Visit Warwick Castle by Canal Boat

Visit a castle on your next canal boat holiday

Narrowboat holidays are a great way to sightsee and there are hundreds of top historic attractions on, or close to, Britain’s 3,000-mile canal network.

We’ve listed of our top five favourite canalside castles to visit on your next holiday afloat, together with our nearest canal boat hire base.


Warwick Castle on the River Avon…said to be Britain’s greatest medieval experience, Warwick Castle was developed from an original castle built by William the Conqueror in 1068. If offers visitors the chance to explore its grand interiors, climb its impressive towers and ramparts and visit some of its special attractions, including the terrifying Castle Dungeon. There are also regular ‘Flight of the Eagles’ and ‘Mighty Trebuchet’ firing displays in the extensive castle grounds. Warwick Castle is a seven-hour cruise from our base at Stockton on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire.

Chirk Castle on the Llangollen Canal…this magnificent medieval fortress at Chirk was completed in 1310 and is the last Welsh castle from the reign of Edward I still lived in today. Features from its 700 years include the medieval tower and dungeon, 17th century long gallery, grand 18th century state apartments, servants’ hall and historic laundry. It also boasts award-winning gardens and incredible views over the Cheshire and Salop plains. Drifters’ nearest base is at Chirk on the Llangollen Canal in Wrexham.

Windsor Castle on the River Thames… Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world and has been the family home of British kings and queens for almost 1,000 years. It is an official residence of Her Majesty The Queen and is still used regularly for ceremonial and State occasions. State Banquets are held in St George’s Hall, where a single table can seat 160 people. Windsor can be reached on a week’s holiday from our base is at Aldermaston on the Kennet & Avon Canal in Berkshire.

Berkhamsted Castle on the Grand Union Canal…one of the oldest motte and bailey castles in England, the fascinating ruins of Berkhamsted Castle can be found close to the Grand Union Canal in Hertfordshire. When William the Conqueror was crowned King in 1066, he granted the Manor and Honour of Berkhamsted to his half-brother Robert, Count of Mortain, and work started on the castle. The castle went on to become the home of many key Royal figures, including The Black Prince from 1337. Berkhamsted can be reached on a week’s holiday from Drifters’ base at London on the Grand Union Canal in Hertfordshire.

Skipton Castle on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal…Over 900 years old, Skipton Castle in North Yorkshire is one of the most complete and best preserved castles in England. Visitors can explore every corner of this impressive castle, which withstood a three-year siege during the Civil War. They can explore the banqueting hall, kitchen, bedchamber and privy, and climb from the depths of the dungeon to the top storey of the watch tower. Skipton is 10 hours from our Foulridge base on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in Cumbria.

Hire a canal boat for Father's Day

Hire a canal boat for Father’s Day

Pubs and boats – sound like a good combination for a Father’s Day treat?

Most Dads would agree there’s nothing quite like messing about in boats, so why not hire a canal boat for the day and plan a visit to a pub along the way.

Drifters offers day boat hire at nine of its bases, 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 so the boating party can enjoy a picnic afloat or head for a waterside pub. Most day boats also have a toilet, cooker and fridge.

Here’s a list of Drifters’ day canal boat hire centres and prices for 2013:

Staffordshire delights – from Drifters’ base at Great Haywood on the Staffs & Worcs Canal near Stafford, the recommended day boat cruise is a six-hour journey to the historic market town of Rugeley and back through several locks, past Lord Lichfield’s beautiful Shugborough Hall. Stop at Shugborough for a picnic in the grounds, visit a pub in Rugeley or stop at the delightful ‘Wolseley Arms’ in Wolseley Bridge. Day boat hire from Great Haywood starts at £99 for up to 10 people.

Sightseeing along ‘The Shroppie’ – from Drifters’ base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union near Crewe, cruise south past Barbridge and Nantwich to Baddington Bridge. With no locks to negotiate and plenty of pubs ‘en route’, it’s a delightful way to spend the day afloat. Day boat hire from Bunbury starts at £99 for up to 10 people.

Tunnel through rural Worcestershire – from Drifters’ base at Tardebigge on the Worcs & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, cruise north to Kings Norton Junction, a pretty rural route with historic pubs along the way, including the family-friendly ‘Hopwood House’ at Alvechurch. The route is lock-free but there are three tunnels to pass through. Day boat hire from Tardebigge starts at £99 for up to 10 people.

Visit ‘The Stream in the Sky’ – from the Drifters’ base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales it’s just 20 minutes by boat to the awesome Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. At over 38 metres high and 305 metres long, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct (AKA ‘The Stream in the Sky’), offers a fantastic waterway adventure. With not even a hand rail on the south side of the aqueduct to obscure the stunning views of the Dee Valley below, canal boaters literally feel like they are floating above the earth! Day boat hire from Trevor starts at £110 for up to 10 people.

Glide through the Brecon Beacons – from Drifters’ base at Goytre Wharf on the beautiful Monmouth & Brecon Canal near Abergavenny, enjoy incredible mountain views on the way to the ‘Horse & Jockey’ pub. Goytre means ‘place in the woods’ and the wharf was once used to supply coal to the nearby estate. Interactive displays on site tell visitors more about the wharf’s history. Day hire from Goytre starts at £90 for up to 12 people.

Explore Shakespeare’s country – from Drifters’ base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal near Stratford Upon Avon, you can choose between an easy day cruising to Wilmcote and back (2.5 hours each way), or a more challenging cruise to Lowsonford and back, negotiating a total of 16 locks, with the opportunity to stop for an hour at the ‘Fleur de Lys’ pub, famous for its pies (3.5 hours each way). Day boat hire from Wootton Wawen starts at £99 for up to 10 people.

Take a cruise in Bath – Drifters’ base at Sydney Wharf in the World Heritage City of Bath offers the chance to sample a scenic cruise on one of Britain’s most popular waterways, the Kennet & Avon Canal. Head east to Bathampton and make the historic ‘George Inn’, a vision of Olde England and once a 12th century monastery, your lunchtime destination. Or head west into Bath City Centre, with fantastic views of its beautiful Georgian architecture. Day boat hire from Bath starts at £120 for up to 10 people.

Wend your way through Wiltshire – from Drifters’ base at Hilperton Marina in Wiltshire on the Kennet & Avon, cruise east through unspoilt countryside to waterside ‘The Barge Inn’ at Seend or head West to Bradford on Avon and the ‘Cross Guns’ pub at Avoncliffe Aqueduct, with fantastic views of the foothills of the Cotswolds. Day boat hire from Hilperton starts at £105 for up to eight people.

Experience the rural North Oxford Canal – from Drifters’ base at Stretton-under-Fosse near Rugby, cruise north through open farmland to the pretty village of Ansty with its pottery and ‘Rose & Castle’ pub. Or head south, travelling through quiet woodland and Newbold Tunnel to the village of Newbold with several pubs to choose from. Day boat hire from Rugby starts at £150 for a boat for 12 people.

Visit Birmingham’s Book Festival Afloat

Year of the Snake

Year of the Snake

Chinese New Year will be celebrated by a third of the world’s population on Sunday (10 February) and this year is the year of the Snake.

To celebrate, we’ve put together a list of serpent-related canal boat holiday destinations:

Look out for our native grass snake…from April to September, narrowboat holiday-makers in England and Wales might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of our native grass snake.

Grey/green in colour, the grass snake is a shy, placid, sun-loving creature that enjoys basking on grassy banks on warm summer days.  River banks, ponds and ditches are their preferred habitats, although they will also make a home of hedgerows, meadows and woodland margins.

If frightened, the grass snake will either turn and run or ‘play dead’, an impressive performance that can involve the snake writhing onto its back and lolling its tongue out of its mouth.

Be amazed by the black mamba at London Zoo…the world’s oldest scientific zoo is right next to the Regent’s Canal in Regent’s Park, so even if you don’t moor up and visit, you can still see some of the animals as you cruise by.

London Zoo’s Reptile House (which features in the opening scene of the first Harry Potter film), is home to some of the biggest and most venomous snakes on earth, including a black mamba.

Drifters’ nearest canal boat hire base is on the Grand Union Canal in West London, just a four and a half hour cruise away

See the venomous king cobra at West Midlands Safari Park…the venom from a single bite of a king cobra is strong enough to kill an elephant.  But the main source of food for these feared animals is other snakes, making them cannilbalistic as well as deadly!

To reach the West Midlands Safari Park, narrowboat holiday-makers can moor up in Kidderminster on the Staffs & Worcester Canal and take a 10 minute taxi ride to the zoo.  Kidderminster is a seven-hour cruise from Drifters’ base at Worcester.

Marvel at the reticulated pythons at Chester Zoo…famous for its medieval architecture and city walls, Chester is also home to an award-winning zoo with over 8,000 animals to see.  The Zoo’s impressive reptile collection includes two enormous reticulated pythons, the longest species of snake in the world.

Medieval Chester is just seven hours from our base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal.

See stuffed snakes at the Natural History Museum at Tring…snakes are included in an incredible array of over 4,000 stuffed animals on display at the Natural History Museum at Tring in Hertfordshire.  This fascinating collection, which was gifted to the nation in by the Rothschild family 1937, was put together by the scientist, collector and founder of the Museum,  Lionel Walter, 2nd Baron Rothschild.

Tring is close to the Grand Union Canal in Hertfordshire, so canal boat holiday-makers can moor close by at Bulbourne and walk to Tring town centre, just over a mile away.

Visit the boa constrictors at Dudley Zoological Gardens…Eighteen months ago reptile keepers at Dudley Zoo were surprised by the birth of 19 boa babies in their Reptile House.  These large non-venous snakes from Central and South America kill their food by constriction.  The babies have now been re-homed but their parents are still in residence.

Dudley Zoo is about an eight-hour cruise from Drifters’ base at Tardebigge.  Moor up on the Dudley Canal at the Black Country Living Museum and it’s a five-minute taxi ride to the Zoo.

Discover the mythology of snakes at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford…there are many representations of serpents in the extraordinary collection of objects from lost cultures held by the Pitt Rivers Museum.

For example, the Court Art of Benin collection from southern Nigeria, has a number of artefacts depicting snakes.  In Benin cosmology, snakes symbolize the power of Osun, the god of nature.  The python is also a symbol of Olokun, the god of water and it is said that pythons are sent by Olokun to punish wrongdoing.

Drifters has a base at Eynsham on the River Thames, just a three-hour cruise from moorings close to Oxford City Centre.

Swap theme park thrills for animal magic at Drayton Manor Zoo…part of the Drayton Manor Family Theme Park, Drayton Manor Zoo at Tamworth in Staffordshire is home to one of the largest collections of snakes in Britain.

Drifters’ base at Great Haywood is a 12-hour cruise and short taxi ride away.

See Taiwan beauty snakes at Edinburgh Zoo…as well as being home to the UK’s only giant pandas, Edinburgh Zoo offers visitors the chance to see Taiwan beauty snakes.  These large snakes are colourful with beautifully patterned bodies.  They are seen as a delicacy in their native country and are often found in the food markets and menus of Taiwanese restaurants, as well as being used in traditional medicine.

Edinburgh, with centrally located moorings at Edinburgh Quay, is a day and a half’s cruise along the Union Canal from Drifters’ base at the Falkirk Wheel.  There’s a frequent bus service to the Zoo from the City Centre.

Visit the rattlesnakes at Bristol Zoo…the reptile house at Bristol Zoo is home to a variety of snake species, including the Aruba Island rattlesnake.  Belonging to the family of vipers, there are only about 230 of these critically endangered animals left in the wild.

Drifters’ base at Bath on the Kennet & Avon Canal is an eight hour journey away from Bristol Floating Harbour.  Bristol Zoo Gardens is in Clifton, a short taxi or bus ride away.

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s free to moor almost everywhere on the waterway network, so a canal boat could provide the perfect romantic hide-away in the countryside miles from anywhere or a base for exploring exciting waterside destinations like Bath, Chester and Birmingham.

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

  • Enjoy Valentine’s Day afloat in Bath…Drifters’ base at Sydney Wharf in the centre of the World Heritage City of Bath offers the chance to enjoy Valentine’s afloat in one of Britain’s most romantic places.  With world-famous museums, galleries, shops and restaurants and some of the finest Georgian architecture in Britain, Bath makes a fantastic destination for couples.  And if you fancy a cruise, you can head east along the beautiful Kennet & Avon Canal to historic Bradford on Avon with its early Saxon church and mediaeval tithe barn. Short breaks from Bath over Valentine’s Day start at £525, weekly hire from £745.
  • Visit the romantic ‘Stream in the Sky’the beautiful 46-mile Llangollen Canal is one of the most popular on the inland waterway network, and navigating the awe-inspiring 300metre World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, soaring nearly 40 metres high above the rushing waters of the River Dee is tantamount to free flight.  What a place to propose?! From Drifters’ hire base at Trevor, right next to the aqueduct, a short break to Ellesmere and back, offers the chance to travel over the aqueduct and explore the beautiful Vale of Llangollen and Shropshire Lake District.  Short breaks from Trevor over Valentine’s Day start at £465, weekly hire from £660.
  • Head for the bright lights of Birmingham…the vibrant City of Birmingham with city centre moorings at Gas Street Basin is just a five-hour cruise away from Drifters base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, making it the perfect journey for beginners.  Short breaks from Tardebigge over Valentine’s Day start at £465, weekly hire from £660.
  • Visit Mediaeval Chester…from Drifters’ base at Bunbury you can reach the ancient City of Chester on a short break, travelling along the Shropshire Union Canal.  Chester boasts a vibrant market hall, an award winning zoo, busy racecourse, trendy bars, shopping malls and restaurants.  Or head to the historic market town of Middlewich on the junction of the Trent & Mersey and Shropshire Union Canals.  Short breaks from Bunbury over Valentine’s Day start at £465, weekly hire from £660.
  • Explore the Potteries in Staffordshire…Drifters’ base at Great Haywood at the junction of the Staffs & Worcs and Trent & Mersey canals in Staffordshire offers a variety of routes.  On a week’s cruise travel to historic Market Drayton, home of the gingerbread man along the Shropshire Union.  On a short break, head through quiet countryside to the South Staffordshire village of Coven on the Staffs & Worcs Canal.  Short breaks from Great Haywood over Valentine’s Day start from £465, weekly hire from £660.
Visit the Montgomery Canal

Visit the Montgomery Canal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




  1. Take a one-way trip through the Pennines…One of the great canal journeys this takes you across the backbone of England and through the heart of West Riding, in scenery varying from the timeless calm of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal summit to the hubbub of Leeds waterfront.  Highlights: the Stanley Ferry aqueducts; Leeds waterfront and Royal Armouries Museum; Sir Titus Salt’s Italianate mills and model town at Saltaire; Bingley Five Rise of locks; spectacular views of the Yorkshire Dales; and Foulridge Tunnel driven through the top of the Pennies.  Bases: Drifters One-way trips start either at the junction of the Rochdale Canal and Calder & Hebble Navigation in Sowerby Bridge in Yorkshire or on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal Foulridge in Lancashire.  Prices: a week’s hire on a boat for four people starts at £825, rising to £1500 in the peak of the summer holidays.  Fuel is included.  First pet goes free.  Transfers for four people cost £40.
  2. Float across ‘The Stream in the Sky’…the Llangollen Canal’s awesome 305-metre long World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in North Wales stands at over 38 metres high above the Dee Valley.  With not even a hand rail on the south side of the aqueduct to obscure the stunning views of the valley below, canal boaters literally feel like they are floating above the earth!  Journey highlights: the picturesque town of Llangollen and its access to Horseshoe Falls; Ellesmere lakes (the Shropshire Lake District) teeming with wildlife; Chirk Castle; and the historic market town of Whitchurch.  Bases: Trevor is the closest base to the aqueduct, just 20-minutes cruise away but Drifters also has bases on the Llangollen at Chirk, Wrenbury, Whitchurch and Blackwater Meadow.  Prices: start at £385 for a short break and £595 for a week.
  3. Travel on a luxury boat to Bath…dozens of new boats are being introduced to the Drifters fleet for holidays 2013, including the new ‘Lark’ class at Hilperton on the Kennet & Avon Canal in Wiltshire near Trowbridge.  These six-berth boats have same extra special features such as wider beds, a TV in the bedroom as well as the saloon and a front deck table – perfect for al fresco dining.  From Hilperton, the World Heritage City of Bath is a day and half’s peaceful cruise away along the beautiful Kennet & Avon Canal.  Or pick up the new four-berth ‘Bond’ class boat from Bradford on Avon, just a seven-hour cruise from Bath City Centre.  Special features on ‘Bond’ boats include an extra shower room, a large stern and foredeck and a solid fuel stove.  Journey highlights: Bath’s fabulous Georgian architecture, Thermae Spa, shops, restaurants and museums; the stunning Medieval Tithe Barn at Bradford on Avon; and The George at Bathampton, once a 12th century monastery.  Bases: Hilperton and Bradford on Avon on the Kennet & Avon Canal in Wiltshire.  Prices: a short break on a ‘Bond’ Class boat from Bradford on Avon starts at £560 and weekly hire from £800.  A short break on a ‘Lark’ starts at £585 and a week’s hire from £895.
  4. Glide through the Brecon Beacons…isolated from the main canal network, the beautiful Monmouth & Brecon Canal offers 35 miles of quiet countryside.  Running through the Brecon Beacons National Park from Brecon to Cwmbran it has few locks but incredible mountain views.  Journey highlights: the wonderful Georgian town of Crickhowell with 13th century castle; picturesque Talybont-on-Usk with access to Blaen y Glyn waterfalls; and Brecon with its cathedral, castle ruins and stunning Georgian architecture.  Base: Goytre Wharf on the Mon & Brec near Abergavenny.  Prices: start at £455 for a short break and £695 for a week on a five berth.
  5. Discover Europe’s only short break canal circuit…50 years ago campaigning began to restore the Droitwich Canals and they finally reopened in 2011, creating the only cruising ring in Europe which can be completed on a short break.  The Droitwich Ring takes 16 hours to cruise, covering 21 miles and 33 locks.  It incorporates the River Severn and the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, as well as the Droitwich Canals. Journey highlights: the historic Spa town of Droitwich; the Hanbury flight of locks; stunning views of the Worcestershire countryside along the River Severn; and the beautiful City of Worcester with its stunning 12th century cathedral.  Bases: Drifters base at Worcester is on the ring and Stoke Prior is just a few miles north of the ring on the Worcester & Birmingham.  Prices: start at £412 for a short break and £634 for a week on a boat for four.
  6. Cruise into the heart of Birmingham and take in a show…boasting more canals than Venice, Birmingham simply has to be visited by water.  City centre moorings are available at Gas Street Basin with easy access to Brindley Place, the Mailbox and Bullring shopping centres, theatres, museums and restaurants.  In 2013, Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery is holding a special exhibition of The Staffordshire Hoard Anglo-Saxon collection and War Horse comes to the Birmingham Hippodrome in the autumn. Journey highlights:  Brindley Place and Gas Street Basin.  Bases: Drifters base at Tardebigge is just a five-hour lock-free cruise away from Birmingham City Centre.  Birmingham is also accessible on a week’s break from Drifters bases at Alvechurch and Stoke Prior.  Prices: start at £465 for a short break and £660 for a week on a four berth boat.
  7. Visit Scotland’s lowland canals and experience the World’s first rotating boat lift…Built as part of the Millennium Link project to restore the canals linking the east and west coasts of Scotland, The Falkirk Wheel is the world’s first and only rotating boat lift.  Standing at a height of 35 metres, it moves boats between the Union and Forth & Clyde canals, replacing a flight of 11 locks dismantled in 1933.  It can carry up to 600 tonnes and uses just 1.5KWh of energy to turn – the same amount as it would take to boil eight kettles.  Once the Wheel has taken you up, boaters can travel along the peaceful Union Canal, reaching Edinburgh in a day and a half.  Visitor moorings are available at Edinburgh Quay, just a five-minute walk from Princes Street with easy access to the City’s fantastic museums, shops, restaurants and its world-famous castle.  Highlights: the Falkirk Wheel; the pretty canal villages of Ratho and Linlithgow; and the bright lights of Edinburgh.  Bases:  Drifters has two bases at the Falkirk Wheel.  Prices: start at £455 for a short break and £695 for a week on a boat for four.
  8. Meander through the heart of England on the Warwickshire Ring…the popular Warwickshire Ring combines stretches of beautiful unspoilt countryside with exciting urban centres, including Birmingham and Warwick.  It covers 101 miles, 94 locks and takes 48 hours of cruising, so can be done is a week but there’s more time for sight-seeing on a two week break.  The journey includes stretches of the Grand Union, Oxford, Coventry and Birmingham & Fazeley canals.  Journey highlights: the pretty canal village of Braunston; the awesome Hatton Flight of 21 locks; Warwick Castle; Leamington Spa; and Birmingham’s Gas Street Basin.  Bases: Stretton, Rugby and Napton on the North Oxford Canal in Warwickshire.  Prices: start at £595 for a week.
  9. Enjoy a short break on Wedgwood’s Caldon Canal…one of the quietest and most picturesque canals in Britain, the Caldon Canal is a branch of the Trent & Mersey Canal and was originally built to transport porcelain.  The Caldon travels 17 miles and uses 17 locks from its junction with the Trent & Mersey Canal at Etruria near Stoke on Trent, through the beautiful Churnet Valley to Froghall Wharf.  The journey is ideal for newcomers to canal boat holidays and can easily be done on a short break.  Journey highlights: stunning views along the River Churnet; the Black Lion Pub at Consall Forge; and the Churnet Valley Railway.  Bases: Stoke on Trent at the junction of the Caldon and Trent & Mersey Canals in Staffordshire.  Prices: short breaks start at £412, weekly hire from £634.

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

For more information about Drifters canal boat holidays call 0844 984 0322 or visit


For Drifters press enquiries, including photos and destination details, contact Debbie Walker on 01628 635831/077486 40577

Notes to editors

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



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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Visit the Llangollen Eisteddfod by Canal Boat

See Pontcysyllte Aqueduct Illuminated

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

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

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

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

For more information about the ‘Underneath the Arches’ event call 01978 292537 or visit

For more information about the Canal & River Trust visit