We’re proud to welcome many overseas visitors to experience a canal boat holiday on Britain’s historic network of inland waterways. Most of our overseas visitors come from America, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Germany and The Netherlands.
Our overseas visitors often want to visit some of Britain’s best-known historic towns and cities by canal boat. We’ve published a guide to our most popular destinations with overseas visitors.
Shakespeare’s Stratford, England
From our canal boat rental base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal near Henley-in-Arden, you can cruise to Stratford-upon-Avon and back. This historic town is home to Shakespeare’s Birthplace and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. It takes around six hours to cruise through the Warwickshire countryside to Stratford-upon-Avon. Along the way you’ll go through 17 locks.
Historic pubs to enjoy include Mary Arden Inn at Wilmcote and The One Elm in Stratford-upon-Avon.
- Wootton Wawen is a 25 min (17 miles) drive or taxi ride from Birmingham Airport.
- It’s a 1hour 40min (93 miles) drive from London Heathrow Airport.
Warwick Castle, England
Said to be Britain’s greatest medieval experience, on a short break from our canal boat rental place at Stockton, you reach the historic town of Warwick and its castle on the River Avon in around seven hours, passing through 20 locks. Along the way, you’ll pass through the historic village of Long Itchington and Royal Leamington Spa.
Historic pubs to visit include The Duck on the Pond at Long Itchington, The Newbold Comyn Arms at Leamington Spa and The Roebuck Inn in Warwick.
- Stockton is a 35 minute (24 mile) drive or taxi ride from Birmingham Airport.
- It’s a 1hour 30min (83 miles) drive from London Heathrow Airport.
From Bradford on Avon on the Kennet & Avon Canal on the edge of the Cotswold Hills in Wiltshire, you can cruise to the UNESCO World Heritage City of Bath and back, with its breath-taking Georgian architecture. The journey to Bath travels nine miles through the beautiful Avon Valley, passing through three locks along the way. The Journey to Bath and back takes around 11 hours. You can moor up close to Sydney Wharf and take short walk into Bath City centre to explore the Roman Baths, Victorian Pump Rooms, Jane Austen Museum, Bath Abbey and breath-taking Royal Crescent.
Historic pubs to visit include ‘The Cross Guns at Avoncliff, The George at Bathampton and The Saracens Head in Bath.
- Bradford on Avon is a 2hour 26min train journey or 1hour 40min (97 miles) drive from London Heathrow Airport
- It’s a 1hour 9min train ride or a 46 min (26 miles) drive/taxi ride from Bristol Airport
We also offer canal vacations on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Bath, Monkton Combe, Hilperton, Devizes and Aldermaston.
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, North Wales
Also known as The Stream in the Sky’, the incredible Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in North Wales is part of an 11-mile section of Llangollen Canal designated UNESCO World Heritage status in 2009. On a short break from our canal boat rental base at Blackwater Meadow Marina, at Ellesmere in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District, you can cruise the whole World Heritage section. Your journey will include passing through Chirk, with medieval Castle upon the hill. You’ll cruise across the magnificent Chirk Aqueduct with the railway viaduct alongside. You’ll go through Chirk Tunnel, then Whitehouses Tunnel before reaching the Poncysyllte Aqueduct. This incredible structure carries the canal 38 metres high above the River Dee on 19 massive stone pillars. After the aqueduct, you can continue on to the beautiful town of Llangollen, nestled in the Berwyn Mountains. Here you can moor up in Llangollen Basin and visit some of the town’s historic sites, including the Horseshoe Falls, Plas Newydd House, Dinas Bran Castle ruins and the Llangollen Steam Railway. The journey from Blackwater Meadow to Llangollen and back travels 37 miles, passes through four locks (two each way) and takes around 16 hours.
Historic pubs to visit include the Bridge Inn at Chirk and The Sun Inn at Llangollen.
- Ellesmere is a 1hour 4min (53 miles) drive/taxi ride from Manchester Airport
- Or a 2hour 53min train ride or 1hour (51 miles) drive/taxi ride from Liverpool Airport
Drifters also offers canal vacations on the Llangollen Canal at Trevor, Chirk, Whitchurch, Whixall and Wrenbury.
From our canal boat rental location at Falkirk where the Scottish Lowland canals meet, you can cruise to Edinburgh Quay and back on a four-night trip. The route starts at the site of the Falkirk Wheel, the world’s first rotating boat lift officially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2002. The journey to Edinburgh will take you along the Union Canal, through the Falkirk Tunnel, across the magnificent Avon Aqueduct and through the villages of Linlithgow with its Palace, birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots and the conservation village of Ratho. Once in Edinburgh, you can moor up in Edinburgh Quay and walk into the City Centre to visit Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace and Mary King Close frozen in time beneath the Royal Mile.
Historic pubs to visit include The Four Marys in Linlithgow, The Bridge Inn at Linlithgow and Deacon Brodie’s Tavern in Edinburgh.
- The Falkirk Wheel is a 1hour 34min train ride or a 30min (22 miles) drive/taxi ride from Edinburgh Airport
The historic City of Oxford, also known as the City of Dreaming Spires, is famous for its University colleges, Bodleian Library, Carfax Tower, Ashmolean Museum, Natural History Museum and Oxford Castle. From our canal boat rental place on the River Thames near Oxford, it takes around three-and-a-half hours to cruise through the Oxfordshire countryside to moorings on the edge of the city centre. You’ll pass through four locks along the way.
Historic pubs to visit include The Trout Inn at Wolvercote and The Turf Tavern in Oxford.
- Our Oxford canal boat rental base at Eynsham near Witney is a 56 min (52 mile) drive from London Heathrow Airport.
- Or you can get a train from the Airport to Oxford (1hr 30min) and then it’s a 12 minute taxi ride to the boat yard.
From our canal boat rental location on the River Ouse at Ely, you can cruise to the world famous historic city of Cambridge and back. On a short break, you can also reach the Wicken Fen wetland nature reserve. In Cambridge, you can moor up just below Jesus Green Lock on the River Cam and explore Cambridge, including King’s College Chapel and quaint streets filled with antique shops, museums, art galleries, restaurants and tearooms. The journey from Ely to Cambridge and Wicken Fen and back travels 38 miles, passes through six locks (three each way) and takes around 13 hours.
Historic pubs to visit include The Eagle in Cambridge and The Prince Albert in Ely.
- Ely is a 2hour 2min train journey from London Heathrow Airport or a 1 hour 37min (89 miles) drive
- Or a 47 min train journey or 51 min (48 miles) drive/taxi ride from London Stansted Airport
To see our canal boat holiday guide for overseas visitors, answering frequently asked questions, go to https://www.drifters.co.uk/everything-americans-need-to-know-about-canal-boat-vacations-in-britain/