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Best canal and riverside pubs

Best canal and riverside pubs

There are hundreds of lovely canal and riverside pubs to enjoy across Britain

It’s great to be by the water in the summer time. And there are plenty of canal and riverside pubs with waterside gardens perfect for watching the world go by.

To celebrate, we’ve listed our top 10 canal and riverside pubs for the summer, with our nearest canal boat hire bases:

1. The Bridge Inn, Chirk Bank in Shropshire

You can reach this popular watering hole on the Llangollen Canal on a short break from our bases at Chirk, Trevor and Blackwater Meadow.  Also known as ‘The Trap’, this historic inn enjoys views of the magnificent Chirk Aqueduct. And it’s on the 11-mile stretch of the Llangollen Canal designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.

2. The Boat Inn, Gnosall in Staffordshire

This traditional family run pub on the banks of the Shropshire Union Canal can be reached on a short break from Brewood.  It has a patio area overlooking the canal and is renowned for its homemade pies and fish and chips.

3. The Cross Guns, Avoncliff in Somerset

This popular pub in the beautiful Bath Valley has extensive riverside gardens alongside the Kennet & Avon Canal and magnificent Avoncliff Aqueduct.  It can be reached on a short break from our bases at Bath, Monkton Combe, Bradford on Avon and Devizes.

4. The Leigh Arms, Little Leigh in Cheshire

On the banks of the River Weaver near Northwich, you can reach this charming riverside pub on a short break from our bases at Anderton and Acton Bridge.

5. The Fleur de Lys, Lowsonford in Warwickshire

Famous for its pies, this 17th century country pub has extensive gardens alongside the Stratford Canal. You can reach it on a short break from our base at Wootton Wawen.

6. The Plume of Feathers, Barlaston in Staffordshire

Co-owned by the actor Neil Morrissey, this popular pub on the Trent & Mersey Canal offers homemade food and locally brewed beers. You can reach it on a short break from our bases at Stoke-on-Trent and Great Haywood.

7. The Cutter Inn, Ely in Cambridgeshire

You can reach this popular riverside pub on the Great River Ouse on a short break from our Ely and March bases. It has an outdoor terrace for al fresco drinking and dining with excellent river views.

8. The Dundas Arms, Kintbury in Berkshire

This traditional country pub and hotel on the banks of the Kennet & Avon Canal can be reached on a short break from Aldermaston. It has a large beer garden, perfect for summertime al fresco drinking and dining.

9. The Trout Inn, Lechlade, Gloucestershire

With over 700 years of history, this Cotswold pub on the banks of the River Thames can be reached on a mid-week break from our Oxford base. It’s a traditional family-run inn, with riverside gardens perfect for watching the world go by.

10. The Bridge Inn, Ratho in Midlothian

This historic pub and hotel on the banks of the Union Canal near Edinburgh can be reached on a short break from Falkirk.  There’s a dining terrace overlooking the canal, and home-grown fruit and vegetables are served from the pub’s walled garden.

Top leafy canals to cruise this autumn

Top leafy canals to cruise this autumn

Explore our top leafy canals to cruise this autumn

Britain’s 3,000-mile network of inland waterways meanders through some of our best-loved countryside, including woodlands and forest remains.

To celebrate the beautiful autumn colours in our trees and hedgerows, we’ve listed our top five leafy canals to cruise this autumn:

1. The Calder & Hebble in West Yorkshire

The 21-mile long leafy Calder & Hebble Navigation links Wakefield with Sowerby Bridge.  On a short break from our base at Sowerby Bridge, you can cruise along the part-canal, part-river Calder & Hebble to Shipley. The route will take you through wooded valleys and the towns of Elland and Brighouse along the way.  The journey there and back travels 22 miles, passes through 32 locks and takes around 16 hours.

2. The Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal in South Wales

This 35-mile long peaceful waterway follows the line of the wooded Usk Valley through the Brecon Beacons National Park.  It has to be one of the most leafy canals to cruise on Britain’s beautiful inland waterways network. On a short break from our base at Goytre, you can cruise to Talybont-on-Usk and back, passing the villages and hamlets of Llaellen, Llanfoist, Govilon, Llangattock and Llangynidr along the way.  The journey there and back travels 39 miles, passes through 10 locks and takes around 18 hours.

3. The Macclesfield Canal in Cheshire

This 26-mile long tree-lined canal runs from Marple in Cheshire to Hall Green, on the Trent & Mersey Canal.  On a week’s break from our base at Stoke on Trent, you can connect to the Macclesfield Canal and cruise to Macclesfield and back.  You’ll pass through the 1.5 mile long Harecastle Tunnel on the Trent & Mersey Canal before transferring onto the Macclesfield Canal.  Then you’ll meander through the countryside to enjoy a series of wooded sections, as well as views of the distant hills.  The journey to Macclesfield and back travels 42 miles, passes through 26 locks and takes around 21 hours.

4. The Stratford Canal in Warwickshire

This 25.5-mile long narrow canal connects Stratford-upon-Avon with the Worcester & Birmingham Canal at Kings Norton Junction.  The middle section is surrounded by trees where it passes through the remains of the Forest of Arden.  On a short break from our base at Wootton Wawen, you can cruise through quiet countryside to Hatton and back.  You’ll pass through the village of Lowsonford with its popular Fleur de Lys canalside pub, and Lapworth where you transfer onto the Grand Union Canal. The journey to Hatton and back cruises 21 miles, passes through 34 locks and takes around 14 hours.

5. The Kennet & Avon Canal in Wiltshire

The 87-mile long Kennet & Avon Canal links the Bristol Avon near Bath, with the River Thames at Reading. On a week’s break from our base at Devizes, at the foot of the famous Caen Hill flight of locks, you can cruise to Hungerford and back passing through the Vale of Pewsey, part of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  There are a series of wooded sections to enjoy, including an area of the Savernake Forest.  The journey to Hungerford and back travels 54 miles, passes through 106 locks and takes around 40 hours.

Top 5 Yorkshire canal boat holidays

Top 5 Yorkshire canal boat holidays

Yorkshire is home to some of the most picturesque canals in the UK, including the Leeds & Liverpool Canal and the Calder & Hebble Navigation. These waterways wind their way through diverse landscapes, from rolling countryside to bustling cities, offering breathtaking views at every turn.

To celebrate the beautiful waterways of Yorkshire, we’ve put together our Top 5 Yorkshire canal boat holidays:

1. Visit Skipton and its medieval castle

On a short break from Silsden, you can cruise along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal to Skipton.  The journey there and back travels 12 miles and takes around seven hours. There are no locks but there are a series of swing bridges to operate along the way.  You’ll cruise along the beautiful River Aire Valley, passing through the village of Kildwick with its 17th century coaching inn, The White Lion.  Once in Skipton, you can moor in the centre of the town to visit shops and restaurants. And explore the 900-year old Skipton Castle, one of the most complete and best preserved medieval castles in England.

2. Sail to the historic market town Selby

On a week’s brea from Sowerby Bridge you can cruise to along the Calder & Hebble and the Aire & Calder navigations to Selby.  The journey there and back travels 96 miles, passes through 68 locks (34 each way) and takes around 40 hours.  The route passes through Wakefield, Stanley Ferry, Castleford and Knottingley.  Scenery ranges from leafy cuttings on the Calder & Hebble and farmland along the Aire, to industrial hinterland on the Aire & Calder.  At Selby, you can moor up to explore the ancient Abbey and market, and enjoy a choice of pubs and restaurants.

3. Toddle to Todmorden for some stunning Pennine scenery

On a short break from Sowerby Bridge you can travel along the Rochdale Canal to Todmorden.  The journey there and back travels 20 miles, passes through 34 locks (17 each way) and takes around 16 hours.  This historic town offers visitors fine Victorian architecture, plenty of pubs and restaurants, and a busy market.  Along the way, you’ll pass through the village of Mytholmroyd, the birthplace of Ted Hughes. And the old mill town of Hebden Bridge, nestled in a fork in the hills, with an amazing variety of shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs.  There are also a series of scenic waymarked walks to enjoy.

4. Cruise to Rishton for a trip through industrial history

On a week’s holiday from Barnoldswick, you can travel west along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal to Rishton and back.  The journey there and back travels 53 miles, passes through 14 locks (seven each way) and takes around 20 hours.  The route begins on the summit before plunging into Foulridge Tunnel, then down to Barrowford Locks.  After 20 miles on one level, you’ll sail above Burnley’s rooftops on its famous embankment, one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways.  The Weavers Triangle visitor centre at Burnley is a good place to visit. Then carry on through largely open scenery and the historic town of Rishton, the first place calico cloth was woven on an industrial scale.  The trip includes spectacular views of the Lancashire Calder Valley and Pendle Hill, famous for its witches.

5. Journey to the Hepworth Wakefield

On a mid-week break from Sowerby Bridge, you can travel to Wakefield and back to visit the fabulous Hepworth Wakefield Art Gallery.  The journey travels 40 miles, passes through 52 locks (26 each way) and takes around 22 cruising hours. There are narrow boat moorings right outside the Hepworth Wakefield.  The Gallery offers over 1,600 square metres of light-filled gallery spaces to explore. As well as works by the British artist and sculptor Barbara Hepworth, there are works on display by Henry Moore, Antony Gormley, David Hockney, Paul Nash, Bridget Riley and Anthony Caro.

To find out more about the canals of North East England, go to https://www.drifters.co.uk/canals-of-north-east-england/

Top 11 new narrowboats for hire in 2024

Drifters Top 11 New Narrowboats for Hire in 2024

Every year we add dozens of new narrowboat to our fleet.

There are two main types of narrowboat available:

  • cruiser stern boats have an open back deck with room for a number of people to stand; and
  • semi-traditional boat have a smaller deck/steering area with a seating area that can be enclosed with doors.

Here’s a guide to our top 11 new boats to hire for a canal boat holiday in 2024:

1. ‘Natalie’ will be available at Napton, Oxford Canal

The 60ft ‘Natalie’ Discovery Class cruiser stern narrowboat for up to six people, will be available to hire from Napton in Warwickshire. She will have two double cabins (which can also be made up as twins), two bathrooms, and an extra outside table. She has a reverse layout, so the galley is at the back of the boat. The interior dining area can be converted into a double bed.

***2024 hire prices for ‘Natalie’ start at £895 for a short break, £1,290 for a week.*

2. A new ‘Duchess 6’ Signature will arrive at Stoke Prior, Worcester & Birmingham Canal

The 70ft ‘Duchess 6’ Signature Class cruiser stern canal boat for up to six people, will arrive at Stoke Prior in Worcestershire.  The boat will have two double cabins that can either be double or twin beds.  There will an option to convert the dining area into a double bed.  The kitchen areas are larger in the new Signature Class fleet, with more worktop space, a microwave, multiple USB charging points.  The boat will also have a shower and toilet room, black-out blinds, bespoke mattresses, wireless charging pads and a flat screen TV.

***2024 hire prices for the ‘Duchess 6’ Signature start at £1,099 for a short break, £1,675 for a week*.

3. ‘Foxhound’ will be available from Devizes, Kennet & Avon Canal

The 69ft ‘Foxhound’ semi-cruiser narrowboat for up to nine people will be available to hire from Devizes.  ‘Foxhound’ will have three permanent double sleeping cabins, two of which can also be made up as twins. A large saloon at the front will sleep an extra three if required. Galley extras include a full-size cooker, microwave and two fridge/freezers. Foxhound will have underfloor heating, multiple USB charging points, a TV in the saloon and gaming/TV area in one of the flexible sleeping cabins. ‘Foxhound’ will also have two showers, two toilets, black-out curtains and premium mattresses.

***2024 prices for ‘Foxhound’ start at £887 for a short break, £1,257 for a week*. 

4. The ‘Chiff Chaff Warbler’ will depart from Wrenbury, Llangollen Canal

The 69ft ‘Chiff Chaff Warbler’ semi-traditional narrowboat for up to eight people will arrive at Wrenbury in Shropshire.  The boat will have three cabins: one fixed as double; and two which can be configured as doubles or singles.  ‘Chiff Chaff Warbler’ will have LED lighting, a front deck table, optional wider beds, two shower/toilet rooms, WiFi and two TV’s.

***2024 hire prices aboard ‘Chiff Chaff Warbler’ currently start at £1,199 for a short break, £1,799 for a week*. 

5. ‘Rock Partridge’ will be available from Nantwich, Shropshire Union Canal

The 66ft ‘Rock Partridge’ semi-traditional narrowboat for up to six people will arrive at Nantwich in Cheshire.  ‘Rock Partridge’ will have two double cabins that can be made up as singles or doubles (with optional wider beds), and the seating/dining area can be converted into a double bed. She will have two shower/toilet rooms, a front deck table, LED lighting, two televisions and WiFi.

***2024 hire prices for ‘Rock Partridge’ currently start at £1,599 for a week*. 

6. ‘Masked Lark’ will arrive at Kings Orchard, Coventry Canal

The 66ft ‘Masked Lark’ semi-traditional narrowboat for up to six people will launch at Kings Orchard Marina in Staffordshire.  ‘Masked Lark’ will have two double cabins that can be made up as singles or doubles (with optional wider beds).  And the seating/dining area can be converted into a double bed. She will have two shower/toilet rooms, a front deck table, LED lighting, two televisions and WiFi.

***2024 prices for ‘Masked Lark’ currently start at £1,199 for short break, £1,599 for a week*.   

7. The ‘Tepui Swift’ will arrive at Aldermaston, Kennet & Avon Canal

The 49ft ‘Tepui Swift’ cruiser stern narrowboat for up to four people will be available to hire from Aldermaston in West Berkshire.  The ‘Tepui Swift’ will have one cabins, which can be configured either as a double or twins (with optional wider beds) And a seating/dining area which can be converted into a double bed.  She will have a shower/toilet room, a front deck table, LED lighting, two televisions and WiFi.

***2024 hire prices for ‘Tepui Swift’ currently start at £899 for short break, £1,199 for a week*.   

8. A new ‘Ocean’ Class boat will arrive at Great Haywood, Trent & Mersey Canal

A 69ft ‘Ocean’ Class cruiser stern narrowboat for up to 10 people will be available to hire from Great Haywood in Staffordshire.  The boat will feature two double cabins and three sleeping areas that can either be configured as a doubles or singles. She will have a toilet/shower room and an extra toilet.

***2024  ‘Ocean’ Class prices start at £1,060 for short break, £1,460 for a week*.   

9. A new ‘Ocean’ Class narrowboat will arrive at Oxford, River Thames

A 69ft ‘Ocean’ Class cruiser stern narrowboat for up to 10 people will be available to hire from our Oxford base.  The boat will feature two double cabins and three sleeping areas that can either be configured as a doubles or singles. She will have a toilet/shower room and an extra toilet.

***2024 ‘Ocean’ Class prices start at £1,060 for short break, £1,460 for a week*. 

10. A new ‘Duchess 8’ Signature will arrive at Stoke on Trent, Trent & Mersey Canal

The 70ft ‘Duchess 8’ Signature Class cruiser stern canal boat for up to eight people, will arrive at Stoke on Trent.  She will have three double cabins that can either be double or twin beds. And the option to convert the dining area into a double bed.  The kitchen areas are larger in the new Signature Class fleet, with more worktop space, a microwave, multiple USB charging points.  The boat will also have two shower/toilet rooms, black-out blinds, bespoke mattresses, wireless charging pads and a flat screen TV.

***2024 hire prices for the ‘Duchess 8’ Signature start at £1,199 for a short break, £1,799 for a week*.   

11. ‘Cumbria’ arrives at Sowerby Bridge

The new 48ft ‘Cumbria’ narrowboat for up to three people will be available to hire from Drifters’ base at Sowerby Bridge in Yorkshire.  The boat will feature: one double cabin; a saloon convertible to one single; and a toilet/shower room.  ‘Cumbria’ will also have USB sockets in all power points, a separate dining area, microwave and LED lighting. On a short break from Sowerby Bridge, boaters can travel to Todmorden, Hebden Bridge, Brighouse or Wakefield. On a week’s holiday, they can reach Walsden, Stanley Ferry or Selby.

***2024 ‘Cumbria’ prices start at £755 for short break, £1,145 for a week*.  

*Please note, extras charged by individual Drifters operators vary.  For example some include fuel in their prices.

For more information about visiting the canals go to www.canalrivertrust.org.uk

 

Visit Edinburgh on a canal boat holiday

Visit Edinburgh on a canal boat holiday

From Drifters canal boat hire base at Falkirk, you can cruise to Edinburgh and back on four-night or week-long canal boat holiday.

The journey takes you along the Union Canal, from the Falkirk Wheel to Edinburgh Quay, travelling 32 miles in around 11 hours.

The route passes through the Falkirk Wheel, through two locks, two tunnels and five major aqueducts. And takes you through the lovely lowland villages of Linlithgow, Broxburn and Ratho.

Canal history

The Union Canal opened in 1842 and was built to bring coal and other minerals to Edinburgh. It is linked to the Forth & Clyde Canal at Falkirk by the Falkirk Wheel, the world’s first rotating boat lift.

Both canals were closed in the 1960’s until their Lottery-funded restoration was completed in 2001.  The Falkirk Wheel opened a year later.

Replacing a flight of 11 locks, the lift is like a giant ferris-wheel, moving boats between the two canals in two massive gondolas, raising or lowering them 35 metres.

Moor up close to the City Centre at Edinburgh Quay

Visitor moorings are available at Edinburgh Quay, just a five-minute walk from Princes Street in Edinburgh City Centre.

From there, it’s easy to reach the City’s many attractions, including Edinburgh Castle, the Palace of Holyrood, Mary King Close and the Royal Mile.

Journey highlights include:

  • Outstanding views of the surrounding countryside from the top of the Falkirk Wheel
  • Rough Castle Tunnel with its psychedelic lighting
  • The Falkirk Tunnel with dripping water, stalactites and rock hewn sections
  • The Avon Aqueduct, the longest and tallest in Scotland, carrying the Union Canal 26 metres above the Avon valley
  • Seeing many types of birds, including herons, swans, ducks, moorhens and gulls
  • The historic town of Linlithgow, with Linlithgow Palace, where Mary Queen of Scots was born and St Michael’s Church with its unique Crown of Thorns spire
  • The Four Marys pub in Linlithgow, named after the four ladies in waiting to Mary Queen of Scots
  • The canalside Bridge Inn at Ratho, serving food made with fresh Scottish produce from local suppliers

For more information about canal boat holidays on the Scottish Lowland Canals, go to Canals of Scotland. Interactive map of the Scottish Lowland Canals (drifters.co.uk)

Canal boat holidays in Cheshire

New canal boat holidays from Nantwich in Cheshire

From the middle of March 2024, we will be offering canal boat holidays from Nantwich Marina on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire.

We’ll have three different sized narrowboats for hire, offering accommodation for between four and eight people.

There’s a great choice of short breaks, week-long holidays and two-week routes from Nantwich.

Here’s a guide to our Top 5 narrowboat holidays from Nantwich:

1. Cruise to ancient Middlewich where three rivers meet

This short break route is great for beginners.  You’ll cruise through the countryside passing the canalside Barbridge Inn at Barbridge Junction, where you transfer onto the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal. A good place to stop is the village of Church Minshull with its popular Badger Inn.  Once in Middlewich, you can moor up to explore this ancient town where the rivers Dan, Croco and Wheelock meet.  The town’s history dates back to Roman times and a medieval market later rose up around the salt industries established there.

The journey to Middlewich and back travels 27 miles, passes through 14 locks (seven each way) and takes around 13 hours.

2. Navigate to the ancient City of Chester to walk the Roman walls

Perfect for a four-night break, the journey to Chester takes you through beautiful unspoilt countryside and a series of villages.  Places to visit along the way include Beeston Castle, and the Ring O’ Bells pub at Christleton.  Once in Chester, you can shop at the famous Chester Rows galleries, walk the Roman City Walls and visit Chester Zoo.

The journey to Chester and back travels 36 miles, passes through 22 locks (11 each way) and takes around 17 hours.

3. Boat to Lymm to see a dinosaur footprint

This is a popular week-long route for beginners.  You’ll cruise first to Barbridge Junction, and onto the Middlewich Branch to Middlewich.  From there you’ll transfer onto the Trent & Mersey Canal and cruise on through the Cheshire countryside to Northwich. At Northwich there’s a choice of places to shop and eat, including the Kingfisher pub.  Another good place to stop is the Salt Barge pub at Marston.  Soon after you’ll reach the Anderton Boat Lift, also known as ‘The Cathedral of the Canals’. After passing through three tunnels, you’ll switch to the Bridgewater Canal.  Then you’ll pass through Stockton Heath with views of the Pennine Hills in the distance.  There’s a choice of places to shop, eat and drink at Lymm, including the Spread Eagle pub in the heart of the village.  And you can see the 240 million years old dinosaur footprint at the Lymm Heritage Centre.

The journey to Lymm and back travels 81 miles, passes through 18 locks and takes around 35 hours.

4. Travel across ‘The Stream in the Sky’ to Llangollen

This week long journey travels the entire length of the Llangollen Canal.  You’ll start off in Cheshire and then you’ll transfer onto the Llangollen Canal at Hurleston Junction.  The route will take you through the Shropshire Lake District and the historic market town of Ellesmere.  Soon after you’ll reach Chirk and then the beginning of the 11-mile UNESCO World Heritage section of the Llangollen Canal.  This will take you through stunning scenery and across the Chirk and Pontcysyllte aqueducts.  Also known as ‘The Stream in the Sky’, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct carries the Llangollen Canal 38 metre’s high above the Dee Valley.  In Llangollen, you can moor up in the basin and visit the town’s independent shops and restaurants, including the Three Eagles bar and grill.

The journey to Llangollen and back travels 92 miles, passes through 42 locks (21 each way) and takes around 48 hours.

5. Complete the Four Counties Ring

On a two-week break from Nantwich you can travel round the Four Counties Ring.  This canal boat holiday odyssey takes you through the counties of Staffordshire, Cheshire, Shropshire and the West Midlands.  You’ll pass through a series of historic towns and villages with canalside pubs.  These include the Gingerbread Man in Market Drayton and the Littleton Arms at Penkridge.  You’ll pass through Macclesfield and Marple Junction.  You’ll cross a series of aqueducts, including the Marple Aqueduct on the Peak Forest Canal with incredible Peak District views. You’ll travel through parts of Manchester and then on to the village of Lymm.  You’ll also pass through Preston Brook Tunnel and past the Anderton Boat Lift.

The Four Counties Ring from Nantwich travels 110 miles, passes through 94 locks and takes around 60 hours.

 

Canal boat holidays in England, Wales and Scotland

Best canal boat holidays in 2024

From rural retreats to vibrant city centres, narrowboat holiday-makers can explore Britain’s peaceful 3,000-mile network of inland waterways.  There are hundreds of waterside destinations to choose from including dozens of historic canalside pubs.

We’ve published a guide to our Top 8 canal boat holidays for 2024:

1. Cruise through the Cheshire countryside to Middlewich

On a three-night weekend break from our new canal boat hire base on the Shropshire Union Canal at Nantwich, you can cruise to Middlewich and back.  The route takes you past a series of pubs, including the Barbridge Inn at Barbridge Junction and the Badger Inn at Church Minshull.  The journey to Middlewich and back travels 27 miles, passing through 14 locks (seven each way).  And takes around 13 cruising hours.

2. Travel through the Scottish Lowlands to Edinburgh

On a four-night break from Falkirk, you can cruise along the Union Canal to Edinburgh and back.  The trip starts with a passage through the Falkirk Wheel, the world’s first rotating boat lift.  Pubs to visit along the way include The Bridge Inn at Linlithgow and The Bridge Inn at Ratho.  Visitor moorings are available at Edinburgh Quay, just a five-minute walk from Princes Street.  The journey to Edinburgh Quay and back travels 64 miles, passes through six locks (three each way) and takes around 22 hours.

3. Navigate to the UNESCO World Heritage City of Bath

On a four-night break from Devizes in Wiltshire, you can travel along the Kennet & Avon Canal to Sydney Wharf, on the edge of Bath.  On the way, the route passes through the village of Seend with its popular canalside Barge Inn.  And the historic town of Bradford on Avon, with a choice of independent shops and restaurants.  Once at Sydney Wharf, you can moor up and take a 15-minute walk into Bath City Centre.  The journey to Sydney Wharf and back travels 38 miles, passes through 16 locks (eight each way) and takes around 18 hours.

4. Glide through the Calder Valley to Hebden Bridge

On a short break from Drifters’ base at Sowerby Bridge, canal boat holiday-makers can travel to Hebden Bridge and back.  There’s a great choice of independent shops and places to eat and drink at Hebden, as well as woodland walks at the National Trust’s Hardcastle Crags. Pubs to visit include the Dusty Miller at Mytholmroyd and the Fox & Goose at Hebden Bridge. The journey to Hebden Bridge and back travels 14 miles, passes through 20 locks (10 each way) and takes around 11 hours.

5. Travel round the Black Country Ring

On a week’s holiday from Kings Orchard in Staffordshire, you can complete the Black Country Ring. The journey takes in a mixture of urban and rural scenery.  It travels sections of the Coventry, Trent & Mersey, Staffordshire & Worcestershire, New Birmingham Main Line and Birmingham & Fazeley canals.  Pubs to enjoy along the way include The Red Lion at Hopwas, The Swan at Fradley Junction and All Bar One at Brindleyplace in Birmingham City Centre. Travelling 75 miles, and passing through 79 locks, the route takes around 43 cruising hours.

6. Cruise across The Stream in the Sky to Whitchurch

On a week’s break from Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, you can cruise to the historic town of Whitchurch and back.  You’ll cross over the UNESCO World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct along the way.  Pubs to visit include The Bridge Inn at Chirk, The Boathouse at Ellesmere and The Black Bear at Whitchurch.  The journey to Whitchurch and back travels 52 miles, passes through four locks (two each way) and takes around 25 hours.

7. Boat through the Staffordshire countryside to Market Drayton

On a week’s break from Autherley, you can cruise along the Shropshire Union Canal to the historic town of Market Drayton.  Pubs to visit include the Bridge Inn at Brewood and the Hartley Arms at Wheaton Ashton.  The journey to Market Drayton and back travels 53 miles, passes through 14 locks (seven each way) and takes around 24 hours.

8. Chug through the Brecon Beacons by boat

On a week’s holiday from Goytre near Abergavenny, you can cruise along the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal to the historic market town of Brecon.  Pubs to visit include The Bluebell Country Inn at Crickhowell, The Horseshoe Inn at Llangattock and The Star Inn at Talybont-on-Usk.  The journey to Brecon and back travels 51 miles, passes through 12 locks (six each way) and takes around 25 hours.

Top 6 family canal boat holiday destinations October Half Term 2023

Top 6 October Half Term narrowboat holidays

There are dozens of great destinations to choose from on a family canal boat holiday this October Half Term.

Narrowboats are like floating holiday cottages, with everything you need on board for a self-catering adventure afloat.

All our boats are equipped with essential home comforts, including central heating, hot water, TV, showers, flushing toilets, and most now have WiFi too.

Prices for canal boat holidays this October Half Term start at £655 for a short break (three or four nights) on a boat for four people, £1,060 for a week.

Here’s a guide to our top six canal boat holiday destinations for October Half Term 2023:

1. Travel along the peaceful Ashby Canal to Shakerstone

On a week’s holiday from Braunston on the Grand Union Canal in Northamptonshire, you can explore the beautiful Ashby Canal.  With no locks, and mile-upon-mile of countryside to enjoy, this peaceful canal stretches for 22 miles. It passes the pretty town of Market Bosworth, close to the site of the Battle of Bosworth Field and the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre.  The journey to Shakerstone and back, travels 95 miles, passes through eight locks (four each way) and takes around 37 hours.

2. Drift through the Calder Valley to the old mill town of Hebden Bridge

On a weekend break from Sowerby Bridge in West Yorkshire, you can travel along the leafy Calder & Hebble Navigation through the Calder Valley to the old mill town of Hebden Bridge.  Climbing through woods, fields and small stone towns, the journey to Hebden Bridge, covers seven miles, passes through 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, as well as walks up to Heptonstall or Hardcastle Crags.

3. Glide through the Usk Valley to Brecon and back

On a week’s break from Goytre on the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal you can navigate through the wooded Usk Valley to Brecon, in the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park.  Along the way, you can stop off at Llanfoist to take the old tramway into the Black Mountains.  You can visit the 13th century castle at Crickhowell and walk to the Blaen y Glyn waterfalls at Talybont-on-Usk.  The total journey there and back travels 51 miles, passing through 12 locks (six each way) and takes around 25 hours.

4. Cruise along the Kennet & Avon Canal to Georgian Bath afloat

On a four-night mid-week break from Devizes you can cruise to the World Heritage Status City of Bath and back.  The journey takes around 10 hours, travelling across two magnificent aqueducts and passing through 10 locks.  There’s a choice of canalside pubs, to stop-off at along the way, including the Barge Inn at Seend and the Cross Guns at Avoncliff.  Once in Bath, you can moor up at Sydney Gardens, a short walk away from the centre of Bath.

5. Glide across the UNESCO World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

On a short break from Trevor in North Wales, you can reach the historic Shropshire town of Ellesmere, in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District.  The route takes you along the Llangollen Canal and across the UNESCO World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, 38 metres high above the Dee Valley.  In Ellesmere, you can moor up and spend time exploring the Mere with its Victorian gardens, woodland paths and historic castle.  The journey to Ellesmere and back takes around 14 hours and passes through four locks (two each way).

6. Navigate to Market Drayton, home of the gingerbread man

On a week’s break from Gailey you can travel along the Staffordshire & Worcestershire and Shropshire Union canals to the historic market town of Market Drayton and back.  The route passes through the historic village of Brewood with its choice of pubs, past Belvide Reservoir and through a series of deep wooded cuttings.  At Market Drayton there’s a Wednesday market and a great choice of places to eat and drink, many offering the town’s famous gingerbread.  The journey to Market Drayton and back cruises 68 miles, passes through 14 locks and takes around 30 hours.

Best canal boat holiday destinations for Christmas and New Year

Spend Christmas or New Year on a narrowboat

With quiet canals, frosty towpaths, historic waterside pubs and festive waterside destinations to enjoy, a holiday on Britain’s peaceful canal network is a great way to get away this Christmas.

Drifters offers winter cruising* from a number of locations, with boats offering accommodation for between two to seven people.

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

Prices over Christmas and New Year start at start at £940 for a short break (three or four nights) on a boat for four, £1,300 for a week.

1. Cruise through the Welsh mountains to the Eisteddfod town of Llangollen

From our canal boat rental base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, it takes around two hours to cruise to Llangollen.  There you can moor up in Llangollen Basin and enjoy visiting this beautiful town nestled in the Berwyn Mountains.  Things to see and do include: riding the Llangollen Steam Railway; and visiting the Horseshoe Falls.  There’s a great choice of independent shops and places to eat, including the popular Corn Mill with river and mountain views.

2. Boat through the Staffordshire countryside to Fradley Nature Reserve

Heading south from our narrowboat hire base at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal, you can reach Fradley Junction in around five hours.  The journey passes through five locks and 12 peaceful miles of Staffordshire countryside, including the Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  Places to visit along the way include: The Wolseley Centre run by the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust; and the village of Handsacre with its ‘The Old Peculiar’ pub.  At Fradley there are walking trails at the Fradley Pool Nature Reserve and hospitality at the historic Swan Inn.

3. Skate on the open-air ice rink at Warwick Castle

From our base at Stockton on the Grand Union Canal, you can cruise to Warwick and back to explore the medieval Warwick Castle.  Over Christmas, visitors the castle will find a 20-foot high Christmas tree in the Great Hall, ‘Stories with Santa’ in the Library, a Christmas market and an open-air ice rink.  Canalside pubs along the way include: the Blue Lias pub at the bottom of the Stockton Flight; and the Cuttle Inn at Long Itchington.

4. Travel through the Shropshire Lake District to Ellesmere

From our canal boat hire base at Whixall on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal, it takes around four hours to reach the historic town of Ellesmere in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District.  Along the way, the route passes Lyneal Moss and Colemere Country Park.  Once at Ellesmere, there’s a choice of independent shops and restaurants, as well as formal gardens, woods and castle grounds to explore.

5. Float to through the Warwickshire countryside to Stratford-upon-Avon

From our base on the Stratford Canal at Wootton Wawen, it’s a six-hour cruise to Stratford-upon-Avon.  The journey takes you through the Warwickshire countryside, with 17 locks to go through. Once in Stratford, you can moor up in Bancroft Basin, just a short walk from the town’s theatres, restaurants, markets and museums.

*NB some of our routes will be affected by winter maintenance work on the canal network.

Mailonline, 8 July 2023

‘Ready, steady… slow! Dan Sanderson enjoys a duck’s eye view of the English countryside on a narrow boat holiday in the West Midlands’

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-12060305/Enjoying-ducks-eye-view-England-Shropshire-Union-Canal-plus-amazing-canal-trips.html