Visit Birmingham’s Book Festival Afloat

Birmingham’s 14th Book Festival takes place 4-13 October 2012 and hosts events across the city.  Events will include: a Pop-Up Bookshop in the city’s Central Library; an all night writing workshop in the Black Country Living Museum; and a sermon by Jackie Kay in Birmingham’s Cathedral.

With more canals than Venice, hiring a narrowboat is the perfect way to visit Birmingham.  City centre moorings are just a five-hour cruise away from Drifters’ canal boat hire base at Tardebigge and The Black Country Museum is just eight hours away.

Birmingham’s Gas Street Basin and Brindley Place, can also be reached on a short break narrowboat holiday from our Alvechurch base, or travel there on a week’s canal boat holiday from Napton, Stoke Prior or Gailey.

Acclaimed writers Liz Lockhead, Simon Armitage, Patrick Gale, David Edgar, Femi Oyebode, Tiffany Murray, Peter F Hamilton, Caitlin Moran and Stuart Maconie are all taking part in this year’s Book Festival.

In his ‘Walking Home’ event (5 October), poet and writer Simon Armitage will tell the story of his journey across the Pennines as a ‘modern troubadour’ – without a penny in his pocket, stopping along the way to give poetry readings in village halls, churches, pubs and living rooms.

While ‘The World According to Moran & Maconie’ (9 October) will see authors Caitlin Moran and Stuart Maconie talking about our life and times.

For more information visit www.birminghambookfestival.org

 

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Visit the Saltaire Festival on your Canal Boat Holiday

The tenth Saltaire Festival (6-16 September 2012) promises ‘something for everyone to enjoy’ – from a Food & Drink Festival, Beer Festival, live music in the Piazza and the Yorkshire Food Fair, to a new garden trail, Morris dancers, films, exhibitions and performances by award-winning comedians Stuart Maconie and Anne Fine.

You can easily reach Sir Titus Salt’s fascinating model town on a week’s narrowboat holiday from Drifters’ base at Sowerby Bridge.

Founded on the banks of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal near Bradford in 1851 by Sir Titus Salt, a leading industrialist in the woollen industry, the extraordinary town of Saltaire is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Saltaire Festival exhibition programme includes a study of the ‘Aire Valley Waterways’ by photographer Tim Smith, ‘Salts Mill Workers’ Heritage’, an exhibition of photographs and film of the Salts Mill Workers’ Outing in 1953 and an evening Bat Walk along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal.

As well as enjoying the special Festival events, take time to view the town’s stunning architecture with guided walks and visits to its shops, restaurants, cafes and galleries, including the wonderful David Hockney Gallery in Salts Mill.

Canal boat hire from Drifters’ base at Sowerby Bridge starts at £515 for a week, £335 for a short break.

For more information about the festival visit www.saltairefestival.co.uk

 

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Seven Wonders of the Waterways

 

Drifters canal boat holidays (www.drifters.co.uk) picks seven wonders of the waterways, together with their nearest canal boat hire bases.

The first ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’ was compiled half a century ago by Robert Aickman, co-founder of the Inland Waterways Association and published in his book Know Your Waterways.

But Drifters’ list uses a combination of Aickman’s original list and a 2002 update, based on a poll of the public conducted by British Waterways (now The Canal & River Trust):

  • The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct…carrying the Llangollen Canal 38 metres (126ft) high above the River Dee, the awesome World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is the highest and longest in Britain.  It was built between 1795 and 1805, uses 18 magnificent piers made of local stone and a 307-metre (1007ft) long trough for the canal to run through.  With not even a hand rail on the south side of the aqueduct to obscure the views of the breath-taking Dee Valley below, narrowboat holiday-makers literally feel like they are floating above the earth!  Drifters has a canal boat hire base is at Trevor, just a stone’s throw from the aqueduct, with 2012 prices (including fuel) starting at £405 for a short break on a two-berth boat and £580 for a week’s holiday.
  • The Anderton Boat Lift…also known as ‘The Cathedral of the Canals’ this extraordinary structure raises boats 15 metres (50ft) from the River Weaver to the Trent & Mersey Canal.  Designed by Edwin Clark and opened in 1875, it consists of two caissons, each large enough to take a barge or pair of narrowboats.  In 1983 problems with the mechanism caused the lift to close but it reopened in 2002, following a restoration programme supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.  Drifters has a canal boat hire base at Anderton with 2012 prices starting at £580 for a short break and £885 for a week’s hire.
  • The Falkirk Wheel…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 Canal and Forth & Clyde Canal, replacing a flight of 11 locks which had been dismantled in 1933.  It can carry 600 tonnes, including eight or more boats and uses just 1.5KWh of energy to turn – the same amount as it would take to boil eight household kettles.  Drifters has two canal boat hire bases at the Falkirk Wheel, with 2012 prices starting at £554 for a short break and £852 for a week’s hire.
  • The Caen Hill Flight…with 16 of its 29 locks falling in a straight line, the Caen Hill flight of locks on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Devizes in Wiltshire is visually the most impressive in the country.  The locks were the final link in the Kennet & Avon Canal’s construction, opening in 1810.  By 1950 they had become derelict but after a major restoration effort, they were reopened HM The Queen in 1990.  Drifters has a canal boat hire base at Bradford on Avon, a seven hour cruise from the base of the Caen Hill Flight.  2012 prices (including fuel) from Bradford on Avon start at £505 for a short break on a four berth boat, £720 for a week.
  • The Bingley Five-Rise Locks…completed in 1774, this spectacular staircase of locks on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal 17 miles from Leeds, raises (or lowers) boats 18 metres (60ft) in five cavernous chambers.  The locks open directly from one to another, with the top gate of one forming the bottom gate of the next.  Drifters’ nearest canal boat hire base is at Foulridge, some 30 miles away, where 2012 prices for a week’s break start at £640 (including fuel).
  • The Standedge Tunnel…at over three miles long tunnelling beneath the Pennines, this incredible feat of 18 and 19th century engineering is the longest, highest and deepest tunnel on the canal system.  Cutting through solid rock, it took the navvies 16 years to build, opening in 1811.  The Huddersfield Canal became un-navigable in 1948 but after a long restoration programme, both the canal and tunnel were reopened in 2001.  Today’s boaters pass through the tunnel with a Canal & River Trust pilot, giving a vivid personal commentary.  There is also a trip boat operating from the Marsden end.  Drifters’ nearest canal boat hire base is at Sowerby Bridge, some 20 miles away, where 2012 prices for a week’s break start at £530 (including fuel).
  • Barton Swing Aqueduct…originally built in 1761 by James Brindley to take the Bridgewater Canal across the River Irwell, the Barton Aqueduct was considered a marvel at the time of its opening.  But when the Manchester Ship Canal company decided to use the course of the Irwell at Barton as part of its navigation channel, Brindley’s Aqueduct was replaced by the Barton Swing Aqueduct in 1893.  The 1,450 tonne, 100-metre long aqueduct swings open, full of water, to allow the passage of ships along the Manchester Ship Canal.  Drifters’ nearest canal boat hire base is at Anderton, with 2012 prices starting at £580 for a short break on a four berth and £885 for a week’s hire.

 

Posted in boating holidays canal boat holidays narrowboat hire narrowboat holidays Short breaks by rob52. Comments Off on Seven Wonders of the Waterways

Take a Canal Boat Holiday to Birmingham

Boasting more canals than Venice (56km to be precise), Birmingham is a popular destination for narrowboat holiday-makers, with plenty of visitor moorings available in heart of the city.

The City’s key attractions include: The Mailbox and Bullring shopping centres; the Sea Life Centre at Brindley Place; Cadbury World; Birmingham Science Museum; the Jewellery Quarter; Ikon Gallery; the Balti Triangle; and the Black Country Living Museum.

As well as offering fantastic shops, restaurants, museums and theatre, this month, Birmingham is hosting its annual Food Festival (13-19 July) and the International Birmingham Jazz & Blues Festival (6-15 July).

And this summer the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery will display the UK’s largest ever exhibition of ancient Egyptian artefacts on loan from the British Museum.  The Pharoah: King of Egypt exhibition will be from 14 July to 14 October 2012.

Canal boat holidays to Birmingham are available from a number of Drifters bases.  Hire a canal boat from Tardebigge or Alvechurch and you can reach Birmingham on a short break.  Or travel to Birmingham on a week-long canal boat holiday from Napton, Stoke Prior and Gailey.

Birmingham is on a number of the canal rings, including The Black Country Ring and the Warwickshire Ring.

2012 canal boat hire prices start at £330 for a short break and £470 for a week.

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See Pontcysyllte Aqueduct Illuminated

To celebrate the launch of the new charity to run the waterways in England and Wales – The Canal & River Trust (Glandwr Cymru) – Wrexham County Borough Council is hosting a light and music spectacular at the World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct on Thursday 12 July 2012.

The World famous Pontcysyllte Aqueduct will be illuminated from 9pm till 11pm and a free community concert with will take place from 7pm to 10.30pm on the football pitch below Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.

Drifters canal boat hire base at Trevor Basin is right next to Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, nicknamed the ‘Stream in the Sky’, which carries the Llangollen Canal 126ft high above the River Dee.  From here narrowboat holiday-makers can travel along the beautiful Llangollen Canal to Ellesmere, Llangollen or Whitchurch and back on a short break.  Or to Wrenbury and Barbridge on a week’s canal boat holiday.

Trevor Basin is just a ten minute walk from the ‘Underneath the Arches’ event and offers free parking.

For more information about the ‘Underneath the Arches’ event call 01978 292537 or visit www.pontcysyllte-aqueduct.co.uk

For more information about the Canal & River Trust visit www.canalandrivertrust.org.uk

Posted in canal boat holidays Llangollen Canal narrowboat holidays by rob52. Comments Off on See Pontcysyllte Aqueduct Illuminated

Hotel boats on the canals

Hotel boating offers all the benefits of a relaxing cruise on Britain’s beautiful inland waterways, with the catering and navigating chores taken out of it.

It’s the perfect antidote to busy jobs and frenetic lives, plus a great opportunity to make new friends.

There are a variety hotel canal boat holidays to choose from, including traditional narrowboat pair Snipe & Taurus, which offer 4-star floating accommodation for up to nine guests at a time.

Narrowboat holidays with Snipe & Taurus vary from four to ten night stays.  Prices vary depending on the length of the trip but a single cabin starts from £400 for four nights, and a double en-suite from £425 per person for four nights.

This year, the boats began their season with a seven-night trip from Warwick to Stourport and have since visited Chester, Manchester, Liverpool, Stoke-on-Trent, Coventry, Market Harborough and Burton on Trent.

Next they will head to Warwick, Henley, Banbury, Worcester and Stratford upon Avon, as well as London.  Their last trip this season will explore the Warwickshire Ring, departing 6 October for ten days.

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.  Holidaymakers 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.”

For more information on Snipe & Taurus visit www.canalvoyagers.com, email info@canalvoyagers.com or call Corinne and Neil on 079 2121 4414.

Hotel boat Periwinkle, which takes just three passengers, offers mostly seven night cruises at £710 per person per cruise.

Gill and Steve Cookson, the husband and wife team who own and operate the boat, explain: “We are enjoying our eleventh hotel boating season.  Our canal boat holidays really are the fastest way to slow down and 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!“

For more information about hotel boat Periwinkle visit www.hotelboatperiwinkle.com, email hotelperiwinkle@aol.com or call 07747 017263.

Traditional narrowboat pair Duke & Duchess offer a hotel boat service for up to eight people.

All trips are for seven nights and prices are fixed for the whole season, with £680 per person charged for en-suite cabins and £640 for standard cabins.

Owner/operator David Owen 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!”

For more information visit www.hotelboat-holidays.co.uk, email info@hotelboat-holidays.co.uk or call 07711 836441.

Links to all these and other hotel boat websites can be found on the Drifters website www.drifters.co.uk or call the Drifters booking office on 0845 984 0322 for contacts and ideas.

The boats take between two and 22 passengers and are all fully skippered and crewed offering delicious food and comfortable beds

Posted in boating holidays canal boat holidays hotel boat holidays Short breaks by rob52. Comments Off on Hotel boats on the canals

Pennine One-way trips – available all season

Drifters offers new one-way canal boat holidays

Drifters Waterway Holiday bases at Stretton on the North Oxford Canal near Rugby and Stockton on the Grand Union Canal close to Braunston have teamed up to offer some new one-way trips in June and July.

The collaboration gives narrowboat holiday-makers the chance to see more of the canals in Warwickshire on a short break and provides an alternative to the traditional “out and back” short break holiday.

A one-way break from Stockton to Stretton (or vice versa) takes boaters along the Grand Union and North Oxford canals via Napton, Braunston and Hillmorton, with plenty of historic pubs to sample along the way.  It takes around nine hours to cruise between the bases.

Canal boat hire prices from Stretton in June and July start at £715 for a short break on a five-berth boat, rising to £1130 for a nine-berth boat.  Prices include fuel, damage waiver and transfer between bases.

One-way narrowboat holidays are also available across the boating season from Drifters’ northern bases at Foulridge in Lancashire, Ashton-under-Lyne in Greater Manchester and Sowerby Bridge in Yorkshire, giving holiday-makers the chance to cross the Pennines by canal boat.

Canal boat hirers can choose a variety of seven and 14-night one way routes, including:

  • Sowerby Bridge to Foulridge via Leeds (7 nights, 82 miles, 79 locks, 45 hours) – travelling across the backbone of England and through the heart of West Riding;
  • Sowerby Bridge to Foulridge via Manchester (14 nights, 107 miles, 169 locks, 85 hours via Huddersfield or 14 nights, 100 miles, 136 locks, 65 hours via Rochdale);
  • Sowerby Bridge to Ashton-under-Lyne by the Huddersfield (7 nights, 33 miles, 97 locks, 40 hours) travelling down the Calder Valley to Brighouse, up the Broad Canal to Huddersfield, on to the Huddersfield Narrow to its dramatic passage under the moors through Standedge Tunnel, the longest and highest in Britain; and
  • Sowerby Bridge to Ashton-under-Lyne by the Rochdale (7 nights, 38 miles, 100 locks, 36 hours), crossing the summit to Littleborough and descending through town and country to the centre of Manchester.

2012 canal boat holiday prices for Drifters’ Yorkshire bases start at £645 (including fuel) for a week on a three-berth boat.

 

Posted in boating holidays canal boat holidays narrowboat hire narrowboat holidays Short breaks by rob52. Comments Off on Pennine One-way trips – available all season

Visit the Llangollen Eisteddfod by Canal Boat

The 66th Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, one of the world’s most inspirational cultural festivals, takes place from 3-8 July 2012 and is easily accessible from the Llangollen Canal.

So why not combine a canal boat holiday with a trip to the Eisteddfod?

The Eisteddfod has been staged at Llangollen since 1947.  Each year over 4,000 performers from across the globe head to the beautiful little Welsh town to take part in a unique event combining competition, performance and international peace and friendship.

Around 25 different competitions celebrate song, music and dance, climaxing with the presitigous ‘Choir of the World’ where winning choirs compete for the Pavarotti Trophy.

Drifters offers narrowboat holidays from a number of bases within easy reach of Llangollen, including Trevor, just a two-hour cruise away, Chirk four hours away and Whitchurch around ten hours away.

Canal boat hire from these bases in July starts at £525 for a short break and £745 for a week’s narrowboat holiday.

 

Posted in canal boat holidays narrowboat hire narrowboat holidays by rob52. Comments Off on Visit the Llangollen Eisteddfod by Canal Boat

Drifters attends Braunston Historic Boat Rally

Drifters canal boat hire operator Rose Narrowboats will be at the 2012 Braunston Historic Narrowboat Rally & Canal Festival (23-24 June) showcasing its 60ft long, eight-berth boat Cascade.

Over 80 historic boats will gather at this year’s Historic Boat Rally, held annually at Braunston Marina.

The event, which raises money for the canals and local causes, will include: boat parades; trade exhibitors; live music; morris dancing; boat horse demonstrations; waterway artists; food and drink; a real ale beer tent; and evening entertainment on the Saturday.

Rose Narrowboats offers 20 self-drive boats for narrowboat holidays from its base on the North Oxford Canal at Stretton-Under-Fosse near Rugby.

Cascade is built along traditional lines externally with a light, airy interior and a cruiser stern.  Designed to sleep up to eight people, she has a well laid out galley with side doors for extra ventilation on warm days, a centre cabin which can offer either two singles or a double bed, a convertible dinette in the saloon, two cabins each with two bunks and wash basins at the stern, a shower room with a toilet, plus a separate toilet at the rear.

2012 hire prices start for Cascade start at £695 for a short break and £1065 for a week’s canal boat holiday.

Other Drifters’ bases close to Braunston, include Stockton, Gayton and Rugby.

 

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Visit an Edinburgh Festival by Canal Boat

Edinburgh, the world’s Festival City, is a delightful 12 hour cruise along the Union Canal from Drifters’ base at Falkirk.

Once in Edinburgh, there are centrally located moorings in Edinburgh Quay, just a five-minute walk from Princes Street.

So why not take a canal boat holiday this summer and enjoy an Edinburgh Festival at the same time?

Events take place across the summer, including the Edinburgh International Film Festival (20 June to 1 July), the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (3-27 August) and the Edinburgh International Festival (9 August to 2 September).

As well as festivals, Edinburgh offers fantastic shops and restaurants, and a host of terrific attractions, including Edinburgh Castle, The Real Mary Kings Close, Lyceum Theatre, Botanical Gardens, Edinburgh Zoo and the Scottish National Gallery.

From the Drifters canal boat hire base next to the Falkirk Wheel, you can travel the 32 rural miles to Edinburgh in just two leisurely days.  The Union Canal only has three locks as it mainly uses aqueducts and tunnels to pass over valleys and through hills.

The Scottish Lowland canals were restored to celebrate the new Millennium and their centrepiece, the incredible Falkirk Wheel boat lift, connects the Forth & Clyde and Union canals, lifting boats 115ft high (equivalent to eight double decker buses).

Journeying from Falkirk, narrowboat holiday-makers soon enter the calming surrounds of open countryside and picturesque woodland.  Things to look out for along the way include: the Antonine Wall; the Avon, Almond and Slateford Aqueducts; the Falkirk Tunnel; the Laughin’ Greetin bridge at Glen Village, famous for its carved faces on the keystones; and the pretty villages of Linlithgow and Ratho.

Narrowboat hire from Drifters’ base at Falkirk starts from £534 for a short break on a five berth boat or £821 for a week’s holiday.

 

Posted in boating holidays canal boat holidays canal holidays Scotland narrowboat hire narrowboat holidays Short breaks by rob52. Comments Off on Visit an Edinburgh Festival by Canal Boat