A two-hour BBC show featuring nothing more than a journey down a canal has proved an unlikely hit with viewers.
All Aboard! The Canal Trip was filmed in real time and contained no commentary, music or presenter and nothing more exciting than passing boats, changing scenery and the occasional passer-by in the distance walking along the towpath.
But half a million viewers were mesmerised by the experiment in slow TV - filmed with a camera strapped to the front of the barge - down one of Britain's historic waterways, the Kennet and Avon Canal which runs between Reading and Bristol.
The show - in which the only sounds were birdsong, dogs barking, rippling water and the chugging of the engine - fetched 506,000 viewers and a peak of 599,000, above the BBC4 slot average of 340,000.
It was also deemed a success with viewers on Twitter.
Stephen Clark wrote: "Initially very sceptical about thisAll Aboard malarkey on BBC Four but this is surprisingly compelling... CYCLIST!"
John M wrote: "I put it on by mistake an hour and a half ago. It's still on."
Paul Waller joked: "BBC4 Canal trip. Still no sign of the upturned shopping trolley."
Steve Edwards wrote: "All Aboard! The Canal Trip on at prime time against Champions League football - the work of a TV scheduling genius ... it's mesmerising!"
Susan Lomax wrote: "Thank you for All Aboard ... I feel soooo relaxed ... Can you do a daily programme?"
Andy Stewart wrote: "Beguiling filmmaking. Heroic even."
@robinsprouts said: "Two hours uninterrupted trip on a canal barge - has actually blown my mind."
Danielle Carpanen wrote: "So hypnotic I fear I'm being primed for an alien abduction."
Jane Lawrence wrote: "Best TV in ages" while @lucywaitt1 deemed it "TV yoga".
Tuesday night's programme, which switched from colour to black and white, featured facts about canals presented in text on the surface of the water.
The film was part of the BBC Four Goes Slow series, a selection of "unrushed programmes giving audiences the chance to sit back, unwind and watch some very unhurried television".
Its executive producer Clare Paterson previously admitted that some people will "hate" the programme and find it "boring" but added that canals are "incredibly British and important to our history and landscape."
Britain's best hidden beaches
Two-hour canal journey on a barge? An instant BBC TV hit
Gorgeous Lantic Bay requires a 20-minute walk from the nearest car park, making it unpopular with the crowds but perfect if you're looking for a hidden gem in Cornwall. Nestled in a sheltered cove along the south-east coast of Cornwall, the beach is known as a 'sun-trap' and boasts fine white sands flanked by shingle. Its approach is via a steep cliff path and as inviting as the turquoise waters may look, you'll want to resist the temptation of a dip after your journey as the spectacular bay has frequent strong rip currents making swimming dangerous.
This attractive sand and shingle beach stretches for over five miles on the western edge of the Lake District National Park and is overlooked by the 600-metre high Black Combe. Silecroft Beach sits along the Cumbrian Coastal Way and is bordered by pretty farmland. It has a Quality Coast Award for its clean waters and facilities, and there is a traditional ice cream van offering seaside ice cream treats - perfect for when the sun shines! Silecroft is a top spot for wild sports, such as kite surfing, swimming, sea kayaking and horse riding.
The beautiful white sand beaches of Harris in the Outer Hebrides could easily be mistaken for those of Thailand or Mauritius, and these spectacular stretches are perfect for a relaxing stroll with miles of scenic contrasts that you have to see to believe. Luskentyre is the most beautiful beach and has been recognised as one of the most stunning in the world, with its turquoise water and miles of white sand, as well as terrific views of the mountains in the distance. Other picturesque beaches in Harris include Seilebost and Traigh Mhor.
This picturesque bay is one of the loveliest in the north of England and is fringed with golden sand, making it an idyllic spot for long walks on the beach. The cliffs at Runswick Bay jut out into the sea and it is shaped like a crocodile head. The locals tell their children that at night the crocodile opens his mouth and eats the sailors! The beauty spot has just one hotel, a shop and a pub overlooking the beach. It is a great place for rock pooling, fossil hunting and coastal walks, as well as for simply admiring the breathtaking sea views.
In County Derry, you'll find the beautiful Benone Beach, with its seven miles of golden sand and magnificent backdrop of mountain and cliff scenery, as well as breathtaking views across to Donegal. The clean and firm sand at Benone Beach is free of rocks, shingle and seaweed, and it’s perfect for relaxing with a picnic or getting active with water sports.
The very small beach in a rocky cove at Rumbling Kern near Howick is sheltered behind small cliffs that face inland from the sea, which were once used to hide whisky smuggling boats operating up and down the Eastern Seaboard. The hidden beach has a holiday cottage overlooking the rocks, which was the bathing house for nearby Howick Hall.
Tiny Llanddwyn Island, off the west coast of Anglesey, is home to Llanddwyn Beach, a picturesque secluded cove with marvellous views over Snowdonia and the Lleyn Peninsula. Walkers can stroll out to the lighthouse at Abermenai Point or down a path that leads to the Llanddwyn Island National Nature Reserve. The three-mile-long beach is known as the 'Beach of Romance' because princess Dwynwen ran away to Llanddwyn after a love affair went awry and became Wales's own St Valentine.
Queen Victoria’s private beach at Osborne House is now open to the public, which means you can splash about on a beach fit for royalty in the Isle of Wight. The delightful beach features Queen Victoria's seaside seat, the Alcove, which is richly decorated with colourful blue and pink tiles and offers wonderful views across the Solent towards Portsmouth and the Hampshire coast. The views are said to have reminded Victoria of the Mediterranean. When it came to swimming, she had a Bathing Machine to preserve her modesty!
Situated in Durham, Blackhall Rocks is a stunning area of coastline that consists of a two-kilometre stretch of cliffs, a sandy beach and rocky platforms. Here you'll find beautiful views and habitats including neutral grassland, coastal magnesian limestone, scrub and ponds. Look out for the 15 different species of butterfly, from northern brown argus to the cistus forester.
Tucked away between the small seaside towns of Chapel St. Leonard's and Sutton-on-Sea, Anderby Creek beach is unspoilt, quiet and beautiful. The gorgeous stretch of soft sand is backed by dunes and is perfect for sandcastle building, bathing or just strolling. The beach is home to the UK’s first purpose-built cloud viewing platform, with Cloud Menus so you can identify the different formations, use mirrors to reflect different parts of the sky and sit in special cloud-viewing seats to recline and enjoy the view. The Cloud Bar may not serve any booze but it does offer pretty epic cloud spotting.
Two-hour canal journey on a barge? An instant BBC TV hit
Near the small village of Purton lies a ship graveyard left for nature to take its course. Lying on the muddy banks of the River Severn, the broken wooden ships under a sea of wild grass is a sight for sore eyes. On a low tide, you can even spot the wreck of an old cargo ship which sunk in the middle of the river.
West Pier in Brighton, built in 1866 is an iconic symbol of this Victorian seaside destination. Closed and deteriorating since 1975, the silhouette structure bobbing in the water at sunset and circled by starlings is simply magical.
Located dramatically close to a headland that plunges straight into the sea, along the North Antrim coast, Dunluce Castle was the headquarters of the MacDonnell Clan. There is archaeological evidence of a village that surrounded the castle which was destroyed by a fire in 1641. The site was also witness to the sinking of a colony ship that broke up on the rocks off Islay in 1857 with the loss of 240 lives. Constantly fought over, it eventually succumbed to the power of nature, when part of it fell into the sea one stormy night in 1639. It was abandoned shortly afterwards.
Built as a form of defence during WWII, these giant concave mirrors were erected to detect enemy aircrafts. Discarded with the invention of radar, though an unsuccessful tool of warfare, these striking concrete structures are a must-see.
The Cistercian abbey of Tintern is one of the greatest monastic ruins of Wales. From 1131 until 1349 the Abbey was thriving and then the Black Death arrived. This badly affected Abbey life, but it managed to operate until 1536, when it was part of the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII. Within a few years the lead was stripped from the roof and the building began to decay.
Immortalised in pop culture, most notably on the cover of Pink Floyds’ Animals, Battersea Power Station is a significant symbol of London. Now a decommissioned coal-fired power station, it boasts being Europe’s largest brick building with lavish art deco interiors.
Located in the heart of Northumberland International Dark Sky Park stands the guardian fortress between Scotland and England, Harbottle Castle. First built on the orders of King Henry II, it over the centuries it has fallen to ruin, but in the midst of twilight beneath a blanket of stars, visitors can still catch a glimpse of the once proud citadel.
One of the capital’s old Tube stations, the Strand’s station has long been popular as a filming location and has appeared in a number of films. In recognition of its historical significance, it is now a Grade II listed building.
This beautiful expanse of water hides a ghostly past. The remains of a derelict flax mill run down to the shore but beneath the reservoir lies a whole village. When the water is low, the ruins of the village begin to surface, shedding light on the old church, school, cottages, country lanes and garden walls. It is a beautiful spot for wildlife and has been immortalised in crime writer Peter Robinson’s A Dry Season.
Appuldurcombe House was once the grandest house on the Isle of Wight, but now just its shell remains. Positioned on the edge of the village of Wroxall, the front of the partially restored building remains an impressive example of Baroque architecture.
The extensive and picturesque ruins of Minster Lovell Hall are located in a beautiful rural setting beside the River Windrush. Originally home to Richard III's henchman Lord Lovell, one of the richest men in England, it was designed to serve as a symbol of great wealth, but after several changes of hands only the fascinating remains stand today. Approached from the north through the adjacent churchyard, the 15th century site comprises of a fine hall, tower and complete dovecote nearby.
Closed after WWI, Devil’s Dyke covers the deepest dry valley in the world and 200 acres of splendid views into Sussex, Hampshire and Kent. It’s distinctive topography proved it to be a very popular tourist destination in the Edwardian era, boasting two bandstands, an observatory, a camera obscura and fairground rides. Records show that Devil’s Dyke welcomed 30,000 visitors on the August bank holiday of 1893.
Tyneham is Dorset's famous 'lost' village. Left uninhabited for forces training during WW2, the intervening years have left their mark on Tyneham where now only the old church and school house remain. With names on the pegs and schoolwork on the desks, it feels as if only minutes ago the children had run outside to play.
Built originally as a hospital-cum-chapel in the mid-late 10th century, following the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the Old Grammar School in Coventry was set up as a free school under the ruling of King Henry VII. Later moving the school, the old site was visited by Queen Elizabeth I who donated for its upkeep in respect that her father started the foundation.
Devenish Monastic Site was founded in the 6th century by Saint Molaise on one of Lough Erne’s many beautiful islands. During its history it has been raided by Vikings (837AD), burned (1157AD) and flourished (Middle Ages) as a parish church site and St Mary’s Augustine Priory. The island is home to ancient ruins and an impressive 12th century round tower.
Culver Hole is a large sea cave that is believed to date back to the 13th Century. Its entrance is sealed off by a 60ft high wall. Inside is a staircase that leads to four floors, and it is said to have had links to the castle that once stood in Port Eynon. Today, its only inhabitants are pigeons and seagulls.
These small fortified towers were built in the Thames Estuary during World War II to help defend Britain. They were operated as army and navy forts, and were decommissioned in the late 1950s. Their entry ladders were sawn off to prevent trespassers and charity Project Redsand is dedicated to maintaining the towers.
St Kilda was once populated by the unique and hardy Kildians, who due to poverty and starvation were forced to leave these islands in Scotland's Outer Hebrides in the last century. There is an abandoned village on the island where the houses are still relatively intact and stories and folklore about life on St Kilda has been preserved.
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Floating hotels around the world
Two-hour canal journey on a barge? An instant BBC TV hit
Ever wanted to sleep in a yellow submarine? In Liverpool you can spend the night in this colourful abode that pays homage to one of The Beatles' best-known songs. The Yellow Submarine Hotel floats on a mooring in Albert Dock and features gold discs from The Beatles, the mod scooter from the film Quadrophena and interiors from Paris, Italy and New York. The groovy sub is perfect for a weekend away with friends and you can be picked up in a Rolls Royce Phantom if you're arriving at Liverpool or Manchester Airport. From £165 per night for up to eight people.
This super-cool Swedish inn boasts a brilliant location at the shoreline of the island of Kladesholmen on the western side of Tjorn, as well as sea views and a world-class restaurant. Salt & Sill is a 23-room hotel built on pontoons and made of six two-storey clapboard buildings. Inside, the interiors are light and airy, and each room has its own access to an outdoor seating area so you can enjoy the sea air. As the Scandinavians are renowned for their love of saunas, the hotel wouldn't be complete without its own sauna, but this one has a twist - it's a sauna boat designed as a miniature replica of the bigger building resting on a catamaran and reaching speeds of up to 15 knots. From £188 per night including wine and truffles, a three-course dinner and breakfast.
The floating white marble vision that is Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur appears to emerge from the mist on Lake Pichola and occupies a four-acre island surrounded by cypress-shaded courtyards, gardens and fountains. One of India's most famous hotels, Taj Lake Palace is romantic, iconic and graceful. Make a magical entrancy by arriving on a gondola at twilight, with the city's lights twinkling and the Aravalli Mountains as a backdrop. Double rooms from £596 per night.
Experience the thrill of a unique African safari from the deck of your own private suite aboard a luxury 45-metre vessel on the magnificent Chobe River, which divides Botswana from Namibia. The Zambezi Queen features 14 rooms with balconies decorated in a sophisticated, contemporary style. On the top deck of the ship is a dining room, lounge, bar and pool area. The ship was designed to maximise animal sightings and you can enjoy game watching from your room or the top deck. Two-night packages from £1,395 per person from Visions of Africa.
An amazing new development in the Maldives, The Ocean Flower takes its name from a typical Maldivian flower and features 185 stunning waterfront homes connected along a flower-shaped quay. Each floating property comes with its own private pool and there is an array of facilities, such as a pristine beach, restaurants, shops, a diving centre and small private islands for relaxing and enjoying a picnic. From £628,000 to buy.
Denmark's first floating hotel CPH Living is a stylishly converted two-level barge in Copenhagen offering guests a relaxed maritime stay in its 12 rooms. You won't find a spa or restaurant here, but if you're after a unique hotel with minimalist rooms and wonderful waterside vistas, this is the place for you. Head for the huge rooftop terrace for the best views of the city skyline and harbour. Double rooms from £136 per night.
For a luxury adventure, book a stay at King Pacific Lodge in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest on the west coast of British Columbia. This floating wilderness lodge built from native pine, fir, cedar and stone lies on a barge, with 17 guest rooms and suites, a wrap-around deck offering spectacular views, a spa, Jacuzzi and plunge pool. From June to September the hotel is towed from its winter home in Prince Rupert to its summer location in Barnard Harbour. Amazing experiences at the lodge include sea kayaking, whale watching and floatplane tours. Look out for the local orcas, black bears, sea lions and eagles too. From £3,047 for three nights with Kiwi Collection, including scenic flights from Vancouver, gourmet meals with drinks and ecotourism activities, such as whale watching, ocean fishing and hiking.
In Burgundy you can spend the night in this 98-foot barge and experience a relaxing break in France. Down in the open-plan saloon, there are large windows illuminating the black leather sofas, colourful cushions and a kitchen bar where French pastries and yoghurt are laid out for you each morning. The cosy cabins in Wine & Water feature comfortable beds and en-suite showers. Sit on the sundeck with a glass of burgundy to make the most of this floating hotel. From £130 per night.
Discover the Amazon as you enjoy the luxury of floor-to-ceiling windows, Egyptian cotton and fine Peruvian fusion cuisine on a floating adventure. Aqua Expeditions brings boutique five-star luxury to the Amazon River in Peru, with its three, four and seven-night journeys into the remote Pacaya Samiria Reserve. 147-foot vessel Aria features a comfortable lounge, outdoor Jacuzzi, an exercise room and stylish interiors. Three-night Amazon Discovery Cruises from £1,557 per person based on full-board basis.
Set on a wild, remote stretch of the River Kwai, this magical floating hotel in Kanchanaburi offers 55 spacious, bamboo-walled twin rooms and a traditional, close-to-nature hotel experience on a historic river. River Kwai Jungle Rafts is surrounded by the tropical forest and magnificent mountain range, and there's no electricity here - the rooms are cooled by the river beneath and lit with lanterns at night. The floating restaurant serves authentic Thai and international food and there's a jungle bar to relax and take in the stunning surroundings. A wonderful, tranquil place to let your worries float away! £117 per night including breakfast, dinner and roundtrip boat transfer.