Top 10 canal boat holidays for 2014

Pontycysyllte Aqueduct in North Wales

1. Celebrate Shakespeare’s 450th birthday…in 2014 it will be 450 years since the birth of the Bard and 50 years since the reopening of the Stratford Canal. It’s a picturesque six-hour cruise to Stratford upon Avon along the Stratford Canal from our base at Wootton Wawen, near Henley in Arden. Boaters can moor up in Stratford canal basin, a stone’s throw from the Swan Theatre and the town’s shops, restaurants and museums. 2014 canal boat hire prices from Wootton Wawen start at £465 for a short break (three or four nights) on a four berth boat, weekly hire from £660.

2. Travel along Scotland’s lowland canals…new for 2014, we will be offering Alvechurch Sanderling for hire from our Falkirk base – a 60ft wide beam boat with spacious accommodation for up to eight people. Holiday-makers can travel to through the iconic Falkirk Wheel (the world’s first and only rotating boat lift) and on to the Union Canal, reaching Edinburgh in a day and a half. Visitor moorings are available at Edinburgh Quay, just a five-minute walk from Princes Street, with easy access to the City’s many attractions. 2014 Alvechurch Sanderling hire prices start at £825 for a short break, £1255 for a week.

3. Float across ‘The Stream in the Sky’…the Llangollen Canal’s incredible World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in North Wales stands at over 38 metres high above the Dee Valley. With not even a hand rail on the south side of the aqueduct to obscure the stunning views of the valley below, canal boaters literally feel like they are floating above the earth. From our base at Trevor, close to the Aqueduct, holiday-makers can travel to the pretty towns of Llangollen and Ellesmere, taking in the Ellesmere Lakes (AKA the Shropshire Lake District) and Chirk, with its 900-year old Castle. 2014 hire prices from Trevor start at £465 for a short break on a boat for four, weekly hire from £660.

4. Celebrate the Cheshire Ring…After a series of canal restorations, the Cheshire Ring reopened 40 years ago, on 1 April 1974. Narrowboat holiday-makers can celebrate the anniversary by travelling round the canal ring from our base at Anderton on the Trent & Mersey Canal. This popular circuit includes sections of six canals, passing through Manchester City Centre and rural Cheshire, with stunning views of the Peak District and Cheshire Plain. It takes a week to complete, tackling 92 locks, travelling 97 miles in around 55 hours. Weekly hire on a boat for four from Anderton starts at £695.

5. Visit the Hepworth Museum in Wakefield…Travelling gently along the leafy Calder & Hebble Navigation from our base at Sowerby Bridge in West Yorkshire, it takes 12 hours to reach Wakefield, with moorings right outside The Hepworth Wakefield. This inspiring new gallery explores the work of major contemporary artists in one of the UK’s largest purpose-built galleries outside London. 2014 hire prices from Sowerby Bridge start at £435 for a short break (three or four nights) on boat for four, weekly hire from £670.

6. Mark the bicentenary of Foxton Locks…2014 will see the 200th anniversary of the opening of the Foxton Locks on the Grand Union Canal Leicester Line. The Foxton flight consists of two ‘staircases’ of five locks with a pound (or layby) in the middle. The water in the locks is controlled by paddles painted red or white. Red paddles fill the locks, white paddles empty them. Once boaters have started the flight they must continue until they have finished. The lock keeper warns boaters to look carefully at the paddle colours and operate “red before white, you’ll be alright, white before red, you’ll wish you were dead!” Foxton, with its stunning views of the Leceistershire countryside, is five hours from our base at North Kilworth. In 2014, short breaks (three or four nights) on boats for four from North Kilworth start at £465, weekly hire from £660.

7. Travel to beautiful Bath…The World Heritage City of Bath is just six hours by canal boat from our base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Bradford on Avon. Boaters can enjoy views of Bath’s fabulous Georgian architecture and moor up in the city centre, close the Pulteney Bridge to visit the City’s many attractions, including the Roman Baths. 2014 hire prices from Bradford on Avon start at £428 for a short break (three or four nights) on boats for four, weekly hire from £659.

8. Glide through the Brecon Beacons…the beautiful Monmouth & Brecon Canal offers 35 miles of canal surrounded by quiet countryside to explore, with incredible mountain views. From our base at Goytre Wharf near Abergavenny, boaters can journey through the Brecon Beacons National Park from Brecon to Cwmbran, visiting the Georgian town of Crickhowell with its 13th century castle and picturesque Talybont-on-Usk, with walking access to Blaen y Glyn waterfalls. 2014 short breaks on four berth boats from Goytre start at £429, weekly hire from £649.

9. Navigate Europe’s only short break canal circuit…The Droitwich Ring, which takes 16 hours to cruise, covering 21 miles and 33 locks, is the only ring in Europe which can be completed on a short break. Starting from our base at Worcester, boaters can visit the historic Spa town of Droitwich and enjoy stunning views of the Worcestershire countryside along the River Severn. 2014 short breaks on four berth boats from Worcester start from £389, weekly hire from £599.

10. Visit London afloat…from our West London base, canal boat holiday-makers can travel through the heart of London along the Grand Union and Regent’s canals, to the Docklands at Limehouse Basin. The journey passes through picturesque Little Venice, Regent’s Park, London Zoo, Camden Lock, Kings Cross and Victoria Park. There are plenty of safe places to moor with easy access to London’s top attractions, theatres, restaurants and shops. 2014 short break prices from London start at £546 for a five-berth boat, weekly hire from £840.

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