Prima Mag - Jan 07

Drift along on Britain's canals

Forget travelling far and wide - you can avoid using up precious fuel by journeying just a few miles on a gently gliding narrow boat. Pottering around Britain's canals is like being in a vivid dream, enriched with scenes of some of our finest countryside. Herons, woodpeckers and cranes, flower-laden hedgerows, newly ploughed fields and gentle hills all come into focus from your deck-top perch. Or, if you're feeling nosy, peer into other brightly painted narrow boats to see who is cooking whast for dinner!

The world of canal boating is a very friendly place to be - a natural cameraderie at the locks is inevitable as you join forces to open and close the heavy gates. Catch up with your new mates later at a canal-side pub for pints and pies. If you want a slow-paced, relaxing holiday that embraces nature in its truest form, this is the holiday for you.

What to do

A typical weekend route starts at Gayton in rural Northamptonshire, where Alvechurch boats has a well-maintained fleet. Boats are comfortable and cosy, without being claustrophobic. Take the tiller on deck and watch the landscape unfold as you steer, or hole up snugly inside. Bring food to cok in the well-equipped galley kitchen, although boatyards en route stock basic supplies.

Travel to the canal-side village of Stoke Bruerne, where there's an excellent canal museum ( that's well worth a visit, and The Boat Inn, with its thatched canal-side bar. After a day afloat, moor up for the night amid the peace of Great Linford before setting back for Gayton the following morning. This simple short break will leave you with a clear head and glowing skin.