From rural retreats to vibrant city centres, narrowboat holiday-makers can explore Britain’s beautiful 3,000-mile network of inland waterways. And there’s a choice of hundreds of waterside destinations and historic canalside pubs to visit along the way.
Drifters offers over 550 boats for hire from 45 locations across England, Scotland and Wales. 2022 hire prices start at £550 for a short break (three or four nights) on a boat for four, £760 for a week. Tuition is included in all Drifters holiday packages.
Here are Drifters’ Top 9 canal boat holidays for 2022:
1. Cruise to historic Shardlow
In Spring 2022, Drifters will open a new narrowboat hire base at Springwood Haven Marina on the Coventry Canal in Nuneaton. On a week’s break from Springwood Haven, you can travel to the historic inland port of Shardlow and back. The journey passes through Atherstone, across the Tame Aqueduct, through Fradley Junction, Alrewas, Branston and Burton-on-Trent, home of the National Brewery Centre. At Shardlow there are over 50 listed buildings, including the Salt Warehouse, housing Shardlow Heritage Centre. The journey there and back passes through 58 locks and takes around 49 cruising hours.
2. Visit the UNESCO World Heritage City of Bath
On a short break from our base at Devizes in Wiltshire, you can travel along the Kennet & Avon Canal to Sydney Wharf, on the edge of Bath. The journey travels 19 miles, passing through eight locks and takes around nine hours. Along the way, the route passes through the village of Seend with its canalside Barge Inn. And the historic town of Bradford on Avon, with a choice of independent shops and restaurants. The route also takes boaters over the beautiful Avoncliff and Dundas Bath stone aqueducts. Once at Sydney Wharf, boaters can moor up and take a 15-minute walk into Bath City Centre.
3. Navigate to Manchester and back
On a week’s break from our canal boat hire base at Acton Bridge, you can cruise to Manchester and back. The journey allows you to enjoy time in the countryside as well as well as the City. The route, which travels a total of 68 miles of waterway (34 each way) passes through just one lock. Places to stop off at include Stockton Heath, with a choice of shops and eateries, and the historic village of Lymm. On arrival in Manchester, there are places to moor at Castlefield Basin, within easy reach of City Centre attractions. To visit the Trafford Centre, boaters can return via Worsley on the Bridgewater Canal.
4. Visit Warwick Castle afloat
From our boat yard at Stockton, on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, you can cruise to Warwick and back. The journey there and back takes around 14 hours, and passes through 40 locks (20 each way). Overnight moorings are available close to Warwick Castle on the banks of the River Avon.
5. Potter through the Shropshire countryside to Market Drayton
From oure base at Brewood on the Shropshire Union Canal, it takes around 10 hours to reach the historic market town of Market Drayton. Along the way, you’ll pass through just six locks and a series of villages with canalside pubs. These include the Junction Inn at Norbury and the Royal Oak at Gnosnall.
6. Cruise along the Shropshire Union Canal to Norbury
From our base at Autherley, on a short break you can cruise along the Shropshire Union Canal to Autherley and back. This rural route, which is perfect for beginners, takes boaters through 15 miles of peaceful countryside. It passes through just two locks and a series of pretty villages with canalside pubs. These include the Bridge Inn at Brewood and the Hartley Arms at Wheaton Ashton.
7. Spot wildlife on the Ashby Canal
On a week’s holiday from our Braunston base, you can cruise to the pretty village of Snarestone and back. You will travel a total of 47 miles, passing through just eight locks (four each way) in around 32 hours. This largely rural route goes 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 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). This recognises the diversity of the waterway’s plant, insect and animal life, including nine species of dragonfly, and rare native white-clawed crayfish.
8. Float across ‘The Stream in the Sky’
Our base at Trevor on the beautiful Llangollen Canal in North Wales, is next to the awesome UNESCO World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. From there, you can reach historic Ellesmere in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District on a short break. Standing 38 metres high above the Dee Valley, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct carries the canal in a cast iron trough, supported by 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, you feel like you are floating above the earth!
9. Cruise to Todmorden for stunning Pennine scenery
On a short break from our Sowerby Bridge base in West Yorkshire, you can travel to Todmorden and back along the Rochdale Canal. The journey, which travels a total of 20 miles, passes through 34 locks and takes around 16 hours. The historic town of Todmorden offers visitors fine Victorian architecture, plenty of pubs and restaurants, and a busy market. Along the way, you’ll pass through the beautiful Calder Valley village of Mytholmroyd, the birthplace of Ted Hughes. And the old mill town of Hebden Bridge, with a variety of shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs and a series of scenic waymarked walks.