Top 10 short breaks

Top 10 short breaks

With two bank holidays in May on the horizon, we’ve put together our top 10 short break canal boat holidays to help you plan your bank holiday afloat.

1. Experience the World Heritage City of Bath…Bath City centre with its fabulous Georgian architecture, is a delightful seven-hour cruise from our base at Bradford on Avon on the Kennet & Avon Canal in Wiltshire. Along the way narrowboat holiday-makers pass fascinating historic pubs, including The George at Bathampton (once a 12th century monastery), and a series of impressive canal structures, including Avoncliffe and Dundas aqueducts. Short break (three or four nights) prices from our Bradford on Avon canal boat hire base in May start at £551 for a boat for four.

2. Journey along the peaceful Caldon Canal…from our Peak District base at Stoke on Trent on the Trent & Mersey Canal, a trip along Wedgewood’s Caldon Canal is the perfect short break route. One of the quietest and most picturesque canals in Britain, the Caldon Canal was originally built to transport porcelain. It branches off the Trent & Mersey Canal at Etruria near Stoke on Trent and travels 17 miles and 17 locks through the beautiful Churnet Valley to Froghall Wharf. Short break prices from Peak District in May start at £768 for a boat for four people.

3. Enjoy the Pennines afloat…from our base at Sowerby Bridge on the junction of the Rochdale Canal and Calder & Hebble Navigation, a trip to historic Todmorden is the perfect short break destination. Climbing through woods, fields and small stone towns, canal boat holiday-makers first pass through the old mill town of Hebden Bridge, nestled in a fork in the hills, before reaching Todmorden. The journey there and back covers 20 miles, 32 locks and takes around 16 hours. Short break prices from Sowerby Bridge in May start at £685 for a boat for four people.

4. Visit the Medieval City of Chester…from our base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal near Tarporley in Cheshire, Chester is a lovely seven-hour cruise away. Famous for its Medieval architecture and city walls, Chester also offers a vibrant market hall, an award winning zoo, busy racecourse, trendy bards, shopping malls and a huge variety of restaurants. Short break prices from Bunbury in May start at £551 for a boat for four people.

5. Find out more about king Richard III…from our base at Stretton under Fosse on the North Oxford Canal near Rugby, the beautiful Ashby Canal is the perfect short break destination. The canal passes close to the fascinating site of the Battle of Bosworth Field, where in 1485 King Richard III died and lost his crown to Henry Tudor. King Richard’s body was recently found beneath a Leicester car park. Short break prices from Stretton in May start at £527 for a boat for four.

6. Cruise into the heart of Birmingham…Brindley Place is just a five-hour cruise from our canal boat hire base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove. With more canals than Venice, Birmingham simply has to be visited by water. City centre moorings are available at Gas Street Basin with easy access to the Mailbox and Bullring shopping centres, theatres, museums and restaurants. Short break prices from Tardebigge in May start at £551 for a boat for four.

7. Visit Braunston canal village at the heart of the canal network…from our base at Gayton on the Grand Union Canal in Northamptonshire, it’s a peaceful day’s cruise to Braunston, passing through the villages of Weedon and Norton. Situated at the junction of the Oxford and Grand Union canals, Braunston is said to be ‘at the heart of the UK canal system’. The main village is high on a hill above the canals, with plenty of pubs serving good food and a fish and chip shop. Short break prices from Gayton in May start at £621 for a boat for four.

8. Navigate the Droitwich Ring…our base at Worcester on the River Severn is on 21-mile long Droitwich Ring – the only cruising ring in Europe which can be completed on a short break. The 16-hour journey, which includes 33 locks, takes boaters through the historic Spa town of Droitwich and along the River Severn, with stunning views of the Worcestershire countryside. Short break prices from Worcester in May start at £585 for a boat for four.

9. Enjoy the beautiful Llangollen Canal…from our base at Chirk on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, the picturesque town of Llangollen with walking access to the famous Horseshoe Falls, is an eight-hour cruise away. The journey includes traversing the awesome 305-metre long World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which towers 38 metres high above the Dee Valley. Definitely not for the feint-hearted! Short break prices from Chirk in May start at £768 for a boat for four.

10. Cruise to trendy Camden Lock…from our base on the Grand Union Canal in West London, Little Venice and Paddington Basin are just a four-hour cruise away. Narrowboat holiday-makers can use their canal boat as a base to visit some of the Capital’s attractions. Just an hour further along the Regent’s Canal, boaters will reach Camden Lock, London’s most popular open air market area with vibrant shopping and entertainment areas, live music, comedy, cafes and bars. Short break prices from London in May start at £735 for a boat for four.

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

Take a spooky canal boat holiday this Halloween

Reputedly playing host to hundreds of ghosts, with bats and frogs aplenty, creepy tunnels, spooky locks and misty towpaths, Britain’s 200-year old canal network provides the perfect backdrop for a haunting Halloween afloat.

Drifters’ Halloween canal boat hire prices start at £489 for a short break and £750 for a week on a four berth.

Here are some of the spookiest places to go:

The Shropshire Union Canal is said to be Britain’s most haunted canal with five ghosts along its length, including ‘The Monkey Man’ at Bridge 39 near Norbury. The hideous black, shaggy coated being is said to be the ghost of a boatman drowned there in the 19th century. And at Betton Cutting near Market Drayton a shrieking spectre has been seen and heard. See if you can spot them by heading north on narrowboat holiday from our base at Brewood on the Shropshire Union Canal in Staffordshire near Stafford. Weekly breaks on a boat for four from Brewood over Halloween start at £847, short breaks £508.

Get the chills in Chester by visiting the city’s old Northgate where the canal was dug into part of the town’s moat and a Roman centurion can sometimes be seen guarding the entrance to the city. You can also visit The King’s Inn, believed to be haunted by three separate spirits. Hire a boat from our base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire and you can easily make it to Chester and back on a short break. Short breaks on a four berth from Bunbury over Halloween start at £645, weekly hire from £920.

Blisworth Tunnel on the Grand Union Canal in Northamptonshire has spooked a number of boaters over the years. At 3,076 yards (2.81km) it’s one of the longest on the canal system. When construction began in 1793, the tunnel was a major feat of engineering. Teams of navvies worked with picks and shovels for three years until they hit quicksand and the tunnel collapsed, killing 14 men. A new route for the tunnel was found and it finally opened on 25 March 1805. Over the years, a number of boaters travelling through the tunnel have reported seeing lights and a second route emerging. But the tunnel runs straight through the hill so people have must seen the flicker of candlelight at the spot where the first tunnel would have intersected with the main canal tunnel. Perhaps the ghostly navvies are still working there?! Canal boat hire over Halloween from our Gayton base on the Grand Union Canal close to the Blisworth Tunnel starts at £585 for a short break and £895 for a week on a four berth.

At the Union Canal tunnel in Falkirk, Scotland, two walkers and their dogs were terrified by the apparition of a man who had been lured to the tunnel in the 1940s and viciously murdered after he had been unable to pay his gambling debt. And there are plenty of ghostly goings on in the historic city of Edinburgh, including the ghost of the Great Lafayette at Edinburgh Festival Theatre, a magician who was killed in a fire there. Canal boat hire on a four berth over Halloween from our Falkirk base starts at £522 for a short break and £802 for a week.

The Trent & Mersey Canal’s Harecastle Tunnel at Kidsgrove is said to be home to a shrieking boggart – the ghost of Kit Crewbucket who was murdered and whose headless corpse was dumped in the canal. Canal boat hire over Halloween at our Peak District base on the Trent & Mersey Canal in Staffordshire starts at £489 for a short break and £750 for a week on a four berth.

The Llangollen Canal in Wrexham is haunted by an eerie figure that can sometimes be seen on moonlit nights gliding along the towpath by the World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. Canal boat hire over Halloween from our base at Trevor, right next to the Aqueduct, starts at £645 for a short break and £920 for a week on a four berth.

The spooky Standedge Tunnel in Yorkshire is the longest, highest and deepest canal on the UK canal system and certainly not for the feint hearted! Take a boat for a week from our base at Sowerby Bridge on the Calder & Hebble Navigation in West Yorkshire and cruise through the stunning Calder Valley, then onto the Huddersfield Broad Canal to Huddersfield. There you can moor the boat and switch to a train for a scenic rail trip to Marsden and the Standedge Tunnel Visitor Centre, which operates boat trips into the tunnel. Weekly hire from Sowerby Bridge over Halloween starts at £850 for a boat for four.

Spend August Bank Holiday Afloat

Spend August Bank Holiday Afloat

Canal boat holidays are great for families, offering the chance to set off on an adventure together, work the locks, spot wildlife, explore traffic-free towpaths and visit waterside attractions along the way.

Our August bank holiday weekend canal boat hire prices start at £585 for a short break (three or four nights) on a boat for four, and £825 for a week. Here are our top ten August Bank Holiday destinations:

1. Visit Edinburgh Castle and Mary King’s Close…from Drifters’ base at the incredible Falkirk Wheel on the junction of the Union and Forth & Clyde canals in Scotland, Edinburgh is an 11-hour cruise away. Visitor moorings can be found at Edinburgh Quay, just five minutes from Princes Street. From there, it’s easy to access to the sights of Edinburgh, including the magnificent castle and fascinating Mary King’s Close, frozen in time beneath the Royal Mile.

2. Enjoy an outdoor theatre performance in Chester…Drifters’ base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal near Tarporley in Cheshire is seven hours by boat from historic Chester. Famous for its Medieval architecture, city walls and Roman heritage, Chester also offers a vibrant market hall, an award-winning zoo, busy racecourse, trendy bars, shopping malls, restaurants and from 5 July to 25 August, the City’s Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre is hosting productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Cyrano de Bergerac and Othello.

3. See the shrunken heads at the Pitt Rivers Museum…Drifters’ base on the River Thames is just a three-hour cruise from Oxford. Canal boat holiday-makers can moor-up close to Hythe Bridge in the city centre and use their boat as a base to explore. The incredible Pitt Rivers Museum, just one of many world-class attractions in Oxford, displays the University’s archaeological and anthropological treasures, including the witch in the bottle and shrunken heads from the Upper Amazon.

4. Watch the Lion King at the Birmingham Hippodrome…With more canals than Venice, there’s no better way to travel into Birmingham City Centre than by canal boat. Boaters can travel lock-free to Birmingham in just five hours from Drifters’ base at Tardebigge, and find centrally located over-night moorings at Gas Street Basin. There’s plenty for families to see and do there, including a visit to the Sea Life Centre at Brindley Place and the chance to see the fantastic Lion King show at the Birmingham Hippodrome, showing there until 28 September 2013.

5. Experience the Pennines afloat…from Drifters’ base at Sowerby Bridge on the junction of the Rochdale Canal and Calder & Hebble Navigation, a trip to historic Todmorden is the perfect short break destination. Climbing through woods, fields and small stone towns, canal boat holiday-makers pass through the old mill town of Hebden Bridge, nestled in a fork in the hills. The journey there and back covers 20 miles, 32 locks and takes around 16 hours.

6. Travel to Bosworth Field and find out more about King Richard III…from Drifters’ base at Stretton under Fosse on the North Oxford Canal near Rugby, the beautiful Ashby Canal is the perfect short break destination. The canal passes close to the fascinating site of the Battle of Bosworth Field, where in 1485 King Richard III died and lost his crown to Henry Tudor.

7. Visit Bristol’s Floating Harbour, home of Blackbeard the Pirate…on a short break from Sydney Wharf in the centre of Bath, narrowboat holiday-makers can head west on the River Avon and moor up in Bristol’s Floating Harbour. Once there, boaters can visit Brunel’s masterpiece, the SS Great Britain and the new Blue Reef Aquarium to find out more about the city’s fascinating marine history, including Blackbeard the Pirate, said to have been born there. The journey to Bristol takes eight hours, passing through 13 locks.

8. Visit the Roman Baths in Bath…Drifters’ base at Hilperton on the Kennet & Avon Canal in Wiltshire is a day’s cruise from Bath City Centre. Canal boaters can moor-up close to Pulteney Bridge (reminiscent of the Ponte Vecchio in Florence), enjoy views of Bath’s fabulous Georgian architecture and visit the Roman Baths, one of 17 museums located within a square mile of this World Heritage Status city.

9. Cruise to the home of the Gingerbread Man…Drifters’ base at Brewood on the Shropshire Union Canal near Stafford, is a nine-hour cruise from the pretty market town of Market Drayton. Home of gingerbread for the last 200 years, nearly three-quarters of this Saxon settlement was destroyed by fire in 1651. The Buttercross in the centre of the town still has a bell at the top for people to ring if there’s ever another fire.

10. Swap the slow lane for a theme park…from Drifters’ Peak District base at the junction of the Caldon and Trent & Mersey canals, near Stoke on Trent, it’s a 12-hour cruise along the peaceful Caldon Canal to Froghall. From there, Alton Towers is a short bus ride away, so canal boat holiday-makers can swap the peace and quiet of the canal for an adrenaline-fuelled fun day out.

Visit Warwick Castle by Canal Boat

Visit a castle on your next canal boat holiday

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

DRIFTERS TOP 10 CANAL BOAT HOLIDAYS FOR 2013

DRIFTERS TOP 10 CANAL BOAT HOLIDAYS FOR 2013

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

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

For more information about Drifters canal boat holidays call 0844 984 0322 or visit www.drifters.co.uk.

Ends

For Drifters press enquiries, including photos and destination details, contact Debbie Walker on 01628 635831/077486 40577 walker.debbie@sky.com

Notes to editors

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

 

 

Boaters Flock to Stone Food & Drink Festival

Visit Saltaire & The Hockney Gallery by canal boat

You can easily reach Sir Titus Salt’s fascinating model town at Saltaire in West Yorkshire on a week’s narrowboat holiday from Drifters’ base at Sowerby Bridge.

Saltaire, a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal near Bradford, was founded by Sir Titus Salt, a leading industrialist in the woollen industry in 1851.

Salt, a visionary who wanted his workforce to be healthier, happier and more productive, moved his five mills to the new green site away from the overcrowded town centre of Bradford, housing them in beautiful Italianate buildings.  He built neat stone houses for his workers with community facilities including wash-houses, a hospital, an institution for recreation and education with a library, reading room, concert hall, billiard room, science laboratory and gymnasium.  He also built a village school for the children of the workers, almshouses, allotments, a park and a boathouse.

Today, the extraordinary town of Saltaire is a popular tourist destination with guided walks, events, shops, restaurants, cafes and galleries, including the wonderful David Hockney Gallery.  A special exhibition of Hockney’s three 27-foot-long pictures of Bessingby Road, Bridlington is on display this summer at Salts Mill, plus other Yorkshire landscapes and recent portraits of his family and friends.

As well as visiting Saltaire, on your week’s canal boat holiday from Sowerby Bridge you could also visit: the new Barbara Hepworth Museum at Wakefield; the Stanley Ferry Aqueduct (like a miniature Sydney Harbour Bridge); Leeds and its regenerated waterfront; and the Bingley Five Rise of locks, one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways.

Canal boat hire from Drifters’ base at Sowerby Bridge starts at £515 for a week, £335 for a short break.

A short break canal holiday in Yorkshire

A short break canal holiday in Yorkshire

canal boat holiday in Yorkshire

Short break on Yorkshire canals

This trip gives you time for walks, the pub or simply to sit and unwind – canal boat holidays are like that – they let you make the choice..

The cruise takes you on the Rochdale Canal, from Sowerby Bridge to Hebden Bridge & Todmorden.

On day one, you arrive in the historic canal basin at Sowerby Bridge to take over your Tourist Board graded boat. After a detailed briefing, a member of staff will take you up through the first three locks, including the deepest one in the country. You then sail off along the side of the valley, through two more locks, to Mytholmroyd, where you moor for the night. Here you have two pubs with food, an upmarket café and convenience stores.

Next morning, travel on to Hebden Bridge. This old mill town nestles in a fork in the hills, houses piled tier upon tier. Hebden is the original plastic-bag-free town, and has not succumbed to a big supermarket, so has an amazing variety of shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs. It’s full of
surprises – everything from horsey clothing to hand-made pottery, and not one but two bookshops. Keep on cruising through the town and gradually wind up the valley, with woods, crags and the Calder running alongside, and views of the moors high above. Pause perhaps at the Stubbing Wharf pub, but keep going in order to reach Todmorden, a town that can’t decide  whether it’s in Yorkshire or Lancashire, famous for wool or cotton. Moor at the Fielden Wharf visitor moorings below Lock 19, just beside one pub (though you don’t have to neglect the other pubs, restaurants and the busy market). Don’t miss the Town Hall and many other fine Victorian – and much older – buildings, all dominated by a curving railway viaduct.

Next day, you turn the boat below Lock 19 and head back to Luddenden Foot (where there is a good pub and Indian restaurant). The valley looks quite different on the way down, and you’ll
see things you missed on the way up.

For the final morning, you need to get up early to be at the top lock for 8am, then cruise gently back to base.