Double celebration for Pennine Cruisers at this year’s Waterway Festival

Waterway Festival

Skipton’s 17th annual Waterway Festival will take place over this May Day bank holiday weekend. The festival is always one of the most popular events in Skipton’s calendar but this year’s promises to be better than ever.

Hosted by Pennine Cruisers, the theme for the 2018 Waterway Festival is ‘Celebration’ to mark 50 years of trade for the Skipton-based company.  Owner, Ian Clarke will also be celebrating his 60th Birthday in June.

Pennine Cruisers

Ian has spent most of his life in the boating industry and has been involved with the company for many years.  Pennine Cruisers was established by the Randall family in 1968 and Ian began working for them in 1975. He remained with the firm until 1982, when he left to work at other local boatyards including Silsden Boats and Snaygill Boats.  He also began his own business offering boat repairs and he operated this successfully until his return to Pennine Cruisers in 1994. Just 5 years later, in 1999, Ian and his family bought the Skipton boating business.   Since the takeover, Pennine Cruisers has gone from strength to strength and their daytime boat trips are one of the town’s most popular tourist activities.

Skipton Waterway Festival

The very first day trip was launched in the year 2000 after Ian purchased and renovated an old canal boat, now known as Leo. With two trip boats now in operation, Pennine Cruisers see an average of 21,000 people on their 30-minute trips each year.

The latest addition to the fleet is a 4-berth, 48ft cruiser style narrow boat named ‘Carleton’ – a name chosen to mark 50 years of Pennine Cruisers.  All of the company’s holiday boats are named after local towns and villages. To mark the 50th trading anniversary of Pennine Cruisers, this latest vessel has been aptly named after the place where their very first boats were constructed.

Ian’s boat building expertise is evident. He also built he vessel on which he and his wife currently reside and it is a fantastic replica of the original Leeds-Liverpool short boats.

The Waterway Festival will take place across town and at the canal basin, where dozens of boats will line the canal, decorated to reflect this year’s theme. As always, there will be an array of fun activities, stalls and food on offer at the canal basin and Ian is hoping as many locals as possible will join in with the celebrations.

A life-long resident of Skipton, Ian has no immediate plans to retire from doing what he loves, in the place that he loves. In fact, it was only a couple of years ago that the family opened The Boat House bar and that has quickly become popular, particularly during the warmer months due to its enviable waterside location.

Ian said, “I couldn’t think of a better place to live and work. I love it here. The town, the people – everything.  Life is good!”

Waterway Festival

Skipton’s 17th Waterway Festival will take place over the coming weekend. With the support of Skipton BID and the Skipton Town Ambassador, Ian, his family and all the staff at Pennine Cruisers work incredibly hard each year to make this a fun, family event for local residents and tourists.  They are hoping that a large number of local people and all their staff will join them in celebrating 50 years of Pennine Cruisers and of course, Ian Clarke’s big birthday!

Waterway Festival

To find out more about Pennine Cruisers or to make a booking, please visit the Pennine Cruisers website:


By Alexis Wilson-Barrett



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here