Camping Skiffs

Skiffs originate from back in the 19th century when they were used on the River Thames for leisure and as a water taxi service. To the uninitiated, they may appear to be simply an older version of a modern day rowing boat and, indeed, in many ways they are still used today for racing over both short and long distances. However, they are still often hired out as a holiday boat/camping alternative to the likes of a narrowboat, where the cruising is done at a leisurely pace, yet which also involves the element of rowing. They allow you to get up close to nature and to combine your love of camping and wildlife with some exercise (as opposed to your boat being powered by an engine or you simply pitching a tent in a field).

But How Does A Skiff Relate To Camping?

Well, for those who enjoy the pleasures of rowing and wish to combine that into a holiday experience, a camping skiff is simply a skiff which has been adapted to incorporate a canvas which then covers the entire skiff thus turning the skiff into a type of cosy tent under which holidaymakers can then rest up on board skiff for the night then continue on with their journey the following day. The skiffs are made out of wood and are about 25 feet long and wide enough to accommodate about 3 people on board comfortably. It can in effect, be considered akin to having a tent which moves along with you and provides a quite unique and different perspective to a traditional tent camping trip.

Isn’t A Rowing Boat A Bit Unstable To Spend A Night On?

The way a skiff is designed, it is stable enough to allow the occupants of the boat to stand up and move about whilst on the water. They’re not a rowing boat in the modern day sense of them being rowing boats into which you’re always seated and virtually unable to move beyond the actual physical manoeuvring of the boat by using oars to paddle with although that’s what you’d use to get from point A to point B.

Other Advantages

In addition to the canvas providing you with the opportunity to sleep aboard the skiff, it also serves additional purposes too. For example, it can be erected to protect you from the rain as you row along and can even help to protect you from the sun in hot weather. Not only are they designed simply for those who wish to camp out in them but the protection from the sun and, particularly from the rain, as well as them being adaptable to stay overnight in means that they’re also popular with anglers who like to move from place to place to find the best places to fish in or simply to experience different scenery. Because of their width, it also means you have a fair amount of storage space for your belongings.

Going Back In Time

Some people will often point to their attraction of camping skiffs as deriving from the famous and popular book written by Jerome K. Jerome entitled ‘Three Men in a Boat (to say nothing of the dog)’ which was published back in the late 19th century and was intended to initially be a serious travel guide but ended up becoming more famous for being a witty account of 3 men’s travels (along with their dog) on a boating holiday on the Thames in a skiff and it’s partly due to that book’s popularity that camping skiff holidays are still popular with many people today for the added ‘romance’ that this type of holiday can offer as well as bringing you as close to nature as is possible in terms of a camping cum boating holiday.

Types Of Trip

A camping skiff holiday can be anything you want it to be – from a short, recreational day and overnight trip to something like the Thames Meander which is a good example of a much longer skiff journey.

And, whilst not for everybody, there are still several companies on the Thames and on other British waterways which still provide camping skiff trips and holidays for those who find them a pleasurable way of combining the physical exercise of rowing with the romance and historical significance of being able to travel on the water in a vessel that has so much history attached to it as well as being able to camp in it.

Leave a comment

Camping Expert