Top 10 canal events in 2020

Crick Boat Show in Northamptonshire

Britain’s canals and rivers host hundreds of exciting events each year, bringing people to the waterways and celebrating the things that make them special.

These events make great destinations for canal boat holiday-makers, so we’ve put together our Top 10 events for 2020, along with information on our nearest canal boat hire bases:          

  1. Easter Boat Gathering, 10-13 April – the annual Easter Boat Gathering at the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port, now in its 43rd year, marks the official start of the boating season.  Over the weekend, dozens of boats will moor up across the Museum’s seven-acre site and visitors can enjoy live music, workshop tours, historic boats and museum activities.  Drifters’ nearest narrowboat hire bases are at Bunbury and Anderton, both on the Shropshire Union Canal and
  2. St Richard’s Canal Festival, 7-10 May – this annual event, which takes place in Vines Park alongside the Droitwich Barge Canal, is organised by the Worcester & Birmingham Canal Society.  The event offers family entertainment, live music, boats, classic cars, art workshops, community stalls, a real ale bar and the annual ‘Great Droitwich Duck Race’ with over 1,000 plastic ducks competing.  Drifters’ nearest canal boat rental bases are Worcester and Stoke Prior.
  3. Rickmansworth Canal Festival, 16-17 May – celebrating canals, the community and the environment, the annual Rickmansworth Canal Festival attracts over 100 canal boats from across the country.  Occupying part of the Aquadrome and the Grand Union Canal towpath between Stockers Lock and Batchworth Lock, the event hosts a range of music, performing arts, displays, presentations, traders and catering.  Drifters’ nearest canal boat hire base is on the Grand Union Canal at Braunston.
  4. Scottish Boat Rally, 23-24 May – Scottish Canals will host a Scottish Boat Rally on the Forth & Clyde and Union canals in the Scottish Lowlands as part of Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020.  Drifters nearest canal boat hire base is at Falkirk, where the two canals meet.
  5. Crick Boat Show, 23-25 May – 300 exhibitors will gather at Crick Marina on the Leicester Line of the Grand Union Canal near Daventry to celebrate the canals and showcase thousands of inland waterways products and services.  Now Britain’s biggest inland waterways festival, the event offers visitors a fantastic day out by the water, with free boat trips, over 50 boats to look around, live music, children’s activities and a wide variety of food and drink stalls.  Drifters’ nearest narrowboat hire bases are at Gayton, Braunston and Market Harborough.
  6. Chester Dragon Boat Festival, 7 June – this annual and very colourful charity event on the River Dee in Chester sees over 20 dragon boat teams of up to 16 paddlers and a drummer battling to become the champions.  Drifters’ nearest narrowboat hire rental centres are Bunbury, Anderton and Brewood.
  7. Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, 7-12 July – every yearthousands of people descend on the pretty town of Llangollen on the Llangollen Canal to celebrate dance, music, costume and culture.  The Llangollen Eisteddfod is one of the world’s great musical and culture events with six days of world-class competitions and concerts featuring an array of international performers.  Drifters’ nearest canal boat hire bases are at Trevor, Chirk and Blackwater Meadow.
  8. Stratford River Festival, 6-7 July – this two-day free annual event offers visitors waterside family fun in Stratford-upon-Avon with music, a gathering of boats, craft and food stalls, family zone, charity stalls, illuminated boat parade and spectacular fireworks.  Drifters’ nearest canal boat hire base is on the Stratford Canal at Wotton Wawen.
  9. Stoke Bruerne Village at War, 12-13 September – organised by the Friends of the Stoke Bruerne Canal Museum, the annual vintage themed Village at War event takes people back to the 40’s with live music, tea dances, vintage fashion shows, a Black Market, tanks and other military vehicles, re-enactments and displays.  Historic boats are on show, including the Museum’s own restored narrowboat ‘Sculptor’, which saw action in London as a fire boat during the Blitz.  Drifters’ nearest narrowboat hire bases are Gayton, Braunston and Rugby.
  10. Stone Food & Drink Festival, 19-20 September – 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.  Drifters’ nearest narrowboat rental bases are Great Haywood, Brewood and Peak District.

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.
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.

 

Top 10 short breaks

Top 10 Late May Bank Holiday Boating Breaks

With Britain’s inland waterways in better shape than ever and the health benefits of spending time by the water proven, narrowboat holidays are becoming increasingly popular.

So why not pack up and ship out for a family adventure afloat over the Whitsun May holiday?

You don’t need a licence to steer a canal boat and all our operators provide boat steering tuition as part of their holiday packages.

Drifters offers over 550 boats for hire from 45 bases across England, Scotland and Wales.  Narrowboats range from 32ft to 70ft and can accommodate up to 12 people.  All are equipped with essential home comforts, including central heating, hot water, TV, showers, microwaves, flushing toilets, and many now have WiFi too.

Prices over the late May bank holiday start at £715 for a short break (three of four nights) on a boat for four people, £1,020 for a week, though it’s always checking our availability online for offers.

Here’s a list of our Top 10 late May Bank Holiday boating breaks, all perfect for beginners:

  1. Cruise along the peaceful Oxford Canal to Rugby – from our canal boat hire base on the Oxford Canal at Napton in Warwickshire, it takes just over six hours, travelling 15 miles and passing through three locks, to reach the historic market town of Rugby.  The route takes boaters through quiet countryside, with farmland and woodlands bordering the canal most of the way.  There are canalside pubs to enjoy along the way at the villages of Hillmorton and Braunston and once at Rugby there’s a choice of pubs, restaurants and cafes to visit, as well as museums dedicated to the town’s history and history of the game of rugby.
  2. Enjoy the bright lights of Birmingham afloat – boasting more canals than Venice, Birmingham simply has to be visited by water.  With no locks between our 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, narrowboat holiday-makers 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. Love the Llangollen – passing through stunning North Wales landscapes, the Llangollen Canal is one of the most popular canals on the network.  The journey to Chirk from our new narrowboat hire base on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal at Whixall in Shropshire offers a fantastic short break holiday for beginners.  It takes around eight hours, passing through just two locks to reach the village of Chirk, with a choice of canalside pubs to enjoy and nearby Chirk Castle to visit.
  4. Potter through the Peak District – our Peak District base, at the junction of the Caldon and Trent & Mersey canals near 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 12-hour cruise along the peaceful Caldon Canal to Froghall Basin is perfect for narrowboat holiday beginners on a short break.
  5. Visit Georgian Bath – from our 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 Cross Guns at Avoncliff.  Once in Bath, canal boat holiday makers can use their boat as a base to enjoy all that the City has to offer, including the Roman Baths, Jane Austen Museum and Royal Crescent.
  6. 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.  The journey, perfect for beginners on a mid-week (four-night) 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 Mark King Close, frozen in time beneath the Royal Mile.
  7. Steer gently through the countryside to Stone – from our 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.
  8. Navigate to the Yorkshire Dales – the journey from our narrowboat rental base at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal to the pretty North Yorkshire village of Gargrave and back takes 13 hours, passing through three locks each way.  The route takes boaters through the historic town of Skipton, with its striking medieval stone castle and extensive woodlands managed by the Woodland Trust.  Once at Gargrave, there are pubs to enjoy, including the popular Mason’s Arms, as well as easy access to the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the Pennine Way.
  9. Boat to Brewood and back – the journey to Brewood and back from our canal boat rental base at Gailey on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal offers an excellent short break route for canal boat 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 attractive Georgian houses, visitors have a choice of pubs, restaurants and tea rooms to dine at, including the canalside Bridge Inn.
  10. Visit Shakespeare’s Stratford – from our canal boat hire base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal near Henley-in-Arden, it’s a delightful six-hour, 17-lock cruise through the Warwickshire countryside to Bancroft Basin in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon.  From there, it’s a short walk to the town’s restaurants, shops, markets, museums and theatres, including the 1,040 seat Royal Shakespeare Theatre, home to the Royal Shakespeare Company. 

 

 

TOP 10 NEW NARROWBOATS FOR 2020

Top 10 New Narrowboats for 2020

There are nearly 35,000 boats on Britain’s 2,000-mile canal network, more than at the time of the Industrial Revolution.

But unlike the working boats of the last two centuries, the canal boats available to hire today are fully equipped with all the essential mod cons – central heating, hot water, TV, Wifi, fully-equipped kitchens, showers and flushing toilets.  And some offer five star accommodation, with extras like wider beds, larger showers and solid-fuel stoves.

Drifters offers the choice of over 550 boats from 45 bases across England, Wales and Scotland.  Each year dozens of new boats are added to our fleet.  Here’s a run-down of our Top 10 new boats for hire in 2020:

  1. The ‘Common Swift’ canal boat for four arrives at Alvechurch – the new 49ft ‘Common Swift’ narrowboat is available to hire from Alvechurch, offering flexible accommodation for up to four people with optional wider beds. The boat will have one cabin, which can be configured as a double or two singles.  The seating area in the saloon can be converted into a double bed in the evening.  On a short break from our narrowboat hire base at Alvechurch on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, narrowboat holiday-makers can travel into central Birmingham in just five hours.  On a week’s break, boaters canal tackle the popular Stourport Ring, cruising a total of 74 miles, passing through 118 locks (including the longest lock flight in the country at Tardebigge), and visiting three cities – Wolverhampton, Birmingham and the ancient City of Worcester.  ***2020 prices aboard ‘Common Swift’ start at £599 for a short break (three of four nights), £899 for a week. 
  2. The ‘Hawke’ narrowboat for four people gets going at Whixall – from 27 June 2020 the new luxury 65ft Admiral Class narrowboat ‘Hawke’, with accommodation for up to four people, will be available to hire from Drifters’ new narrowboat hire base at Whixall, on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire.  ‘Hawke’ will offer canal boat holiday-makers two spacious bathrooms, full central heating, a well-equipped galley and flexible accommodation in two cabins, ranging from two doubles to four singles.  From Whixall it takes just 30 minutes to reach the main line of the Llangollen Canal, where on a short break, boaters can reach Chirk, with its magnificent aqueduct, 459-yard tunnel and choice of canalside pubs.  On a week’s holiday from Whixall, boaters can cruise on to the Eisteddfod town of Llangollen, travelling across the World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.  ***2020 prices for ‘Hawke‘ start at £795 for short break, £1,095 for a week. 
  3. The ‘Collingwood’ canal boat for two hits the water at Wootton Wawen – the new luxury 57ft Admiral Class narrowboat for two people ‘Collingwood’ is available to hire from Drifters’ canal boat rental base at Wootton Wawen, on the Stratford Canal in Warwickshire.  ‘Collingwood’ will have a cabin with a double bed, a bathroom with shower, flushing toilet and basin, full radiator central heating, a multi-fuel stove, a fully equipped kitchen, WiFi and TV.  On a short break from Wootton Wawen, narrowboat holiday-makers can travel to Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon and back.  On a week’s holiday, boaters can reach historic Warwick or Birmingham City Centre.  ***2020 prices for ‘Collingwood‘ start at £605 for short break, £835 for a week. 
  4. The ‘Louisa’ narrowboat for up to eight people cruises into Stockton the new 70ft narrowboat for up to eight people ‘Louisa’ is available to hire from Drifters’ canal boat holiday base on the Grand Union Canal at Stockton in Warwickshire.  ‘Louisa’ offers either three fixed doubles (or two fixed doubles and two fixed singles), plus two singles in the lounge.  She has two bathrooms, full central heating and a well-equipped galley.  On a short break from Stockton, boaters can travel to Warwick and back, enjoying country pubs along the way.  On a week’s break, boaters can tackle the popular Warwickshire Ring, cruising sections of the Grand Union, Oxford, Coventry and Birmingham & Fazeley canals, covering 104 miles and passing through 121 locks.  ***2020 prices for ‘Louisa’ start at £1,070 for a week, £670 for a short break. 
  5. The ‘Nelson’ canal boat for two arrives at Trevor – from next March, the new luxury 57ft Admiral Class narrowboat for two people ‘Nelson’ will be available to hire from Drifters’ canal boat rental base at Trevor, on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales.  ‘Nelson’ will have a cabin with a double bed, bathroom with shower, flushing toilet and basin, full radiator central heating, a multi-fuel stove, fully equipped kitchen, WiFi and TV.  On a short break from Trevor, narrowboat holiday-makers can travel to Ellesmere and the Shropshire Lake District, passing over the World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct along the way.  On a week’s holiday, boaters can continue on to the historic market town of Whitchurch.  ***2020 prices for ‘Nelson‘ start at £605 for short break, £835 for a week. 
  6. The ‘Wood Warbler’ canal boat for up to eight people glides into Gailey – the new 69ft ‘Wood Warbler’ narrowboat is available to hire from Drifters’ canal boat hire base on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal at Gailey.  Offering flexible accommodation for up to eight people with optional wider beds, the boat will have three cabins, two of which can be configured as one double or two singles.  The mid cabin next to the second bathroom has a fixed double bed. On a short break from Gailey, narrowboat holiday-makers can travel gently through the countryside to the historic village of Brewood and back.  On a week’s break, boaters canal tackle the Black Country Ring, travelling 75 miles, and passing through 78 in locks in around 47 hours of cruising through the countryside and Birmingham City Centre.  ***2020 prices aboard ‘Wood Warbler’ start at £959 for a short break, £1,499 for a week. 
  7. The ‘Cunningham’ narrowboat for up to four arrives at Oxford – the new luxury 65ft Admiral Class narrowboat ‘Cunningham’, with accommodation for up to four people, is available to hire from Drifters’ new narrowboat hire base at Eysham, on the River Thames near Oxford.  ‘Cunningham’ will offer canal boat holiday-makers two spacious bathrooms, full central heating, a well-equipped galley and flexible accommodation in two cabins, ranging from two doubles to four singles.  From Eynsham, it takes four hours to reach moorings in the centre of Oxford, perfect for a short break.  On a week’s holiday, boaters can continue cruising along the River Thames to Henley, or transfer onto the Oxford Canal and travel to Banbury and back.  ***2020 prices for ‘Cunningham‘ start at £795 for short break, £1,095 for a week. 
  8. The Forest Wagtail’ narrowboat for up to 10 sets sail at Worcester – the spacious new 70ft narrowboat for up to ten people ‘Forest Wagtail’ is available to hire from Drifters’ canal boat hire base on the River Severn at Worcester.  ‘Forest Wagtail’ has two flexible cabins which can be made up as doubles or singles, plus two seating areas which can be converted into a double or two singles.  There’s an optional high level single bed which can be added above a single bed in both cabins.  ‘Forest Wagtail’ features LED lighting throughout, optional wider beds, two TVs, two bathrooms with showers, a fully equipped kitchen and front deck table.  On a four night short break from Worcester, canal boat holiday-makers can tackle the Droitwich Ring, travelling 21 miles through the beautiful Worcestershire countryside, and passing through 33 locks in around 16 hours.  On a week’s break from Worcester, boaters can travel around the 79-mile long Stourport Ring, which takes in sections of the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal, Worcester & Birmingham Canal Navigation, the River Severn, Birmingham Canal Main Line and Stourbridge canals.  ***2020 prices aboard the ‘Forest Wagtail’ start at £959 for a short break (three or four nights), and £1,499 for a week. 
  9. The ‘Duchess’ narrowboat for up to four people arrives at Acton Bridge – a new 58ft long ‘Duchess 4’ narrowboat is operating out of Drifters’ canal boat hire base at Acton Bridge on the Trent & Mersey Canal in Cheshire.  Offering luxury canal boat hire accommodation for up to four people, the Duchess has two double cabins, one which can be configured either as a double or two singles.  Her impressive facilities include: full central heating with radiators and airing cupboard; flat screen TV with Freeview/DVD player; full size shower with bi-fold door; well equipped kitchen with electric fridge with freezer compartment and four-ring cooker with oven and grill; security safe; a 12v USB point; and WiFi.  On a short break (three or four nights) from Acton Bridge, boaters can travel through glorious Cheshire countryside to Barbridge and back, passing through the Anderton Boat Lift and historic market town of Middlewich.  On a week away, boaters can travel the Cheshire Ring, cruising 98 miles, passing through 92 locks, with highlights including: Barton Swing Aqueduct on the Bridgewater Canal; central Manchester; beautiful Peak Dristrict views and countryside on the Macclesfield and Peak Forest canals; and Harecastle Tunnel on the Trent & Mersey Canal. ***2020 Prices aboard the ‘Duchess 4’ start at £675 for a short break, £999 for a week. 
  10. The ‘Curlew Sandpiper’ narrowboat for six arrives at Whitchurch – the new 63ft ‘Curlew Sandpiper’ narrowboat is available to hire from Drifters’ canal boat hire base on the Llangollen Canal at Whitchurch in Shropshire.  Offering flexible accommodation for up to six people with optional wider beds, the boat will have two cabins, which can be configured as one double or two singles.  The seating area in the saloon can be converted into a double bed in the evening. On a short break from Whitchurch, narrowboat holiday-makers can travel gently through the Shropshire Lake District to Ellesmere and back.  On a week’s break, they can cruise on to the pretty Eisteddfod town of Llangollen, passing over the Chirk and Pontcysyllte Aqueducts along the way.  ***2020 prices aboard ‘Curlew Sandpiper’ start at £849 for a short break, £1,299 for a week. 

Top 8 Narrowboat Holidays for Novices

Drifters’ Top 12 places to hire a boat for the day

Ouzel II at Braunston

Day boat hire on the canals offers the chance to enjoy a fun day out on the water, nourished by a pint and a pub lunch along the way.

We offer day boat hire from 16 our boat yards across England, Scotland and Wales, with prices starting at less than £10 per person.  Full tuition is included so if you are new to canal boating, it’s a great way to get the hang of steering, mooring up and working the locks.  Our day boats are equipped with cutlery, crockery and a kettle and most also have a toilet, cooker and fridge. 

Here’s a list of our top 12 day boat hire centres and destinations for 2019:

  1. Boat to the beautiful Avoncliff Aqueduct – from Hilperton Marina near Trowbridge in Wiltshire, day boaters can head west along the beautiful Kennet & Avon Canal to the stunning Avoncliff Aqueduct and back, passing through the historic town of Bradford on Avon, with its stunning medieval Tithe Barn.  Once at Avoncliff, boaters can moor up and visit the popular canalside Cross Guns pub and admire the beautiful Bath stone aqueduct.  It takes just under two hours to reach Avoncliff, passing through just one lock. ***Day boat ‘Cheers’ can carry up to 10 people, weekday hire starts at £99, weekends & bank holidays £160.
  2. Cruise through the Shropshire Lake District – from Drifters’ new canal boat hire base at Whixall on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire, day boaters can cruise along the Llangollen Canal to Ellesmere in around two-and-a-half hours, passing lakes at Lyneal Moss and Colemere Country Park along the way.  Once at Ellesmere, boaters can moor up and explore the famous Mere with its historic castle, woodland paths and fascinating wildlife.  The journey travels eight miles and takes around two hours.  ***Day boats ‘Bella’ and ‘Julia’ can each carry up to 10 people. Weekday hire is £99, weekends & bank holidays £140.
  3. Meander to Middlewich and back – Drifters’ narrowboat hire 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’, provides a 50-foot vertical link between the River Weaver and the Trent & Mersey Canal.  From Anderton, day boaters can travel along the Trent & Mersey Canal to Middlewich, passing through Marbury Country Park and Marston Flash along the way.  It takes around three hours, travelling nine miles with no locks, to reach Middlewich Big Lock, where the popular canalside Big Lock pub offers refreshments.  Or travel back five miles to lunch at the Old Broken Cross pub. ***Day boat ‘Daydream’ can carry up to 12 people, weekday hire starts at £99, weekends & bank holidays £190.
  4. Explore Shakespeare’s country – from Wootton Wawen near Henley in Arden in Warwickshire, boaters can head south along the peaceful Stratford Canal 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.
  5. Travel across ‘The Stream in the Sky’ – from Drifters’ canal boat hire 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.  ***Day boat hire from Trevor starts at £120 for up to 10 people, £160 on weekends and bank holidays.
  6. Cruise gently through the Warwickshire countryside to Hillmorton – from Drifters’ day boat hire base at Braunston in Northamptonshire, it takes around three hours chugging gently along seven miles of the North Oxford Canal to reach the pretty canalside village of Hillmorton.  There’s a choice of pubs at Hillmorton – the canalside Old Royal Oak or the Stag & Pheasant in the village.  Day boaters can turn before three locks at Hillmorton or boat through with the help of volunteer lock keepers Maurice Farndon and Vince Laramy, who last year helped over 10,000 boaters through this busy flight of locks. ****Day boat ‘Ouzel II’ can carry up to 12 people.  Weekday hire is £145, and £175 on weekends and bank holidays.
  7. 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 £250, Friday to Sunday.
  8. 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. ***Day boat ‘Rooster’ can carry up to eight people, weekday hire from £99, weekends & bank holidays £160.
  9. 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.  The route is lock-free but there are three tunnels to pass through, including the 2493-metre long Wast Hill Tunnel, one of the longest canal tunnels in the country. ****‘Emma’ can carry up to 10 people each, weekday hire is £99, weekends & bank holidays £140.
  10. 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.  Here day boaters will find 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 also 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 in the tiny Foxton Canal Museum. ***Day boat ‘Moorhen’ can carry up to 12 people, weekday hire starts at £160, weekends & bank holidays from £210.
  11. 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.
  12. Boat through the countryside to The Spring Inn – from Drifters’ canal boat hire base at Aldermaston in Berkshire, day boaters can cruise through the countryside for two hours to Tyle Mill Lock in around two hours.  From Tyle Mill Lock, it’s a ten minute walk to the Spring Inn gastropub in Sulhamstead, serving a weekly Sunday roast, as well as lunch and supper daily. ***Day boat ‘Hey Day’ can carry up to 10 people, weekday hire starts at £99, weekends & bank holidays £160.

 

 

Get the family afloat this summer

Celebrate Mother’s Day Afloat

This year Mothering Sunday coincides with the start of British Summer Time (Sunday 31 March 2019), so what better way to celebrate than by taking to the water for a relaxing day afloat on a canal boat, stopping off at a pub for lunch along the way.

Drifters offers day boat hire from 16 boat yards across England, Scotland and Wales, with prices starting from less than £10 per person. 

Full tuition is included so if you are new to canal boating, it’s a great way to dip your toe in the water and 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 9 day boat destinations for Mums in 2019:

  1. Explore Shakespeare’s 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.
  2. 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 World Heritage status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.  At over 38 metres high and 305 metres long, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is truly one of the wonders of the waterways, offering stunning views of the Dee Valley below.  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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  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.  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.

 

drifters

Top 10 canal boat holidays for 2019

From rural retreats to vibrant city centres, narrowboat holiday-makers can use their boat as a floating holiday home to explore hundreds of waterside destinations and enjoy taking refreshment at historic canalside pubs.

Here are Drifters’ Top 10 canal boat holidays for 2019:

1. Go star gazing on the Mon & Brec – 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, 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. On a short break (three or four nights) from Drifters’ base at Goytre Wharf, near Abergavenny, you can cruise lock-free to Talybont-on-Usk and back, with excellent walking trails and eateries, the Canalside Café and the Star Inn.

2. Travel to Leicester and the new King Richard III Visitor Centre – from our canal boat hire base at Union Wharf on the Leicester Line of the Grand Union Canal in Market Harborough, on a week’s narrowboat holiday you can travel to Leicester and back. The 13-hour cruise through the Leicestershire countryside, travels 23 miles, encountering 24 locks, and passing through a series of villages with friendly rural pubs to enjoy, including The Three Horseshoes at Wistow, and the canalside Navigation Inn at Kilby. Once in Leicester, moorings at Castle Gardens are the perfect base for exploring local attractions, including the new award-winning King Richard III Visitor Centre which chronicles the last Plantagenet King’s life and remarkable story of the discovery of his remains.

3. 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.

4. Watch out for wildlife on the Ashby Canal – on a week’s holiday from Drifters canal boat hire base at Braunston, you 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 canal boat holiday-makers 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.

5. 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 World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and the stunning hill surrounded 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 holding the canal across iron arched ribs and 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.

6. Cruise the Birmingham mini-ring – with more canals than Venice, travelling by boat is the best way to tour Britain’s vibrant second City. On a week’s holiday from Drifters’ Tardebigge boat yard on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, canal boat holiday-makers can travel the Birmingham Mini-Ring, cruising for 27 hours and passing through 49 locks. The route begins by passing through the remains of the Forest of Arden, with quiet villages and historic waterside pubs to enjoy along the way, and then heads right into the heart of Birmingham. Here boaters can moor up and explore some of the City’s top attractions, including the Thinktank Science Museum and Mailbox Shopping Centre. Travelling out of Birmingham on a different canal, the route connects with the Grand Union Canal and the journey becomes gradually more rural again as it loops back round through Lapworth and along part of the Stratford Canal.

7. Travel one-way across the Pennines – starting from Drifters’ narrowboat hire base at Sowerby Bridge or Ashton-under-Lyne, this week-long epic journey takes around 40 cruising hours, travelling 33 miles and passing through 97 locks. If beginning at Sowerby Bridge, the route first travels down the Calder & Hebble Navigation past Brighouse, then after a short river section the journey switches onto the Huddersfield Broad, taking boaters into Huddersfield City Centre. After that the canal goes up the Colne Valley into the hills and on to the villages of Slaithwaite, then Marsden, before reaching the summit over 644 feet above sea level and the entrance to the Standedge Tunnel. The passage of boats through the incredible three-and-a-quarter mile long tunnel is guided by Canal & River Trust staff and volunteers. After the tunnel, the canal descends quickly through the Diggle Flight and into the Saddleworth villages, before reaching the centre of Stalybridge, and finally Ashton.

8. Navigate the Droitwich Ring – setting off from Drifters’ narrowboat hire base at Worcester on the beautiful River Severn, canal boat holiday makers can navigate the Droitwich Ring, the only waterway cruising ring in Europe which can be completed on a short break (three or four nights). The restoration of the Droitwich Canals was completed in 2011, reconnecting them to the Worcester & Birmingham Canal and the River Severn, and creating a 21-mile loop with 33 locks along the way, that can be completed in just less than 15 hours.

9. Potter through the Scottish lowlands to Linlithgow – 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. The route begins by passing over the 35-metre high Falkirk Wheel – the world’s first rotating boat lift and then passes through two tunnels and two aqueducts, and on through 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 sample some of the town’s excellent eateries.

10. 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, you 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, the Hollybush Inn is popular with boaters and at Consall Forge, the secluded Black Lion pub serves good food and real ales.

Top 10 canal boat holidays for beginners

With Britain’s inland waterways in better shape than ever and the health benefits of spending time by the water proven, narrowboat holidays are becoming increasingly popular.

You don’t need a licence to steer a canal boat and all Drifters’ operators provide hirers with boat steering tuition as part of their holiday packages.

Today’s narrowboats are fully equipped with essential home comforts, including central heating, hot water, TV, showers, microwaves, flushing toilets, and many now have WiFi too.

So if you are planning to pack up and ship out on an adventure afloat, take a look at our top 10 canal boat holidays for beginners to help you learn the ropes:

1. 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 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, narrowboat holiday-makers can find over-night moorings at Gas Street Basin, with easy access to Brindleyplace, the Mailbox, Sea Life Centre and other city centre attractions.

2. Love the Llangollen – passing through stunning North Wales landscapes, the Llangollen Canal is one of the most popular navigations on the network. The journey from Drifters’ 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 the beautiful Meres, a journey which takes around seven hours. And the route includes the experience of travelling across the awesome World Heritage status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, with incredible views of the Dee Valley 30 metres below.

3. Potter through the Peak District – our Peak District base, at the junction of the Caldon and Trent & Mersey canals near 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 12-hour cruise along the peaceful Caldon Canal to Froghall Basin is perfect for narrowboat holiday beginners on a short break.

4. 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, with very few locks, offers canal boat holiday-makers incredible mountain views and is nice and easy for beginners. On a week’s holiday from our base Goytre Wharf near Abergavenny, narrowboaters 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.

5. Visit Georgian Bath – from our 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 Cross Guns at Avoncliff. Once in Bath, canal boat holiday makers can use their boat as a base to enjoy all that the City has to offer, including the Roman Baths, Jane Austen Museum and Royal Crescent.

6. Take a rural route to Braunston – from our base at Stretton-under-Fosse on the North Oxford Canal near Rugby, the pretty canal village of Braunston is a peaceful 15-mile cruise away. There are only three locks along the way so it’s an easy holiday for first time boaters on a short break. The journey meanders through pretty wooded countryside and a series of sleepy villages with rural waterside pubs, including Newbold and Hillmorton.

7. 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. 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 Mark King Close, frozen in time beneath the Royal Mile.

8. Steer gently through the countryside to Stone – from our base 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.

9. Navigate to the Yorkshire Dales – the journey from our narrowboat rental base at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal to the pretty North Yorkshire village of Gargrave and back takes 13 hours and passes through three locks each way. The route takes boaters through the historic town of Skipton, with its striking medieval stone castle and extensive woodlands managed by the Woodland Trust. Once at Gargrave, there are pubs to enjoy, including the popular Mason’s Arms, easy access to the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the Pennine Way.

10. Boat to Brewood and back – the journey to Brewood and back from our canal boat rental base at Gailey on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal offers an excellent short break route for canal boat 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 attractive Georgian houses, visitors have a choice of pubs, restaurants and tea rooms to dine at, including the canalside Bridge Inn.