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Take to the waters with barge holidays in Scotland

With those ever-changing skies, it pays to have a roof over your head when you're exploring the Scottish scenery. What better than a canal-boat on scenic barge holidays in Scotland? Scottish canals are blissfully quiet, with often just the swans for company as you head along the water.

Marine Cruises (www.scotland-canal-cruises.co.uk) are based by the spectacular Falkirk Wheel, an amazing piece of modern engineering for raising barges from the Forth and Clyde Canal to the Union Canal.

They have a range of craft, from 4-berth up to 8-berth, with bathrooms, showers, a fully-equipped galley and fridge. Rentals are available from March to October for cruises along the water, visiting Edinburgh, Glasgow and Linlithgow, or just drifting through the country.

Prices start at £747 a week for a 4-berth barge in low season, or £486 for a short break, rising to £1,702 for a week's rental of an 8-berth barge in high season. Look out for 50% discounts on a second week's rental.

If you don't want the hassle of taking the tiller yourself, the ideal solution is a cruise on the converted haulage barge the Fingal (www.fingal-cruising.co.uk). Now equipped with a galley and comfortable cabins, it offers week-long or 4-day cruises down the natural splendour and engineering marvel of the Caledonian Canal.

The genial skipper offers suggestions for hikes, bike-rides and water-sports, while the cook rustles up hearty and inventive meals. Then the passengers sit around with a map and discuss the options for the following day. A 7-day cruise costs from £725 and a 4-day cruise from £395. Note that single travellers are very welcome on the Fingal's barge holidays in Scotland.

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