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.

 

New ‘getting started’ film for boaters

We’ve worked with The Canal & River Trust (CRT) to produce a new training film to show new canal boat holiday-makers the ropes.

It’s a companion to the popular Boaters’ Handbook and contains lots of ‘getting started’ tips for narrowboat hirers and new boat owners, as well as important reminders to old hands about how to boat safely.

Sally Ash, head of boating at CRT, says: “We want new boaters to have a safe and enjoyable experience of the waterways. The friendly spirit that pervades the waterways means there is a lot of help available on the spot but it’s obviously a good idea for new boaters to build up their knowledge and confidence in other ways too. The film covers the fundamentals of boat handling, lock operation and general safety afloat.”

Customers booking with Drifters will be offered a free DVD. The 30-minute film is also available free to stream online via the CRT website and the free DVD can be ordered via the CRT on-line shop or by telephone 0303 040 4040.

Top 10 canal boat holidays for 2014

Pontycysyllte Aqueduct in North Wales

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Celebrate Christmas on the canals

Britain’s canals offer a great antidote to the hustle and bustle of Christmas.

A number of our canal boat hire bases offer winter canal boat holidays, giving boaters the chance to enjoy cosy evenings afloat, visit waterside pubs with roaring log fires, and wake-up to frosty towpaths and crisp clean air.

Whether it’s a snug boat for two or jolly boat for 10, celebrating Christmas or New Year afloat offers a great getaway.

It’s free to moor almost anywhere on the network, so a narrowboat could provide the perfect base to enjoy new year celebrations in waterside destinations like Bath, Birmingham and Banbury.

All boats have central heating, hot water, televisions and DVD players. Some also have multi-fuel stoves. So, whatever the weather, it’s always nice and cosy on board.

Here’s a list of our bases offering winter cruising, with prices and routes for Christmas narrowboat holidays:

Travel to Bath along the Kennet & Avon Canal…our base in the historic town of Bradford on Avon offers the chance to cruise to the World Heritage Status City of Bath and back. Cosy country pubs to enjoy along the way include the George Inn at Bathampton, once a 12th-century monastery, and the Cross Guns at Avoncliffe, with panoramic views of the foothills of the Cotswolds. Christmas and New Year prices from Bradford on Avon start at £480 for short break (three or four nights) and £675 for a week on a boat for four.

Take a lock free journey to Birmingham…Birmingham is just a five-hour cruise away from our 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. Christmas and New Year prices from Tardebigge start at £555 for a short break (three or four nights), and £790 for a week on a boat for four.

Navigate ‘The Stream in the Sky’…the awesome 300-metre long World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, carries the Llangollen Canal 40 metres above the rushing waters of the River Dee. From our base at Trevor, right next to the aqueduct, the village of Llangollen is a two-hour cruise to the west and Ellesmere is a seven-hour journey to the east, passing through the beautiful Vale of Llangollen. Christmas and New Year prices from Trevor start at £555 for a short break (three or four nights), and £790 for a week on a boat for four.

Explore the Potteries in Staffordshire…On a week’s cruise from our base at Great Haywood in Staffordshire, boaters can head up the Trent & Mersey Canal to the Caldon Canal, and travel through the beautiful Churnet Valley. On a short break, canal boat holiday-makers can head to the town of Fazeley, via the pretty canal village of Fradley. Christmas and New Year prices from Great Haywood start at £555 for a short break (three or four nights), and £790 for a week on a boat for four.

Chug through rural Warwickshire…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, narrowboat holiday-makers can continue south to Banbury via Napton and Fenny Compton. Christmas and New Year prices from Stretton start at £505 for a short break (three or four nights) and £755 for a week on a boat for four.