Visit Britain - July 06

New Drifters Canal Base offers Wide Choice

Canal boating is a leisurely way to see Britain off-the-beaten-track but boat hirers are limited to where they can sail by the location of the hiring boatyard. A new base is strategically located at a junction of canals in the English Midlands so that inland sailors are spoilt for choice with a variety of routes. Napton, at the head of the Oxford Canal, is the latest base for long-established holiday boat company Black Prince. As the marina was built from scratch it offers spacious facilities where novices can ‘learn the ropes' before setting off. The choice of routes is: north towards Warwick Castle and Stratford-upon-Avon or big-city Birmingham; south-east towards the historic canal village of Stoke Bruerne and its Waterways Museum; south towards Banbury (home of Banbury cakes) and Oxford or north-east towards Rugby. The base is being extended further to cope with demand.

Black Prince has the youngest fleet operating on the canals: tourist board inspected vessels fitted with comfortable berths, a bathroom with shower and plenty of hot water and a fully equipped kitchen and lounge area with television. Do not expect to cover large distances this way: the adventure is in the journey and there is some physical work involved in operating locks and boat handling. The company is part of a consortium of holiday boat companies called Drifters which operates throughout Britain's 3,000 mile system of navigable waterways. Tel: 08457 626252.