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Top 10 short breaks

Top 10 short breaks

With two bank holidays in May on the horizon, we’ve put together our top 10 short break canal boat holidays to help you plan your bank holiday afloat.

1. Experience the World Heritage City of Bath…Bath City centre with its fabulous Georgian architecture, is a delightful seven-hour cruise from our base at Bradford on Avon on the Kennet & Avon Canal in Wiltshire. Along the way narrowboat holiday-makers pass fascinating historic pubs, including The George at Bathampton (once a 12th century monastery), and a series of impressive canal structures, including Avoncliffe and Dundas aqueducts. Short break (three or four nights) prices from our Bradford on Avon canal boat hire base in May start at £551 for a boat for four.

2. Journey along the peaceful Caldon Canal…from our Peak District base at Stoke on Trent on the Trent & Mersey Canal, a trip along Wedgewood’s Caldon Canal is the perfect short break route. One of the quietest and most picturesque canals in Britain, the Caldon Canal was originally built to transport porcelain. It branches off the Trent & Mersey Canal at Etruria near Stoke on Trent and travels 17 miles and 17 locks through the beautiful Churnet Valley to Froghall Wharf. Short break prices from Peak District in May start at £768 for a boat for four people.

3. Enjoy the Pennines afloat…from our base at Sowerby Bridge on the junction of the Rochdale Canal and Calder & Hebble Navigation, a trip to historic Todmorden is the perfect short break destination. Climbing through woods, fields and small stone towns, canal boat holiday-makers first pass through the old mill town of Hebden Bridge, nestled in a fork in the hills, before reaching Todmorden. The journey there and back covers 20 miles, 32 locks and takes around 16 hours. Short break prices from Sowerby Bridge in May start at £685 for a boat for four people.

4. Visit the Medieval City of Chester…from our base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal near Tarporley in Cheshire, Chester is a lovely seven-hour cruise away. Famous for its Medieval architecture and city walls, Chester also offers a vibrant market hall, an award winning zoo, busy racecourse, trendy bards, shopping malls and a huge variety of restaurants. Short break prices from Bunbury in May start at £551 for a boat for four people.

5. Find out more about king Richard III…from our base at Stretton under Fosse on the North Oxford Canal near Rugby, the beautiful Ashby Canal is the perfect short break destination. The canal passes close to the fascinating site of the Battle of Bosworth Field, where in 1485 King Richard III died and lost his crown to Henry Tudor. King Richard’s body was recently found beneath a Leicester car park. Short break prices from Stretton in May start at £527 for a boat for four.

6. Cruise into the heart of Birmingham…Brindley Place is just a five-hour cruise from our canal boat hire base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove. With more canals than Venice, Birmingham simply has to be visited by water. City centre moorings are available at Gas Street Basin with easy access to the Mailbox and Bullring shopping centres, theatres, museums and restaurants. Short break prices from Tardebigge in May start at £551 for a boat for four.

7. Visit Braunston canal village at the heart of the canal network…from our base at Gayton on the Grand Union Canal in Northamptonshire, it’s a peaceful day’s cruise to Braunston, passing through the villages of Weedon and Norton. Situated at the junction of the Oxford and Grand Union canals, Braunston is said to be ‘at the heart of the UK canal system’. The main village is high on a hill above the canals, with plenty of pubs serving good food and a fish and chip shop. Short break prices from Gayton in May start at £621 for a boat for four.

8. Navigate the Droitwich Ring…our base at Worcester on the River Severn is on 21-mile long Droitwich Ring – the only cruising ring in Europe which can be completed on a short break. The 16-hour journey, which includes 33 locks, takes boaters through the historic Spa town of Droitwich and along the River Severn, with stunning views of the Worcestershire countryside. Short break prices from Worcester in May start at £585 for a boat for four.

9. Enjoy the beautiful Llangollen Canal…from our base at Chirk on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, the picturesque town of Llangollen with walking access to the famous Horseshoe Falls, is an eight-hour cruise away. The journey includes traversing the awesome 305-metre long World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which towers 38 metres high above the Dee Valley. Definitely not for the feint-hearted! Short break prices from Chirk in May start at £768 for a boat for four.

10. Cruise to trendy Camden Lock…from our base on the Grand Union Canal in West London, Little Venice and Paddington Basin are just a four-hour cruise away. Narrowboat holiday-makers can use their canal boat as a base to visit some of the Capital’s attractions. Just an hour further along the Regent’s Canal, boaters will reach Camden Lock, London’s most popular open air market area with vibrant shopping and entertainment areas, live music, comedy, cafes and bars. Short break prices from London in May start at £735 for a boat for four.

Hire a canal boat for Mother's Day

Hire a canal boat for Mother’s Day

Day boat hire on the canals offers the chance to spoil hard-working Mums with a relaxing day floating along a canal or river, nourished by a posh picnic afloat or a pub lunch along the way.

Drifters offers day boat hire from nine of its bases, from less than £12 per person. Full tuition is included so those new to canal boating can get the hang of steering, mooring up and working the locks.  Boats are equipped with cutlery, crockery and a kettle and most day boats also have a toilet, cooker and fridge.

Here’s a list of our bases offering day hire, plus suggested journeys and 2014 prices:

Visit ‘The Stream in the Sky’ – our base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales is just 20 minutes by boat from the World Heritage site Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. At over 38 metres high and 305 metres long, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct offers stunning views of the Dee Valley below. Day boaters can reach the pretty mountain-side town of Llangollen, famous for its annual Eisteddfod, in two hours. Day boat hire from Trevor starts at £110 for up to 10 people. £120 on weekends and bank holidays.

Glide through the Brecon Beacons – from our’ base at Goytre Wharf on the beautiful Monmouth & Brecon Canal near Abergavenny, enjoy incredible mountain views on the two-and-a-half-hour journey to the Star pub at Mamhillad, a short walk from bridge 62. Day hire from Goytre starts at £90 for up to 12 people. £105 on weekends and bank holidays.

Explore Shakespeare’s country – from our base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal near Stratford Upon Avon, boaters can head south to the pretty village of Wilmcote and back (2.5 hours each way), and enjoy lunch at The Mary Arden Inn. Day boat hire from Wootton Wawen starts at £99 for up to 10 people. £120 on weekends and bank holidays.

Take a cruise in Bath – Our base at Sydney Wharf in the World Heritage City of Bath offers the chance to sample a scenic cruise on one of Britain’s most popular waterways, the Kennet & Avon Canal. Head east to Bathampton and make the historic George Inn, a vision of Olde England and once a 12th century monastery, your lunchtime destination. Or head west into the City Centre, with fantastic views of the City’s famous Georgian architecture. Day boat hire from Bath starts at £120 for up to 10 people. £165 on weekends and bank holidays.

Wend your way through Wiltshire – from our base at Hilperton Marina in Wiltshire on the Kennet & Avon, cruise east through unspoilt countryside to waterside The Barge Inn at Seend, or head west to historic Bradford on Avon, with its stunning Tithe Barn and plenty of pubs, cafes and restaurants to choose from. Day boat hire from Hilperton starts at £105 for up to eight people. £130 on weekends and bank holidays.

Experience the rural North Oxford Canal – from our base at Stretton-under-Fosse near Rugby, cruise north through open farmland to the pretty village of Ansty with its pottery and Rose & Castle pub. Or head south, travelling through quiet woodland to the village of Newbold, and enjoy home cooked food at the canalside Barley Mow pub. Day boat hire from Rugby starts at £150 for a boat for 12 people. £190 on weekends and bank holidays.

Staffordshire delights – from our base at Great Haywood on the Staffs & Worcs Canal near Stafford, cruise to the historic market town of Rugeley and back, through several locks, past Lord Lichfield’s beautiful Shugborough Hall and the delightful Wolseley Arms in Wolseley Bridge. The return journey takes six hours. Day boat hire from Great Haywood starts at £99 for up to 10 people. £120 on weekends and bank holidays.

Sightseeing along ‘The Shroppie’ – from our base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union near Crewe, cruise south past Barbridge and Nantwich to Baddington Bridge. With no locks to negotiate and plenty of pubs en route, it’s a delightful way to spend the day afloat. Day boat hire from Bunbury starts at £99 for up to 10 people. £120 on weekends and bank holidays.

Tunnel through rural Worcestershire – from our base at Tardebigge on the Worcs & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, cruise north to Kings Norton Junction, a pretty rural route with historic pubs along the way, including the family-friendly Hopwood House at Alvechurch. The route is lock-free but there are three tunnels to pass through. Day boat hire from Tardebigge starts at £99 for up to 10 people. £120 on weekends and bank holidays.

Take a romantic canal boat holiday for two this Valentine’s

Spend Valentine’s Day Afloat

Once afloat, cuddle up for a romantic evening afloat, or stop-off at historic country pubs with roaring log fires.

Our boats are fully equipped with all the essential mod cons, including central heating, hot water, televisions and DVD players. Some boats also have their own multi-fuel stove, so whatever the weather it’s always nice and cosy on board.

It’s free to moor almost everywhere on the waterway network, so a canal boat could provide the perfect romantic hide-away in the countryside miles from anywhere, or a base to explore romantic waterside destinations like Georgian Bath.

Short breaks over Valetine’s Day start from £465, weekly hire from £660. Here’s a list of our boat yards offering winter cruising and ideas of where to go:

Visit Georgian Bath…our base at Sydney Wharf in the centre of the World Heritage City of Bath offers the chance to enjoy Valentine’s afloat in one of Britain’s most romantic places. With world-famous museums, galleries, shops and restaurants and some of the finest Georgian architecture in Britain, Bath makes a fantastic destination for couples.

Float across the ‘Stream in the Sky’…the beautiful 46-mile Llangollen Canal is one of the most popular canals on the inland waterway network, and navigating the awe-inspiring 300metre-long World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, soaring nearly 40 metres high above the rushing waters of the River Dee, is tantamount to free flight. What a place to propose?! From our base at Trevor, right next to the aqueduct, a short break to Ellesmere and back, offers the chance to travel over the aqueduct and explore the beautiful Vale of Llangollen and Shropshire Lake District.

Chug along the Oxford Canal…On a short break from our base at Stretton-under-Fosse near Rugby, boaters can head south along the beautiful Oxford Canal to Braunston, winding through classic scenery, much of which hasn’t changed for centuries. On a week’s holiday, canal boat holiday-makers can continue south to Banbury, via the villages of Napton and Fenny Compton.

Head for the bright lights of Birmingham…the vibrant City of Birmingham with moorings close to Brindley Place, is just a five-hour cruise away from our base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove. With no locks to negotiate, there’s plenty of time to cuddle-up together at the tiller!

Explore the Potteries in Staffordshire…our base at Great Haywood at the junction of the Staffs & Worcs and Trent & Mersey canals in Staffordshire offers a variety of rural routes. On a week’s cruise, boaters can travel along the Shropshire Union Canal to historic Market Drayton, home of the gingerbread man. On a short break, head through quiet countryside to the South Staffordshire village of Coven.

Wend through rural Wiltshire…from our base at historic Bradford on Avon, with its stunning medieval Tithe Barn, on a short break canal boaters can head east along the beautiful Kennet & Avon Canal to the bottom of the Caen Hill Flight at Devizes. The journey passes through rural Wiltshire, where canalside pubs with log fires offer a warm welcome along the way.

 

New 'getting started' film for boaters

New ‘getting started’ film for boaters

We’ve worked with The Canal & River Trust (CRT) to produce a new training film to show new canal boat holiday-makers the ropes.

It’s a companion to the popular Boaters’ Handbook and contains lots of ‘getting started’ tips for narrowboat hirers and new boat owners, as well as important reminders to old hands about how to boat safely.

Sally Ash, head of boating at CRT, says: “We want new boaters to have a safe and enjoyable experience of the waterways. The friendly spirit that pervades the waterways means there is a lot of help available on the spot but it’s obviously a good idea for new boaters to build up their knowledge and confidence in other ways too. The film covers the fundamentals of boat handling, lock operation and general safety afloat.”

Customers booking with Drifters will be offered a free DVD. The 30-minute film is also available free to stream online via the CRT website and the free DVD can be ordered via the CRT on-line shop or by telephone 0303 040 4040.

Celebrate Christmas on the Canals

Celebrate Christmas on the canals

Britain’s canals offer a great antidote to the hustle and bustle of Christmas.

A number of our canal boat hire bases offer winter canal boat holidays, giving boaters the chance to enjoy cosy evenings afloat, visit waterside pubs with roaring log fires, and wake-up to frosty towpaths and crisp clean air.

Whether it’s a snug boat for two or jolly boat for 10, celebrating Christmas or New Year afloat offers a great getaway.

It’s free to moor almost anywhere on the network, so a narrowboat could provide the perfect base to enjoy new year celebrations in waterside destinations like Bath, Birmingham and Banbury.

All boats have central heating, hot water, televisions and DVD players. Some also have multi-fuel stoves. So, whatever the weather, it’s always nice and cosy on board.

Here’s a list of our bases offering winter cruising, with prices and routes for Christmas narrowboat holidays:

Travel to Bath along the Kennet & Avon Canal…our base in the historic town of Bradford on Avon offers the chance to cruise to the World Heritage Status City of Bath and back. Cosy country pubs to enjoy along the way include the George Inn at Bathampton, once a 12th-century monastery, and the Cross Guns at Avoncliffe, with panoramic views of the foothills of the Cotswolds. Christmas and New Year prices from Bradford on Avon start at £480 for short break (three or four nights) and £675 for a week on a boat for four.

Take a lock free journey to Birmingham…Birmingham is just a five-hour cruise away from our base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal – with no locks to negotiate. City centre moorings are available at Gas Street Basin, close to the bars, restaurants, shops and museums at Brindley Place. Christmas and New Year prices from Tardebigge start at £555 for a short break (three or four nights), and £790 for a week on a boat for four.

Navigate ‘The Stream in the Sky’…the awesome 300-metre long World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, carries the Llangollen Canal 40 metres above the rushing waters of the River Dee. From our base at Trevor, right next to the aqueduct, the village of Llangollen is a two-hour cruise to the west and Ellesmere is a seven-hour journey to the east, passing through the beautiful Vale of Llangollen. Christmas and New Year prices from Trevor start at £555 for a short break (three or four nights), and £790 for a week on a boat for four.

Explore the Potteries in Staffordshire…On a week’s cruise from our base at Great Haywood in Staffordshire, boaters can head up the Trent & Mersey Canal to the Caldon Canal, and travel through the beautiful Churnet Valley. On a short break, canal boat holiday-makers can head to the town of Fazeley, via the pretty canal village of Fradley. Christmas and New Year prices from Great Haywood start at £555 for a short break (three or four nights), and £790 for a week on a boat for four.

Chug through rural Warwickshire…On a short break from our base at Stretton-under-Fosse near Rugby, boaters can head south along the beautiful Oxford Canal to Braunston, winding through classic scenery, much of which hasn’t changed for centuries. On a week’s holiday, narrowboat holiday-makers can continue south to Banbury via Napton and Fenny Compton. Christmas and New Year prices from Stretton start at £505 for a short break (three or four nights) and £755 for a week on a boat for four.

Culture on the Canals

Visit a bonfire night event afloat

Some of our bases offer winter cruising and the opportunity to visit a waterside fireworks display afloat.

All our boats have central heating and some also have multi-fuel stoves. So, whatever the weather, it’s always nice and cosy on board.

Prices start at £385 for a short break (three or four nights) on a boat for four people, weekly breaks from £575.

Here’s a guide to our top five waterside bonfire night celebrations:

Bath Rotary Club Fireworks Display, 2 November 2013…from Drifters’ base in the historic town of Bradford on Avon, central Bath is seven hours away. The Rotary Clubs annual fireworks display takes place at the Bath Recreation Ground, alongside the River Avon. Gates open at 6pm, fireworks begin at 7.30pm.

The Ultimate Fireworks Spectacular at Alton Towers, 8-10 November 2013…from Drifters’ base at Great Haywood on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal in Staffordshire, boaters can reach Froghall on the Caldon Canal in 22 hours. From there, Alton Towers theme park and its spectacular end of season fireworks show, is only a short bus ride away.

Ellesmere Bonfire Night, 5 November 2013…from Drifters’ base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal, Ellesmere and its beautiful series of lakes is just seven hours away.

Bonfire Night at the Black Country Museum, 5 November 2013…from Drifters’ base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, it takes eight hours to reach the Black Country Museum at Dudley. For the evening, the Museum’s canalside village will be lit up with atmospheric candle and gas-lights, there will be fire jugglers, musical entertainers and a Guy Fawkes Dramatic Performance. But no fireworks! The event starts at 6.30pm.

Warwick Town Bonfire & Fireworks, 2 November 2013…from Drifters’ base at Stretton-under-Fosse on the North Oxford Canal near Rugby, it takes 16 hours to reach the historic town of Warwick. The town’s annual bonfire event takes place at the Racecourse. Gates open at 5pm, display starts at 6.30pm.

Celebrate Christmas Afloat

Winter canal boat holidays

Winter cruising on Britain’s beautiful canal network offers the chance to enjoy the quiet calm of the countryside, cosy evenings afloat, waterside pubs with roaring log fires, frosty towpaths and crisp clean air.

All our boats have central heating, hot water, televisions and DVD players. Some also have multi-fuel stoves. So, whatever the weather, it’s always nice and cosy on board.

Prices start at £385 for a short break (three or four nights) on a boat for four people, weekly breaks from £575.

Here’s a list of our canal boat hire bases offering winter narrowboat holidays:

Chug through rural Warwickshire…a week’s break from our base at Stretton-under-Fosse near Rugby could take you to historic Warwick and back along the Grand Union Canal, via Braunston and Napton Junctions, with plenty of time to visit Medieval Warwick Castle. The journey takes a total of 30 hours cruising, with 26 locks along the way.  On a short break, head south along the beautiful Oxford Canal to Braunston, winding through classic scenery, much of which hasn’t changed for centuries.

Travel to Bath along the Kennet & Avon Canal…our base in the historic town of Bradford on Avon in Wiltshire, offers the chance to cruise to the World Heritage Status City of Bath and back.  Cosy country pubs to enjoy along the way include the George Inn at Bathampton, once a 12th-century monastery, and the Cross Guns at Avoncliffe, with panoramic views of the foothills of the Cotswolds.

Take a lock-free journey to Birmingham…boaters can reach central Birmingham in just a five hours from our  base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal – with no locks to negotiate. City centre moorings are available at Gas Street Basin, close to the bars, restaurants, shops and museums at Brindley Place and the Mailbox and Bullring shopping centres.

Navigate ‘The Stream in the Sky’…the awesome 300-metre long World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, carries the Llangollen Canal 40 metres above the rushing waters of the River Dee.  From our base at Trevor, right next to the aqueduct, a short break to Ellesmere and back offers the chance to navigate the aqueduct and to explore the beautiful Vale of Llangollen.

Visit the Medieval City of Chester…from our base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal, the ancient City of Chester is just a seven-hour journey through the Cheshire countryside. Medieval Chester boasts Roman tours, a vibrant market hall, an award-winning zoo, busy racecourse, trendy bars, shopping malls and restaurants. Or head south from Bunbury to the historic market town of Middlewich in Cheshire, on the junction of the Trent & Mersey and Shropshire Union Canals.

Explore the Potteries in Staffordshire…Our base at Great Haywood, at the junction of the Staffs & Worcs and Trent & Mersey canals in Staffordshire, offers a variety of routes. On a week’s cruise boaters can travel along the Shropshire Union Canal to historic Market Drayton, home of the gingerbread man. On a short break, head through quiet countryside to the South Staffordshire village of Coven on the Staffs & Worcs Canal.

Take a spooky canal boat holiday this Halloween

Visit a spooky attraction by canal boat this Halloween

From haunted castles and witch burning to bat forests and ghost walks, there are plenty of half term spooky goings-on in Britain’s canalside towns and cities.

Here are our top five spooky destinations for the October half term holiday:

1. Visit the Haunted Castle…experience Warwick Castle at night and some special goulish goings-on as part of the castle’s Halloween event, 24 October to 2 November, including the mighty Trebuchet Fireball show. Drifters’ base at Napton on the North Oxford Canal is 10 hours from Warwick. October half term canal boat hire from Napton starts at £489 for a short break, £750 for weekly hire.

2. Step into the darkness at Chester Zoo…11,000 animals reside at this award-winning zoo, including over 300 bats. Celebrate Halloween in style by entering the Zoo’s Fruit Bat Forest and explore the darkness with free-flying bats all around. Narrowboat holiday-makers can reach Chester in seven hours from Drifters’ base on the Shropshire Union Canal at Bunbury. Short breaks from Bunbury during the October half term start at £645, weekly breaks from £920.

3. Take a ghost walk in Bath…walk through the ancient and mystical streets of the Roman City of Bath, learning of macabre goings-on, hauntings and tragic events of yester-year. Ghost walks take place every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night at 8pm, starting outside the Garricks Head pub. Bath City Centre is a two-hour cruise from Drifters Bath base. Short breaks from Bath during the October half term holiday start at £645, weekly breaks from £920.

4. Enjoy a Halloween Spooktakular at Cadbury World…During October half term Cadbury World on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal will be turned into a ghoulish site, with staff replaced by witches and vampires, plus a special Halloween X-factor style show. Boaters can reach Cadbury World in just three hours from Drifters’ base at Tardebigge. Short breaks from Tardebigge during the October half term start at £645, weekly breaks from £920.

5. Find out about witch burning at Edinburgh…Edinburgh Castle dominates Scotland’s capital city from its great rock. Battles and sieges were fought over it, royalty lived and died within its walls, and hundreds of supposed witches were burnt at the stake there. Edinburgh is an 11-hour cruise along the Union Canal from Drifters’ base at Falkirk. Short breaks from Falkirk during the October half term holiday start at £585, weekly breaks from £895.

FILMS MADE ON THE CANALS…take a canal boat holiday and follow in the wake of the stars!

Take a spooky canal boat holiday this Halloween

Reputedly playing host to hundreds of ghosts, with bats and frogs aplenty, creepy tunnels, spooky locks and misty towpaths, Britain’s 200-year old canal network provides the perfect backdrop for a haunting Halloween afloat.

Drifters’ Halloween canal boat hire prices start at £489 for a short break and £750 for a week on a four berth.

Here are some of the spookiest places to go:

The Shropshire Union Canal is said to be Britain’s most haunted canal with five ghosts along its length, including ‘The Monkey Man’ at Bridge 39 near Norbury. The hideous black, shaggy coated being is said to be the ghost of a boatman drowned there in the 19th century. And at Betton Cutting near Market Drayton a shrieking spectre has been seen and heard. See if you can spot them by heading north on narrowboat holiday from our base at Brewood on the Shropshire Union Canal in Staffordshire near Stafford. Weekly breaks on a boat for four from Brewood over Halloween start at £847, short breaks £508.

Get the chills in Chester by visiting the city’s old Northgate where the canal was dug into part of the town’s moat and a Roman centurion can sometimes be seen guarding the entrance to the city. You can also visit The King’s Inn, believed to be haunted by three separate spirits. Hire a boat from our base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire and you can easily make it to Chester and back on a short break. Short breaks on a four berth from Bunbury over Halloween start at £645, weekly hire from £920.

Blisworth Tunnel on the Grand Union Canal in Northamptonshire has spooked a number of boaters over the years. At 3,076 yards (2.81km) it’s one of the longest on the canal system. When construction began in 1793, the tunnel was a major feat of engineering. Teams of navvies worked with picks and shovels for three years until they hit quicksand and the tunnel collapsed, killing 14 men. A new route for the tunnel was found and it finally opened on 25 March 1805. Over the years, a number of boaters travelling through the tunnel have reported seeing lights and a second route emerging. But the tunnel runs straight through the hill so people have must seen the flicker of candlelight at the spot where the first tunnel would have intersected with the main canal tunnel. Perhaps the ghostly navvies are still working there?! Canal boat hire over Halloween from our Gayton base on the Grand Union Canal close to the Blisworth Tunnel starts at £585 for a short break and £895 for a week on a four berth.

At the Union Canal tunnel in Falkirk, Scotland, two walkers and their dogs were terrified by the apparition of a man who had been lured to the tunnel in the 1940s and viciously murdered after he had been unable to pay his gambling debt. And there are plenty of ghostly goings on in the historic city of Edinburgh, including the ghost of the Great Lafayette at Edinburgh Festival Theatre, a magician who was killed in a fire there. Canal boat hire on a four berth over Halloween from our Falkirk base starts at £522 for a short break and £802 for a week.

The Trent & Mersey Canal’s Harecastle Tunnel at Kidsgrove is said to be home to a shrieking boggart – the ghost of Kit Crewbucket who was murdered and whose headless corpse was dumped in the canal. Canal boat hire over Halloween at our Peak District base on the Trent & Mersey Canal in Staffordshire starts at £489 for a short break and £750 for a week on a four berth.

The Llangollen Canal in Wrexham is haunted by an eerie figure that can sometimes be seen on moonlit nights gliding along the towpath by the World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. Canal boat hire over Halloween from our base at Trevor, right next to the Aqueduct, starts at £645 for a short break and £920 for a week on a four berth.

The spooky Standedge Tunnel in Yorkshire is the longest, highest and deepest canal on the UK canal system and certainly not for the feint hearted! Take a boat for a week from our base at Sowerby Bridge on the Calder & Hebble Navigation in West Yorkshire and cruise through the stunning Calder Valley, then onto the Huddersfield Broad Canal to Huddersfield. There you can moor the boat and switch to a train for a scenic rail trip to Marsden and the Standedge Tunnel Visitor Centre, which operates boat trips into the tunnel. Weekly hire from Sowerby Bridge over Halloween starts at £850 for a boat for four.

Top 10 places to picnic on the canals

Top 10 places to picnic on the canals

Whether you are enjoying a canal boat holiday, or just planning a day out by the water, when the weather is good, it’s lovely to picnic by the water.

Here are some of our favourite canalside picnic spots, all perfect for watching the boats go by:

1. Tring Reservoirs, alongside the Grand Union Canal in Hertfordshire, are designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and are fantastic for bird watching, walking and angling. They consist of four reservoirs, including Wilstone Reservoir, famous for the first nesting in this country of black-necked grebes in 1918 and little ringed plovers in 1938. Drifters’ nearest canal boat hire base is on the Grand Union Canal at Gayton, 19 hours away.

2. Foxton Locks, on the Leicester Line of the Grand Union Canal in Leicestershire, are surrounded by stunning views of the Leicestershire countryside and are recognised as one of the most important industrial heritage sites in Europe. The locks themselves consist of two staircases of five locks, which take an average of 45 minutes for a boat to negotiate. The water is controlled by paddles painted red or white. Reds fill the locks, white empties them. Foxton lock keepers advise narrowboat holiday-makers to open “Red afore white and you’ll be alright, white afore red and you’ll wish you were dead!“ Our nearest base is just five hours away at North Kilworth on the Leicester Line of the Grand Union Canal.

3. Stoke Bruerne, on the Grand Union Canal in Northamptonshire, is a picturesque village, home to the Canal Museum and east portal of Blisworth Tunnel. There are also waterside pubs to visit and a lovely woodland walk populated with sculptured wildlife to enjoy. Drifters’ nearest base is less than a mile away at Gayton on the Grand Union Canal.

4. Caen Hill Flight, on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Devizes in Wiltshire, is one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways. With 16 of the 29 locks stacked in a straight line up the hillside, it really is an impressive sight. It takes between five and six hours for a boat to travel the flight, giving plenty of “gongoozling” opportunities for picnickers. The flight is designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument and the sideponds and grassland alongside it are a haven for a rich variety of wildlife. Our nearest base is just five hours away at Hilperton on the Kennet & Avon Canal.

5. Hatton Locks, on the Grand Union Canal near Wariwck in Warwickshire, consists of 21 locks which raise the canal by 45 metres over two miles. Opened in 1799, they were widened in the 1930’s and reopened by an earlier Prince George, The Duke of Kent. Back then, the flight was known as the “stairway to heaven” because it led to Camp Hill where the workmen would receive their wages. Our nearest base is nine hours away at Stockton on the Grand Union Canal.

6. Froghall Wharf, at the end of the Caldon Canal near Cheadle in Staffordshire, is set within the beautiful Churnet Valley. At Froghall, there are a series of way-marked circular walks, leading visitors through woods, fields and charming villages with country pubs. Our nearest base is Peak District, 10 hours away at the junction of the Trent & Mersey and Caldon canals.

7. The Bingley Five Rise Locks, on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal near Bradford, is the steepest flight in the UK and holds the tallest lock gates in the country. The staircase of five locks raises the canal 18 metres and the locks open directly from one to another, with the top gate of one forming the bottom gate of the next. There are places to picnic and a cafe with a cabinet of curiosities telling why the locks were built. Our nearest base is at Foulridge on the Leeds & Liverpool, some 30 miles away.

8. Salterhebble Locks, on the Calder & Hebble Canal near Halifax, includes the electrically powered Salterhebble guillotine lock, one of only three functional guillotine locks on the network. The junction with the Halifax Arm is after Salterhebble Top Locks. The branch once climbed via 14 locks right into the centre of Halifax, but is now just 600 yards long. A footpath follows the line of the original canal into Halifax. Our nearest base is just one hour away at Sowerby Bridge, at the junction of the Calder & Hebble Navigation and the Rochdale Canal.

9. Stratford on Avon Canal Basin, at the junction of the River Avon and the Stratford Canal, is a buzzing focus for visitors to the town’s beautiful Bancroft Gardens. The Gardens occupy the site of former canal wharves, warehouses and a second canal basin which in 1902 was filled in. They are populated by a number of statues, including figures of the Shakespearean characters Hamlet, Lady Macbeth, Falstaff and Prince Hal. Our nearest base is six hours away at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal.

10. Vines Park, on the newly restored Droitwich Canals in Worcestershire, offers three hectares of parkland to explore and an exciting wooden play area for children. Fifty years ago campaigning began to restore the Droitwich Canals and they finally reopened in 2011, reconnecting the River Severn and the Worcester & Birmingham Canal through Droitwich. Our nearest base is just an hour away at Stoke Prior on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal.