Top 10 reasons why canal boat holidays are great for families

 

  1. It’s the fastest way to slow down: canal boat holidays give families the chance escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and the hectic school run.  And slowing right down to four miles per hour allows everyone to live life in the moment again;
  2. Embark on a new adventure together: families can work together as a team to master navigation skills, operate the locks and venture into the world of narrowboat holidays together – with true bonding potential!;
  3. It’s fun to learn the boating lingo: canal boat hire offers the chance to learn the language of boating, with words like ‘windlass’, ‘winding hole, ’tiller’ and ‘stern’, to name but a few;
  4. Watch out for wildlife: canals are havens for wildlife so families can enjoy spotting animals together.  From the flashing blue of the kingfisher and bats skimming the water at dusk to the ‘plop’ of the watervole and the hoot of an owl, there’s always something special to look and listen out for;
  5. A break from the usual evening routine: most of our boats have televisions and DVD players but why not take the chance to dust-off long neglected cards and board games for cosy onboard evening entertainment;
  6. Enjoy exciting waterside attractions along the way: there are many family attractions to found close to the water’s edge, including the Sea Life Centre in Birmingham, SS Great Britain in Bristol, Waterworld near Stoke on Trent, Cadbury World near Warwick, the Swan Theatre in Stratford Upon Avon and Sir Titus Salt’s model town at Saltaire;
  7. Enjoy the great outdoors: keep fit together by exploring mile upon mile of traffic-free towpaths by foot or by bike;
  8. Breathe in plenty of fresh air: whether standing at the tiller with a cuppa or jumping off to work the locks, the whole family will be breathing in buckets of fresh air, guaranteeing a peaceful night’s sleep;
  9. History is all around: most of our canals were constructed over 200 years ago and thousands of historic structures make up the waterway system, including the soaring majesty of the World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, the extraordinary Anderton Boat Lift AKA “The Cathedral of the Canals”, and the awesome three-mile long Standedge Tunnel in Yorkshire; and

10.  It’s the greener way: a boating holiday is estimated to be some 20 times better for the planet than spending two hours flying for a holiday overseas and as soon as you swap your car for your hire boat, you’ll be using a third of the fuel and emitting a sixth of the pollution.  

 

Take a romantic canal boat holiday for two this Valentine’s

Cosy double berths, wood burning stoves, frosty towpaths and still moorings make canals the perfect romantic hideaway.

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

Once afloat, light the on-board wood-burning stove and cuddle up for a romantic evening afloat or stop-off at historic country pubs with roaring log fires.

Today’s narrowboats are fully equipped with all the essential mod cons, including central heating, hot water, televisions and DVD players, 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 for exploring exciting waterside destinations like Bath, Chester and Birmingham.

Here’s a list of boat yards offering winter narrowboat holidays and ideas of where to go:

  • Enjoy Valentine’s Day afloat in Bath…Drifters’ 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.  And if you fancy a cruise, you can head east along the beautiful Kennet & Avon Canal to historic Bradford on Avon with its early Saxon church and mediaeval tithe barn. Short breaks from Bath over Valentine’s Day start at £525, weekly hire from £745.
  • Visit the romantic ‘Stream in the Sky’the beautiful 46-mile Llangollen Canal is one of the most popular on the inland waterway network, and navigating the awe-inspiring 300metre 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 Drifters’ hire 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.  Short breaks from Trevor over Valentine’s Day start at £465, weekly hire from £660.
  • Head for the bright lights of Birmingham…the vibrant City of Birmingham with city centre moorings at Gas Street Basin is just a five-hour cruise away from Drifters base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, making it the perfect journey for beginners.  Short breaks from Tardebigge over Valentine’s Day start at £465, weekly hire from £660.
  • Visit Mediaeval Chester…from Drifters’ base at Bunbury you can reach the ancient City of Chester on a short break, travelling along the Shropshire Union Canal.  Chester boasts a vibrant market hall, an award winning zoo, busy racecourse, trendy bars, shopping malls and restaurants.  Or head to the historic market town of Middlewich on the junction of the Trent & Mersey and Shropshire Union Canals.  Short breaks from Bunbury over Valentine’s Day start at £465, weekly hire from £660.
  • Explore the Potteries in Staffordshire…Drifters’ base at Great Haywood at the junction of the Staffs & Worcs and Trent & Mersey canals in Staffordshire offers a variety of routes.  On a week’s cruise travel to historic Market Drayton, home of the gingerbread man along the Shropshire Union.  On a short break, head through quiet countryside to the South Staffordshire village of Coven on the Staffs & Worcs Canal.  Short breaks from Great Haywood over Valentine’s Day start from £465, weekly hire from £660.

Visit the Montgomery Canal

Although only seven miles of this incredibly beautiful and remote canal is currently navigable, a narrowboat holiday along The Monty is a must for wildlife enthusiasts.

Once derelict, the Montgomery Canal reverted back to nature so well that much of it has become a haven for rare plants and animals and some sections have been designated Sights of Special Scientific Importance (SSSIs).

Authorised by an act of parliament in 1794, the canal runs for 38 miles from its junction with the Llangollen at Frankton Locks near Ellesmere in Shropshire to Newtown in Montgomeryshire, now part of Powys.

While most canals could generate enough income from the cargo they carried to be financially viable, the Montgomery Canal was built to transport lime for agricultural purposes.  Local landowners and promoters of the canal hoped to achieve a return on their investment through greater crop yields, rather than the more usual share dividends.

Partly because of the late arrival of railways in the area, the canal remained profitable until after the First World War.  But from then it became increasingly run down and was sadly officially abandoned in 1944.

Thanks to the dogged restoration efforts of the Shropshire Union Canal Society, boaters can now travel through six locks as far as Queens Head, passing over the new single span Perry Aqueduct.

Volunteer working parties continue to work towards full restoration for boats but the stretch already opened has much to offer the canal boat holiday-maker.

The route is incredibly quiet and rural and access to the canal is controlled by the lock keeper at Welsh Frankton, allowing only a limited number of boats on the length at any one time.  This helps to create a delicate balance between the needs of a navigation built for boats with the important ecology that is now established there.

A further isolated 17 mile section is usable through Welshpool and canoeists can access almost the entire canal, apart from the three mile dry section between Redwith Bridge and Llaymynech.  Thankfully, the towpath runs the full length, giving full access to walkers.

Just some of the waterways’ highlights include: historic warehouses at Rednal and Queens Head; pubs, restaurants, bike and canoe hire at the pretty village of Maesbury Marsh; the nature reserves at Aston Top Lock; angling at Gronwen; the stone built Vyrnwyn Aqueduct; and the market town of Welshpool, with its medieval timber castle.

Our nearest canal boat hire bases are at Blackwater Meadow near Ellesmere in Shropshire and at Chirk in Wrexham, both on the Llangollen Canal.

 

DRIFTERS TOP 10 CANAL BOAT HOLIDAYS FOR 2013

  1. Take a one-way trip through the Pennines…One of the great canal journeys this takes you across the backbone of England and through the heart of West Riding, in scenery varying from the timeless calm of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal summit to the hubbub of Leeds waterfront.  Highlights: the Stanley Ferry aqueducts; Leeds waterfront and Royal Armouries Museum; Sir Titus Salt’s Italianate mills and model town at Saltaire; Bingley Five Rise of locks; spectacular views of the Yorkshire Dales; and Foulridge Tunnel driven through the top of the Pennies.  Bases: Drifters One-way trips start either at the junction of the Rochdale Canal and Calder & Hebble Navigation in Sowerby Bridge in Yorkshire or on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal Foulridge in Lancashire.  Prices: a week’s hire on a boat for four people starts at £825, rising to £1500 in the peak of the summer holidays.  Fuel is included.  First pet goes free.  Transfers for four people cost £40.
  2. Float across ‘The Stream in the Sky’…the Llangollen Canal’s awesome 305-metre long 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!  Journey highlights: the picturesque town of Llangollen and its access to Horseshoe Falls; Ellesmere lakes (the Shropshire Lake District) teeming with wildlife; Chirk Castle; and the historic market town of Whitchurch.  Bases: Trevor is the closest base to the aqueduct, just 20-minutes cruise away but Drifters also has bases on the Llangollen at Chirk, Wrenbury, Whitchurch and Blackwater Meadow.  Prices: start at £385 for a short break and £595 for a week.
  3. Travel on a luxury boat to Bath…dozens of new boats are being introduced to the Drifters fleet for holidays 2013, including the new ‘Lark’ class at Hilperton on the Kennet & Avon Canal in Wiltshire near Trowbridge.  These six-berth boats have same extra special features such as wider beds, a TV in the bedroom as well as the saloon and a front deck table – perfect for al fresco dining.  From Hilperton, the World Heritage City of Bath is a day and half’s peaceful cruise away along the beautiful Kennet & Avon Canal.  Or pick up the new four-berth ‘Bond’ class boat from Bradford on Avon, just a seven-hour cruise from Bath City Centre.  Special features on ‘Bond’ boats include an extra shower room, a large stern and foredeck and a solid fuel stove.  Journey highlights: Bath’s fabulous Georgian architecture, Thermae Spa, shops, restaurants and museums; the stunning Medieval Tithe Barn at Bradford on Avon; and The George at Bathampton, once a 12th century monastery.  Bases: Hilperton and Bradford on Avon on the Kennet & Avon Canal in Wiltshire.  Prices: a short break on a ‘Bond’ Class boat from Bradford on Avon starts at £560 and weekly hire from £800.  A short break on a ‘Lark’ starts at £585 and a week’s hire from £895.
  4. Glide through the Brecon Beacons…isolated from the main canal network, the beautiful Monmouth & Brecon Canal offers 35 miles of quiet countryside.  Running through the Brecon Beacons National Park from Brecon to Cwmbran it has few locks but incredible mountain views.  Journey highlights: the wonderful Georgian town of Crickhowell with 13th century castle; picturesque Talybont-on-Usk with access to Blaen y Glyn waterfalls; and Brecon with its cathedral, castle ruins and stunning Georgian architecture.  Base: Goytre Wharf on the Mon & Brec near Abergavenny.  Prices: start at £455 for a short break and £695 for a week on a five berth.
  5. Discover Europe’s only short break canal circuit…50 years ago campaigning began to restore the Droitwich Canals and they finally reopened in 2011, creating the only cruising ring in Europe which can be completed on a short break.  The Droitwich Ring takes 16 hours to cruise, covering 21 miles and 33 locks.  It incorporates the River Severn and the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, as well as the Droitwich Canals. Journey highlights: the historic Spa town of Droitwich; the Hanbury flight of locks; stunning views of the Worcestershire countryside along the River Severn; and the beautiful City of Worcester with its stunning 12th century cathedral.  Bases: Drifters base at Worcester is on the ring and Stoke Prior is just a few miles north of the ring on the Worcester & Birmingham.  Prices: start at £412 for a short break and £634 for a week on a boat for four.
  6. Cruise into the heart of Birmingham and take in a show…boasting 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 Brindley Place, the Mailbox and Bullring shopping centres, theatres, museums and restaurants.  In 2013, Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery is holding a special exhibition of The Staffordshire Hoard Anglo-Saxon collection and War Horse comes to the Birmingham Hippodrome in the autumn. Journey highlights:  Brindley Place and Gas Street Basin.  Bases: Drifters base at Tardebigge is just a five-hour lock-free cruise away from Birmingham City Centre.  Birmingham is also accessible on a week’s break from Drifters bases at Alvechurch and Stoke Prior.  Prices: start at £465 for a short break and £660 for a week on a four berth boat.
  7. Visit Scotland’s lowland canals and experience the World’s first rotating boat lift…Built as part of the Millennium Link project to restore the canals linking the east and west coasts of Scotland, The Falkirk Wheel is the world’s first and only rotating boat lift.  Standing at a height of 35 metres, it moves boats between the Union and Forth & Clyde canals, replacing a flight of 11 locks dismantled in 1933.  It can carry up to 600 tonnes and uses just 1.5KWh of energy to turn – the same amount as it would take to boil eight kettles.  Once the Wheel has taken you up, boaters can travel along the peaceful 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 fantastic museums, shops, restaurants and its world-famous castle.  Highlights: the Falkirk Wheel; the pretty canal villages of Ratho and Linlithgow; and the bright lights of Edinburgh.  Bases:  Drifters has two bases at the Falkirk Wheel.  Prices: start at £455 for a short break and £695 for a week on a boat for four.
  8. Meander through the heart of England on the Warwickshire Ring…the popular Warwickshire Ring combines stretches of beautiful unspoilt countryside with exciting urban centres, including Birmingham and Warwick.  It covers 101 miles, 94 locks and takes 48 hours of cruising, so can be done is a week but there’s more time for sight-seeing on a two week break.  The journey includes stretches of the Grand Union, Oxford, Coventry and Birmingham & Fazeley canals.  Journey highlights: the pretty canal village of Braunston; the awesome Hatton Flight of 21 locks; Warwick Castle; Leamington Spa; and Birmingham’s Gas Street Basin.  Bases: Stretton, Rugby and Napton on the North Oxford Canal in Warwickshire.  Prices: start at £595 for a week.
  9. Enjoy a short break on Wedgwood’s Caldon Canal…one of the quietest and most picturesque canals in Britain, the Caldon Canal is a branch of the Trent & Mersey Canal and was originally built to transport porcelain.  The Caldon travels 17 miles and uses 17 locks from its junction with the Trent & Mersey Canal at Etruria near Stoke on Trent, through the beautiful Churnet Valley to Froghall Wharf.  The journey is ideal for newcomers to canal boat holidays and can easily be done on a short break.  Journey highlights: stunning views along the River Churnet; the Black Lion Pub at Consall Forge; and the Churnet Valley Railway.  Bases: Stoke on Trent at the junction of the Caldon and Trent & Mersey Canals in Staffordshire.  Prices: short breaks start at £412, weekly hire from £634.

10. Visit London afloat and see an unexpected side of the Capital…travel through the heart of London, starting on the Grand Union Canal at Greenford in West London and finishing in the docklands in the east at Limehouse Basin, where the Regent’s Canal meets the mighty River Thames.  Along the way you’ll see a quieter more peaceful side of the Capital, passing through Little Venice, Regent’s Park, London Zoo and Victoria Park.  There are plenty of safe places to moor with easy access to London’s top attractions, theatres, restaurants and shops.  Journey highlights: passing over the North Circular and watching the queues of traffic as you glide on by; pretty and tranquil Little Venice with waterside eateries; vibrant Camden Lock and its market; the Victorian Ragged School Museum at Mile End; and Gordon Ramsey’s The Narrow Pub at Limehouse Lock.  Base: London on the Grand Union Canal at Greenford.  Prices: short breaks start at £525, weekly hire from £808.

For more information about Drifters canal boat holidays call 0844 984 0322 or visit www.drifters.co.uk.

Ends

For Drifters press enquiries, including photos and destination details, contact Debbie Walker on 01628 635831/077486 40577 walker.debbie@sky.com

Notes to editors

Drifters Waterway Holidays is made up of a consortium of six hire boat companies: Anglo Welsh, Black Prince, Countrywide Cruisers, Rose Narrowboats, Shire Cruisers and UK Boat Hire.  Between them they offer over 500 boats for hire, operating from 35 bases across the country.  2013 prices start at £355 for a short break and £545 for a week.  Narrowboats range from 42ft to 70ft and can accommodate up to 12 people.  www.drifters.co.uk Tel 0844 984 0322.

 

 

All Aboard a 12 berth Canal Boat!

A canal boat holiday on a boat that sleeps 12 people is a great way to bring family or friends together for an adventure afloat.

It’s also cost effective, with 12 berth canal boat hire prices starting at less than £12 per person per night.

Enjoy dinner parties afloat, get-togethers in waterside pubs, taking it in turns to work the locks and steer the boat, plus days and nights out in exciting waterside city centres, including Birmingham, Bath, Chester and Oxford.

The following Drifters’ bases offer 12 berth canal boats for short break narrowboat holidays or weekly hire:

  • Aldermaston on the Kennet & Avon Canal in West Berkshire;
  • Alvechurch on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal in Worcestershire;
  • Anderton on the junction of the Trent & Mersey Canal and River Weaver Navigation in Cheshire;
  • Bradford on Avon on the Kennet & Avon Canal in Wiltshire;
  • Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire;
  • Gayton on the Grand Union Canal in Northamptonshire;
  • Great Haywood on the Staffs & Worcs Canal in Staffordshire;
  • Hilperton on the Kennet & Avon Canal in Wiltshire;
  • Oxford on the River Thames in Oxfordshire;
  • Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal in Worcestershire;
  • Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in Wrexham; and
  • Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal in Warwickshire.

Configurations vary, but typically the accommodation on board is made up of dinette doubles, single bunks and single cabins.  You will also find a kitchen, two showers and two toilets on board, plus storage space for luggage.

So check out our 12 berth boat availability and book your party afloat now!

ROUTES PUBLISHED FOR 2013 HOTEL BOAT HOLIDAYS

Flagships, a collection of small family-run hotel boat businesses, has published it 2013 journeys – offering the choice of over 75 narrowboat holidays.

Hotel boating on the canals offers all the benefits of a relaxing cruise on Britain’s beautiful inland waterways, with the catering and navigating chores taken out of it.  Singletons, couples, families or groups of friends are welcome and it’s a great way to meet people.

Flagships operators are independently inspected by qualified Tourist Board inspectors.

They offer short breaks and seven-night canal boat holidays all across the country.  Prices start at £665 for a week and £550 for a short break (five nights).

Follow the link from our website www.drifters.co.uk or go direct to www.flagships.co.uk

Visit London’s canals in the Spring with Snipe & Taurus

Traditional 70ft long narrowboat pair Snipe & Taurus, will begin their 2013 season with a seven-night trip from Warwick to Market Harborough along the Grand Union Canal, starting on 26 April.  The journey will take in 52 miles of canal and 48 locks along the way.

Over the next six months they will visit Leighton Buzzard, London, Ware, Windsor, Hungerford, Bath, Devizes, Newbury, Oxford, Warwick, Stafford, Peak District, Manchester, Liverpool, Northwich, Chester, Brewood, Worcester, Stratford upon Avon, Birmingham and Coventry.

Their last cruise of the season will take them back to Warwick via the Ashby Canal and Leamington Spa, departing on 3 October from Coventry.

Owner Neil Thomsett explains: “Travelling at just four miles per hour, enjoying the wildlife, peaceful countryside and historic pubs and houses along the way, hotel boat passengers can’t help but change gear both mentally and physically.  Holiday-makers can just sit back and watch the world go by or get active by helping to work the locks, steer the boat or walk along the towpath.

“All our cruises include transport to and from the nearest mainline railway station and car parking can be arranged at some of our departure/destination points.  All meals and snacks are included as part of the cruise, plus soft drinks, teas and coffees.

“One of our favourite trips this year will be a visit to London’s canals in the Spring, travelling from metropolitan Little Venice to rural Ware, with overnight stops at the Docklands and Waltham Abbey.”

Snipe & Taurus offer comfortable accommodation for up to nine guests in five single, one twin and one double cabin.  Snipe & Taurus cruises start at £695 for seven nights and £550 for five nights.

Pass through the Pennines with hotel boat Periwinkle

Periwinkle offers accommodation for just three passengers at a time.  Her season starts on 3 April 2013 with a cruise from Barnoldswick to Manchester on the Leeds & Liverpool and Bridgewater canals.

From there she will visit Northwich, Chester, Llangollen, Nantwich, Birmingham, Stratford, Worcester, Kidderminster, Stone, Rugby, Warwick, Market Harborough, Burton on Trent, Congleton, Kidsgrove, Middlewich, the Peak District, Liverpool, Burnley, Leeds and Hebden Bridge.  Their last cruise will leave Leeds on 10 October, arriving in Salterforth six days later.

Gill and Steve Cookson, the husband and wife team who own and operate the boat, explain: “Our holidays really are the fastest way to slow down.  Our customers come from all over the world to enjoy a quieter pace of life on Britain’s beautiful inland waterways.  We provide full board, including a four-course dinner each evening, plus comfortable beds and a lovely hot shower.

“One of the highlights this year will be our journeys through the Pennines in September and October, travelling along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal and through the Bingley Five Rise Locks, an incredible feat of engineering.

“We also offer walking holidays afloat.  After organising your route and giving you a hearty breakfast, we will drop you off with a packed lunch, arranging a time and place to meet you later in the day.”

Hotel boat Periwinkle offers seven-night cruises at £730 per person per cruise and six-night cruises at £630.

Visit Royal Windsor afloat with Duke & Duchess

Traditional narrowboat pair Duke & Duchess offer a hotel boat service for up to eight people.  For the 2013 season, owner David Owen and his family are offering 26 cruises, starting on 20 April with a seven-night cruise from Birmingham to Nantwich, along the Shropshire Union Canal.

From Nantwich they will visit Llangollen, Chester, Manchester, Stone, Stoke, Coventry, Leighton Buzzard, Little Venice, Windsor, Newbury, Bath, Oxford, Warwick, Droitwich, Northwich, Kidderminster, Birmingham and Stratford upon Avon.  Their final cruise of the season will leave Stratford upon Avon on 12 October, arriving in Warwick five nights later.

David explains: “Hotel boats offer a perfectly relaxed chore-free way to discover the secrets of the canals.  Our small moving hotel offers a friendly atmosphere with personal attention, wonderful company and delicious cuisine!  The boats are a traditional 70 foot narrowboat pair, with the motor Duke towing the unpowered butty Duchess.  Although built in the traditional style, they provide modern hotel comforts, plus the added bonus of ever changing views.

“This season we are looking forward to spending extra time on the beautiful Kennet & Avon Canal as well as exploring down river to the Bristol Floating Harbour.  And we are looking forward to cruising up to Windsor in June, with spectacular views of the castle and the magnificent Great Park.”

Prices start at £640 for five nights and £665 for seven nights.

 

Celebrate Christmas Afloat

A canal boat holiday offers a great antidote to the hustle and bustle of Christmas.

A number of our canal boat hire bases offer winter cruising, giving you the chance to enjoy cosy evenings afloat, trips to waterside pubs with roaring log fires, frosty towpaths and crisp clean air.

Our narrowboats are fully equipped with all the essential mod cons, including central heating, hot water, televisions and DVD players, so it’s always nice and cosy on board.

And whether it’s a snug boat for two or jolly boat for 10, celebrating Christmas or New Year afloat offers a memorable getaway.  It’s free to moor almost anywhere on the network, so a your narrowboat could provide the perfect place to lay your head after enjoying New Year’s Eve celebrations in exciting waterside towns and cities like Bath, Birmingham, Chester and Warwick.

Here’s a list of Drifters bases offering winter narrowboat holidays:

  • Visit historic Warwick…a week’s break from Drifters’ base at Stretton-under-Fosse near Rugby could take you to historic Warwick and back along the Grand Union Canal, via Braunston and Napton Junctions, with plenty of time to visit the Regency centre of Lemington Spa and the stunning Mediaeval Warwick Castle.  The journey takes a total of 30 hours cruising, with 26 locks along the way.  Or head south along the beautiful Oxford Canal, one of England’s most peaceful waterways which winds slowly through classic scenery, much of which hasn’t changed for centuries.  A week can easily take you as far as the historic town of Banbury and back, cruising a total of 40 hours and negotiating 25 locks.  Christmas and New Year prices from Stretton start at £505 for a short break and £755 for a week. 
  • Travel to Bath along the Kennet & Avon Canal…Drifters’ base in the historic town of Bradford on Avon offers the chance to cruise to the World Heritage Status City of Bath and back.  Fabulous country pubs to enjoy along the way include the George Inn at Bathampton, once a 12th-century monastery, and The Cross Guns at Avoncliffe, one of Wiltshire’s oldest and most popular pubs, with panoramic views of the foothills of the Cotswolds.  Christmas and New Year breaks from Bradford on Avon start at £650 for short break and £930 for a week.
  • Take a lock free journey to Birmingham…Birmingham is just a five hour cruise away from Drifters’ base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal – with no locks to negotiate.  City centre moorings are available at Gas Street Basin, close to the bars, restaurants, shops and museums at Brindley Place and the Mailbox.  Short breaks over Christmas and New Year from Tardebigge start at £425, weekly hire from £605.
  • Navigate ‘The Stream in the Sky’…the awesome 300-metre long World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, soars nearly 40 metres above the rushing waters of the River Dee, carrying the Llangollen Canal.  From Drifters’ hire base at Trevor, right next to the aqueduct, a short break to Ellesmere and back offers the chance to navigate the aqueduct and to explore the beautiful Vale of Llangollen.  Short breaks over Christmas and New Year from Trevor start at £525 and weekly hire from £745.
  • Visit the Mediaeval City of Chester…from Drifters’ base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal, the ancient City of Chester is just a seven hour journey away.  Chester boasts a vibrant market hall, an award winning zoo, busy racecourse, trendy bars, shopping malls and restaurants.  Or head south from the base to the historic market town of Middlewich on the junction of the Trent & Mersey and Shropshire Union Canals.  Short breaks over Christmas and New Year from Bunbury start at £425 and weekly hire from £605.
  • Explore the Potteries in Staffordshire…Drifters’ base at Great Haywood at the junction of the Staffs & Worcs and Trent & Mersey canals in Staffordshire offers a variety of 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 on the Staffs & Worcs Canal.  Short breaks over Christmas and New Year from Great Haywood start at £525 and weekly hire from £745.

FILMS MADE ON THE CANALS…take a canal boat holiday and follow in the wake of the stars!

 

From romantic waterside encounters to gritty urban scenes, Britain’s canals and rivers have featured in many movies and television shows over the years.

To celebrate this, Drifters Waterway Holidays (www.drifters.co.uk) has put together a list of some of its favourite waterway starring moments and listed the closest canal boat hire bases:

The World is Not Enough (1999): the opening sequence of this action-packed adventure was shot in the Isle of Dogs.  Look closely and you should also be able to spot Camden Lock on the Regents Canal in the first few minutes of the film.  To follow in the footsteps of 007 (albeit at a safer more leisurely pace), hire a canal boat from Drifters’ West London base on the Grand Union Canal and head east, reaching Camden Lock within five hours.

Young Adam (2003): in this romantic thriller, Ewan McGregor played a young drifter working on a barge on the Clyde in the 1950s.  The film is beautifully shot and provides poignant insights into the half-forgotten era when our waterways were an integral part of working life.  To see the Scottish Lowlands from the perspective of a modern-day canal boat, take a narrowboat holiday from Drifters’ base at the Falkirk Wheel, where the Forth & Clyde meets the Union Canal.

The Full Monty (1997): the canals make their star appearance close to the beginning of this popular northern comedy.  The scene where Gaz (played by Robert Carlyle) and Dave (Mark Addy) float down the canal on a partially submerged car was shot on Bacon Lane, Sheffield, along the Sheffield & South Yorkshire Navigation.  To re-live the laughter, hire a narrowboat from Drifters’ Yorkshire base at Sowerby Bridge and travel through the Pennines to Sheffield.

Breaking and Entering (2006): the filming of this romantic thriller from director Anthony Minghella brought Hollywood A-listers Jude Law and Ray Winstone to the Regent’s Canal in Camden.  To recall the thrill of the chase, hire a canal boat from Drifters’ West London base on the Grand Union Canal and head east, reaching Camden Lock within five hours.

Inspector Morse (1987-2000): Inspector Morse (played by John Thaw) and his side-kick Lewis (Kevin Whately) were frequently seen enjoying a pint at The Trout on the River Thames at Wolvercote.  To take in that scene, hire a boat from Drifters’ Oxford base on the River Thames at Eynsham, a three-hour cruise from The Trout.

The River (1988): David Essex played a solitary canal lock-keeper in this popular romantic comedy made for television.  The lock cottage at Wootton Rivers on the Kennet & Avon Canal near Pewsey was chosen for setting of his home.  Drifters’ base at Aldermaston on the Kennet & Avon Canal is a delightful three-day cruise away through the West Berkshire Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the idyllic countryside of the Vale of Pewsey.

Canal Walks (2011): for this popular BBC series, Julia Bradbury explored some of Britain’s finest scenery via the towpaths of the Caledonian, Worcester & Birmingham, Kennet & Avon and Llangollen canals.  Our favourite of the four episodes was her visit to the magnificent World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales.  To follow Julia’s footsteps afloat, hire a boat from Drifters’ base at Trevor, right next to the Aqueduct.

The Bargee (1964): Harry H Corbett and Eric Sykes star in this classic comedy about the life of a canal bargee with an eye for the ladies.  Look out for shots of the Grand Union Canal in Hemel Hempstead and Apsley among the plentiful canal footage.  To reach this area of the network, head south from Drifters base at Gayton on the Grand Union Canal in Northamptonshire.

Tezz (2011): Bollywood came to Birmingham’s canals to film a section of this action thriller starting Anil Kapoor of Slumdog Millionaire fame.  During the filming, stunt actors jumped off the canal bridge onto moving narrowboats, outside the Mailbox shopping centre.  Don’t try this one at home!  But to visit Birmingham City Centre and explore some of the City’s incredible network of canals, hire a boat from Drifters base at Tardebigge and you can be in Brindley Place in just five hours.

Ten good reasons to take a canal boat holiday.

 

  1. It’s the fastest way to slow down – with speed limits of 4mph and hundreds of miles of tranquil unspoilt countryside to cruise through, on a narrowboat holiday stress levels are immediately reduced and a whole new much steadier pace of life takes over.
  2. Freedom – across the majority of our 3,000-mile inland waterways network moorings are free, so, glass of wine in hand, you are free to choose where to moor your canal boat for the night.
  3. Fitness – working the locks, exploring local footpaths, cycling the towpaths and standing at the tiller enjoying the fresh air – all the ideal antidote to stuffy gyms and office blues.
  4. The greener way – a boating holiday is estimated to be some 20 times better for the planet than spending two hours flying for a holiday overseas and as soon as you swap your car for a boat, you’ll be using a third of the fuel and emitting a sixth of the pollution.
  5. Plenty of pubs – with hundreds of waterside pubs, a watering hole is never far away, many of them historic rural locals.
  6. History is all around – thousands of historic structures make up the waterway system, including the soaring majesty of the World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and the extraordinary Anderton Boat Lift AKA “The Cathedral of the Canals”.
  7. Watch out for wildlife – waterways provide homes for large numbers of birds, plants and animals, including many protected species – the water vole, otter and kingfisher, so there’s always something special to look out for.
  8. Enjoy all the comforts of home – today’s canals boats are fully equipped with all the essential mod cons: central heating, microwaves, ovens, hot water, TV, DVD players, showers and flushing toilets.
  9. Help keep the local economy afloat – over £1½ billion is spent by visitors to the waterways each year on goods and services, supporting some 54,000 jobs.
  10. Try something new – around a fifth of hire boaters are new to canal boat hire each year so it’s easy to learn to steer a boat and navigate the waterways.

 

Watch out for Wildlife

Britain’s canals and rivers have become important havens for wildlife so canal boat holidays are great for anyone interested in nature.

Many kinds of animals live on the canals, from common sights such as ducks, coots, geese, swans and moorhens, to rarer creatures like otters, kingfishers and water voles.

On a narrowboat holiday, as you potter along as just four miles per hour or less, you are likely to spot a whole host of creatures during the day – birds in the hedgerows, waterfowl on the water, herons fishing quietly on the bank.

You might see kestrels in the air, a stoat on the towpath or frogs and newts in shallow waters.

At night, if you moor up somewhere rural and close to trees, you might also hear an owl, witness bats swooping across the canal or glimpse a badger wandering close to the riverbank.

In the morning, you will probably wake to the sound of birds singing and in the summer, you might even hear a cuckoo calling.

Depending on the time of year, you are also likely to see many representatives from the insect world – dragonflies, damselflies, bumblebees and butterflies to name but a few.

Canal boat hire gives you the chance to holiday on the water and watch out for the wildlife that lives there.