Top 10 canal boat holidays for beginners

With a thriving 3,000-mile network of navigable inland waterways, the health benefits of spending time by the water proven and the merits of a lower carbon staycation, UK narrowboat holidays offer a great holiday experience.

A licence isn’t required to steer a canal boat and all our operators provide boat steering tuition as part of their holiday packages.

If you’re planning to pack up and ship out to learn the ropes of a narrowboat holiday adventure in 2020, here’s a list of our top 10 canal boat holidays for beginners:

  1. Glide through the Breacon Beacons – isolated from the main canal network, the scenic Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal runs through the Brecon Beacons National Park.  This quiet waterway, which with very few locks is nice and easy for beginners, offers canal boat holiday-makers incredible mountain views, dark night skies for star gazing, plenty of wildlife to watch out for and a series of village pubs to enjoy along the way.  On a week’s holiday from our base at Goytre Wharf near Abergavenny, you can cruise to Brecon and back, passing through Georgian Crickhowell, with its fascinating 13th century castle, and Talybont-on-Usk with walks to the waterfalls at Blaen y Glyn. 
  2. Cruise to the bright lights of Birmingham – boasting more canals than Venice, Birmingham simply has to be visited by water.  And with no locks between our narrowboat hire base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove and Birmingham City Centre, it’s the perfect opportunity for novice canal boat holiday-makers to ‘dip their toe in the water’.  It takes just five hours to reach Birmingham, with the first half of the journey passing through fields, woodlands and sleepy villages.  Once in the centre of Birmingham, you can find over-night moorings at Gas Street Basin, with easy access to Brindleyplace, the Mailbox, Sea Life Centre and other city centre attractions. 
  3. Boat into the Pennines – starting from our base at Reedley on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in Lancashire, you can travel north east along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal into North Yorkshire, passing through Nelson, Barrowford, Salterforth, Barnoldswick and Greenber Field along the way.  Once at East Marton, there’s a choice of canalside pubs and the canal connects to the Pennine Way just south of the village.  The journey there and back covers 47 miles, passes through 10 locks (five each way) and takes around 17½ hours.
  4. Float gently along to Fradley – on a short break from our canal boat hire base on the Trent & Mersey Canal at Great Haywood in Staffordshire, you can head south to Fradley Junction, where the Coventry Canal meets the Trent & Mersey.  The journey takes around five hours, travelling through 12 peaceful miles of Staffordshire countryside and passing through just five locks.  At Fradley, you can moor up to visit the Canalside Café or The Swan Inn, and take a wander around the Fradley Pool Nature Reserve.
  5. Float across ‘The Stream in the Sky’ – passing through stunning North Wales landscapes, the Llangollen Canal is one of the most popular navigations on the network.  The journey from our narrowboat hire base at Trevor near Llangollen to Ellesmere and back offers a fantastic short break holiday for beginners.  There are just four locks between Trevor and Ellesmere at the heart of the Shropshire Lake District, a journey which takes around seven hours.  And the route includes the experience of travelling across the awesome World Heritage status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, also known as ‘The Stream in the Sky’, with incredible views of the Dee Valley 30 metres below.
  6. Potter through the Peak District – Drifters’ Peak District base, at the junction of the Caldon and Trent & Mersey canals in Stoke on Trent, offers a fantastic way to experience this beautiful National Park in the heart of England.  Starting at the Etruria, home of the industrial potteries, the gentle eight-hour cruise along the peaceful Caldon Canal to Cheddleton Flint Mill is perfect for beginners on a short break.  The route, which passes through 12 locks, takes you out into open countryside, through Denford with its popular Hollybush Inn and on to Cheddleton with its Flint Mill Museum, Black Lion pub and Old School Tearooms.
  7. Visit Georgian Bath – from our canal boat hire base at Hilperton on the Kennet & Avon Canal near Trowbridge in Wiltshire, the World Heritage Status City of Bath is a delightful six-hour cruise away.  The route passes through seven locks, over two stunning Bath stone aqueducts and past a series of popular historic canalside pubs, including the Barge Inn at Bradford on Avon and the Cross Guns at Avoncliff.  Once in Bath, you can use your canal boat as a base to enjoy all that the City has to offer, including the Roman Baths, Jane Austen Museum and Royal Crescent.
  8. Watch out for wildlife on the Ashby Canal – on a week’s holiday from our canal boat hire base at Braunston, you can cruise to the pretty village of Snarestone and back, travelling a total of 47 miles, passing through just eight locks (four there and four back) in around 32 hours.  This largely rural route follows a section of the North Oxford Canal to Rugby and then joins the Coventry Canal at Hawkesbury Junction.  Five miles later, the route transfers onto the peaceful lock-free Ashby Canal, which winds gently through countryside for 22 miles.  A six mile section of this rural waterway is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), recognising the importance of its wildlife, including nine species of dragonfly, the water shrew, water vole and rare native white-clawed crayfish. 
  9. Travel through the Scottish Lowlands to Edinburgh – from our boat yard at Falkirk,Edinburgh Quay is a sedate 11-hour journey along the lock-free Union Canal.  The journey, perfect for beginners on a mid-week or week-long break, starts with a trip through the iconic Falkirk Wheel – the world’s first and only rotating boat lift – and then passes through the lovely lowland villages of Linlithgow, Broxburn and Ratho.  Visitor moorings are available at Edinburgh Quay, just a five-minute walk from Princes Street, with easy access to the City’s many attractions, including Edinburgh Castle and Mary King Close, frozen in time beneath the Royal Mile.
  10. Boat to Brewood and back – the journey to Brewood and back from our narrowboat rental base at Gailey on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal offers an excellent short break route for narrowboat holiday beginners.  Travelling a total of 25 miles, and passing through just two locks (one on the way, one on the way back), this gentle journey through the Shropshire countryside passes the waterside Anchor Inn at Cross Green and transfers boaters onto the Shropshire Union Canal at Autherley Junction.  On reaching the historic village of Brewood, with its half-timbered houses cottages and Georgian houses, visitors have a good choice of places to eat, including the canalside Bridge Inn.

Top 5 Narrowboat Holidays on the Shropshire Union Canal

Stretching from Ellesmere Port in Cheshire the North to Autherley Junction near Wolverhampton in the South, the 77-mile long largely rural Shropshire Union Canal is often simply called ‘The Shroppie’.

There are 47 locks along the main line, four along the Middlewich Branch and three on the River Dee Branch. With long stretches of pure countryside, the Shropshire Union Canal is great for getting close to nature – especially the canal’s deep mossy cuttings where the flashing blue of a kingfisher in flight can frequently be glimpsed.

The northern section, which runs through the gently rolling Cheshire landscape, is a wide waterway, while the arrow-straight southern section features fewer locks, long embankments, cuttings and grand bridges.

Here are Drifters’ Top 5 canal boat holidays on the Shropshire Union Canal for 2020:

  1. Cruise to the ancient City of Chester – On a short break from Drifters’ canal boat hire base on the Shropshire Union Canal at Bunbury near Tarporley in Cheshire, canal boat holiday-makers can head north to the historic City of Chester.  This 12-mile journey through the rolling Cheshire countryside takes seven hours, passing through 18 locks. Places to stop along the way include English Heritage’s Beeston Castle & Woodland Park, the famous Cheshire Ice Cream farm at Tattenhall and Christleton with its popular ‘Ring ‘o’ Bells’ pub.  Once at Chester, boaters can enjoy exploring this fascinating Roman City, including its Amphitheatre, Museum, City Walls, Chester Rows, Cathedral, Castle, racecourse and award-winning zoo.
  2. Potter through the Shropshire countryside to Market Drayton – from our boat yard at Brewood on the Shropshire Union Canal, it takes around 10 hours to reach the historic market town of Market Drayton, home of the gingerbread man – perfect for a mid-week afloat.  Along the way, boaters pass through 21 miles of beautiful Shropshire countryside, passing through six locks and a series of villages with canalside pubs, including the Junction Inn at Norbury and the Royal Oak at Gnosnall.  Once at Market Drayton, boaters can enjoy picking up supplies at the Wednesday Cheshire market and admiring the town’s beautiful architecture.
  3. Navigate the Black Country Ring from our narrowboat rental base at Brewood on the Shropshire Union Canal in Staffordshire, on a week’s break narrowboat holiday-makers can travel round the Black Country Ring, cruising 85 miles and passing through 81 locks in around 47 hours.  Highlights along the way include: Birmingham’s Gas Street Basin close to Brindleyplace; the 21 locks at Wolverhampton; the Black Country Living Museum; the waters at Tixhall Wide; the 11 locks at Ashton; and 13 locks at Farmer’s Bridge.  As well as cruising a south along the Shropshire Union Canal to connect with the Black Country Ring, the circuit takes in sections of the Birmingham & Fazeley, Birmingham Main Line, Coventry, Staffordshire & Worcestershire and Trent & Mersey canals.
  4. Cruise to Norbury and back – on a relaxing short break from our narrowboat hire base on the Shropshire Union Canal at Autherley Junction, boaters can travel north to the pretty village of Norbury.  This sedate journey takes around seven hours, passing through just two locks and travelling through 15 miles of peaceful countryside. Along the way, the route takes narrowboat holiday-makers through the charming village of Brewood with its half-timbered cottages, attractive Georgian houses and choice of places to eat, including the canalside Bridge Inn.  The route also takes boaters past Belvide Reservoir near Brewood and Mottey Meadows Nature Reserve at Wheaton Ashton, both home to an abundance of wildlife. Once at Norbury, boaters can enjoy a meal at the Old Wharf Tearoom or the Junction Inn.
  5. Travel the Four Counties Ring – on a 10-day or two-week holiday from our narrowboat hire base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union in Cheshire, canal boat holiday-makers can tackle the Four Counties Ring.  From Bunbury, this popular circuit, which passes through Cheshire, Staffordshire, Shropshire and the West Midlands, travels 114 miles, through 96 locks and takes around 58 hours.  As well as a section of the Shroppie and its Middlewich Branch, it navigates parts of the Trent & Mersey Canal, Staffordshire & Worcestershire and Wardle canals. Highlights include: the Harecastle Tunnel; the flight of 15 locks at Audlem; views of the rolling Cheshire Plains; Wedgewood Pottery in Stoke on Trent; the Roman town of Middlewich; the National Trust’s Shugborough Hall; and the Elizabethan Churche’s Mansion house. 

 

Celebrate Christmas on the Canals

Enjoy Christmas on the Canals

With quiet canals, frosty towpaths, historic waterside pubs and festive waterside destinations to enjoy, a holiday on Britain’s peaceful canal network is a great way to get away this Christmas. 

Drifters offers winter cruising* from a number of its bases, with boats ranging from snug narrowboats for two to family vessels for twelve.

It’s free to moor almost anywhere on the network, so a narrowboat could provide the perfect base for a rural retreat or to enjoy Christmas and New Year celebrations in exciting waterside destinations like Birmingham, Warwick and Stratford upon Avon.

All our boats have central heating, hot water, televisions and DVD players.  Some also have multi-fuel stoves and Wifi.  So, whatever the weather, it’s always nice and cosy on board.  Prices over Christmas and New Year start at start at £495 for a short break (three or four nights) on a boat for four, weekly hire from £705.

Here are our Top 6 Christmas and New Year breaks afloat for 2019:

  1. Wend your way to Warwick for Christmas at the Castle – on a week’s break from Drifters’ base at Stockton on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, canal boat holiday-makers can cruise to Warwick and back to explore its stunning medieval castle on the banks of the River Avon.  Over Christmas, visitors the castle will find a 20-foot high Christmas tree in the Great Hall, ‘Stories with Santa’ in the Library, ‘A Winter Wedding’ in the Princess Tower and a spectacular Winter Birds of Prey show.  Canalside pubs to enjoy along the way include the Blue Lias pub at the bottom of the Stockton Flight and the Cuttle Inn at Long Itchington.
  2. Soar across the Stream in the Sky to the Shropshire Lake District – from our canal boat hire base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, narrowboat holiday-makers can travel to Ellesmere and back, passing over the awesome World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.  This magnificent feat of Victorian engineering carries the canal 30 metres above the Dee Valley, with incredible views to enjoy.  Top mooring sites along the way include The Poacher’s Pocket pub at Gledrid and the Aqueduct Inn at Froncysyllte.  Once at Ellesmere, at the centre of the Shropshire Lake District, boaters can moor up to visit the town’s eateries, and the Mere with its Motte & Bailey Castle and Cremorne Gardens.
  3. Cruise gently through the countryside to Fradley – from our narrowboat holiday hire base at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal in Staffordshire, narrowboat holiday-makers can head south, reaching Fradley Junction in five hours.  The journey passes through 12 peaceful miles of countryside, with just five locks to negotiate along the way.  Highlights along the way include The Wolseley Centre run by the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, the Wolseley Arms and the village of Rugeley with its canalside Mossley Tavern.  At Fradley, boaters can enjoy refreshments at the Canalside Café or The Swan Inn and explore the Fradley Pool Nature Reserve. 
  4. Cruise to Stratford for festive celebrations in the home of the Bard –  it’s a picturesque six-hour cruise to Shakespeare’s Stratford from our narrowboat hire base on the Stratford Canal at Wootton Wawen in Warwickshire.  Once there, boaters can moor up in Bancroft Basin in the centre of Stratford to enjoy festive fun in the home of Bard, including stunning Christmas lights, fantastic markets, atmospheric carol singers and performances of Shakespeare’s ‘King John’ at the Swan Theatre. 
  5. Travel into Birmingham for festive fun afloat – from our canal boat hire rental base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, it takes just five hours to cruise into the centre of Birmingham.  Once there, boaters can moor up in Gas Street Basin, close to Brindleyplace to enjoy Christmas in Birmingham, including ‘Snow White’ at the Hippodrome, The Big Wheel and Ice Rink at Centenary Square and the Frankfurt Christmas Market at Victoria Square (until 23 Dec).  
  6. Travel through the countryside to Coventry and back – from Drifter’s narrowboat hire centre on the North Oxford Canal at Rugby, canal boat holiday-makers can travel through the countryside along the North Oxford and Coventry canals to Coventry and back, passing through a series of canalside villages with traditional country pubs along the way. The journey there and back travels a total of 35 miles, passing through just two locks (one each way) and takes around 15 hours.  Once in Coventry, boaters can moor up in Coventry Basin to explore the City, including Christmas Carols at the magnificent Coventry Cathedral and ‘Puss in Boots’ panto fun at the Belgrade Theatre.

*NB some of our routes will be affected by winter maintenance work on the canal network.

 

Magnificent cathedrals to visit

Magnificent cathedrals to visit on a canal boat holiday

There are over 3,000 miles of navigable rivers and canals to explore in Britain, and hundreds of cultural and historic destinations to visit while on a narrowboat holiday, including some of England’s most magnificent cathedrals. Here’s our guide to the top six cathedrals to visit on a canal boat holiday:
  1. Climb the Octagon Tower at Ely Cathedral – dating back to 1083, architecturally Ely Cathedral is outstanding due to its beauty, scale and famous central Octagon Tower with a lantern.  It is the only UK building to be listed as one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Medieval World’, and visible for miles around, the Cathedral is often referred to as ‘The Ship of the Fens’.  When visiting the Cathedral you can climb the world famous Octagon Tower and the West Tower, visit the Lady Chapel and enjoy afternoon tea in the 11th century Undercroft.  On a four-night or week-long break from Drifters’ canal boat hire base at March on the Fenland Waterways in Cambridgeshire, narrowboat holiday-makers can reach Ely in around nine hours, travelling 30 miles and passing through just three locks along the way. 
  2. Visit the Crypt at Worcester Cathedral – this ancient building rising majestically above the River Severn dates back nearly 1,000 years and is a major tourist attraction.  In the Cathedral’s Crypt, visitors can find an exhibition telling the story of the Cathedral and a display of The Worcester Pilgrim artefacts.  The Tower, with its 235 steps and spectacular views over the city, is usually open to climb on weekends and during school holidays.  Worcester and its Cathedral can be visited as part of the Stourport and Droitwich Ring canal boat holiday circuits, easily accessed from Drifters’ canal boat holiday hire bases at Worcester, Stoke Prior, Alvechurch and Tardebigge. 
  3. See the medieval choir stalls at Chester Cathedral – construction of this wonderful example of a medieval monastery began in 1092.  Within its walls lie treasures of national significance, including the finest medieval choir stalls in existence and the best Pre-Raphaelite mosaics in the country.  As well as services, the Cathedral hosts many special events each year, including talks, exhibitions and concerts.  There are Tower Tours offering the chance to climb the 216 steps of the 125ft high tower and enjoy panoramic views of Chester.  Setting off from Drifters’ canal boat hire base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal near Tarporley, narrowboat holiday-makers can reach Chester in around seven hours, passing through nine locks along the way.
  4. Listen to the bells ringing at Birmingham Cathedral – consecrated as the parish church of St Philip’s in 1715, this Grade I listed building is a rare and very fine example of English Baroque architecture.  The Cathedral houses a peal of 12 bells which are rung every Sunday and most Mondays by the St Martin’s Guild of Church Bell Ringers.  Birmingham Cathedral is home to a remarkable set of stained-glass windows designed by Birmingham born Pre-Raphaelite artist Sir Edward Burne-Jones and manufactured by the firm of William Morris & Co.  From Drifters’ narrowboat rental base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, it takes just five hours to reach mooring in Birmingham City Centre.  From Drifters’ base nearby at Alvechurch, it takes around four hours.
  5. Admire one of the World’s largest tapestries at Coventry Cathedral – the Cathedral Church of St Michael was designed by Basil Spence and was consecrated in 1962.  Close by, the remains of the ‘old Cathedral’, destroyed by enemy air attack in the Second World War, have been preserved as a reminder of the folly and waste of war. Rather than a purely Church of England sacred space, Coventry’s new cathedral was intended as a space where people of all faiths could gather together.  The new Cathedral is home to some amazing works of art, including Graham Sutherland’s enormous ‘Christ in Glory’ tapestry and stunning stained glass windows by John Piper and John Hutton.  From Drifters’ canal boat hire base on the North Oxford Canal at Rugby, it takes around eight hours to reach Coventry Basin.
  6. Look up at the remarkable vaulted ceiling in the Chancel of Oxford Cathedral – Christ Church Cathedral is one of the oldest buildings in Oxford and one of the smallest cathedrals in the Church of England.  Unusually for a cathedral, its centre stalls face inwards in the ‘collegiate’ style.  Standing on the site of an ancient Saxon Church, the present Cathedral building was constructed 900 years ago as the monastery church for a community of Augustinian Canons.  Since 1546 it has held a dual function as both College Chapel and Cathedral.  It has beautiful stained glass windows, including the Jonah Window painted in the 1630s by the Dutch artist Abraham van Linge and the Becket Window dating back to 1320. Created in 1500, the Cathedral’s Chancel has a remarkable stone vaulted ceiling.  From Drifters narrowboat hire base at close to Oxford on the River Thames at Eynsham, it takes just under four hours to cruise to moorings close to Oxford City Centre.

 

Take a Canal Boat Holiday this Halloween

Top 9 spooky destinations afloat

With ghosts galore, bats, toads, moths, spiders and frogs aplenty – as well as creepy tunnels, spooky locks and misty towpaths – Britain’s 2,000-mile, 200-year old canal network provides the perfect backdrop for a haunting Halloween.

Here’s a guide to Drifters’ spookiest destinations for Halloween 2019:

  1. Hear echoes of a killing at Kidsgrove – the Trent & Mersey Canal’s spooky 2,676-metre long Harecastle Tunnel at Kidsgrove is said to be home to a shrieking boggart – the ghost of Kit Crewbucket who was murdered and his headless corpse was dumped in the canal.  Harecastle Tunnel can be reached in around 12 hours (travelling 22 miles through 18 locks) from our canal boat hire base at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal near Stafford. 
  2. Mind the Monkey Man at Norbury – the Shropshire Union Canal is said to be Britain’s most haunted canal with five ghosts along its length, including the terrifying ‘Monkey Man’ at Bridge 39 near Norbury.  This hideous black, shaggy coated being is believed to be the ghost of a boatman drowned there in the 19th century.  Narrowboat holiday-makers can head north from our base at Brewood on the Shropshire Union Canal near Stafford, reaching Bridge 39 in around four and a half hours. 
  3. Prepare to be spooked at Blisworth Tunnel – on the Grand Union Canal at Stoke Bruerne in Northamptonshire, the Blisworth Tunnel has spooked a number of boaters over the years.  At 2,795 metres long, it’s one of the longest on the canal system.  When construction began in 1793, the tunnel was a major engineering challenge.  Teams of navvies worked with picks and shovels for three years until they hit quicksand and the tunnel collapsed, killing 14 men.  A new route for the tunnel was found and it finally opened on 25 March 1805.  Over the years, a number of boaters travelling through the tunnel have reported seeing lights and a second route emerging.  But the tunnel runs straight through the hill so people must have seen the flicker of candlelight at the spot where the first tunnel would have intersected with the main canal tunnel.  Perhaps the ghostly navvies are still working there…?  The Blisworth Tunnel is less than an our away from our narrowboat hire base at Gayton on the Grand Union Canal in Northamptonshire. 
  4. Steel yourself for a visit from the Viscount – Once a 13th century monastery, The George Inn at Bathampton is said to be haunted by the ghost of Viscount John Baptiste Du Barre, who mortally wounded in the last legal duel fought in Britain.  The Viscount was reputedly a decadent man who held lavish parties and enjoyed gambling.  Following an argument over a card game, a challenge was thrown down and on 18 November 1778, he and his opponent met on Claverton Down at dawn.  Drifters’ narrowboat hire base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Bath is a 20-minute cruise from the George Inn. 
  5. Witness some ghostly goings-on at The Navigation Inn – the Navigation Inn on the Calder & Hebble Navigation at Sowerby Bridge dates back to the 15th century, and served travellers along the old salt road from Chester to York long before the canal was built.  According to the landlord, there’s plenty of supernatural activity in this ancient building, including noises in the cellar, clocks that mysteriously stop and spirits that appear in the kitchen.  The Navigation Inn is very close to our canal boat hire base at Sowerby Bridge. 
  6. Beware the blood stained steps at Brindley Bank – the Trent & Mersey Canal at Brindley Bank Aqueduct in Staffordshire, is said to be haunted by Christina Collins, who was murdered there on 17 June 1839 and her body flung into the canal.  Three boatmen were convicted of her killing; two were hanged, the third transported.  As Christina’s body was dragged from the water, her blood ran down a flight of sandstone steps leading from the canal, and it is said that the stain occasionally reappears on those stones.  Brindley Bank is just over an hour away from Drifters’ narrowboat hire base at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal.
  7. Get the chills in Chester – visit the City’s old Northgate where the canal was dug into part of the town’s moat and a Roman centurion can sometimes be seen guarding the entrance to the City.  Canal boat holiday-makers can hire a boat from our canal boat yard at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire, and reach Chester in seven hours, and passing through nine locks. 
  8. Watch out for an Aqueduct Apparition – the Llangollen Canal in Wrexham is haunted by an eerie figure that can sometimes be seen on moonlit nights, gliding along the towpath by the UNESCO World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which carries canal boat holiday-makers 38 metres high in the air above the River Dee.  From narrowboat hire base on the Llangollen Canal at Trevor, it’s a 10-minute cruise to the Aqueduct.  
  9. Look out for the ghost of the lusty farm hand – originally an 18th century farm house, The Blue Lias pub on the Grand Union Canal at the bottom of the Stockton flight in Warwickshire, is said to be haunted by the ghost of a red-haired farm labourer who was murdered when the vengeful farmer returned home from market one day to find the labourer in bed with his wife.  The Blue Lias pub is just under a mile and eight locks away from our canal boat rental base at Stockton. 
Common pipistrelle, pipistrellus pipistrellus

 

DRIFTERS DISCOUNTS SUMMER HOLIDAYS

Top 5 Narrowboat Holidays on the Llangollen Canal

Stretching for 41 miles, the Llangollen Canal crosses the border between England and Wales, and links the Eisteddfod town of Llangollen in Denbighshire with the Shropshire Union Canal, just north of Nantwich in Cheshire. 

The waterway offers breath-taking views, iconic canal structures, and a series of historic market towns and nature reserves to explore.  Its scenery varies from ancient peat mosses and tree-lined lakes to wooded valleys and the dramatic foothills of Snowdonia.

Ten years ago, an 11-mile section of the Llangollen Canal from Gledrid Bridge to the Horseshoe Falls in Llangollen, including the incredible 307-metre long Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and 220-metre Chirk Aqueduct, was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO.

Soaring 35 metres above the rushing waters of the River Dee, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is truly one of the wonders of the waterways.  Built by the great canal engineers Thomas Telford and William Jessop, and completed in 1805, the aqueduct is supported by 18 giant pillars, carrying a 307-metre long iron trough allowing passage for a single narrowboat.

Drifters offers 550 narrowboats for hire from 45 bases, including six on the Llangollen Canal. 

Here are Drifters’ Top 5 canal boat holidays on the Llangollen Canal for 2020:

  1. Float across ‘The Stream in the Sky’ to Llangollen – from our base at Chirk on the Llangollen Canal, the Eisteddfod town of Llangollen can be reached on a short break (three or four nights), crossing over the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct along the way.  This lock-free journey to Llangollen cruises seven miles, passes through Whitehouses Tunnel and takes around four hours.  Once in Llangollen, boaters can moor up to enjoy exploring this pretty town nestled on the edge of the Berwyn Mountains, including its regular markets packed with local produce, choice of independent shops and restaurants, steam railway and famous Horseshoe Falls.
  2. Cruise to Whitchurch – on a week’s holiday from canal boat hire yard at Trevor in Wrexham, narrowboat holiday-makers can travel along the Llangollen Canal to the historic market town of Whitchurch and back in around 44 cruising hours.  The route crosses over the magnificent Pontcysyllte and Chirk aqueducts, through the 420-metre Chirk tunnel, and passes through just four locks (two on the way, two on the way back). Once at Whitchurch, boaters can moor up to explore this pretty historic town with half-timbered buildings, independent shops and restaurants, way-marked circular walks, water voles at Staggs Brook, woodpeckers at Brown Moss nature reserve and the award-winning Black Bear pub.
  3. Travel through the Shropshire Lake District – on a short break (three or four nights) from our narrowboat hire base on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal at Whixall in Shropshire, canal boat holiday-makers can head west to Ellesmere and the Shropshire Lake District.  The journey to Ellesmere takes around four hours and passes Cadney Moss, Lyneal Moss and Colemere Country Park along the way.  Once at Ellesmere, boaters can moor up on the Ellesmere Branch of the Llangollen Canal to visit The Mere, with its Motte & Bailey Castle, Cremorne Gardens and a choice of places to eat. 
  4. Cruise the Four Counties Ring – from our narrowboat hire centre at Blackwater Meadow on the Llangollen Canal near Ellesmere, on a two-week break canal boat holiday-makers can travel along the Llangollen Canal to connect with the Four Counties Ring.  This popular circuit takes boaters on a 110 mile, 94-lock odyssey through the counties of Shropshire, Cheshire, Staffordshire and the West Midlands.  Highlights along the way include the 2670-metre long Harecastle Tunnel, the flight of 15 locks at Audlem, views of the rolling Cheshire Plains, Wedgewood Pottery, the Roman town of Middlewich and the National Trust’s Shugborough Hall.  From Blackwater Meadow the journey takes around 90 hours.
  5. Head to Chirk and its medieval castle on the hill – from our canal boat rental base at Wrenbury on the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire, on a four-night mid-week break narrowboat holiday-makers can travel through dramatic scenery to the Welsh border at Chirk.  Along the way, the route passes through 12 locks and the Shropshire Lake District, and takes around 15 hours.  Once at Chirk, boaters can moor up to visit the National Trust’s medieval fortress up on the hill above the canal – one of several medieval marcher fortresses built on the Welsh-English border.   

 

Top 5 narrowboat holidays on the Trent & Mersey Canal

Top 5 narrowboat holidays on the Trent & Mersey Canal

The 93-mile long Trent & Mersey Canal begins close to the River Mersey near Runcorn and finishes at its junction with the River Trent in Derbyshire.  It has 73 locks and several feats of canal engineering, including the magnificent Anderton Boat Lift, which raises or lowers boats 15 metres between the River Weaver and the Trent & Mersey Canal, and the 2,647-metre long Harecastle Tunnel.

The Trent & Mersey Canal evolved as a direct result of the development of the pottery industry in North Staffordshire.  In 1765 Josiah Wedgewood, the top producer of pottery, put forward the idea of building a canal to link the Potteries with the River Mersey. His vision was made possible by the genius of canal engineer James Brindley.

Opening in 1777, it was the country’s first long distance canal and its effect was instant and phenomenal – transport costs were quartered and the whole area expanded.  As well as pottery, other industries prospered from it including the brewing industry at Burton on Trent, salt at Middlewich, Northwich and Sandbach, and coal mining in North Staffordshire.

Today the canal takes narrowboat holiday-makers through some of the best countryside and scenery that our waterways have to offer.  To celebrate, here are Drifters’ Top 5 canal boat holidays on the Trent & Mersey Canal for 2020:

  1. Float gently along to Fradley – on a short break from Drifters’ canal boat hire base on the Trent & Mersey Canal at Great Haywood in Staffordshire, narrowboat holiday-makers can head south to Fradley Junction, where the Coventry Canal meets the Trent & Mersey.  The journey takes around five hours, travelling 12 peaceful miles of Staffordshire countryside and passing through just five locks.  At Fradley, boaters can moor up to visit the Canalside Café or The Swan Inn, and take a wander around the Fradley Pool Nature Reserve.
  2. Travel the Four Counties Ring – on a 10-day or two-week holiday from our narrowboat hire base at Anderton on the Trent & Mersey Canal in Cheshire, canal boat holiday-makers can tackle the Four Counties Ring.  This popular circuit, which passes through Cheshire, Staffordshire, Shropshire and the West Midlands, travels 110 miles, through 94 locks and takes around 55 hours.  As well as a section of the Trent & Mersey Canal, it also travels stretches of the Shropshire Union, Staffordshire & Worcestershire and Wardle canals. Highlights include: the Harecastle Tunnel; the flight of 15 locks at Audlem; views of the rolling Cheshire Plains; Wedgewood Pottery in Stoke on Trent; the Roman town of Middlewich; the National Trust’s Shugborough Hall; and the Elizabethan Churche’s Mansion. 
  3. Cruise to Congleton & back – from our Peak District canal boat hire base on the Trent & Mersey Canal at Stoke-on-Trent, boaters can cruise to Congleton and back on a short break, travelling a total of 22 miles, passing through two locks (one each way) and taking around 10 hours.  Travelling north along the Trent & Mersey, boaters soon reach the extraordinary one-and-a-half-mile long Harecastle Tunnel, which takes around 45 minutes to travel through.  Then at Hardings Wood Junction, boaters can transfer on to the Macclesfield Canal, enjoying lovely open countryside with beautiful hillside views.  Along the way, from Bridge 86 it’s a short walk to the National Trust’s fascinating Tudor Little Moreton Hall, and once at the historic market town of Congleton, there are plenty of pubs and restaurants to choose from, including the Lion & Swan 16th century coaching inn.
  4. Steer gently through the countryside to Stone – from Drifters’ canal boat yard at Great Haywood it takes just five hours of gentle cruising along the Trent & Mersey Canal to reach the historic Shropshire market town of Stone.  Stone is renowned as the food and drink capital of Staffordshire, with regular markets, a good choice of restaurants and the annual Food & Drink Festival in October.  Along the way, there are just four locks to pass through and plenty of pubs to enjoy, including The Woolpack at Weston and The Holly Bush Inn at Salt.
  5. Tour the mighty Cheshire Ring – on a week or 10-day long holiday from our narrowboat hire base on the Trent & Mersey Canal at Acton Bridge, near Northwich in Cheshire, canal boat holiday-makers can travel round the Cheshire Ring.  This epic journey cruises a total of 97 miles, passes through 92 locks and takes around 56 hours. The Cheshire Ring takes boaters past the Anderton Boat Lift, through four tunnels and over two aqueducts.  It travels through the centre of Manchester and the Peak District via the Ashton, Macclesfield, Peak Forest, Rochdale, Trent & Mersey and Bridgewater canals. Highlights include: the flight of 26 locks on the Trent & Mersey Canal between Middlewich and Kidsgrove known at ‘Heartbreak Hill’; and stunning views from the Top Lock at Marple on the Peak Forest Canal.
Anderton Boat Lift

 

Top 8 October half term canal boat holidays

Top 8 October half term canal boat holidays

Canal boat holidays are fantastic for families, offering the chance to enjoy the autumn countryside, watch out for waterway wildlife, learn how to work the locks and speak the boating lingo.

This October Half Term, why not set sail together for a family adventure afloat, enjoying the splendid colours of autumn in the hedgerows and trees that line our waterways and stopping off at canalside destinations along the way.

Drifters’ 2019 October Half Term prices start at £582 for a short break (three or four nights), £795 for a week on a boat for four people.  Here are our top 8 destinations for families this October Half Term:

  1. Glide through the Usk Valley to Brecon and back – the beautiful Monmouth & Brecon Canal offers 35 miles of quiet countryside to explore with incredible views of the Brecon Beacons.  From Drifters’ canal boat hire base at Goytre Wharf near Abergavenny, on a week’s break boaters can journey through the wooded Usk Valley to the pretty market town of Brecon, home to a cathedral, theatre, cinema, castle ruins and great access to the National Park with walking routes, cycle hire and pony trekking.  Along the way, boaters can stop off at Llanfoist to take the old tramway into the Black Mountains, visit the 13th century caste at Crickhowell and walk to the Blaen y Glyn waterfalls at Talybont-on-Usk.  The total journey there and back travels 51 miles, passing through 12 locks and takes around 25 hours. 
  2. Travel through the Shropshire countryside to the home of the gingerbread man – from Drifters’ canal boat hire base at Brewood on the Shropshire Union Canal, it takes around 10 hours to reach the historic market town of Market Drayton, home of the gingerbread man – perfect for a mid-week break afloat.  Along the way, boaters pass through 21 miles of beautiful Shropshire countryside, six locks and a series of villages with canalside pubs, including the Junction Inn at Norbury and the Royal Oak at Gnosnall. 
  3. Visit Georgian Bath afloat – on a mid-week (four-night) break from Drifters’ canal boat hire base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Devizes, canal boat holiday-makers can travel west to the beautiful World Heritage Status City of Bath, famous for its stunning Georgian architecture.  Along the way, boaters travel across two magnificent aqueducts crafted out of Bath stone and can enjoy stopping off at historic canalside pubs, including the Barge Inn at Seend, the Lock Inn at Bradford upon Avon and the Cross Guns at Avoncliff.  Arriving at Sydney Gardens just outside Bath City Centre, boaters can find quiet moorings just a 15-minute walk from Bath’s major attractions, including the Roman Baths.  The journey to Bath takes around nine hours, travelling 19 miles and passing through eight locks.
  4. Travel across the Stream in the Sky – on a short break (three or four nights) from Drifters’ canal boat hire base on the Llangollen Canal at Trevor, boaters can travel seven peaceful miles to Ellesmere and back, with just two locks to pass through and the magnificent World Heritage status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, with stunning views of the Dee Valley below to travel across.  Once at Ellesmere, boaters can explore the famous Mere with its historic castle, woodland paths and fascinating wildlife. 
  5. Cruise along the Ashby to the site of the Battle of Bosworth – on a week’s holiday from Drifters canal boat hire base at Braunston, canal boat holiday-makers can travel to the pretty village of Snarestone and back, travelling a total of 47 miles, passing through eight locks and taking around 32 hours.  This largely rural route takes boaters up the North Oxford Canal to Rugby and on to Hawkesbury Junction to join the Coventry Canal.  Five miles later, boaters can transfer onto the peaceful lock-free Ashbury Canal, which winds peacefully through countryside for almost the whole of its 22-mile length.  From Carlton Bridge to Snarestone, the canal is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).  Along the way, boaters pass close to Market Bosworth and the site of the Battle of Bosworth Field, where in 1485 Richard III lost his crown to Henry Tudor.
  6. Visit the historic Yorkshire mill town of Hebden Bridge – on a short break (three or four nights) from Drifters’ canal boat rental base at Sowerby Bridge in West Yorkshire, canal boat holiday-makers can travel along the leafy Rochdale Canal to the old mill town of Hebden Bridge, nestled in a fork in the hills.  Climbing through woods, fields and small stone towns, the journey to Hebden Bridge covers seven miles, 10 locks and takes around five and a half hours.  Once at Hebden, boaters can moor in the centre of town to enjoy a good choice of pubs, restaurants, cafes, shops and markets as well as stunning walks up to Heptonstall or Hardcastle Crags
  7. Explore Birmingham by boat – with more canals than Venice and incredible canalside regeneration areas like Brindleyplace, there’s no better way to explore Birmingham than by boat.  From Drifters’ narrowboat hire base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, it takes just five hours to reach City Centre moorings at Gas Street Basin, the perfect base for exploring the many attractions of Britain’s vibrant Second City, including the fantastic Thinktank Science Museum.  With no locks along the way, it’s a great route for beginners to enjoy testing the waters.
  8. Cruise through the Scottish lowlands to Linlithgow Palace – from Drifters’ canal boat hire base at the Falkirk Wheel boat lift, it’s a peaceful five-hour cruise along the Union Canal to the historic town of Linlithgow – perfect for a short break (three or four nights).  The route starts with a journey through the Falkirk Wheel – the world’s first rotating boat lift which replaced a flight of 11 locks – and then passes through two tunnels and two aqueducts, plus miles of peaceful countryside before reaching Linlithgow.  Once there, narrowboat holiday-makers can visit the beautifully preserved remains of Linlithgow Palace on the shores of Linlithgow Loch, the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots, and visit some of the town’s excellent eateries, including the award-winning Four Marys pub.

 

Top 5 narrowboat holidays on the Grand Union Canal

Top 5 narrowboat holidays on the Grand Union Canal

Stretching 137 miles through 166 locks, the Grand Union Canal was built to transport goods between London and Birmingham.  This famous waterways, which celebrates its 90th anniversary in 2020, emerged as a result of the amalgamation of eight independent waterways, including the Grand Junction and Oxford canals. 

It cuts across the country from the River Thames at Brentford in London to the Digbeth Branch canal in the heart of Birmingham.  It’s most dramatic features include the impressive Iron Trunk Aqueduct carrying the canal over the River Ouse in Buckinghamshire, the 2,795-metre long Blisworth Tunnel in Northamptonshire and the Hatton Flight of 21 Locks in Warwickshire. 

Drifters offers canal boat hire from four bases on the Grand Union Canal.  To celebrate the 90th anniversary of the formation of the Grand Union Canal, here are our Top 5 canal boat holidays on this famous waterway:

  1. Visit Warwick Castle afloat – on a short break (three or four nights) from Drifters’ canal boat hire base on the Grand Union Canal at Stockton in Warwickshire, narrowboat holiday-makers can reach the historic centre of Warwick in just eight hours and can moor up to explore the town’s magnificent castle on the banks of the River Avon.  Said to be ‘Britain’s greatest medieval experience’, the castle offers visitors a fantastic day out with Flight of the Eagles displays, the Kingmaker Exhibition, Horrible Histories Maze, The Castle Dungeon tour, the Mighty Trebuchet in action and costumed interpreters bringing history to life. The journey to moorings close to the Castle cruises 11 miles and passes through 22 locks.
  2. Travel the Warwickshire Ring – On a week’s holiday from our narrowboat hire base on the Grand Union Canal at Warwick, boaters can travel the popular Warwickshire Ring, travelling 101 miles, through 94 locks in around 54 hours through a mixture of urban and rural landscapes.  Highlights along the way include the awesome Fight of 21 locks at Hatton, Birmingham’s Gas Street Basin in the heart of Britain’s second city, the flight of 11 locks at Atherstone and the pretty canal village of Braunston. 
  3. Pass through the Blisworth Tunnel to reach the Canal Museum at Stoke Bruerne – on a short break from our boat yard at Gayton, on the Northampton Arm of the Grand Union Canal near Northampton, in just over an hour canal boat holiday-makers can cruise gently through the countryside to the canalside village of Stoke Bruerne, passing through the 2,813-metre long Blisworth Tunnel, the third longest on the network.  Once in Stoke Bruerne, visitors can enjoy a choice of canalside pubs, woodland walks and browsing the intriguing waterway history collections at the Canal Museum.  From there, boaters can through seven locks and on through the countryside to the village of Cosgrove, passing over the Great Ouse or Iron Trunk Aqueduct.
  4. Navigate to Aylesbury & back – on a week’s holiday from our canal boat rental base on the Northampton Arm at Gayton, narrowboat holiday-makers can travel 44 miles along the Grand Union Canal to Buckinghamshire’s county town of Aylesbury, home to an impressive new theatre and the Roald Dahl Children’s Gallery.  Along the way, the route passes through Blisworth Tunnel, Stoke Bruerne, over the Iron Trunk Aqueduct, through the suburbs and parklands of Milton Keynes, and through Leighton Buzzard, before turning onto the Aylesbury Arm at Marsworth.   The journey from Gayton to Aylesbury and back travels a total of 88 miles (44 there and 44 back), passes through 82 locks and takes around 46 hours.
  5. Cruise the epic Leicester Ring – on a two-week break from Drifters’ narrowboat hire base on the Grand Union Canal at Braunston, boaters can tackle the mighty Leicester Ring, travelling along the Grand Union Canal, and transferring onto the Leicester Line at Norton Junction.  The circuit also uses stretches of the Rivers Soar and Trent, as well as sections of the Birmingham & Fazeley, Coventry, Oxford and Trent & Mersey canals.  Highlights include: Blisworth and Crick tunnels; the staircase of locks at Foxton; Leicester City Centre and Cathedral; Barrow-upon-Soar Deep Lock; the historic village of Shardlow; Fradley Junction with its nature reserve; the 11 locks at Atherstone; and the City of Coventry. Travelling from Braunston, the circuit covers 155 miles, passes through 100 locks and takes around 77 cruising hours.
Hatton Locks

 

Top 10 canal boat holidays for 2020

Top 10 canal boat holidays for 2020

From rural retreats to vibrant city centres, narrowboat holiday-makers can use their boat as a floating holiday home to explore Britain’s beautiful 3,000-mile network of inland waterways, with the choice of hundreds of waterside destinations and historic canalside pubs to enjoy visiting along the way. 

Drifters offers over 550 boats for hire from 45 locations across England, Scotland and Wales.  Tuition is included in all our holiday packages.

Here are Drifters’ Top 10 canal boat holidays for 2020:

  1. Celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Grand Union Canal with a cruise to Warwick Castle – in 2020, the Grand Union Canal will celebrate 90 years since its formation, when eight independent waterways were merged.  On a short break (three or four nights) from Drifters’ canal boat hire base on the Grand Union Canal at Stockton in Warwickshire, narrowboat holiday-makers can reach the historic centre of Warwick and moor up to explore the town’s magnificent castle on the banks of the River Avon, said to be ‘Britain’s greatest medieval experience’. The journey to moorings close to the Castle cruises 11 miles, passes through 22 locks and takes around nine hours.
  2. Wend your way to East Marton and back – starting from our narrowboat hire base at Reedley in Lancashire, boaters can travel along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal into North Yorkshire, passing through Nelson and then Barrowford, with its fascinating Pendle Heritage Centre and popular village pub.  The route then takes boaters through seven locks and the Foulridge Tunnel, then on to the market town of Barnoldswick, with plenty of places to eat.   After miles of peaceful countryside and the three locks at Greenberfield, the canal winds its way through hilly landscape into the village of East Marton, where there’s a choice of canalside pubs and the canal connects to the Pennine Way.  The journey there and back covers 28 miles, passes through 20 locks (10 each way) and takes around 12 hours.
  3. Float through the Brecon Beacons – isolated from the main canal network, the beautiful Monmouth & Brecon Canal runs through the Brecon Beacons National Park.  Stretching 35 miles from Brecon to Cwmbran, with very few locks, this peaceful waterway offers canal boat holiday-makers incredible mountain views, a series of villages with country pubs and a wealth of wildlife to watch out for along the way.   On a four night break from our canal boat rental base at Goytre Wharf, near Abergavenny, boaters can cruise lock-free to Talybont-on-Usk and back, with excellent walking trails, the Canalside Café and the Star Inn.  The journey there and back covers a total of 38 miles, passes through 10 locks (five there and five back) and takes around 18 hours.
  4. Cruise the epic Stourport Ring – on a week’s holiday from Drifters’ Tardebigge boat yard on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, canal boat holiday-makers can travel the popular Stourport Ring, mixing long sections of countryside cruising with key waterside destinations.  Cruising 84 miles in around 44 hours, this circuit takes boaters through 118 locks, including the longest lock flight in Britain (the 30 locks at Tardebigge) and along sections of the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal, Worcester & Birmingham Canal, the River Severn, Birmingham Canal Main Line and Stourbridge canals.  Along the way, narrowboat holidays pass through central Birmingham, the Stourport Basins, Kinver with its National Trust rock houses and the City of Worcester with its magnificent cathedral.
  5. Drift through the prehistoric Vale of Pewsey to Hungerford – from Drifters’ canal boat hire base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Devizes, it takes around 20 hours, travelling 27 miles through 53 locks to reach the historic town of Hungerford, perfect for a week afloat.  Along the way, boaters travel up the spectacular flight of 16 locks in a row at Caen Hill (one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways) and cruise through the beautiful Vale of Pewsey, passing close to prehistoric Avebury and along the edge of the ancient Savernake Forest.  Once at Hungerford, narrowboat holiday-makers can enjoy dining at a choice of pubs and browsing in dozens of antique shops. 
  6. Glide along the Forth & Clyde to visit Glasgow – from our narrowboat hire base at the incredible Falkirk Wheel boat lift, it’s a peaceful nine-hour cruise along the Forth & Clyde Canal to the City of Glasgow – perfect for a short break.  Along the way, boaters will travel 22 miles and will pass through five locks.  This scenic route passes through Auchinstarry, the River Kelvin Valley with magnificent views of the Campsie Fells above, and the town of Kirkintillock.  There are moorings at Applecross Street Basin, with access to Glasgow’s wealth of museums, galleries and cultural centres, including the Hunterian Museum, home to one of Scotland’s finest collections.
  7. Watch out for wildlife on the Ashby Canal – on a week’s holiday from our canal boat hire base at Braunston, canal boat holiday-makers can cruise to the pretty village of Snarestone and back, travelling a total of 47 miles, passing through just eight locks (four there and four back) in around 32 hours.  This largely rural route takes boaters up the North Oxford Canal to Rugby and on to Hawkesbury Junction to join the Coventry Canal.  Five miles later, the route transfers onto the peaceful lock-free Ashbury Canal, which winds gently through countryside for 22 miles.  From Carlton Bridge to Snarestone, the canal is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), recognising the diversity of its plant, insect and animal life, including nine species of dragonfly, the water shrew, water vole and rare native white-clawed crayfish. 
  8. Glide through the Peak District to Cheddleton and back – on a short break from our Peak District narrowboat hire base at Etruria in Stoke on Trent, canal boat holiday-makers can travel into the Peak District along the beautiful Caldon Canal, reaching Cheddleton Flint Mill in around eight hours, passing through 12 locks and travelling just over 11 miles.  As the Caldon Canal leaves Stoke, it begins to pass through gently rolling hills and wooded areas, past old mills and then alongside the stunning River Churnet.  At Denford, boaters can take refreshment at the popular Hollybush Inn and at Consall Forge, the secluded Black Lion pub serves good food and real ales.
  9. Float across ‘The Stream in the Sky’ to Llangollen and back – from Drifters’ base at Chirk on the beautiful Llangollen Canal in North Wales, the awesome UNESCO World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and the Eisteddfod town of Llangollen, can be reached on a short break.  Standing at over 125ft high above the Dee Valley, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is 1,000ft long, supporting a cast iron trough across 19 enormous hollow pillars.  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. Once in Llangollen, boaters can moor up to enjoy exploring this pretty town nestled on the edge of the Berwyn Mountains, including its regular markets packed with local produce, choice of independent shops and restaurants and famous Horseshoe Falls.
  10. Cruise to Todmorden and back for some stunning Pennine scenery – on a short break (three or four nights) from Drifters’ base at Sowerby Bridge, canal boat holiday-makers can travel to Todmorden and back along the Rochdale Canal – a journey which travels a total of 20 miles, passing through 34 locks and takes around 16 hours.  The historic town of Todmorden offers visitors fine Victorian architecture, plenty of pubs and restaurants, and a busy market.  Along the way, boaters pass through the beautiful Calder Valley village of Mytholmroyd, the birthplace of Ted Hughes, and the old mill town of Hebden Bridge, nestled in a fork in the hills, with an amazing variety of shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs and a series of scenic waymarked walks.