Britain’s beautiful inland waterways are a great place to visit at Spring time, when the countryside is bursting into new life, with blossom on the hedges and waterside trees, birds busy rearing their young, spring lambs playing in the fields and bluebells in waterside woodlands.
To celebrate the arrival of Spring next month, here are our top 8 Spring breaks for 2019:
- Drift through the prehistoric Vale of Pewsey – from our canal boat hire base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Devizes, it takes around 20 hours, travelling 27 miles through 53 locks to reach the historic town of Hungerford, perfect for a week afloat. Along the way, boaters travel up the spectacular flight of 16 locks in a row at Caen Hill and cruise through the beautiful Vale of Pewsey, passing close to prehistoric Avebury and along the edge of the ancient Savernake Forest, home to over 7,000 ‘Ancient’, ‘Veteran’ and ‘Notable’ trees, including the Big Belly Oak believed to be over 1,100 years old. Once at Hungerford, narrowboat holiday-makers can dine at a choice of pubs and browse dozens of antique shops.
- Explore the ancient woods at Skipton Castle – on a short break from Drifters’ narrowboat hire base at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire, boaters can travel to the historic town of Skipton, with its medieval fortress and ancient woods to explore. Skipton’s 900-year old castle is one of the most complete and best preserved medieval castles in England and its extensive woodlands are home to at least 18 species of trees, and hundreds of flowering plants, including wild orchids and bluebells. The journey to Skipton and back takes around seven hours, travelling 13 miles with no locks.
- Glide through the Brecon Beacons – isolated from the main canal network, the beautiful Monmouth & Brecon Canal runs through the Brecon Beacons National Park and offers canal boat holiday-makers incredible mountain views, plenty of wooded sections full of the sound of woodland birds, and a series of historic village pubs to visit along the way. On a short break from our canal boat hire base at Goytre Wharf, near Abergavenny, boaters can cruise lock-free to Llangynidr and back, passing the Lion Inn at Govilon and the Bridge End Inn at Llangattock. On a week’s break, boaters can travel on to Brecon, passing through Talybont-on-Usk, with walks to the waterfalls at Blaen y Glyn and the popular Star and White Hart pubs.
- Boat to Brewood and back – from Drifters boat yard at Gailey on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal, it takes around five hours to reach the historic village of Brewood, with its half-timbered cottages and attractive Georgian houses. The 13-mile journey, which passes through just one lock, takes boaters through beautiful stretches of Shropshire countryside, and passes the waterside Anchor Inn at Cross Green. On reaching Brewood, there’s a choice of pubs, restaurants and tea rooms to dine at, including the canalside Bridge Inn.
- Float across ‘The Stream in the Sky’ – from our narrowboat hire base at Chirk on the beautiful Llangollen Canal in North Wales, the pretty Eisteddford town of Llangollen on the edge of the Berwyn Mountains can be reached on a short break, with the awesome World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct to travel across along the way. Standing at 38 metres high above the Dee Valley, this incredible 300-metre long structure, which celebrates 10 years of World Heritage Status this year, consists of a cast iron trough supported by 18 enormous pillars and 19 elegant arches. On reaching Llangollen, nestled in the hills, visitors can enjoy the town’s independent shops, pubs and restaurants, as well as its Steam Railway and Horseshoe Falls.
- Visit the old mill town of Hebden Bridge – from our base at Sowerby Bridge in West Yorkshire, canal boat holiday-makers can travel along the leafy Calder & Hebble Navigation through the Calder Valley to the old mill town of Hebden Bridge, nestled in a fork in the hills. Climbing through woods, fields and small stone towns, the journey there covers seven miles, passes through 10 locks and takes around five-and-a-half hours. Once at Hebden, visitors can enjoy an amazing variety of shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs, as well as stunning countryside walks with woods, crags and the Calder running alongside.
- Cruise through Shakespeare country – from Drifters’ narrowboat hire base at Wootton Wawen, on the Stratford Canal near Henley-in-Arden, it takes around six hours, travelling through 17 locks to reach Stratford upon Avon. Travelling through the pretty Warwickshire countryside, boaters can stop off along the way to visit Mary Arden’s Tudor Farm in the canalside village of Wilmcote where Shakespeare’s mother grew up, and once in Stratford, moor up in Bancroft Basin, just a stone’s throw from the Swan Theatre and the town’s shops, restaurants and museums.
- Navigate the Cheshire Ring – starting from our boat yard at Anderton, this superb cruising ring, takes boaters on a 97 mile tour through some of the most beautiful Cheshire countryside. The route passes through 92 locks and takes around 55 hours, taking boaters through the heart of Manchester and the Peak District via the Ashton, Macclesfield, Peak Forest, Rochdale, Trent & Mersey and Bridgewater canals. Highlights include the spectacular vertical Anderton Boat Lift, also known as ‘The Cathedral of the Canals’, Dunham Massey Hall and its working Elizabethan Mill alongside the Bridgewater Canal, Manchester’s China Town, the Top Lock at Marple on the Peak Forest Canal with fantastic views of the Peak District, and the Cheshire Plain with its heavily locked ‘Heartbreak Hill’.