Canal boat holidays are great for pets

Canal boat holidays are perfect for dogs, with plenty of towpath walks, dog-friendly canalside pubs and other dogs to meet along the way.

And as well as hundreds of dogs, Drifters canal boat hire operators have accommodated many other kinds of pets aboard their floating holiday homes, including rabbits, hamsters, caged birds, a goldfish and a tortoise.

Drifters director Nigel Stevens explains: “Narrowboats provide a floating holiday home so it is possible to take all sorts of pets on the canals. Most of our operators charge a supplement for a pet of between £25 and £35, but some allow the first pet to go free, so it can work out a lot cheaper to bring your pet along on your holiday and let them enjoy the cruise too!”

Here are our top five canal boat holiday destinations for animal lovers:

1. Visit the Sea Life Centre at Brindleyplace…With over 60 displays of freshwater and marine life, the Sea Life Centre at Brindleyplace in Birmingham is a fantastic destination for animal lovers. Boaters can travel lock-free to Birmingham in just five hours from our base at Tardebigge, and find centrally located over-night moorings at Gas Street Basin. 2014 prices from Tardebigge start at £555 for a short break (three or four nights) on a boat for four, and £790 for a week.

2. Get close to the tigers at ZSL London Zoo…the world’s oldest scientific zoo is right next to the Regent’s Canal in Regent’s Park and is now home to two critically endangered Sumatran tigers and their three cubs. From our West London base on the Grand Union Canal, canal boat holiday-makers can reach the Zoo in just five hours. 2014 hire prices from London start at £594 for a short break on a five berth boat, weekly hire from £963.

3. See David Hockney’s Dachshunds at Saltaire…canal boat holiday-makers can reach Sir Titus Salt’s fascinating model town on a week’s narrowboat holiday from our base at Sowerby Bridge. Saltaire, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was founded on the banks of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal near Bradford in 1851 by Sir Titus Salt, a leading industrialist in the woollen industry. Salts Mill has a number of galleries, including the stunning David Hockney Gallery showing both permanent and temporary collections of the Bradford-born artist’s work, including prints of some of the portraits he has made of his beloved Dachshunds, Stanley and Boogie. 2014 weekly hire from Sowerby Bridge starts at £530 for a two berth boat.

4.Watch Rooney the penguin in training at Chester Zoo…famous for its medieval architecture and city walls, Chester is also home to an award-winning zoo with over 11,000 animals to see. Each year the Zoo’s keepers name their baby penguins after a particular theme and this time round they’ve been named after English World Cup stars, past and present. Rooney the penguin, who hatched in spring, has been moved into a nursery at the zoo to learn how to swim, hunt and feed, along with classmates Gerrard, Banks and Moore. Chester is a seven-hour cruise from our Bunbury base on the Shropshire Union Canal. 2014 prices from Bunbury start at £555 for a short break (three or four nights) on a boat for four, and £790 for a week.

5. Admire the Kelpies at Falkirk…towering a colossal 30 metres above the Forth & Clyde Canal, The Kelpies horse statues form a dramatic gateway to the canal entrance at Falkirk. Constructed of structural steel with a stainless steel outer skin, each of the Kelpies weighs over 300 tonnes. They are the centrepiece of The Helix park and serve as a monument to horse powered heritage across Central Scotland. 2014 prices from our base at Falkirk start at £499 for a short break (three or four nights) on a four berth boat, weekly hire from £913.

Top 10 Summer Holidays on the Canals

Narrowboat holidays offer families the chance to set off on an adventure together – learning how to work the locks, navigate tunnels, spot wildlife, explore traffic-free towpaths and visit historic waterside attractions along the way.

Drifters offers a huge range of family canal boat holidays, with school summer holiday prices starting at £635 for a short break (three or four nights) on a boat for four, and £895 for a week.

All our canal boat hire operators provide hirers with life jackets and boat steering tuition. Bikes can be stored on the roof of the boat and dogs are welcome aboard most of our boats.

1. Glide across ‘The Stream in the Sky’…at over 38 metres high and 305 metres long, the awesome Pontcysyllte Aqueduct on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, is an incredible feat of engineering and offers the canal boat holiday-makers the ride of their lives! Even though boats travel at just four miles an hour, with not even a hand rail on the south side of the aqueduct to obscure panoramic views of the stunning Dee Valley below, boaters literally feels like they are floating above the earth. Travelling along the Llangollen Canal offers the chance to experience one of the UK’s most stunning stretches of waterway, explore Shropshire’s mini lakes teeming with wildlife, visit medieval Chirk Castle and ride the Llangollen Steam Railway. We have bases on the Llangollen Canal at Trevor, Chirk, Wrenbury, Whitchurch and Blackwater Meadow.

2. Explore Skipton & its Medieval Castle…it takes 10 hours (16 miles, 15 locks) for boaters to reach the historic and vibrant market town of Skipton on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, perfect for a week’s holiday from our base at Foulridge on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in Cumbria. Extensive views of sheep country, stone walls, farm houses and the occasional village or small town can be seen along the way. Moorings are available in the town centre of town, where visitors can explore Skipton’s street markets, quirky shops, tea rooms, restaurants and 900 year-old castle.

3. Visit Bristol’s Floating Harbour, home of Blackbeard the Pirate…on a short break from Sydney Wharf in the centre of the beautiful World Heritage City of Bath, canal boat holiday-makers can head west on the River Avon and moor up in Bristol’s Floating Harbour. Once there, families can visit Brunel’s masterpiece, the SS Great Britain, the new Blue Reef Aquarium and find out more about the city’s fascinating marine history, including Blackbeard the Pirate, said to have been born there. The journey to Bristol takes eight hours, passing through 13 locks.

4. Visit Edinburgh Castle and Mary King’s Close…from our base at the incredible Falkirk Wheel on the junction of the Union and Forth & Clyde canals in Scotland, Edinburgh is an 11-hour cruise away. Visitor moorings can be found at Edinburgh Quay, just five minutes from Princes Street. From there, it’s easy to access to the sights of Edinburgh, including the magnificent castle and fascinating Mary King’s Close, frozen in time beneath the Royal Mile.

5. See the shrunken heads at the Pitt Rivers Museum…our base on the beautiful River Thames is just a three-hour cruise from Oxford. Boaters can moor-up close to Hythe Bridge in the city centre and use their boat as a base to explore. The incredible Pitt Rivers Museum, just one of many world-class attractions in Oxford, displays the University’s archaeological and anthropological treasures, including shrunken heads from the Upper Amazon.

6. Travel to Chester by boat…our base at Bunbury, on the Shropshire Union Canal near Tarporley in Cheshire, is just seven hours by boat from historic Chester. Founded as a Roman fort, with striking Medieval and Victorian architecture, Chester is said to be one of the best preserved walled cities in Britain. Visit the city’s vibrant market hall, award-winning zoo, racecourse, trendy bars, shopping malls, restaurants or one of a series of festivals held there across the summer.

7. Enjoy the Pennines afloat…from our base at Sowerby Bridge on the junction of the Rochdale Canal and Calder & Hebble Navigation, a trip to historic Todmorden is the perfect short break destination. Climbing through woods, fields and small stone towns, canal boat holiday-makers pass through the old mill town of Hebden Bridge, nestled in a fork in the hills. The journey there and back covers 20 miles, 32 locks and takes around 16 hours.

8. Travel to Bosworth Field and find out more about King Richard III…from our base at Stretton under Fosse on the North Oxford Canal near Rugby, the beautiful Ashby Canal is the perfect short break destination. The canal passes close to the fascinating site of the Battle of Bosworth Field, where in 1485 King Richard III died and lost his crown to Henry Tudor.

9. Cruise to the home of the Gingerbread Man…our base at Brewood, on the Shropshire Union Canal near Stafford, is a nine-hour cruise from the pretty market town of Market Drayton. Home of gingerbread for the last 200 years, nearly three-quarters of this Saxon settlement was destroyed by fire in 1651 and the Buttercross in the centre of the town still has a bell at the top for people to ring if there’s ever another fire.

10. Potter through the beautiful Leicestershire countryside…our base at Gayton on the Grand Union Canal in Northamptonshire is one of the most popular in the country. Not only is it centrally located and easy to get to (it’s just minutes away from junction 15a of the M1), but it also offers a great variety of cruising routes for boaters, whether novices or experienced navigators. On a week’s cruise, boaters can travel to the historic town of Market Harborough and back via the Foxton staircase of locks, with wonderful views of the Leicestershire countryside and the chance to find out about the intriguing Foxton Inclined Plane boat lift which once operated there.

Drifters’ top 5 canalside pubs

There are hundreds of lovely waterside pubs across the canal network but we’ve put together a list of our top 10:

1. The George at Bathampton is on the Kennet & Avon Canal just half an hour by boat from our canal boat hire base at Bath and two-and-a-half hours from Bradford on Avon. Once a 13th-century monastery, The George is described by the Cool Canals ‘Pub Days Out’ guide as “a vision of Olde England in a building packed with character…priest holes, low ceilings, creaking beams, nooks and crannies and real fires to snuggle up to, give this pub special cosiness.” Part of the Chef & Brewer group, it offers an extensive menu and a range of pub drinks, including cask ale.

2. The Narrowboat Inn at Whittington is a great place to stop-off at on a canal boat holiday on the Llangollen Canal, departing from our Trevor, Chirk, Whitchurch or Blackwater Meadow bases.  It has a lovely canalside beer garden and offers hearty pub food. Visit here and you’ll be following in the foot-steps of Hollywood legends Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart, who enjoyed a meal and a pint or two of Wells Bombardier here as part of their canal boat holiday on the Llangollen back in 2004.

3. The Leigh Arms at Little Leigh is on the Trent & Mersey Canal near Northwich in Cheshire and is a pleasant one-hour cruise from our base at Anderton. This friendly canalside pub offers home-cooked pub food and cask ales. There’s a children’s play area in the pub garden and dogs are welcome in the snug area. The Leigh Arms also offers a varied programme of events.

4. The Fleur de Lys at Lowsonford is a great place to eat and specialises in pies. It’s a three-and-a-half hour cruise from our base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal in Warwickshire. This unspoilt 17th century country pub has low ceilings with oak beams, open fires, real ales, pub games (including a free skittle alley) and cosy and relaxed atmosphere. The pub building was originally a row of three cottages and a barn, which once doubled as the village mortuary. The ghost of Abigail, a frail little girl from the 1800’s, is said to haunt the upper back room.

5. The Foxton Locks at Foxton is a two-and-a-half hour journey from our Market Harborough base and five hours cruise from North Kilworth. This historic family and dog-friendly pub has pretty views, serves traditional pub food and cask ales and offers a large canalside garden. It’s nestled at the bottom of the famous Foxton locks staircase and is close to the Foxton Inclined Plane Museum.

 

Hire a canal boat for Father’s Day

Day boat hire on the canals offers the chance to treat Dads with a fun day out on the water, nourished by a pint and a pub lunch along the way.

We offer day boat hire from ten of our bases, from less than £12 per person. Full tuition is included so those new to canal boating can get the hang of steering, mooring up and working the locks.

Boats are equipped with cutlery, crockery, kettle and most day boats also have a toilet, cooker and fridge.

Here’s a list of our day boat hire centres, suggested day trips and prices for 2014:

Visit the ‘Cathedral of the Canals’ – Drifters’ base at Anderton on the Trent & Mersey Canal in Cheshire, is next to the Anderton Boat Lift. This incredible edifice, also known as ‘the Cathedral of the canals’, looks like some giant three-storey-high iron spider and provides a 50-foot vertical link between two navigable waterways – the River Weaver and the Trent and Mersey Canal. From Anderton, the Leigh Arms at Little Leigh (bridge 209 for Black Price forge) is an easy day trip away. This friendly, canalside pub offers home-cooked pub food and cask ales. ***Day boat hire from Anderton starts at £150 for up to 12 people.

Staffordshire delights – from Drifters’ base at Great Haywood on the Staffs & Worcs Canal near Stafford, cruise to the historic market town of Rugeley and back, through several locks, past Lord Lichfield’s beautiful Shugborough Hall and the delightful Wolseley Arms. The return journey takes six hours. ***Day boat hire from Great Haywood starts at £99 for up to 10 people. £120 on weekends and bank holidays.

Sightseeing along ‘The Shroppie’ – from Drifters’ base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union near Crewe, cruise south past Barbridge and Nantwich to Baddington Bridge. With no locks to negotiate and plenty of pubs en route, it’s a delightful way to spend the day afloat. ***Day boat hire from Bunbury starts at £99 for up to 10 people. £120 on weekends and bank holidays.

Tunnel through rural Worcestershire – from Drifters’ base at Tardebigge on the Worcs & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, cruise north to Kings Norton Junction, a pretty rural route with historic pubs along the way, including the family-friendly Hopwood House at Alvechurch. The route is lock-free but there are three tunnels to pass through. ***Day boat hire from Tardebigge starts at £99 for up to 10 people. £120 on weekends and bank holidays.

Visit ‘The Stream in the Sky’ – Drifters’ base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales is just 20 minutes by boat from the World Heritage site Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. At over 38 metres high and 305 metres long, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct offers stunning views of the Dee Valley below. Day boaters can reach the pretty mountain-side town of Llangollen, famous for its annual Eisteddfod, in two hours. ***Day boat hire from Trevor starts at £110 for up to 10 people. £120 on weekends and bank holidays.

Glide through the Brecon Beacons – from Drifters’ base at Goytre Wharf on the beautiful Monmouth & Brecon Canal near Abergavenny, enjoy incredible mountain views on the two-and-a-half-hour journey to the Star pub at Mamhillad, a short walk from bridge 62. ***Day hire from Goytre starts at £90 for up to 12 people. £105 on weekends and bank holidays.

Explore Shakespeare’s country – from Drifters’ base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal near Stratford Upon Avon, boaters can head south to the pretty village of Wilmcote and back (2.5 hours each way), and enjoy lunch at The Mary Arden Inn. ***Day boat hire from Wootton Wawen starts at £99 for up to 10 people. £120 on weekends and bank holidays.

Take a cruise in Bath – Drifters’ base at Sydney Wharf in the World Heritage City of Bath offers the chance to sample a scenic cruise on one of Britain’s most popular waterways, the Kennet & Avon Canal. Head east to Bathampton and make the historic George Inn, a vision of Olde England and once a 12th century monastery, your lunchtime destination. Or head west into the City Centre, with fantastic views of the City’s famous Georgian architecture. ***Day boat hire from Bath starts at £120 for up to 10 people. £165 on weekends and bank holidays.

Wend your way through Wiltshire – from Drifters’ base at Hilperton Marina in Wiltshire on the Kennet & Avon, cruise east through unspoilt countryside to waterside The Barge Inn at Seend, or head west to historic Bradford on Avon, with its stunning Tithe Barn and plenty of pubs, cafes and restaurants to choose from. ***Day boat hire from Hilperton starts at £105 for up to eight people. £130 on weekends and bank holidays.

Enjoy the rural North Oxford Canal – from Drifters’ base at Stretton-under-Fosse near Rugby, cruise north through open farmland to the pretty village of Ansty with its pottery and Rose & Castle pub. Or head south, travelling through quiet woodland to the village of Newbold, and enjoy home cooked food at the canalside Barley Mow pub. ***Day boat hire from Rugby starts at £150 for a boat for 12 people. £190 on weekends and bank holidays.

Tim & Pru make ‘Grand Canal Journeys’

Often aboard Drifters’ boats, actors and national treasures Timothy West and Prunella Scales star in a new four-part canal adventure TV series on More4.

Approaching their 80’s and determined to keep canal adventuring for as long as they can, ‘Grand Canal Journeys’, which starts next Monday, follows these narrow-boating heroes as they celebrate their golden anniversary with four very special journeys across the canal network of Britain and France.

In the first of the series (10 March), Tim and Pru revisit the picturesque Kennet & Avon Canal, which they helped to save from closure 24 years ago.

Next (17 March), they undertake the strenuous climb up the industrial Pennines on the Rochdale and Huddersfield Narrow canals, and brave the longest underground canal in Britain.

In episode three (24 March), they marvel at the dramatic Welsh scenery and staggering engineering of the Llangollen Canal and in the final installment (31 March), they hop across the channel to see France’s famous Canal du Nivernais in Burgundy.

Each journey reveals the rich and diverse history and culture of canal life, explores the beautiful scenery of Britain’s landscapes and wildlife, and gives Tim and Pru the chance to recreate some of their most treasured family moments with their sons, Sam and Joe.

Top 10 short breaks

With two bank holidays in May on the horizon, we’ve put together our top 10 short break canal boat holidays to help you plan your bank holiday afloat.

1. Experience the World Heritage City of Bath…Bath City centre with its fabulous Georgian architecture, is a delightful seven-hour cruise from our base at Bradford on Avon on the Kennet & Avon Canal in Wiltshire. Along the way narrowboat holiday-makers pass fascinating historic pubs, including The George at Bathampton (once a 12th century monastery), and a series of impressive canal structures, including Avoncliffe and Dundas aqueducts. Short break (three or four nights) prices from our Bradford on Avon canal boat hire base in May start at £551 for a boat for four.

2. Journey along the peaceful Caldon Canal…from our Peak District base at Stoke on Trent on the Trent & Mersey Canal, a trip along Wedgewood’s Caldon Canal is the perfect short break route. One of the quietest and most picturesque canals in Britain, the Caldon Canal was originally built to transport porcelain. It branches off the Trent & Mersey Canal at Etruria near Stoke on Trent and travels 17 miles and 17 locks through the beautiful Churnet Valley to Froghall Wharf. Short break prices from Peak District in May start at £768 for a boat for four people.

3. Enjoy the Pennines afloat…from our base at Sowerby Bridge on the junction of the Rochdale Canal and Calder & Hebble Navigation, a trip to historic Todmorden is the perfect short break destination. Climbing through woods, fields and small stone towns, canal boat holiday-makers first pass through the old mill town of Hebden Bridge, nestled in a fork in the hills, before reaching Todmorden. The journey there and back covers 20 miles, 32 locks and takes around 16 hours. Short break prices from Sowerby Bridge in May start at £685 for a boat for four people.

4. Visit the Medieval City of Chester…from our base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal near Tarporley in Cheshire, Chester is a lovely seven-hour cruise away. Famous for its Medieval architecture and city walls, Chester also offers a vibrant market hall, an award winning zoo, busy racecourse, trendy bards, shopping malls and a huge variety of restaurants. Short break prices from Bunbury in May start at £551 for a boat for four people.

5. Find out more about king Richard III…from our base at Stretton under Fosse on the North Oxford Canal near Rugby, the beautiful Ashby Canal is the perfect short break destination. The canal passes close to the fascinating site of the Battle of Bosworth Field, where in 1485 King Richard III died and lost his crown to Henry Tudor. King Richard’s body was recently found beneath a Leicester car park. Short break prices from Stretton in May start at £527 for a boat for four.

6. Cruise into the heart of Birmingham…Brindley Place is just a five-hour cruise from our canal boat hire base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove. With more canals than Venice, Birmingham simply has to be visited by water. City centre moorings are available at Gas Street Basin with easy access to the Mailbox and Bullring shopping centres, theatres, museums and restaurants. Short break prices from Tardebigge in May start at £551 for a boat for four.

7. Visit Braunston canal village at the heart of the canal network…from our base at Gayton on the Grand Union Canal in Northamptonshire, it’s a peaceful day’s cruise to Braunston, passing through the villages of Weedon and Norton. Situated at the junction of the Oxford and Grand Union canals, Braunston is said to be ‘at the heart of the UK canal system’. The main village is high on a hill above the canals, with plenty of pubs serving good food and a fish and chip shop. Short break prices from Gayton in May start at £621 for a boat for four.

8. Navigate the Droitwich Ring…our base at Worcester on the River Severn is on 21-mile long Droitwich Ring – the only cruising ring in Europe which can be completed on a short break. The 16-hour journey, which includes 33 locks, takes boaters through the historic Spa town of Droitwich and along the River Severn, with stunning views of the Worcestershire countryside. Short break prices from Worcester in May start at £585 for a boat for four.

9. Enjoy the beautiful Llangollen Canal…from our base at Chirk on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, the picturesque town of Llangollen with walking access to the famous Horseshoe Falls, is an eight-hour cruise away. The journey includes traversing the awesome 305-metre long World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which towers 38 metres high above the Dee Valley. Definitely not for the feint-hearted! Short break prices from Chirk in May start at £768 for a boat for four.

10. Cruise to trendy Camden Lock…from our base on the Grand Union Canal in West London, Little Venice and Paddington Basin are just a four-hour cruise away. Narrowboat holiday-makers can use their canal boat as a base to visit some of the Capital’s attractions. Just an hour further along the Regent’s Canal, boaters will reach Camden Lock, London’s most popular open air market area with vibrant shopping and entertainment areas, live music, comedy, cafes and bars. Short break prices from London in May start at £735 for a boat for four.

Hire a canal boat for Mother’s Day

Day boat hire on the canals offers the chance to spoil hard-working Mums with a relaxing day floating along a canal or river, nourished by a posh picnic afloat or a pub lunch along the way.

Drifters offers day boat hire from nine of its bases, from less than £12 per person. Full tuition is included so those new to canal boating can get the hang of steering, mooring up and working the locks.  Boats are equipped with cutlery, crockery and a kettle and most day boats also have a toilet, cooker and fridge.

Here’s a list of our bases offering day hire, plus suggested journeys and 2014 prices:

Visit ‘The Stream in the Sky’ – our base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales is just 20 minutes by boat from the World Heritage site Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. At over 38 metres high and 305 metres long, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct offers stunning views of the Dee Valley below. Day boaters can reach the pretty mountain-side town of Llangollen, famous for its annual Eisteddfod, in two hours. Day boat hire from Trevor starts at £110 for up to 10 people. £120 on weekends and bank holidays.

Glide through the Brecon Beacons – from our’ base at Goytre Wharf on the beautiful Monmouth & Brecon Canal near Abergavenny, enjoy incredible mountain views on the two-and-a-half-hour journey to the Star pub at Mamhillad, a short walk from bridge 62. Day hire from Goytre starts at £90 for up to 12 people. £105 on weekends and bank holidays.

Explore Shakespeare’s country – from our base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal near Stratford Upon Avon, boaters can head south to the pretty village of Wilmcote and back (2.5 hours each way), and enjoy lunch at The Mary Arden Inn. Day boat hire from Wootton Wawen starts at £99 for up to 10 people. £120 on weekends and bank holidays.

Take a cruise in Bath – Our base at Sydney Wharf in the World Heritage City of Bath offers the chance to sample a scenic cruise on one of Britain’s most popular waterways, the Kennet & Avon Canal. Head east to Bathampton and make the historic George Inn, a vision of Olde England and once a 12th century monastery, your lunchtime destination. Or head west into the City Centre, with fantastic views of the City’s famous Georgian architecture. Day boat hire from Bath starts at £120 for up to 10 people. £165 on weekends and bank holidays.

Wend your way through Wiltshire – from our base at Hilperton Marina in Wiltshire on the Kennet & Avon, cruise east through unspoilt countryside to waterside The Barge Inn at Seend, or head west to historic Bradford on Avon, with its stunning Tithe Barn and plenty of pubs, cafes and restaurants to choose from. Day boat hire from Hilperton starts at £105 for up to eight people. £130 on weekends and bank holidays.

Experience the rural North Oxford Canal – from our base at Stretton-under-Fosse near Rugby, cruise north through open farmland to the pretty village of Ansty with its pottery and Rose & Castle pub. Or head south, travelling through quiet woodland to the village of Newbold, and enjoy home cooked food at the canalside Barley Mow pub. Day boat hire from Rugby starts at £150 for a boat for 12 people. £190 on weekends and bank holidays.

Staffordshire delights – from our base at Great Haywood on the Staffs & Worcs Canal near Stafford, cruise to the historic market town of Rugeley and back, through several locks, past Lord Lichfield’s beautiful Shugborough Hall and the delightful Wolseley Arms in Wolseley Bridge. The return journey takes six hours. Day boat hire from Great Haywood starts at £99 for up to 10 people. £120 on weekends and bank holidays.

Sightseeing along ‘The Shroppie’ – from our base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union near Crewe, cruise south past Barbridge and Nantwich to Baddington Bridge. With no locks to negotiate and plenty of pubs en route, it’s a delightful way to spend the day afloat. Day boat hire from Bunbury starts at £99 for up to 10 people. £120 on weekends and bank holidays.

Tunnel through rural Worcestershire – from our base at Tardebigge on the Worcs & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, cruise north to Kings Norton Junction, a pretty rural route with historic pubs along the way, including the family-friendly Hopwood House at Alvechurch. The route is lock-free but there are three tunnels to pass through. Day boat hire from Tardebigge starts at £99 for up to 10 people. £120 on weekends and bank holidays.

Take a Canal Boat Holiday this Easter

Easter is a great time of year to take to the water and watch the countryside bursting back to life – with newborn lambs, spring flowers and hedgerows buzzing with busy birds.

Many canalside attractions, like Cadbury’s World near Birmingham and the Anderton Boat Lift in Cheshire, will be hosting special Easter events, so why not pack-up and ship-out for some Easter holiday fun afloat.

Easter prices start at £495 for a short break (three or four nights) and £715 for a week on a boat for four.  Here are our top 10:

1. Boat to Birmingham…Boaters can travel lock-free to Birmingham in just five hours from our canal boat hire base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, stopping off along the way to sample the delights of Cadbury World. With more canals than Venice, there’s no better way to travel into Birmingham City Centre where over-night moorings are available close to Brindley Place. There’s plenty for families in Britain’s second city, including a visit to the Sea Life Centre at Brindley Place or take in a show at the famous Hippodrome. Short breaks on a boat for four from Tardebigge over Easter start at £595, weekly breaks from £855.

2. Visit Georgian Bath…on a short break from our base at Bradford on Avon in Wiltshire, boaters can travel along the beautiful Kennet & Avon Canal and reach the centre of the World Heritage City of Bath in seven hours. As well as stunning architecture, great shopping and restaurants, Bath has many family attractions, including the Roman Baths and the Theatre Royal. Easter short breaks on a boat for four from Bradford on Avon start at £620, weekly cruises from £800.

3. Take a lift up ‘the Cathedral of the Canals’…from our base at Anderton at the junction of the River Weaver and Trent & Mersey Canal, a journey through the incredible Anderton Boat Lift is a must. Perched on the banks of the River Weaver like some giant three-storey-high spider, the lift provides a 50-foot vertical link between the two waterways. From Anderton, a short break could take you to the lovely medieval town of Nantwich or travel to Chester and back on a week’s holiday. Prices from Anderton at Easter start at £769 for a short break on a boat for four, £1179 for a week.

4. Travel across ‘the Stream in the Sky’…standing over 38 metres high and 305 metres long, the awesome Pontcysyllte Aqueduct on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, is an incredible feat of engineering. Though canal boats travel at just four miles an hour, with not even a hand rail on the south side of the aqueduct to obscure panoramic views of the stunning Dee Valley below, boaters literally feels like they are floating above the earth! From our base at Trevor, just 20-minutes by boat from the Aqueduct, hirers can travel along the Llangollen Canal, experiencing one of the UK’s most beautiful stretches of waterway, and meeting the Shropshire mini lakes and historic Chirk Castle along the way. Short breaks on a boat for four from Trevor at Easter start from £595, weekly cruises from £855.

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. Easter 2014 hire prices start at £695 for a short break (three or four nights) on boat for four, weekly hire from £1050.

6. Explore the Brecon Beacons afloat… the beautiful Monmouth & Brecon Canal offers 35 miles of 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. Easter 2014 short breaks (three or four nights) on a boat for four people from Goytre start at £769, weekly hire from £1179.

7. Discover ‘the City of Dreaming Spires’ afloat…our Oxford base at Eynsham on the River Thames is a three-hour cruise from Oxford City Centre, where boaters can find moorings within walking distance of city centre attractions. Just some of the of the exciting things to do in Oxford include: climbing the 14th century Carfax Tower to take in a view of Oxford’s ‘dreaming spires’; seeing the witch in the bottle and shrunken heads at the Pitt Rivers Museum; discovering the real Harry Potter Hogwarts Hall at Christ Church College; and stocking-up on goodies in the Covered Market. Easter prices from Oxford start at £595 for a short break (three or four nights) and £855 for a week on a boat for four.

8. Visit the Peak District and Water World…our base at Stoke-on-Trent on the Trent & Mersey Canal is on the National Garden Festival Site, the home of Water World, a dry ski-slope, multi-screen cinema, ten pin bowling and large shopping centre. This canal boat hire base offers a huge variety of routes for both beginners and experienced boaters. On a short break, travel through the stunning Churnet Valley along the Caldon Canal and to the Churnet Valley railway and the Black Lion Pub at Consall Forge. On a week’s break, intrepid boaters can navigate the 111-mile long Four Counties Ring, stopping off along the way at the Wedgewood Factory, Lord Lichfield’s historic working estate at Shugborough Hall and Churche’s Mansion in Nantwich. Short breaks on a boat for four from Stoke on Trent over Easter start at £621, weekly hire from £956.

9. Travel through rural Northamptonshire…our base at Gayton on the Grand Union Canal in Northamptonshire is one of the most popular in the country. Not only is it centrally located and easy to get to (it’s just minutes away from junction 15a of the M1), but it also offers a great variety of cruising routes for boaters, whether novices or experienced navigators. A short break (four nights) could take boaters south to Fenny Stratford and back, cruising through delightful countryside and the picturesque village of Stoke Bruerne, with its friendly waterside pubs and fascinating Canal Museum. On a week’s cruise, head to the historic town of Market Harborough via the Foxton staircase of locks, with wonderful views of the Leicestershire countryside and the chance to find out about the intriguing Foxton Inclined Plane boat lift which once operated there. Short breaks on a boat for four from Gayton over Easter start at £769, weekly breaks from £1179.

10. Visit Edinburgh Castle & Mary King’s Close…from our base at the incredible Falkirk Wheel in Scotland, Edinburgh is an 11-hour cruise away along the Union Canal.  On the way, boaters pass through the pretty villages of Ratho and Linlithgow.  Once there, visitor moorings can be found at Edinburgh Quay, providing easy access to the sights of Edinburgh, including the magnificent castle and fascinating Mary King’s Close, frozen in time beneath the Royal Mile.  On a week’s holiday, boaters could also travel to Glasgow, home of this year’s Commonwealth Games.  Short breaks from Falkirk at Easter start at £656, weekly hire from £1010.

 

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Take to the canals for half term

A number of our canal boat hire bases offer winter cruising, giving families the chance to get afloat in the February half term holidays.

Narrowboat holidays are fantastic for families – setting off on an adventure together, learning how to work the locks, navigate tunnels, speak the boating lingo, spot wildlife, explore traffic-free towpaths and visit waterside attractions along the way.

All our operators provide hirers with life jackets and boat steering tuition. Bikes can be stored on the roof of the boat and dogs are welcome aboard most hire boats.

Today’s canal boats are fully equipped with all the essential mod cons, including central heating, hot water, televisions and DVD players. Some boats also have their own multi-fuel stove, so whatever the weather it’s always nice and cosy on board.

Here’s a list of our bases offering winter cruising and ideas of where to go:

Potter through rural Leicestershire…from our base at Market Harborough, canal boat holiday-makers can explore the beautiful Leicestershire countryside afloat. On a short break, head to the pretty village of Crick and back, along the Leicester Line of the Grand Union Canal. On a week’s holiday, boaters can travel to Loughborough via Leicester and visit to the National Space Centre. Prices from Market Harborough over the Feb half term start at £731 for a short break (three or four nights), £1,121 for a week.

Visit Georgian Bath…its just a two-hour cruise to Bath City Centre from our base at Sydney Wharf on the Kennet & Avon Canal, giving boaters the chance to explore Georgian Bath. With stunning architecture, great shopping and restaurants, and its famous Roman Baths, Bath is a fantastic destination for all the family. Prices from Bath over Feb half term start at £465 for a short break on a four berth, weekly hire from £660.

Float across the ‘Stream in the Sky’…the beautiful 46-mile Llangollen Canal is one of the most popular canals on the inland waterway network, and navigating the awe-inspiring World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, soaring nearly 40 metres high above the rushing waters of the River Dee, is an unforgettable experience. From our base at Trevor, right next to the aqueduct, a short break to Ellesmere and back, offers the chance to travel over the aqueduct and explore the beautiful Vale of Llangollen. Short breaks on a four berth boat from Trevor over Feb half term, start at £465, weekly hire from £745.

Chug along the Oxford Canal…On a short break from our base at Stretton-under-Fosse near Rugby, boaters can head south along the beautiful Oxford Canal to Braunston, winding through classic scenery, much of which hasn’t changed for centuries. On a week’s holiday, continue south to Banbury via Napton and Fenny Compton. Short breaks from Stretton over Feb half term start at £731, weekly hire from £1,121.

Head for the bright lights of Birmingham…the vibrant City of Birmingham with moorings close to Brindley Place, is just a five-hour cruise away from our base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove. With more canals than Venice, there’s no better way to travel into Birmingham City Centre and there’s plenty for families to see and do in Britain’s second city, including a visit to the Sea Life Centre at Brindley Place or a show at the famous Hippodrome. Short breaks from Tardebigge over Feb half term start at £465, weekly hire from £660.

Explore the Potteries in Staffordshire…from our base at Great Haywood on the junction of the Staffs & Worcs and Trent & Mersey canals in Staffordshire, a variety of lovely rural routes are on offer. On a week’s cruise, boaters can travel along the Shropshire Union Canal to historic Market Drayton, home of the gingerbread man. On a short break, head through quiet countryside to the South Staffordshire village of Coven. Short breaks from Great Haywood over Feb half term start from £465, weekly hire from £660.

Wend through rural Wiltshire…from our base at historic Bradford on Avon, with its stunning medieval Tithe Barn, on a short break canal boat holiday-makers can head east along the beautiful Kennet & Avon Canal to the bottom of the incredible 29-lock Caen Hill Flight at Devizes. Short breaks from Bradford on Avon over Feb half term start from £595, weekly hire from £860.

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Spend Valentine’s Day Afloat

Brindley Place in Birmingham

A number of our canal boat hire bases offer winter cruising and romantic boats for two, giving couples the chance to escape on board their very own love boat.

Once afloat, cuddle up for a romantic evening afloat, or stop-off at historic country pubs with roaring log fires.

Our boats are fully equipped with all the essential mod cons, including central heating, hot water, televisions and DVD players. Some boats also have their own multi-fuel stove, so whatever the weather it’s always nice and cosy on board.

It’s free to moor almost everywhere on the waterway network, so a canal boat could provide the perfect romantic hide-away in the countryside miles from anywhere, or a base to explore romantic waterside destinations like Georgian Bath.

Short breaks over Valetine’s Day start from £465, weekly hire from £660. Here’s a list of our boat yards offering winter cruising and ideas of where to go:

Visit Georgian Bath…our base at Sydney Wharf in the centre of the World Heritage City of Bath offers the chance to enjoy Valentine’s afloat in one of Britain’s most romantic places. With world-famous museums, galleries, shops and restaurants and some of the finest Georgian architecture in Britain, Bath makes a fantastic destination for couples.

Float across the ‘Stream in the Sky’…the beautiful 46-mile Llangollen Canal is one of the most popular canals on the inland waterway network, and navigating the awe-inspiring 300metre-long World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, soaring nearly 40 metres high above the rushing waters of the River Dee, is tantamount to free flight. What a place to propose?! From our base at Trevor, right next to the aqueduct, a short break to Ellesmere and back, offers the chance to travel over the aqueduct and explore the beautiful Vale of Llangollen and Shropshire Lake District.

Chug along the Oxford Canal…On a short break from our base at Stretton-under-Fosse near Rugby, boaters can head south along the beautiful Oxford Canal to Braunston, winding through classic scenery, much of which hasn’t changed for centuries. On a week’s holiday, canal boat holiday-makers can continue south to Banbury, via the villages of Napton and Fenny Compton.

Head for the bright lights of Birmingham…the vibrant City of Birmingham with moorings close to Brindley Place, is just a five-hour cruise away from our base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove. With no locks to negotiate, there’s plenty of time to cuddle-up together at the tiller!

Explore the Potteries in Staffordshire…our base at Great Haywood at the junction of the Staffs & Worcs and Trent & Mersey canals in Staffordshire offers a variety of rural routes. On a week’s cruise, boaters can travel along the Shropshire Union Canal to historic Market Drayton, home of the gingerbread man. On a short break, head through quiet countryside to the South Staffordshire village of Coven.

Wend through rural Wiltshire…from our base at historic Bradford on Avon, with its stunning medieval Tithe Barn, on a short break canal boaters can head east along the beautiful Kennet & Avon Canal to the bottom of the Caen Hill Flight at Devizes. The journey passes through rural Wiltshire, where canalside pubs with log fires offer a warm welcome along the way.