Canal boat holidays are great for pets

8 reasons why canal boat holidays are great for pets

Canal boats provide a floating holiday home so it’s possible to take all sorts of pets on the canals.

And as well as hundreds of dogs each year, Drifters’ canal boat hire operators have accommodated many other kinds of pets aboard their canal boats, including rabbits, hamsters, caged birds, goldfish and tortoises.

To celebrate, here are our top 8 reasons why canal boat holidays are great for pets:

  1. The majority of canal boats for hire allow pets on board, so you don’t have to allocate extra holiday budget to pet care
  2. No extra vaccinations or pet passports are needed for your pet to cruise the canals
  3. Many Drifters narrowboat hire operators allow the first pet to travel free, while others charge a supplement of between £25 and £35
  4. Narrowboat holidays are especially great for dogs, with plenty of towpath and woodland walks, alive with interesting sights, smells and sounds, plus other dogs to meet along the way
  5. Travelling through the countryside and waterside towns and villages at just four-miles-an-hour, canal boat holidays are the fastest way to slow down – if you’re more relaxed, your pets will be too
  6. Narrowboats with open cruiser-sterns at the back offer extra room ‘on deck’ for pets and the family to enjoy the ever-changing view
  7. You can buy a doggy life-jacket with wide belly-strap and easy-to-grab handle for a quick retrieval if your dog accidently goes swimming
  8. Most of the pubs along the canals allow dogs in their bar area and gardens, and some even offer doggy treats at the bar, so you can enjoy visiting waterside watering holes together.

 

Top 7 Autumn Breaks Afloat

All aboard for Autumn Afloat

A canal boat holiday is a great way to enjoy the splendid colours of autumn in the hedgerows and trees that line our waterways, as they are dramatically mirrored in the water.

There’s plenty of wildlife to spot along the way during the autumn months, including flocks of fieldfare searching for hawthorn berries, and small mammals stocking up on food before the winter.

There are also foraging opportunities along the way, such as apples, blackberries, sweet chestnuts, rosehips, elderberries, damsons and sloes – perfect for fresh fruit crumbles and drinks on board.

To celebrate, here are our top nine destinations for this autumn:

  1. Amble along the Ashby to Snarestone and back – 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.  Here in 1485 the reign of Richard III ended and Henry Tudor became Henry VII, the first of the Tudor monarchs.
  2. Glide across The Stream in the Sky from our new canal boat rental base at Whixall on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire, boaters can reach the pretty town of Llangollen in 12 hours with just two locks to pass through, perfect for a relaxing week afloat. Along the way, boaters travel through the historic market town of Ellesmere and over the magnificent Pontcysyllte Aqueduct (also known as the Stream in the Sky), which this year celebrates 10 years of World Heritage Status.  Once in Llangollen, canal boat holiday makers can enjoy visiting some of the town’s many local shops, restaurants and markets, including The Buttered Crust Café and Bailey’s Deli.
  3. Go blackberry picking on the Stratford Canal – from our canal boat hire base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal, it’s a picturesque seven-hour cruise through the Warwickshire countryside to Stratford upon Avon, with plenty of hedgerow foraging opportunities along the way – perfect for a short break.  Once at the birthplace of the Bard, boaters can moor up in Bancroft Basin, just a stone’s throw from the Swan Theatre, to explore the town’s many independent shops, restaurants and museums, including Shakespeare’s Birthplace and Tudor World. 
  4. Float through the Brecon Beacons to Taylbont-on-Usk – the beautiful Monmouth & Brecon Canal offers 35 miles of quiet countryside to explore with incredible views of the Brecon Beacons.  From Drifters’ narrowboat hire base at Goytre Wharf near Abergavenny, on a short break (three or four nights) boaters can journey through the wooded Usk Valley to Talybont-on-Usk, visiting villages and historic market towns along the way, including the Georgian town of Crickhowell with its 13th century castle.  Once at Talybont-on-Usk, boaters can enjoy walking access to Blaen y Glyn waterfalls and a choice of pubs, including the Star Inn and the White Hart Inn.  The total journey there and back travels 36 miles, passing through 10 locks and takes around 18 hours.  
  5. Visit the old mill town of Hebden Bridge – on a short break (three or four nights) rom Drifters’ canal boat rental base at Sowerby Bridge in West Yorkshire, canal boat holiday-makers can travel along the leafy Calder & Hebble Navigation through the Calder Valley 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
  6. Explore Georgian Bath afloat – on a short break from our Hilperton boat yard on the Kennet & Avon Canal near Trowbridge in Wiltshire, canal boat holiday-makers can travel to the World Heritage Status City of Bath and back, enjoying beautiful views of the southern Cotswold Hills along the way.  The journey to Sydney Wharf takes just six hours, travelling across two magnificent aqueducts, passing through one lock and several canalside pubs, including the popular Cross Guns at Avoncliff.  Once in Bath, boaters can moor up and it’s a short walk to the City Centre to visit some of the City’s world class attractions, including the Roman Baths and Royal Crescent. 
  7. Complete the Stourport Ring – from Drifters’ narrowboat hire base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, on a week’s break narrowboat holiday-makers canal travel the popular Stourport Ring, travelling a total of 74 miles and passing through 118 locks, which takes around 44 hours).  The route takes in the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal, the Worcester & Birmingham Canal Navigation, upper section of the River Severn, Birmingham & Fazeley Canal, Birmingham Canal Main Line and the Birmingham Canal Old Main Line.  The Stourport Ring visits three cities – Wolverhampton, Birmingham and the ancient City of Worcester.  Highlights include: Wolverhampton 21 locks; Brindleyplace and Gas Street Basin in Birmingham City Centre; open countryside on the River Severn; Stourport Basins; Bratch Locks at Wombourne; the pretty village of Kinver with access to the National Trust’s famous rock houses; the Black Country Living Museum; and Cadbury World.
  8. Cruise through the Scottish lowlands to Linlithgow and back – from our canal boat hire base at the Falkirk Wheel boat lift, it’s a peaceful five-hour cruise through the Scottish lowlands along the Union Canal to the historic town of Linlithgow – perfect for a short break (three or four nights).  The route begins passing over 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, and sample some of the town’s excellent eateries, including the award-winning Four Marys pub.   
  9. Potter through the Shropshire countryside to Market Drayton – 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 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.  Once at Market Drayton, boaters can enjoy picking up supplies at the Wednesday Cheshire market and admiring the town’s beautiful architecture.

 

Top 5 Festivals to visit afloat this Autumn

Top 5 Festivals to visit afloat this Autumn

Britain’s beautiful inland waterways flow through some our most exciting towns and cities, all hosting annual events and festivals.

Today’s narrowboats provide comfortable accommodation with all the essential home comforts, including well equipped kitchens, fresh water flushing toilets, hot water and showers, comfortable beds, TVs, DVD players and many now have WiFi too.  So canal boats make a great base for visiting a festival, as well as the opportunity to cruise through the countryside to get there.

Here’s our guide to the Top 5 festivals to visit afloat this autumn:

  1. The British Ceramics Biennial, 7 September to 13 October – bringing together over 300 contemporary artists for a vibrant programme of exhibitions, installations and workshops, this international festival will occupy a series of venues in Stoke on Trent, including the China Hall, Middleport Pottery, the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Spode Works and World of Wedgewood.  It’s not surprising that canals are nearby, as boats were used to transport both raw materials and the finished product for the ceramics industry during the Industrial Revolution.  Drifters’ Peak District canal boat hire base at Etruria in Stoke on Trent provides easy access to many of the venues and Drifters’ base at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal is 17 miles and 13 locks (eight hours) from moorings close to Spode Works, and 14 miles and 12 locks (seven hours) from the World of Wedgewood.
  2. Stone Food & Drink Festival, 4-6 October – Staffordshire’s biggest celebration of all things gastronomic takes place at the Georgian market town of Stone on the Trent & Mersey Canal.  As well as a range of themed food marquees, the festival hosts demonstrations by top chefs, a beer festival, live music, gourmet dining in the pop up restaurant, street food and a farmers’ market.  From Drifters Peak District canal boat hire base in Stoke on Trent, it takes around five hours to cruise to Stone, travelling nine miles and passing through 10 locks along the way.  From Great Haywood, it takes around five hours, passing through just four locks.
  3. Abergavenny Food Festival, 21-22 September – each year chefs, food businesses, farmers and food producers come together in Abergavenny to offer people from all walks of life the chance to explore and learn about food, with an outstanding programme of events including product tastings, kids activities, masterclasses, hands-on cookery lessons and topical debates. Drifters’ canal boat hire base on the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal near Abergavenny offers the chance to explore the local area afloat and use a canal boat as the base to visit the Food Fest.
  4. Birmingham Comedy Festival, 4-14 October – the award-winning Birmingham Comedy Festival has been drawing attention to the City’s vibrant comedy scene since 2010.  From 4-14 October, a packed programme of stand-up comedy, improve and sketches from big names to exciting new emerging talent will run at venues throughout Britain’s exciting second City.  From Drifters’ canal boat hire base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, it takes just five hours to reach moorings in Birmingham City Centre.
  5. Bath Children’s Literature Festival, 27 September to 6 October – now Europe’s largest festival dedicated to children’s literature, the Bath Children’s Literature Festival offers the chance for children and young people to meet the creators of their literary heroes and to see illustrations come to life. Events this year include an audience with Cressida Cowell, author of the hugely popular ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ series, and a drawing masterclass with top illustrator Sarah Warburton.  Drifters has a number of narrowboat hire bases on the Kennet & Avon Canal close to Bath, including Brassknocker Basin, just four hours by boat from Bath City Centre.

 

Top 5 narrowboat holidays on the Trent & Mersey Canal

All Aboard for some August Bank Holiday Slow Time

Research shows people feel happier and more relaxed by Britain’s beautiful inland waterways* and with speed limits of just four miles per hour, canal boat holidays are often said to be ‘the fastest way to slow down’. 

So for anyone thinking of slowing right down over the August Bank Holiday, here’s a list of Drifters’ Top 7 August bank holiday boating breaks:

  1. Glide through the Peak District to Cheddleton and back – on a short break from Drifters’ 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.
  2. Go star gazing in the Brecon Beacons – isolated from the main canal network, the beautiful Monmouth & Brecon Canal runs through the Brecon Beacons National Park, said to have some of some of the highest quality dark skies in the UK, perfect for star gazing.  Stretching 35 miles from Brecon to Cwmbran, this peaceful waterway, with very few locks, offers canal boat holiday-makers incredible mountain views and a series of villages with country pubs to enjoy along the way.   On a short break (three or four nights) from Drifters’ base at Goytre Wharf, near Abergavenny, boaters can cruise lock-free to Talybont-on-Usk and back, with excellent walking trails and eateries, the Canalside Café and the Star Inn.  
  3. Watch out for wildlife on the Ashby Canal – 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, 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.  
  4. Drift through the prehistoric Vale of Pewsey to Hungerford – from our 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 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. 
  5. Step back in time at the Black Country Museum – from Drifters’ Tardebigge canal boat hire base on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, it’s an eight-hour, three-lock journey to moorings right outside the fascinating 26-acre open-air Black Country Living Museum.  Here visitors can meet costumed characters explaining what it was like to live and work in one of the world’s most heavily industrialised landscapes, explore period shops and homes, have a drink in the ‘Bottle & Glass Inn’, test their times tables in a 1912 school lesson, sample the Museum’s famous traditionally cooked 1930’s-style fish and chips, take a ride on a vintage tram or bus or take a trip ‘into the thick’ to experience life in an 1850’s coal mine.  
  6. Float across ‘The Stream in the Sky’ – from Drifters’ canal boat hire base at Trevor on the beautiful Llangollen Canal in North Wales, the awesome Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which this year celebrates 10 years of World Heritage Status, is just a five minute cruise away.  Standing at over 125ft high above the Dee Valley, this incredible 1,000ft long structure consists of a cast iron trough supported on iron arched ribs, carried on 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.  After crossing the Aqueduct, boaters can cruise on to Ellesmere, also known as ‘The Shropshire Lake District’, with a choice of canalside pubs to enjoy along the way. 
  7. Cruise to Todmorden 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 along the Rochdale Canal to Todmorden, a journey which takes around eight hours, travelling 10 miles and passing through 17 locks.  This historic town 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 a series of scenic waymarked walks and an amazing variety of shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs. 

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Narrowboat terms you need to know

Narrowboat terms you need to know

When it comes to narrowboats and narrowboat holidays, there are lots of words and terms used to describe the parts of the boat and the equipment needed to navigate the canals.  Many of them derive from the old working boatmen’s terms and are quite idiosyncratic. 

To help those who are new to narrowboating, Drifters’ has put together a list of 20 of the most commonly used narrowboat terms:

  1. The tiller – is used to steer the boat (steer left to go right, and right to go left!)
  2. Throttle – is the accelerator (pushed forward to go forward) and brake (achieved by putting the boat into reverse)
  3. Bow – the front of the boat
  4. Stern – the back of the boat (also known as aft)
  5. Port – the left of the boat
  6. Starboard – the right of the boat
  7. Beam – width of the boat, 7ft in the case of a narrowboat, 14ft for a widebeam boat
  8. Weed hatch – a watertight compartment with a removable lid in the stern of the boat providing access to remove weeds or other items wound around the propeller – only after you’ve switched the engine off
  9. Galley – the boat’s kitchen area
  10. Saloon – the living area on the boat
  11. Bilge pump – pump for removing water that has collected in the bilges (space inside a boat’s hull beneath the cabin floor)
  12. Winding hole – is a widened section of canal where you can turn your boat around
  13. Paddle – the door in a lock gate which can be opened or closed to allow water in or out of a lock.  The paddle is operated by winding the paddle gear up to open the paddle or down to close it
  14. Windlass – L-shaped handle used to open and close lock paddles.  Remember to keep a firm grip on the windlass and never leave it unattended on the paddle gear
  15. Cill – bar of masonry against which the bottom of the lock gates rest when closed. Cills stick out by about 1.5m and you can only see them as the lock empties.  Most locks have markers to show you the approximate position of the cill.  Be careful to stay back from the cill to avoid getting ‘hung up’ on it
  16. Balance beam – Wooden or metal beam projecting from a lock gate (or lift bridge), to counterbalance the weight of the gate (or bridge) and allow leverage for opening and closing it
  17. Gongoozlers – bystanders who watch boats go through the locks
  18. Mooring – a place to park your boat.  Always moor to the towpath if you can and use signposted visitor moorings where possible. Don’t moor on lock, bridge or tunnel approaches, near weirs, sharp bends, blind spots, opposite turning points, at junctions or near angling spots
  19. Aqueduct – bridge carrying a waterway over a road, river or valley
  20. Bridge hole – narrow water channel beneath a canal bridge

 

10 Reasons to take a Canal Boat Holiday

10 Reasons to take a Canal Boat Holiday

  1. We feel happier by the water – the Canal & River Trust’s recent research shows we feel happier and less stressed by our waterways, and the longer we spend there, the more relaxed we become.
  2. It’s the fastest way to slow down – with speed limits of just 4mph and hundreds of miles of tranquil unspoilt countryside to cruise through, a narrowboat holiday takes you back to a slower, more peaceful pace of life.
  3. You don’t need a licence to steer a narrowboat – and boat steering tuition is provided as part of all Drifters holiday packages, so it’s easy for newcomers to take to the water.
  4. It’s better for the planet – as soon as you swap your car for a boat, you’ll be using a third of the fuel so this kind of staycation will significantly reduce your holiday carbon footprint.
  5. Take a break from the screen – boating offers plenty of activities to keep all the family busy – steering the boat, working the locks, planning the route, exploring waterside attractions and watching out for wildlife – so tech addicts are happy to take a break from their screens.
  6. It’s like a floating safari – our beautiful network of inland waterways provides homes for many types of birds, plants, animals and insects – from more commonly sighted bats, herons, kingfishers, ducks, swans, moorhens, coots, butterflies, dragonflies, damselflies and woodland birds, to the rarer and shier otters, hedgehogs and water voles.
  7. You can bring your pets – we welcome dogs and many other types of pet on all our boats, so you don’t have to leave your furry friends behind and rack-up extra bills.
  8. You can enjoy an outdoor workout – working the locks, as well as walking, running and cycling along the towpaths and local footpaths makes a narrowboat holiday great for keeping fit.
  9. Stop off at a waterside pub – there are hundreds of pubs to enjoy along our canals and rivers, many of them historic inns dating back over 200 years to the heyday of canals as an industrial transport network.
  10. Our canals are in great shape – over £1.5billion has been invested in our waterways since the turn of the Millennium and there are now more boats than at the height of the Industrial Revolution, so it’s the perfect time to enjoy a holiday afloat.

 

Top 10 canal boat holidays for 2018

Top 5 Canal Boat Holidays on the K&A

Caen Hill Flight of Locks on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Devizes

From soaring aqueducts and dramatic lock flights, to prehistoric landscapes, ancient trees and the World Heritage Status City of Bath, the 87-mile long Kennet & Avon Canal offers canal boat holiday-makers the chance to enjoy some of England’s most beautiful countryside.

Linking the Bristol Avon at Bath with the Thames at Reading, the Kennet & Avon Canal was completed in 1810.  It has 105 locks along its length, including 29 at Devizes, where the dramatic 16 locks in a row scale Caen Hill, considered to be one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’. 

Drifters offers narrowboats for hire from five bases on the Kennet & Avon Canal.  To celebrate, here’s our guide to the Top 5 canal boat holidays on the K&A:

  1. Visit Georgian Bath afloat – on a short break break from our canal boat hire base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Hilperton, narrowboat holiday-makers can travel west to the beautiful World Heritage Status City of Bath, famous for its stunning Georgian architecture and fascinating Roman Baths.  The 12½-mile journey to Bath passes through three locks and takes around seven hours.  Along the way, the route passes, the historic town of Bradford on Avon with its fascinating 14th century Tithe Barn, and over the beautiful Avoncliff and Dundas Bath stone aqueducts.  Once moored up at Bath, it’s a short walk into Bath City Centre to visit some of the City’s many attractions, including the magnificent Royal Crescent.
  2. Drift through the prehistoric Vale of Pewsey – from Drifters’ canal boat rental base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Devizes, it takes around 20 hours, travelling 27 miles and 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 and cruise through the beautiful Vale of Pewsey, passing close to prehistoric Avebury and along the edge of the ancient Savernake Forest, home to over 7,000 ‘Ancient’, ‘Veteran’ and ‘Notable’ trees, including the Big Belly Oak believed to be over 1,100 years old.  Once at Hungerford, narrowboat holiday-makers can dine at a choice of pubs and browse dozens of antique shops.
  3. Cruise through to the Berkshire countryside to Newbury & back – on a short break from our narrowboat holiday base at Aldermaston on the Kennet & Avon Canal in Berkshire, it takes around seven hours to reach Newbury, cruising through nine miles of beautiful countryside and passing through 11 locks.  Along the way, the route passes the canalside Rowbarge pub at Woolhampton and The Swan at Thatcham, and from Bull’s Lock No.88 it’s a short walk to the Bowdown Woods Nature Reserve.  The picturesque market town of Newbury has plenty of shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs, as well as a racecourse, theatre, arts centre and market square.
  4. Cruise to Bradford on Avon – on a short break from Drifters’ canal boat hire base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Bath, boaters can reach the historic town of Bradford on Avon in around four hours, passing the Claverton Pumping Station with its 200-year water-driven pump lifting water 48ft from the River Avon to the canal above.  There’s a series of historic pubs and waterside eateries to enjoy along the way, including ‘The Cross Guns’ at Avoncliff, ‘The George’ at Bathampton and ‘The Angelfish Restaurant’ at Monkton Combe, with panoramic views across the Limpley Stoke Valley.  At Bradford on Avon, there’s a great choice of independent shops, cafes and restaurants to enjoy, including the canalside Barge Inn and The Cheese Shop.
  5. Reach Reading & The Thames – on a two-week break from our narrowboat rental base at Devizes, boaters can cruise for 55½ miles to reach Reading, passing through 84 locks along the way and travelling for around 38 hours.  Along the way, boaters will enjoy some of the very best countryside on the UK canal system, and as well as tackling the awesome flight of Caen Locks, the route passes through the stunning Vale of Pewsey and the North West Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  Along the route, there’s a series of pretty towns and villages to explore, including Pewsey, Wootton Rivers, Great Bedwyn, Little Bedwyn, Kintbury and Hungerford, Newbury and Aldermaston, as well as the fascinating Crofton Pumping Station, home to two of the world’s oldest working steam engines. Once at Reading, boaters can moor up to visit the Oracle Shopping centre and enjoy a meal at one of the many waterside restaurants there.

 

 

Top 9 Summer Holidays Afloat

Top 9 Summer Holidays Afloat

Travelling through the countryside and waterside towns and villages at just four-miles-an-hour, canal boat holidays are the fastest way to slow down this summer. 

Drifters offers 550 narrowboats for hire from 45 bases across England, Scotland and Wales.  Summer holiday prices for a short break (three or four nights) on a boat for four people start at £785, or £1,125 for a week.

A licence isn’t required and it’s easy to learn how to steer a narrowboat.  Tuition is included as part of all our holiday packages. All our narrowboats have heating, well-equipped kitchens, quality furnishings, flushing toilets, hot water, showers, TVs and DVD players, and many now have WiFi on board too.

Here are our Top 9 summer destinations for 2019:

  1. Potter through the Shropshire countryside to Market Drayton – 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.  Along the way, boaters pass through just 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, such as the 14th century church of St Mary, built from local sandstone.
  2. Cruise to Coventry to see the World’s largest tapestry – on a week’s holiday from Drifters’ canal boat hire base at Napton on the Oxford Canal in Warwickshire, boaters can travel north up the Oxford Canal to connect with the Coventry Canal at Hawkesbury Junction.  The journey to Coventry takes around 14 hours, travelling 33 miles and passing through just four locks.  Along the way, the route passes through the pretty canal village of Braunston with a choice of pubs, the village of Hillmorton with its flight of three locks, Newbold Tunnel and Brinklow with the remains of its Norman motte and bailey castle.  Once at Coventry Basin, boaters can moor up to visit the Cathedral, home to the World’s largest tapestry, Graham Sutherland’s ‘Christ in Glory’. 
  3. Toddle to Todmorden 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 along the Rochdale Canal to Todmorden, a journey which takes around eight hours, travelling 10 miles and passing through 17 locks.  This historic town 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 a series of scenic waymarked walks and an amazing variety of shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs. 
  4. Travel the Warwickshire Ring – On a week’s holiday from Drifters’ canal boat hire base on the Grand Union Canal at Braunston, 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. 
  5. Visit Georgian Bath afloat – on a mid-week (four night) break from Drifters’ canal boat hire base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Devizes, next to the spectacular Caen Hill flight of locks, canal boat holiday-makers can travel west to the beautiful World Heritage Status City of Bath, famous for its stunning Georgian architecture and fascinating Roman Baths.  The 20-mile journey to Bath passes through 10 locks and takes around 10 hours.  Along the way, the route passes through the village of Seend with its popular canalside Barge Inn, the historic town of Bradford on Avon with its fascinating 14th century Tithe Barn, over the beautiful Avoncliff and Dundas Bath stone aqueducts.
  6. Glide across the awesome Pontcysyllte Aqueduct – passing through stunning North Wales landscapes, the Llangollen Canal is one of the most popular on the network.  On a short break from Drifters’ canal boat hire base at Chirk, boaters can reach the pretty Eisteddfod town of Llangollen, passing through four locks and over the magnificent Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which this year celebrates 10 years of World Heritage Status.  Built by Thomas Telford and William Jessop between 1796 and 1805 to enable slate and limestone to be moved from quarries in North Wales to the Midlands and beyond, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct measures a record-breaking 307 metres long, and at its highest point it is 38.4 metres above the River Dee. Its cast iron trough, along which canal boats travel, holds 1.5 million litres of water.
  7. Cruise along the River Thames into the Cotswolds -from Drifters narrowboat hire base on the River Thames at Oxford base, it’s a tranquil nine-hour, seven-lock cruise west to the pretty market town of Lechlade on the edge of the Cotswolds, perfect for a midweek break.  Along the way, boaters can miles of peaceful Oxfordshire countryside, and stop off along the way at the village of Radcot with its Swan Hotel and Civil War Garrison Earthworks, and Kelmscott with its popular Plough Inn and Grade I listed Kelmscott Manor, once the Cotswold retreat of William Morris.
  8. Travel through the Scottish Lowlands to Edinburgh -from Drifters’ base at Falkirk,Edinburgh Quay is a sedate 11-hour journey along the lock-free Union Canal, perfect for a four night mid-week break or a week away.  The journey starts with a trip through the iconic Falkirk Wheel (the world’s first 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 and many of the City’s attractions, including Mary King Close, frozen in time beneath the Royal Mile.
  9. Take the Grand Union Canal to Warwick Castle – on a short break from Drifters’ base at Stockton on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, boaters can reach the historic centre of Warwick in just six 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.

 

Celebrate Father’s Day Afloat

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

Drifters offers day boat hire from 17 of its boat yards, from less than £10 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 Drifters’ top 10 day boat hire centres for 2019:

  1. Boat to beautiful Bradford on Avon – from Hilperton Marina near Trowbridge in Wiltshire on the beautiful Kennet & Avon, day boaters can head west to the picturesque historic town of Bradford on Avon, with its stunning medieval Tithe Barn and choice of pubs, independent cafes and restaurants, including the canalside Barge Inn. ****‘Cheers’ can carry up to 10 people, weekday hire starts at £105, weekends & bank holidays £130.
  2. Explore Shakespeare country – from Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal near Stratford Upon Avon, boaters can head south to the pretty village of Wilmcote to enjoy lunch at The Mary Arden Inn and a visit to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s Mary Arden’s Farm, the childhood home of Shakespeare’s mother.  The journey takes two-and-a-half hours each way, and crosses over the impressive Edstone Aqueduct with beautiful views across the Warwickshire countryside. ****Day boat hire from Wootton Wawen starts at £99 for up to 10 people, £140 on weekends and bank holidays.
  3. Travel across ‘The Stream in the Sky’ – Drifters’ base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, it’s a 20-minute cruise to the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which this year celebrates 10 years of World Heritage Status.  Standing 38 metres high above the Dee Valley and stretching for 305 metres, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is truly one of the wonders of the waterways.  After cruising over the Aqueduct, there are two tunnels to pass through – Whitehouses and Chirk, as well as Chirk Aqueduct with a viaduct running alongside it.  It takes around two-and-a-half hours to reach Chirk and the Poacher’s Pocket pub at Glendrid.  Alternatively, day boaters can head in the other direction and reach the pretty mountain-side town of Llangollen in just two hours. ****Day boat hire from Trevor starts at £120 for up to 10 people, £160 on weekends and bank holidays.
  4. Cruise to the Canal Museum in Stoke Bruerne – from Drifters’ day boat hire base at Gayton on the Grand Union Canal in Northamptonshire, it takes around an hour to chug gently along to the pretty canalside village of Stoke Bruerne, passing through the 2,795-metre long Blisworth Tunnel along the way.  Once there, day-boaters can moor up and visit the intriguing Canal Museum, whose stories, films and collections give visitors a fascinating look at the history of Britain’s canals.  And there are plenty of places to eat in Stoke Bruerne, including the Boat Inn, Navigation Inn and the Museum’s Waterside Café. ****Day boat hire aboard ‘Daylark’ which can carry up to 12 people, starts at £130 on a weekday, £165 on weekends and bank holidays.
  5. Catch a lift on the Falkirk Wheel in Scotland – from Falkirk at the junction of the Forth & Clyde and Union canals in Scotland, day boat hirers can travel through the incredible Falkirk Wheel, the World’s first rotating boat lift and along the Union Canal to Polmont, where they can moor up and enjoy a short walk to The Claremont Inn.  Or continue on to the canalside Bridge 49 café bar and bistro, next to Causewayend Marina. ****Day boat hire on the ‘Jaggy Thistle’ which can carry up to eight passengers, is £220, Friday to Sunday.
  6. Visit the ‘Cathedral of the Canals’ – Drifters’ base at Anderton on the Trent & Mersey Canal in Cheshire, is next to the historic 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 canalside Leigh Arms at Little Leigh (bridge 209 for Black Price forge), offering home-cooked pub food and cask ales, is an easy day trip away. ****‘Daydream’ can carry up to 12 people, weekday hire starts at £150, weekends & bank holidays £180.
  7. Glide through the Brecon Beacons – from Goytre Wharf on the beautiful Monmouth & Brecon Canal near Abergavenny, boaters can enjoy incredible mountain views on the two-and-a-half-hour journey to the popular Star pub at Mamhillad, a short walk from bridge 62. ****‘Rooster’ can carry up to eight people, weekday hire from £130, weekends & bank holidays £150.
  8. Tunnel through rural Worcestershire – from Tardebigge on the Worcester & 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 Hopwood and the Crown at Alvechurch.  The route is lock-free but there are two tunnels to pass through, including the 2493-metre long Wast Hill Tunnel. ****‘Emma’ can carry up to 10 people each, weekday hire is £99, weekends & bank holidays £140.
  9. Cruise through the Leicestershire countryside to Foxton Locks – from Union Wharf in Market Harborough it’s a pleasant two-and-a-half hour cruise along the Grand Union Canal Leicester Line to the top of Foxton Locks, with stunning views of the Leicestershire countryside, plenty of places to picnic and the historic waterside Foxton Locks Inn for a pub lunch or drink.  Visitors can watch canal boats negotiate the famous Foxton Staircase flight of locks and find out about the intriguing Victorian Foxton Inclined Plane Boat Lift that once operated there at the tiny little museum dedicated to it. ****‘Moorhen’ can carry up to 12 people, weekday hire starts at £150, weekends & bank holidays from £200.
  10. Travel the Trent & Mersey to Rugeley – from Drifters’ boat yard at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal near Stafford, day boaters can cruise four miles, passing through two locks to reach the historic market town of Rugeley.  The journey, which takes around two hours, passes the National Trust’s stunning Shugborough Estate, the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust’s Wolseley Centre and the popular Wolseley Arms pub at Wolseley Bridge.  ****Day boats ‘Daphne’ and ‘Abi’ can carry up to 10 people each.  Weekday hire from Great Haywood starts at £99, £140 on weekends and bank holidays.

For more information about Drifters day boat hire go to
https://www.drifters.co.uk/day-boat-hire.htm k

For more information about visiting the canals go to www.canalrivertrust.org.uk o

 

Yorkshire Canals Celebrated at Chelsea

Yorkshire Canals Celebrated at Chelsea

Welcome to Yorkshire is marking its 10th birthday and 10th year at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show (21-25 May 2019) with a garden which aims to capture the beauty of the county’s canals and celebrate the drama of Yorkshire’s rich industrial heritage. 

Designed by Mark Gregory, the highlight of the 2019 Welcome to Yorkshire show garden will be an authentically built canal with flowing water and genuine canal lock gates. The design also includes a towpath and a lock keeper’s lodge with a colourful garden and vegetable patch.

Lock gates recently removed from a canal in Yorkshire have been donated by Canal & River Trust for the garden.  The Trust has teamed up with the tourism organisation for this year’s prestigious flower show to celebrate the county’s rich industrial heritage and the hundreds of miles of stunning waterways which run across the county.

Drifters offers the choice of 550 boats from 45 bases across the country, including two in Yorkshire.  From week-long one-way trips across the Pennines to short breaks to Hebden Bridge, Todmorden, East Marton and Skipton, Yorkshire’s beautiful network of waterways offers a wide range of holidays afloat.

2019 prices from Drifters’ Yorkshire bases start at £460 for a short break (three or four nights), £710 for a week on a boat for two people.

To celebrate Welcome to Yorkshire’s canal themed RHS Chelsea Flower Show garden, Drifters has put together its Top 6 Yorkshire canal boat holidays:

  1. Travel one-way across the Pennines – starting from Drifters’ base at Barnoldswick on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal near Skipton, this week-long holiday is truly one of the great canal journeys, taking canal boat holiday-makers across the backbone of England.  The scenery varies from the timeless calm of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal summit to the hubbub of the Leeds City Centre waterfront, and includes the Bingley Five Rise locks (one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways), and the opportunity to visit Sir Titus Salt’s World Heritage Status model town at Saltaire.
  2. Visit Skipton and its medieval castle – on a short break (three or four nights) from Drifters’ base at Barnoldswick, boaters can head east along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal to Skipton and back (travelling a total of 26 miles, 30 locks, 20 hours).  This breath-taking route winds along the contours of the side of Airedale, with extensive views of sheep country – farmhouses, barns, stone walls and the occasional village or town.  Once in Skipton, boaters can moor in the centre of the town, visit shops and restaurants and explore the 900-year old Skipton Castle, one of the most complete and best preserved medieval castles in England.
  3. Toddle 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 (20 miles, 34 locks, 16 hours).  This historic town 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. 
  4. Navigate to East Marton and back – starting from our canal boat hire base at Reedley on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in Lancashire, boaters 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 to cruise.
  5. Journey to the Hepworth Wakefield – on a mid-week break from our narrowboat hire base at Sowerby Bridge, canal boat holiday-makers can travel to Wakefield and back to visit the fabulous Hepworth Wakefield Art Gallery (40 miles, 52 locks, 22 hours).  With canal boat moorings right outside, the Hepworth Wakefield is the largest purpose-built exhibition space outside London, offering visitors over 1,600 square metres of light-filled gallery spaces to explore.
  6. Navigate the South Pennine Ring – on a two-week break from our canal boat rental base at Sowerby Bridge, experienced boaters can cruise the epic South Pennine Ring circuit, travelling a total of 71 miles and passing through 197 locks in around 80 hours.  The route crosses the Pennines twice, and includes navigating through England’s longest and highest tunnel – the Standedge Tunnel which takes boaters through 3¼ miles of pitch dark.  This circuit takes boaters pass through Brighouse, Cooper Bridge, Huddersfield, Slaithwaite, Marsden, Stalybridge, Ashton, Manchester, Todmorden and Hebden Bridge.  It cruises parts of five canals – the Rochdale Canal, Calder & Hebble Navigation, Huddersfield Broad Canal, Huddersfield Narrow Canal and the Ashton Canal.