Enjoying a 3-hour dinner cruise on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal

Dining at the Rendezvous Hotel needn’t necessarily mean that you have to keep your feet on dry ground! As one happy customer of our ‘dinner cruise’ relates here…

It’s time for dinner, but this is no ordinary meal. We’re standing on the towpath of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, about a mile south of the Yorkshire market town of Skipton. Behind us is the Rendezvous Hotel. In front of us is ‘Dalesman’, a magnificent canal barge.

During the day, ‘Dalesman’ takes visitors for gentle cruises along the canal. But this evening she’s about to host one of the Rendezvous Hotel’s popular dinner cruises.

We’re invited aboard, the crew showing us to our reserved seats. It’s a beautiful, calm August evening. The passing swans and ducks look up, and paddle on. They’re used to unusual things happening at the Rendezvous.

Soon we’re all aboard and seated, and Malcolm Weaving, the owner of the Rendezvous, and Yorkshire through and through, is on the microphone, welcoming us and telling us a little of what we can expect.

Without us realising it, ‘Dalesman’ has gently left its moorings and the cruise has begun.

Our starter arrives, delivered expertly to our tables of four by smiling members of the Rendezvous’ own restaurant team. The onboard bar keeps the wine, beer and soft drinks flowing.

We arrive in the centre of Skipton where Malcolm recounts stories of the town’s remarkable history and points out the many converted mills. The boat turns and retraces its route back to the hotel. No, it’s not the end of the cruise, but the wonderful moment when the hotel team bring the freshly cooked main course aboard. It’s all done with smiles, and a fair amount of speed. Hotplates on the boat keep everything hot and tasty.

Soon we’re off again, gently gliding along the canal, and enjoying our dinner in a unique and tranquil setting. A heron watches us pass from his canal-side perch. Around every bend in the canal, delightful views of the Yorkshire countryside open up before us, with ancient woodlands, open fields and dry stone walls passing by our windows.

There are lifting bridges and swing bridges to negotiate, and more fascinating stories from Malcolm. Night has descended now, and spotlights on the roof of the boat pick out the features of the canal bank.

Another turn and we start our return journey to the hotel, this time enjoying our dessert.

Three hours after we left, we’re back, and disembarking in front of the hotel. We’re fed and watered, relaxed and happy, and heading to the bar for a nightcap.

Back on the canal, ‘Dalesman’ and her crew quietly depart. It’s been another successful dinner cruise on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal.

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