keeper who controls the commands and some are self-service, which are clearly shown with either a Blue or White sign.
There were very steep steps on the boat and narrow edges to get into the side door, so furry friends need to be supervised at all times when the boat is moving. If you decide to go boating with your pup, we’d also recommend taking a doggy life jacket with you, just in case!
Find out more about what you need to know before taking your dog boating in our dog-friendly boat trips guide The dogs took to boat life like they had been doing it their whole lives, taking in their new surroundings and feeling the breeze in their ears. They loved being on the top deck with us, and in the evening after a long day of new sights and smells we brought their beds up to the top deck with us where they had a snooze as we continued along the river to find our evening mooring.
Ahoy Captain Billy!
The first night, we had dinner on the boat after cruising down through Goring and the gorgeous banks of Pangbourne, a quaint and pretty village in Berkshire. Although we decided to eat on the boat, there is a delightful waterside pub in Pangbourne called The Swan that you can moor outside and have dinner at if you wish.
The next day we had a walk along the meadows by the side of the canal before continuing down the river through Reading. We stopped at Sonning, a cute little town with a couple of dog-friendly pubs – we went to the Coppa Club. Here, we let the dogs have a run and a play in the river when we moored. They absolutely loved it – tails were wagging all day!
One of the great things about boating is that you can pull over and explore lots of different places along the river, allowing both hounds and humans to have some dry land time, be it a lovely walk through the meadows, along the towpath, or through the neighbouring villages.
When you do stop for a break from the waters, it’s often in places that are completely traffic-free, meaning excitable hounds can run free and enjoy the great outdoors.
Plus, you’ll find several fantastic dog-friendly pubs along your route where you can stop off for a spot of lunch, dinner or a few refreshing beverages.
Later that afternoon, we jumped back on board our boat and carried on cruising down to Shiplake, where we moored up and let the dogs out whilst we enjoyed some paddling. That evening, we went to another lovely pup-friendly pub called the St George and Dragon, where we sat with the dogs on their terrace overlooking the river.
The next day, we headed all the way back upriver to Benson, moored a few times for breaks and had lunch on the boat. We passed several fellow boaters on our route, which was brilliant to see! As each boat passes by there is a real sense of connection with everyone waving to each other, and almost every boat we passed had their own four-legged boat mate on board!
The surrounding nature was simply beautiful, too. We went at the perfect time to see an abundance of baby birds, from Swan Cynets to cute little Goslings from a variety of Geese. They were happy to swim alongside us as we drifted along the water. In the evening, we relaxed on the boat and cooked some dinner using the onboard kitchen. If it starts to get chilly in the evenings, there’s a large, comfortable seating area on the boat which is perfect for playing games, reading or having a good ol’ chin wag with your boatmates.
As our trip began to draw to a close, we pulled up back at Benson, where we returned our boat.
Both us humans and our furry friends Billie and Mavis had such a wonderful time on our doggy boat trip! We loved how you can choose your own itinerary, go at your own pace, sit back and admire the amazing nature all around you. We’re already dreaming about our next trip!
Are you ready to set sail with your canine companion, embrace the quiet life and explore the world from a whole new perspective? Perfect for family, friends and furry plus ones, our luxury pet-friendly boating holidays will allow you to kick back, relax, and enjoy the most spectacular scenery drift by.
Take a sniff around our hound picked selection of dog-friendly boating trips from a variety of different starting locations throughout the UK, Ireland and France.