Top 8 New Narrowboats for Hire in 2021

Today’s narrowboats for hire are fully equipped with all the essential mod cons.  These include central heating, hot water, televisions, DVD players, fully-equipped kitchens, showers and flushing toilets.  And some boats are fitted with extras, like wider beds, larger showers, baths, solid-fuel stoves and WiFi.

Each year dozens of new boats are added to the Drifters fleet.  Here’s a run-down of our top 8 new boats for hire in 2021:

‘Arbury’ is navigating from Braunston

The new 65ft narrowboat for up to six people ‘Arbury’ is now for hire from Drifters’ canal boat hire base at Braunston, on the Grand Union Canal in Northamptonshire.  ‘Arbury’ has two double bedrooms (which can also be made up as twins).  She has two shower/toilet rooms and a large saloon area where the dining area can be converted into an extra double bed.  Arbury’s prices start at £850 for a short break (three or four nights), £1,165 for a week.  Price includes diesel, gas, damage waiver, cancellation protection, parking, tuition and first pet. Second pet is charged at £25 per week.

‘Bedford’ glides out of Sowerby Bridge

The new 56ft narrowboat for up to six people ‘Bedford’ is available to hire from Drifters’ base at Sowerby Bridge in West Yorkshire.  She has two double cabins (which can also be set up as twins), as well as a saloon dining area which can be converted into a double or two single beds.  She has a shower/toilet room, plus a second toilet.  Bedford’s 2021 prices start at £825 for a short break, £1,375 for a week.  Price includes damage waiver, pre-holiday information, comprehensive instruction, fuel, gas, parking, buoyancy aids and bed linen.

The ‘White Wagtail’ is now available at Whitchurch

This spacious new 70ft narrowboat for up to ten people is based at Whitchurch, on the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire.  ‘White 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.  She features LED lighting throughout, optional wider beds, two TVs, two bathrooms with showers, a fully equipped kitchen and front deck table.  2021 prices aboard ‘White Wagtail’ start at £1,199 for a short break, £1,849 for a week.  Price includes bedding, towels, collision damage waiver, first pet, car parking and tuition.  Fuel is extra.  A £90 deposit is taken for a week’s holiday.  Actual cost based on use, circa £10-15 per day.

‘Serena’ arrives at Napton

From July, the 60ft narrowboat for up to six people, ‘Serena’ will be available from Napton, on the Oxford Canal in Warwickshire.  She has two double cabins (which can also be made up as twins), two full bathrooms, and an extra outside table for alfresco dining.  She has a reverse layout, so the galley is at the back of the boat.  The interior dining area can be converted into a double bed.  2021 prices start at £925 for a short break, £1,295 for a week.  Price includes up to four adults, fuel, diesel, parking, tuition and bed linen.  There’s a compulsory extra £55 damage waiver, pets are charged at £35 each per week and extra adults are charged at £30 each.

‘Fitzroy’ arrives at Trevor

The 65ft Admiral Class narrowboat for four people ‘Fitzroy’ is available to hire from Trevor, on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales.  ‘Fitzroy’ has two shower/toilet rooms, full central heating, a well-equipped galley and flexible accommodation in two cabins, ranging from two doubles to four singles.  Fitzroy’s 2021 prices start at £835 for short break, £1,150 for a week.  Price includes bed linen, towels, cancellation protection, first pet, parking and tuition on arrival.  A £50 non-refundable damage waiver and fuel deposit (£50 for a short break, £90 for a week) are extra. Fuel charges are based on use, circa £10-15 per day.

The ‘Blackcap Warbler’ is departing from Anderton

The 69ft ‘Blackcap Warbler’ narrowboat for up to eight people is available to hire from Anderton in Cheshire.  The boat has 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. She has LED lighting throughout, a front deck table, optional wider beds, two shower/toilet rooms, WiFi and two TV’s.  2021 prices aboard ‘Pine Warbler’ start at £1,199 for a short break, £1,849 for a week.  Price includes bedding, towels, collision damage waiver, first pet, car parking and tuition.  Fuel is extra.  A £90 deposit is taken for a week’s holiday.  Actual cost based on use, circa £10-15 per day.

‘Bewicks Wren’ is now available from Alvechurch

The 49ft ‘Bewsicks Wren’ narrowboat for up to four people is available to hire from Alvechurch, on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove.  She offers flexible accommodation for up to four people with optional wider beds. The boat has one cabin, which can be configured as a double or two singles, and the seating/dining area in the saloon can be converted into a double bed.  She has a shower/toilet room, front deck table, LED lighting, two televisions and WiFi. 2021 prices aboard ‘Bewicks Wren’ start at £749 for a short break, £1,149 for a week.  Price includes bedding, towels, collision damage waiver, first pet, car parking and tuition.  Fuel is extra.  A £90 deposit is taken for a week’s holiday.  Actual cost based on use, circa £10-15 per day.

‘Pine Warbler’ is departing from Kings Orchard

The  69ft ‘Pine Warbler’ narrowboat for up to eight people is available to hire from Kings Orchard on the Coventry Canal.  The boat has 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. She has LED lighting throughout, a front deck table, optional wider beds, two shower/toilet rooms, WiFi and two TV’s.  2021 prices aboard ‘Pine Warbler’ start at £1,199 for a short break, £1,849 for a week.  Price includes bedding, towels, collision damage waiver, first pet, car parking and tuition.  Fuel is extra.  A £90 deposit is taken for a week’s holiday.  Actual cost based on use, circa £10-15 per day.

Beginners narrowboat holiday on the Llangollen Canal

Elaine Wilson of Eccentric England took her first canal boat holiday in October.

She and her friend Julie set off from our narrowboat hire base at Whixall Marina.  This is on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal.

They pottered slowly along, getting the hang of the steering.

Elaine describes the wildlife they saw, and the places where they moored up.

They visited Ellesmere, in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District. They also visited the historic town of Whitchurch.

You can read Elaine’s blog here https://eccentricengland.co.uk/home/canal-boat-holidays/

Mudpie Fridays, 14 October 2020

Clare at Mudpie Fridays offers ’10 Tips for your first narrowboat break with kids’.  She and her family took a canal boat holiday on the Kennet & Avon Canal.

https://mudpiefridays.com/2020/10/14/10-tips-for-your-first-narrowboat-break-with-kids/

Enjoy a day afloat on a canal boat

Day boat hire on Britain’s peaceful network of inland waterways is a great way to explore your local countryside this summer.

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

Full tuition is included so if you’re new to canal boating, it’s a great chance 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.

So why not pack up a picnic and ship out for the day, exploring your local countryside and stopping off for a drink at a canalside pub along the way.

Here’s a list of Drifters’ day boat hire locations in 2020:

Berkshire

Kennet & Avon Canal at Aldermaston, near Reading – ‘Heyday’ can carry up to 8 people, prices start from £129.

Cheshire

Shropshire Union Canal at Bunbury, near Tarporley – ‘Bella’ can carry up to 10 people each, weekday hire is £99, weekends & bank holidays £140.

Trent & Mersey Canal at Anderton, Cheshire – ‘Daydream’ can carry up to 12 people, prices start at £139.

Leicestershire

Grand Union Canal Leicester Line at Market Harborough – ‘Moorhen’ can carry up to 12 people, weekday hire starts at £160, weekends & bank holidays from £210.

Northamptonshire

Grand Union Canal at Braunston – ‘Water Ouzel’ can carry up to 12 people.  Weekday prices are £140, £175 for weekends and bank holidays.

Grand Union Canal at Gayton Marina, near Northampton – ‘Day Lark’ can carry up to 12 people, prices start at £129.

Shropshire

Llangollen Canal at Whixall – ‘Julia’ can carry up to 10 people each, weekday hire is £99, weekends & bank holidays £140.

Llangollen Canal at Whitchurch – ‘Day Tripper’ can carry up to 10 people, prices start from £119.

Llangollen Canal at Blackwater Meadow Marina, near Ellesmere – ‘Lazy Days’ can carry up to 10 people, prices start at £119.

Staffordshire

Trent & Mersey Canal at Great Haywood, near Stafford – ‘Daphne’ and ‘Abi’ can carry up to 10 people each, weekday hire is £99, weekends & bank holidays £140.

Warwickshire

Stratford Canal at Wootton Wawen, near Stratford upon Avon – ‘Dolly’ and ‘Charlie’ can carry up to 10 people each, weekday hire is £99, weekends & bank holidays £140.

Wiltshire

Kennet & Avon Canal at Hilperton, near Trowbridge, Wiltshire (‘Cheers’ can carry up to 10 people, prices start from £122).

Worcestershire

Worcester & Birmingham Canal at Alvechurch, near Bromsgrove – ‘Away Day’ can carry up to 10 people, prices start at £137.

Worcester & Birmingham Canal at Tardebigge, near Bromsgrove – ‘Emma’ can carry up to 10 people each, weekday hire is £99, weekends & bank holidays £140.

North Wales

Llangollen Canal at Trevor, near Llangollen, Wrexham (‘Jacob’, ‘Daniel’ and ‘Lotty’ can carry up to 10 people each.  Weekday hire is £120, £160 weekends and bank holidays.

South Wales

Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal at Goytre Wharf, near Abergavenny – ‘Robin’ and ‘Rooster’ can carry up to eight people, prices start from £137.

 

For more information about Drifters day boat hire and to check availability, go to https://www.drifters.co.uk/day-boats/

The History of canal boat holidays

Our rivers have been used for transport since prehistoric times, but it was the Industrial Revolution that created the need to move large quantities of raw materials, goods and commodities efficiently, and resulted in the construction on thousands of miles of canals across England, Wales and Scotland.

The history of inland waterways pleasure boat hiring started in the 1860’s when it became fashionable to take boat trips on the Norfolk Broads and the Thames.  By the late Victorian era, the Thames had entered what some authors have described as the ‘Golden Age’ for leisure.

In 1916, shipping agent Peter Bonthron published ‘My holidays on inland waterways’, detailing his 2,000-mile journey around Britain’s waterways at the beginning of the 20th century

But it was Tom Rolt’s book ‘Narrow Boat’, published in 1944 and describing his 400-mile journey aboard ‘Cressy’ along the network of canals in the Midlands, that is said to be ‘the book that saved Britain’s canals’.

‘Narrow Boat’ tells the story of how Rolt and his wife fitted out the boat as their home and celebrates the lives of the working boatmen, the canal craft and the timeless countryside they discovered on their travels.  The book was an instant success and has since inspired generations of boaters.

Although by the 1950’s commercial use of the canals was had significantly declined, as interest started to grow in using canals for leisure, a number of canal boat hire companies were established.  Many of the canal boats available for hire at this time were converted working boats but by the 1960’s more narrowboats were being specially constructed for the leisure hire trade.

Since the late 1990’s our inland waterways have entered a new ‘Golden Age’ of leisure use, with over 200 miles of waterways re-opened and over £1billion invested in their restoration and upkeep

There are now over 35,000 canal boats on our inland waterways, more than at the time of the Industrial Revolution.  Over 1,000 of these are specially designed and constructed canal boat holiday hire boats with modern conveniences  – hot water, central heating, flushing toilets, well equipped kitchens with cookers, fridges, microwave ovens, televisions, DVD players and many now have Wifi too.

There are also a number of hotel boat operators, offering skippered and fully catered canal holidays.

For more information about the history of the canals, visit the Waterways Archive https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/places-to-visit/national-waterways-museum/the-waterways-archive

Ways to reduce plastic waste afloat

Ways to reduce plastic waste afloat

Programmes like Blue Planet II and Our Planet have highlighted the damage plastic is wreaking on our oceans and the animals that live there.

Sadly our beautiful inland waterways are also affected by plastic waste – and a staggering 80 per cent of marine debris comes from inland sources.

To help combat the blight of plastic pollution in our canals and rivers, we’ve put together a list of easy ways to reduce the plastic waste you might generate on a canal boat holiday, and to prevent plastic from entering our waterways:

  1. Don’t use products with microbeads – much of the plastic polluting our waterways and oceans is microplastics which derive from bigger items breaking down, but also from consumer products like face wash and toothpaste.  Avoid items with ‘polypropylene’ or ‘polyethylene’ on the ingredients list and go for natural biodegradable alternatives.  And remember to use eco-friendly washing up liquid as the water you’ve used to wash-up with will drain into the canal.
  2. Bring a refillable thermos and reusable plastic bottles – so if you stop off to buy a coffee somewhere on your narrowboat holiday you won’t need a disposable cup and you won’t have to buy bottled water.  You can use boiled water from the boat’s tank to make a cup of tea and we suggest bringing one large bottle or canteen to top up at water points for drinking water.
  3. Bring your own shopping bags – remember to pack your re-useable bags every time you shop and avoid products with excess packaging.
  4. Make use of recycling facilities – most canalside rubbish compounds only accept boaters’ bagged domestic rubbish, but there are an increasing number of boaters’ recycling points available, so look out for them.  The rubbish you put in the Canal & River Trust’s canalside Biffa bins will be sorted at the depot, with suitable waste sent for recycling.
  5. Bag all rubbish – and make sure the bags are tied securely so that they can’t spill open.  Only dispose of your bagged domestic rubbish inside bins marked domestic waste and don’t forget to close the lid.  If the bins are full, keep your rubbish securely on board until the next available waste disposal point.
  6. Control your fenders – a frightening number of plastic boat fenders end up at the bottom of locks.  Don’t leave them dangling when cruising – except bow and stern fenders.  And when your fenders are in use, make sure they are properly secured.
  7. Help clean up – by joining one of the many Plastic Patrol or Canal & River Trust Towpath Taskforce events taking place across the country.  Or if you don’t fancy taking part in an organised event, why not pledge to pick up and dispose of at least one piece of canalside litter a day while on your narrowboat holiday?

 

Top 10 tips for narrowboat novices

Top 10 tips for narrowboat novices

Spring is here and Britain’s beautiful canal network offers over 2,000 miles of waterways to explore.  If you’ve ever fancied taking a canal boat holiday, what better time to take the plunge?

You don’t need to be an expert to hire a canal boat and each year around one fifth of narrowboat hirers are new to the waterways. 

To help make your first canal boat holiday smoother, we’ve put together 10 Top Tips for beginners:

  1. You don’t need a licence – and boat steering tuition is provided as part of our holiday packages, but if you’d like to get ahead of the game, take a look at the Canal & River Trust’s Boaters Handbook Video for some sound advice https://www.drifters.co.uk/boating-video.html
  2. Keep to the right – unlike cars on our roads, canal boats travel on the right side of our canals and rivers
  3. Steering basics – push the tiller right to go left, and left to go right – and put the engine in reverse to stop
  4. Slow down to walking pace – there’s a 4mph speed limit on the inland waterways and you’ll know if you’re going too fast if you’re creating too much wash which disturbs wildlife and erodes the banks
  5. Go even slower – when approaching bridges, locks, bends or junctions, and when passing other canal boats or anglers 
  6. Lock logic – always have a steerer on the boat when in a lock, make sure the boat is kept forward of the cill (step) and close the gates and paddles behind you
  7. Sharing is caring – always share a lock with another boat if possible to save water and share the work!
  8. Tunnel tricks – switch on your headlight and sound your horn before entering a tunnel, and if it’s a one-way tunnel, first make sure there’s no boat inside
  9. Mooring musts – when mooring up at busy spots, make sure you don’t leave a big gap and never moor opposite winding holes, on bends, near bridges, on lock landings (unless waiting to lock through) or at water points (unless filling up)
  10. Tying up – to keep your boat secure, you need to tie it to the bank with a rope from both the front and the back, and on rivers you should fix your upstream rope first.

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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.

 

 

RURAL SPRING BREAKS ON THE CANALS

Top 8 Spring breaks

Britain’s beautiful inland waterways are a great place to visit at Spring time, when the countryside is bursting into new life, with blossom on the hedges and waterside trees, birds busy rearing their young, spring lambs playing in the fields and bluebells in waterside woodlands.

To celebrate the arrival of Spring next month, here are our top 8 Spring breaks for 2019:

  1. Drift through the prehistoric Vale of Pewsey – 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, home to over 7,000 ‘Ancient’, ‘Veteran’ and ‘Notable’ trees, including the Big Belly Oak believed to be over 1,100 years old.  Once at Hungerford, narrowboat holiday-makers can dine at a choice of pubs and browse dozens of antique shops.
  2. Explore the ancient woods at Skipton Castle – on a short break from Drifters’ narrowboat hire base at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire, boaters can travel to the historic town of Skipton, with its medieval fortress and ancient woods to explore.  Skipton’s 900-year old castle is one of the most complete and best preserved medieval castles in England and its extensive woodlands are home to at least 18 species of trees, and hundreds of flowering plants, including wild orchids and bluebells. The journey to Skipton and back takes around seven hours, travelling 13 miles with no locks.
  3. Glide through the Brecon Beacons – isolated from the main canal network, the beautiful Monmouth & Brecon Canal runs through the Brecon Beacons National Park and offers canal boat holiday-makers incredible mountain views, plenty of wooded sections full of the sound of woodland birds, and a series of historic village pubs to visit along the way.   On a short break from our canal boat hire base at Goytre Wharf, near Abergavenny, boaters can cruise lock-free to Llangynidr and back, passing the Lion Inn at Govilon and the Bridge End Inn at Llangattock.  On a week’s break, boaters can travel on to Brecon, passing through Talybont-on-Usk, with walks to the waterfalls at Blaen y Glyn and the popular Star and White Hart pubs.
  4. Boat to Brewood and back – from Drifters boat yard at Gailey on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal, it takes around five hours to reach the historic village of Brewood, with its half-timbered cottages and attractive Georgian houses. The 13-mile journey, which passes through just one lock, takes boaters through beautiful stretches of Shropshire countryside, and passes the waterside Anchor Inn at Cross Green.  On reaching Brewood, there’s a choice of pubs, restaurants and tea rooms to dine at, including the canalside Bridge Inn.
  5. Float across ‘The Stream in the Sky’ – from our narrowboat hire base at Chirk on the beautiful Llangollen Canal in North Wales, the pretty Eisteddford town of Llangollen on the edge of the Berwyn Mountains can be reached on a short break, with the awesome World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct to travel across along the way.  Standing at 38 metres high above the Dee Valley, this incredible 300-metre long structure, which celebrates 10 years of World Heritage Status this year, consists of a cast iron trough supported by 18 enormous pillars and 19 elegant arches.  On reaching Llangollen, nestled in the hills, visitors can enjoy the town’s independent shops, pubs and restaurants, as well as its Steam Railway and Horseshoe Falls. 
  6. Visit the old mill town of Hebden Bridge – from our base at Sowerby Bridge in West Yorkshire, canal boat holiday-makers can travel along the leafy Calder & Hebble Navigation through the Calder Valley to the old mill town of Hebden Bridge, nestled in a fork in the hills.  Climbing through woods, fields and small stone towns, the journey there covers seven miles, passes through 10 locks and takes around five-and-a-half hours. Once at Hebden, visitors can enjoy an amazing variety of shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs, as well as stunning countryside walks with woods, crags and the Calder running alongside.
  7. Cruise through Shakespeare country – from Drifters’ narrowboat hire base at Wootton Wawen, on the Stratford Canal near Henley-in-Arden, it takes around six hours, travelling through 17 locks to reach Stratford upon Avon.  Travelling through the pretty Warwickshire countryside, boaters can stop off along the way to visit Mary Arden’s Tudor Farm in the canalside village of Wilmcote where Shakespeare’s mother grew up, and once in Stratford, moor up in Bancroft Basin, just a stone’s throw from the Swan Theatre and the town’s shops, restaurants and museums. 
  8. Navigate the Cheshire Ring – starting from our boat yard at Anderton, this superb cruising ring, takes boaters on a 97 mile tour through some of the most beautiful Cheshire countryside.  The route passes through 92 locks and takes around 55 hours, taking boaters through the heart of Manchester and the Peak District via the Ashton, Macclesfield, Peak Forest, Rochdale, Trent & Mersey and Bridgewater canals.  Highlights include the spectacular vertical Anderton Boat Lift, also known as ‘The Cathedral of the Canals’, Dunham Massey Hall and its working Elizabethan Mill alongside the Bridgewater Canal, Manchester’s China Town, the Top Lock at Marple on the Peak Forest Canal with fantastic views of the Peak District, and the Cheshire Plain with its heavily locked ‘Heartbreak Hill’.

 

 

Top 10 Canal Events for 2019

Top 10 Canal Events for 2019

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 2019, along with information on our nearest canal boat hire bases:  

  1. Easter Boat Gathering, 19-20 April – the annual Easter Boat Gathering at the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port 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.
  2. St Richard’s Canal Festival, 3-5 May – this annual event, which takes place in Vines Park alongside the Droitwich Barge Canal, will be extra special this year as the Worcester & Birmingham Canal Society will be celebrating the 45th anniversary of the start of the restoration of the Droitwich Canals.  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, 19-20 May – celebrating canals, the community and the environment, the annual Rickmansworth Canal Festival attracts a spectacular array of 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. Crick Boat Show & Waterways Festival, 25-27 May – close to 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, live music, children’s activities, arts and crafts stands and a wide variety of food and drink stalls.  Drifters’ nearest narrowboat hire bases are at Gayton, Braunston and Market Harborough.
  5. Chester Dragon Boat Festival, 9 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 and Brewood.
  6. Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, 1-7 July – every yearthousands of people from around the World 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.
  7. 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 Wotton Wawen.
  8. Gathering of Historic Boats at Audlem, 27-28 July – over 30 historic narrowboats will gather on the Shropshire Union Canal at Audlem, celebrating the fascinating history of working boats.  Boats on display will include ‘Saturn’, a 1906 Shropshire Union Canal fly boat, which often worked from Audlem carrying cheeses and other produce loaded from the canal warehouse at Audlem, now the Shroppie Fly pub.Drifters’ nearest canal boat hire bases are at Bunbury and Brewood.
  9. Stoke Bruerne Village at War, 7-8 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, Stretton and Rugby.
  10. Stone Food & Drink Festival, 4-6 October – Staffordshire’s biggest celebration of all things gastronomic takes place at the Georgian market town of Stone on the Trent & Mersey Canal.  As well as a range of themed food marquees, the festival hosts demonstrations by top chefs, a beer festival, live music, gourmet dining in the pop up restaurant, street food and a farmers’ market.  Drifters’ nearest narrowboat rental bases are Great Haywood, Brewood and Peak District.

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