Snail’s Pace: A Family’s Journey by Barge to Europe


Few of us will be able to live on a historic vessel a hundred and thirty years old. If we did so, fewer still would be prepared to take it and our families across the North Sea or be able to improvise engine repairs mid-passage from surplus bits of furniture. The story is about pioneering spirits, much in the vein of the Victorian writers of cruises on the continent. But it is different from these and from most modern day cruising stories in that it both identifies everyday life in the places visited and also does so from the perspective of adults and the perspective of then very young children.

I now invite you, in your minds eye, to take a journey by boat not just across England, but the North Sea, Netherlands, Belgium and France, all at a “Snail’s Pace”.

John Fletcher, The Inland Waterways Association’s national chairman from November 2002 to November 2008.