Following confirmation that domestic holidays can resume on 12 April for single households, Drifters operators are preparing for a record number of canal boat holidays to be taken in Britain.
Drifters’ director Nigel Stevens explains:
“With the current focus on domestic holidays, narrowboat holidays have never been more popular, and many people are planning their first holiday on the canals this year.
“Drifters offers 550 boats from 45 locations across England, Wales and Scotland. The peak spring and summer months are already booking up well. But we still have availability, especially for single households from 12 April. And two households or the ‘rule of six’ from 17 May.
“You don’t need a licence to steer a canal boat, and tuition is included in all our holiday packages. Around 350,000 people enjoy narrowboating each year, and we are looking forward to welcoming more people to the waterways this year.
“Our narrowboats are equipped with everything you need on board for a self-catering holiday afloat. There are over 3,000 miles of inland waterways to explore, with hundreds of waterside destinations. From pubs and cafes, to museums and nature reserves, there’s always something special to plan at stop at.”
To celebrate, here are Drifters’ top six 2021 narrowboat holiday destinations:
Drift through the Calder Valley
On a short break from Drifters’ canal boat rental base at Sowerby Bridge in West Yorkshire, boaters can travel along the leafy Rochdale Canal to the old mill town of Hebden Bridge. The route travels through the leafy Calder Valley. It climbs through woods, fields and small stone towns. The journey to Hebden Bridge covers seven miles, 10 locks and takes around five and a half hours. Once at Hebden, you can moor in the centre of town to enjoy a good choice of places to eat. There are also stunning walks up to Heptonstall or Hardcastle Crags.
Travel round the Birmingham Ring
Drifters is opening a new narrowboat hire base at Kings Orchard Marina on the Coventry Canal in Staffordshire. On a week’s break from Kings Orchard, canal boat holiday-makers can complete the Birmingham Ring. This takes boaters on a waterway odyssey with a mixture of urban and rural landscapes. These range from Gas Street Basin in the heart of Birmingham to Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Staffordshire.
Float across ‘The Stream in the Sky’
On a short break from Drifters’ base at Trevor on the beautiful Llangollen Canal in North Wales, boaters can travel across the UNESCO World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. Then on to Ellesmere in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District. On a week’s break, boaters can continue on to the historic market town of Whitchurch.
Cruise to the ancient City of Chester
Drifters has a canal boat hire base on the Shropshire Union Canal at Bunbury near Tarporley in Cheshire. On a short break from there, canal boat holiday-makers can head north to the historic City of Chester. This 12-mile journey through the rolling Cheshire countryside takes seven hours, passing through 18 locks.
Travel round the Droitwich Ring
From Drifters’ base at Worcester, canal boat holiday-makers can cruise round the Droitwich mini-ring. The route takes canal boat holiday-makers on a 20-mile circuit of the Worcestershire countryside, passing through the historic spa town of Droitwich and the cathedral city of Worcester. There are 33 locks and it takes around 16 hours, so it’s perfect for a short break.
Watch out for wildlife on the Ashby Canal
On a week’s holiday from Drifters canal boat hire base at Braunston, boaters can cruise to the pretty village of Snarestone and back. The route travels 47 miles, passing through eight locks (four there and four back) in around 32 hours. It takes boaters up the North Oxford Canal to Rugby, and on to Hawkesbury Junction to join the Coventry Canal. Five miles later, the journey transfers onto the peaceful lock-free Ashbury Canal, which winds gently through countryside for 22 miles. From Carlton Bridge to Snarestone, the canal is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). This recognises the diversity of its plant, insect and animal life. Wildlife on the Ashby includes nine species of dragonfly, the water shrew, water vole and rare native white-clawed crayfish.