Irene and Nick Scott have retired from Hotel Boating. From September 2015 Willow became a proper private narrowboat - and she is still ours and still cruising.
In 1995 we moved aboard our first narrowboat on the English/Welsh canal network, and became so called 'professionals' in 1999 - and we like to think we've been that way ever since. We bought Willow in 2000 and, up to summer 2015, she has been our home ever since. We know every inch of her (good and bad) and so we couldn't just 'sell her off' on our retirement.
The last four or five hotel boat years were particularly profitable, on the Scottish Lowland Canals and based at the magnificent Falkirk Wheel. But with the Falkirk Wheel's conversion to theme park status - it was time to move on.
So, Willow's last cruise on Scottish waters was down to Bowling at the west end of the Forth & Clyde canal, and then out to Rothesay Docks on the tidal Clyde - there to be craned out and loaded onto a lorry. The lorry ride took us south to Wincham Wharf on the Trent & Mersey canal - for her new life in retirement returning to the English/Welsh network. We love Scotland, but sadly the canal network north of the border seriously lacks cruising mooring availability and is therefore just too restrictive for serious canal cruising.
Now that we have a house, winters will be spent in Scotland, with our old motorhome for the 'west coast' in Spring and Autumn (dodge those midges) - leaving summer for Willow cruising on the Welsh/English canal network.