Choice Mag - May 2012

Sailing round in circles

Cruising rings are popular with canal boat holidaymakers, offering journeys which cover several waterways and take in a huge variety of landscapes. Some are challenging, with steep flights of locks and long tunnels to negotiate while others- such as the new Droitwich Ring - are easier and more suitable for beginners.

Drifters Waterways Holidays, which offers more than 450 canal boats for hire from 36 locations, has some top cruising rings:

The Droitwich Ring - (21 miles, 33 locks, 16 hours cruising). Starting from the Drifters' bases at Worcester or Stoke Prior and ideal for beginners, this ring is the only one in Europe that can be completed on a Short Break. It opened last year after the £13 million restoration of the Droitwich Canals.

The London Ring - (44 miles, 25 locks, 18 hours cruising). Begining from the Drifters base at Greenford, West London, this journey for seasoned canal boaters is best done over a week. The route takes you through the heart of London along the Grand Union and Regent's canals then on to the Thames via Limehouse lock and back to the Grand Union Canal at Brentford Lock.

The South Pennine Ring - (71 miles, 197 locks, 80 hours cruising). This two week journey can be taken from the Drifters' base at Sowerby Bridge. It crosses the Pennines twice and includes passage of Britain's longest canal tunnel.

The Warwickshire Ring - (101 miles, 94 locks, 48 hours cruising). Starting from Drifters' bases at Napton or Rugby, this ring is easily navigated in two weeks. It takes in the Grand Union, Oxford, Coventry and Birmingham & Fazeley Canals.