Tag Archive for: Coventry Canal

Enjoy a family day out boating on the canals

Best family days out boating on the canals

Drifters offers day boat hire from 20 places in England and Wales, offering the chance to enjoy a family day out boating on the canals.

Prices start at just £10 per person. Boats range in size and can accommodate between eight and 12 people. Full tuition is included so if you are new to narrow boating, you can get the hang of steering, mooring up and working the locks.

All Drifters’ day boats are equipped with cutlery, crockery and a kettle, and most also have a toilet, cooker and fridge.  So you can plan a picnic afloat or stop off for lunch at a canalside pub along the way.

Here’s a guide to our best family days out boating on the canals:

1. Staffordshire: Navigate through the countryside to Hopwas

From Kings Orchard Marina, on the Coventry Canal near Lichfield, you can enjoy a family day out boating on the canals.  You can cruise through the Staffordshire countryside to Bonehill Bridge and back.  The route takes you through the villages Huddlesford, Whittington and Hopwas.  At Hopwas there are two pubs to choose from – the Tame Otter and the Red Lion.  The journey to Bonehill and back takes five and a half hours and there are no locks.  *Day boats ‘Happy Days’ and electric boat ‘Perfect Day’ can take up to 10 people. 

2. Worcestershire: Glide through the remains of the Forest of Arden

From Alvechurch on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, you can enjoy a family day out boating on the canals.  You can cruise north through the remains of the Forest of Arden to Kings Norton Junction and back.  There’s a choice of pubs to moor at along the way, including the Hopwood House at Hopwood.  The route is lock-free but there are two tunnels to pass through, including the 2.5km long Wast Hill Tunnel.  *Day boat ‘Away Day’ can carry up to 10 people.  

3. Monmouthshire: Navigate to The Star Inn at Mamhillad in the Brecon Beacons

From Goytre Wharf near Abergavenny, you can enjoy a family day out boating on the canals with incredible mountain views.  It takes around two-and-a-half-hours to cruise to cruise along the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal to moorings close to the popular Star pub at Mamhillad, a short walk from bridge 62.  *Day boats ‘Robin’ and Rooster’ can carry up to eight people each.  

4. Warwickshire: Cruise along the Stratford Canal to The Mary Arden Inn at Wilmcote

From Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal near Stratford-Upon-Avon, you can head south to moorings close to the pretty village of Wilmcote to enjoy lunch at The Mary Arden Inn.  The journey takes two-and-a-half hours each way, and crosses over the impressive Edstone Aqueduct with views across the Warwickshire countryside. *Day boats ‘Dolly’ and ‘Charlie’ can carry up to 10 people each. 

5. Wrexham: Travel across ‘The Stream in the Sky’

From Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, it takes less than 20 minutes to reach the UNESCO World Heritage status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.  Standing at over 38 metres high above the Dee Valley, this incredible structure offers stunning views of the Dee Valley below.  After cruising over the Aqueduct, there are two tunnels and another aqueduct to cross, before reaching the Bridge Inn at Chirk.  *Day boats ‘Jacob’, ‘Daniel’ and ‘Lotty’ can carry up to 10 people each.  

6. Staffordshire: Navigate through Cannock Chase to the Wolseley Arms

You can enjoy a family day out boating on the canals from our day boat hire base Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal near Stafford.  From there, you can cruise four miles, passing through two locks, to the historic market town of Rugeley.  The journey, which takes around two hours, passes the through the Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  It also passes the popular Wolseley Arms pub at Wolseley Bridge.  *Day boats ‘Daphne’ and ‘Abi’ can carry up to 10 people each.  

7. Wiltshire: Boat to Avoncliff Aqueduct and the Cross Guns pub

From Hilperton Marina on the Kennet & Avon Canal near Trowbridge, you can head west to the picturesque town of Bradford on Avon, home of the canalside Barge Inn. And on to Avoncliff Aqueduct for lunch at the Cross Guns.  The journey to Avoncliff and back takes around six hours and there’s just one lock to pass through each way. *Electric day boat ‘Great Day’ can carry up to 10 people.  

8. Cheshire: Cruise along the Shropshire Union Canal to Bunbury

From our day boat hire base on the Shropshire Union Canal at Nantwich, you can cruise through the Cheshire countryside to Bunbury and back.  The journey passes Hurleston Junction and Hurleston Reservoir, and later, the Barbridge Inn at Barbridge Junction. You can stop there for lunch, or continue on to Bunbury, home to the Dysart Arms and Nags Head pubs.  The journey to Bunbury and back takes six hours and there are no locks. *Day boat ‘Jus-Today’ can carry up to 8 people.  

9. Northamptonshire: Cruise to the picturesque village of Napton-on-the-Hill

From our day boat hire centre at Braunston on the Grand Union Canal, you can enjoy a family day out boating on the canals. You cruise to the historic village of Napton-on-the-Hill and back.  The journey, which takes around three hours, takes you through the Northamptonshire countryside and into Warwickshire.  Once at Napton, day you can moor up and walk into the village where there’s a choice of pubs, including the Kings Head.  *Day boat ‘Ouzel II’ can carry up to 12 people.  

10. Shropshire: Cruise through the Shropshire Lake District to Ellesmere

From Whixall Marina, on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal, you can reach the historic market town of Ellesmere.  The journey takes around two-and-a-half hours, cruising through eight miles of beautiful countryside.  You’ll pass Lyneal Moss and Colemere Country Park along the way.  *Day boat ‘Julia’ can carry up to 10 people.  

For more information about Drifters’ day boats go to https://www.drifters.co.uk/day-boats/

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

 

Day boat hire on the canals in Spring 2024

Best days out boating on the canals this spring

Drifters offers day boat hire from 20 locations in England and Wales.  With prices starting from just £10 per person, it’s a great way to get the family together for a memorable day out cruising through the countryside this spring.

Boats range in size and can accommodate between eight and 12 people. Full tuition is included so if you are new to narrow boating, you can get the hang of steering, mooring up and working the locks.

All our day boats are equipped with cutlery, crockery and a kettle, and most also have a toilet, cooker and fridge.  So you can plan a picnic afloat or stop off for lunch at a canalside pub along the way.

To help you plan your family day out afloat this spring, we’ve listed our top 10 destinations for day boat hire:

1. Staffordshire: Navigate through the countryside for a pub lunch at Hopwas

From Kings Orchard Marina, on the Coventry Canal near Lichfield, you can cruise through the Staffordshire countryside to Bonehill Bridge and back.  The route takes boaters through the villages Huddlesford, Whittington and Hopwas.  At Hopwas there are two pubs to choose from – the Tame Otter and the Red Lion.  The journey to Bonehill and back takes five and a half hours and there are no locks.

*Electric day boat ‘Perfect Day’ can take up to 10 people.  2024 prices start at £99.

2. Derbyshire: Cruise to Whaley Bridge in the Peak District

On a day out from New Mills Marina on the Peak Forest Canal in Derbyshire, you can cruise to Whaley Bridge in the Peak District.  You’ll experience spectacular views across the Goyt Valley and Kinder Scout, the highest plateau in England.  You’ll pass close by to the Crossings pub along the way and there’s a choice of places to eat in Whaley Bridge.

*Electric boat ‘Field Day’ can carry up to 10 people.  2024 prices start at £99 .

3. Monmouthshire: Navigate to The Star Inn at Mamhillad in the Brecon Beacons

From Goytre Wharf on the beautiful Monmouth & Brecon Canal near Abergavenny, you can enjoy incredible mountain views.  It takes around two-and-a-half-hours to cruise to moorings close to the popular Star pub at Mamhillad, a short walk from bridge 62.

*Day boats ‘Robin’ and Rooster’ can carry up to eight people each.  2024 prices start from £109.

4. Warwickshire: Cruise along the Stratford Canal to The Mary Arden Inn at Wilmcote

From Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal near Stratford-Upon-Avon, you can head south to moorings close to the historic village of Wilmcot. There you enjoy lunch at The Mary Arden Inn and visit Mary Arden’s Farm, the childhood home of Shakespeare’s mother.  The journey takes two-and-a-half hours each way, and crosses over the impressive Edstone Aqueduct with views across the Warwickshire countryside. *Day boats ‘Dolly’ and ‘Charlie’ can carry up to 10 people each. Prices start at £99 weekdays, £150 on weekends and bank holidays.

5. Wrexham: Travel across ‘The Stream in the Sky’

From Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, it takes just 10 minutes to reach the UNESCO World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.  Standing at over 38 metres high above the Dee Valley, this incredible structure offers stunning views of the Dee Valley below.  After cruising over the Aqueduct, there are two tunnels and another aqueduct to cross, before reaching the Bridge Inn at Chirk.

*Day boats ‘Jacob’, ‘Daniel’ and ‘Lotty’ can carry up to 10 people each.  Weekday hire starts at £120, £180 on weekends and bank holidays.

6. Wiltshire: Boat to Avoncliff Aqueduct and the Cross Guns pub

From Hilperton Marina on the Kennet & Avon Canal near Trowbridge, you can head west to the historic town of Bradford on Avon. You can travel on through the Avon Valley on to Avoncliff Aqueduct for lunch at the Cross Guns.  The journey to Avoncliff and back takes around six hours and there’s just one lock to pass through each way.

*Electric day boat ‘Great Day’ can carry up to 10 people.  2024 prices start at £119.

7. Berkshire: Cruise through the countryside to the Spring Inn

From Aldermaston on the Kennet & Avon Canal near Reading, you can cruise to Theale and back.  Along the way, you can stop-off to enjoy lunch at the Spring Inn, a 10-minute walk from the canal.  The total journey takes just over four hours and passes through two locks each way.

*Day boat ‘Heyday’ can carry up to 8 people.  2024 prices start from £109.

8. Cheshire: Boat through the woodlands of Marbury Country Park to Middlewich

From Anderton Marina, next to the incredible Anderton Boat Lift, you can cruise to Middlewich and back.  The journey passes through Marbury Country Park and Marston Flash.  There’s a choice of pubs to stop at, including the Broken Cross at Rudheath.  The journey to Middlewich and back takes around six hours.  There are no locks on this route.

*Day boat ‘Daydream’ can carry up to 12 people.  2024 prices start at £115.

9. Northamptonshire: Navigate through Blisworth Tunnel to Stoke Bruerne Canal Museum

From Gayton on the Grand Union Canal near Northampton, you can navigate to the pretty canal village of Stoke Bruerne.  The village is home to the intriguing Canal Museum and waterside café, and a choice of canalside pubs.  The route travels through the Blisworth Tunnel, which at 3,076 yards long is the third longest on the canal network.  It takes around one and half hours to reach Stoke Bruerne, including 30 minutes to cruise through the tunnel.

*Day boat ‘Day Lark’ can carry up to 12 people.  2024 prices start at £109.

10. Shropshire: Cruise through the Shropshire Lake District to Ellesmere

From Whixall Marina, on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal, you can reach the historic market town of Ellesmere.  The journey takes around two-and-a-half hours, cruising through eight miles of beautiful countryside.  You’ll pass Lyneal Moss and Colemere Country Park along the way.

*Day boat ‘Julia’ can carry up to 10 people.  Weekday hire is £99, weekends & bank holidays £150.

For more information about Drifters’ day boat hire go to https://www.drifters.co.uk/day-boats/

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.

New electric day boat arrives at Springwood Haven

From 3 September, our new electric day boat ‘Sunny Day’ will be available to hire at Springwood Haven Marina on the Coventry Canal in Nuneaton in Warwickshire.

Operated by Drifters member ABC Boat Hire, the 36ft ‘Sunny Day’ narrowboat accommodates up to ten people.

The boat uses products from ABC Leisure Group’s Onboard Energy Direct off-grid energy range, including lithium batteries and a Beta Marine 10Kw motor engine.

Day boat destinations

On a day afloat from Springwood Haven, boaters can cruise through the Warwickshire countryside to Marston Junction and back, stopping off at the Horseshoes pub along the way.

Or head the other way along the Coventry Canal to Atherstone, passing the canalside Anchor pub.

‘Sunny Day’ joins ‘Perfect Day’ based at Kings Orchard Marina, as the second of nine new electric day boats to be added to ABC Boat Hire’s fleet in England and Wales.

To book ‘Sunny Day’, go to https://www.abcdayboathire.com/

Drifters day boat hire locations

Our members offer day boat hire at 19 locations across England and Wales

For a map showing all Drifters day boat hire bases, go to https://www.drifters.co.uk/day-boats/

Take to the water this August Bank Holiday

There are over 3,000 miles of beautiful inland waterways to explore by canal boat in Britain, and hundreds of waterside destinations to choose from.

We still have plenty of narrowboats available to hire in August, many at a discounted rate.

To celebrate the forthcoming August bank holiday, we’ve here’s our guide to our Top 8 weekend breaks afloat:

1. Cruise the Kennet & Avon to Georgian Bath

On a short break from our canal boat hire base at Devizes, you can cruise the Kennet & Avon Canal to the World Heritage City of Bath.  The route passes a series of canalside pubs and the historic market town of Bradford on Avon.  You’ll also cross over the beautiful Bath stone Avoncliff and Dundas aqueducts.  There are over-night moorings at Sydney Wharf, a 15-minute walk from Bath City centre. The journey to Bath and back travels 39 miles, passes through 20 locks (10 each way) and takes around 19 cruising hours.

2. Take the Coventry and Trent & Mersey canals to Tixall Wide

On a weekend break from Kings Orchard on the Coventry Canal, you can cruise to the beautiful waters of Tixall Wide and back.  Along the way you’ll pass through the Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).  The journey to Tixall takes you through 16 miles of peaceful Staffordshire countryside and five locks.  And takes around cruising eight hours.

3. Float along the Llangollen Canal to Llangollen

From our base at Chirk on the Llangollen Canal, you can float through the Dee Valley AONB to the Eisteddfod town of Llangollen in North Wales.  Along the way you’ll pass over the UNESCO World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Chirk Aqueduct.  The journey to Llangollen takes around four hours, travelling seven miles, with no locks.

4. Experience a Thames boating holiday to Oxford

From our Oxford base on the River Thames at Eynsham, it takes just over three hours to reach Oxford City centre.  The route takes you through four locks and the village of Wolvercote, home of the popular riverside Trout Inn.  Once in Oxford, you can moor up to explore the city sites, including the Oxford Colleges and Natural History Museum.  

5. Cruise the Grand Union and Oxford canals to Hillmorton

From our base on the Grand Union Canal at Stockton, it takes around seven hours to reach the historic canal village of Hillmorton.  The route takes you through a series of villages with historic pubs.  These include the Kings Head at Napton and the Admiral Nelson at Braunston.  There are six locks to pass through, including the three at Hillmorton where volunteer lock keepers help you through.  There’s a choice of pubs at Hillmorton, including the Stag & Pheasant.

6. Navigate the Shropshire Union to historic Chester

From our base on the Shropshire Union Canal at Bunbury, it’s a seven-hour, nine-lock journey to the ancient city of Chester.  The route passes through miles of beautiful Cheshire countryside and a series of villages with country pubs, including The Ring O’Bells at Christleton and The Shady Oak at Bates Mill Bridge.  In Chester, you can take time to explore the city’s attractions, including its Roman city walls and Chester Rows shops.

7. Drift along the Calder & Hebble to Hebden Bridge

On a weekend break from Sowerby Bridge, you can travel along the leafy Calder & Hebble Navigation to the old mill town of Hebden Bridge.  Climbing through the Calder Valley, the route to Hebden Bridge covers seven miles.  There are 10 locks to pass through and the journey takes around five-and-a-half hours.  Once at Hebden, you can moor up to enjoy a good choice of places to eat, and walks up to Heptonstall or Hardcastle Crags.

8. Glide along the Forth & Clyde to Glasgow

From our base at Falkirk, it’s a peaceful nine-hour cruise along the Forth & Clyde Canal to the City of Glasgow.  The route, which travels 22 miles and passes through five locks, begins at the site of the Falkirk Wheel boat lift.  You’ll pass through Auchinstarry, the River Kelvin Valley with magnificent views of the Campsie Fells above.  And the historic town of Kirkintillock.  Once at Glasgow, there are moorings at Applecross Street Basin, close to Glasgow’s cultural sites.  These include the Hunterian Museum. 

Day boat hire on the canals in Spring 2024

Top 8 summer days out boating on the canals

Drifters hires out day boats from 18 narrowboat hire bases in England and Wales, offering the chance to enjoy a family day afloat on the canals this Summer.

Full tuition is included, so if you are new to canal boating, you can get the hang of steering, mooring up and working the locks.

All our day boats are equipped with cutlery, crockery and a kettle, and most also have a toilet, cooker and fridge.

So you can plan a picnic afloat or stop-off for lunch at a canalside pub along the way.

Boats range in size and can accommodate between eight and 12 people.

Day boat prices start at £99 on weekdays, and £150 on weekends and bank holidays.

To help you plan your family day out afloat, we’ve listed our top 8 destinations for day boat hire this Summer:

1. Navigate through the Staffordshire countryside to Hopwas

From Kings Orchard Marina, on the Coventry Canal near Lichfield, you can cruise through the Staffordshire countryside to Bonehill Bridge and back.  The route takes boaters through the villages Huddlesford, Whittington and Hopwas.  At Hopwas there are two pubs to choose from – the Tame Otter and the Red Lion.  The journey to Bonehill and back takes five and a half hours and there are no locks.  *Electric day boat ‘Perfect Day’ and day boat ‘Happy Days’ can take up to 10 people.

2. Glide along the leafy Worcester & Birmingham Canal

On a day out from Tardebigge near Bromsgrove, you can cruise north through the remains of the Forest of Arden to Kings Norton Junction.  There’s a choice of pubs to visit along the way, including the canalside Crown and Weighbridge pubs at Alvechurch.  The route is lock-free but there are three tunnels to pass through, including Wast Hill Tunnel, which is nearly 2.5km long.  *Day boat ‘Emma’ at Tardebigge can carry up to 10 people. 

3. Navigate to The Star Inn at Mamhillad in the Brecon Beacons

Heading out for a day afloat from Goytre Wharf, day boaters can travel along the beautiful Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal, enjoying incredible mountain views.  It takes around two-and-a-half-hours to cruise to moorings close to the popular Star pub at Mamhillad, a short walk from bridge 62.  *Day boats ‘Robin’ and Rooster’ at Goytre can carry up to eight people each. 

4. Cruise along the Grand Union Canal to Napton-on-the-Hill

From our day boat hire centre at Braunston in heart of the canal network, you can cruise to the historic village of Napton-on-the-Hill.  The journey, which takes around three hours, takes you through the Northamptonshire countryside and into Warwickshire.  Once at Napton, you can moor up and walk into the village where there’s a choice of pubs, including the popular Kings Head.  *Day boat ‘Ouzel II’ at Braunston can carry up to 12 people. 

5. Boat along the Shropshire Union Canal to Nantwich

From our canal boat hire base at Bunbury Wharf on the Shropshire Union Canal near Tarporley, you can cruise south for six miles to Nantwich.  There you can travel across the impressive Grade II* listed Nantwich Aqueduct, enjoying panoramic views across the town.  You’ll pass the Barbridge Inn along the way, and there’s a choice of places to eat and drink in Nantwich.  The journey to Nantwich takes around two-and-a-hafl hours. *Day boat ‘Bella’ at Bunbury can carry up to 10 people. 

6. Cruise through Shakespeare country to Wilmcote

From Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal, you can cruise to the pretty village of Wilmcote, home of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s Mary Arden Farm.  The journey takes two-and-a-half hours, and crosses over the Edstone Aqueduct with amazing views across the Warwickshire countryside.  From moorings at the top of the Wilmcote lock flight, it’s a short walk into Wilmcote and the Mary Arden Inn.  *Day boats ‘Dolly’ and ‘Charlie’ at Wootton Wawen can carry up to 10 people each.

7. Float across ‘The Stream in the Sky’ in North Wales

From Trevor on the Llangollen Canal, day boaters can cruise across the UNESCO World Heritage status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.  Standing at over 38 metres high above the Dee Valley, this incredible structure offers stunning views of the Dee Valley below.  After cruising over the Aqueduct, there are two tunnels and another aqueduct to cross, before reaching the Bridge Inn at Chirk. It takes around two-and-a-hours to reach Chirk. *Day boats ‘Jacob’, ‘Daniel’ and ‘Lotty’ at Trevor can carry up to 10 people each. 

8. Boat along the Kennet & Avon Canal to Avoncliff Aqueduct

From Hilperton Marina, near Trowbridge in Wiltshire, you can head west to the picturesque town of Bradford on Avon.  You pass through one lock and then on to the impressive Bath stone Avoncliff Aqueduct for lunch at the Cross Guns.  The journey to Avoncliff takes around three hours. *Day boat ‘Cheers’ at Hilperton can carry up to 10 people. 

For more information about Drifters day boat hire, go to https://www.drifters.co.uk/day-boats/

Top 8 canal boat holidays for wellbeing this summer

It’s well known that spending time in green space connecting with nature is good for our mental health and wellbeing. Recent research by the Canal & River Trust confirms the combination of green and blue space with wildlife experienced by visitors to the inland waterways gives an extra wellbeing boost*.

Britain’s 3,000-mile network of inland waterways flow through some of our most beautiful and unspoilt countryside, including National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs).

Here’s a guide to Drifters’ Top 8 wellbeing destinations for narrowboat holidays in Summer 2023:

1. Navigate the Peak Forest Canal to Whaley Bridge

On a week’s holiday from our narrowboat hire base at Stoke on Trent, you can travel along the Trent & Mersey and Macclesfield canals to connect to the Peak Forest Canal and Whaley Bridge.  The Peak Forest Canal is said to be one of Britain’s most scenic waterways, running through beautiful countryside on the edge of the Peak District National Park.  The journey to Whaley Bridge travels 39 miles, passes through the Harecastle Tunnel and 13 locks, and takes around 20 cruising hours.

2. Explore the Staffordshire countryside & Cannock Chase

On a short break from Kings Orchard on the Coventry Canal in Staffordshire, you can cruise to the beautiful waters at Tixall Wide and back, passing through the Cannock Chase AONB along the way.  The journey there and back travels 32 miles, passes through 10 locks (five each way) and takes around 16 hours.

3. Drift through the prehistoric Vale of Pewsey to Hungerford

On a week away from our base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Devizes, you can cruise to the historic town of Hungerford, passing through the Vale of Pewsey, in the North Wessex Downs AONB.  The journey there and back takes around 40 hours, travelling 54 miles through 106 locks.

4. Glide around the Breacon Beacons

The beautiful Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal runs through the Brecon Beacons National Park.  Stretching 35 miles from Brecon to Cwmbran, this peaceful waterway offers canal boat holiday-makers incredible mountain views.  On a week’s break from our base at Goytre Wharf, near Abergavenny, you can cruise to Brecon and back.  The journey takes you through Georgian Crickhowell, with its fascinating 13th century castle. And Talybont-on-Usk, with wonderful walks to the waterfalls at Blaen y Glyn.  Brecon is home to a cathedral, theatre, cinema, castle ruins and stunning Georgian architecture. And you can enjoy some of the best views of the Brecon Beacons from Pen y Fan, the highest point in Southern Britain at 886 metres.

5. Cruise to the Aylesbury Vale

On a week’s break from Gayton Marina you can travel south to the Aylesbury Arm and into the Vale of Aylesbury, part of the Chilterns AONB.  The journey to Aylesbury passes through a series of canalside towns and villages, including Stoke Bruerne with its Canal Museum. And Marsworth next to Tring Reservoirs, a nature reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).  The route travels 44 miles, passes through 41 locks and takes around 22 hours.

6. Float through the Dee Valley in North Wales

On a short break from Chirk on the Llangollen Canal, you can float through the Dee Valley AONB to the pretty Eisteddfod town of Llangollen. You’ll pass over the UNESCO World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct along the way.  And you’ll cruise across the Chirk Aqueduct and through Whitehouses Tunnel. The journey to Llangollen and back takes around eight hours, travelling 14 miles, with no locks.

7. Take a Thames boating holiday to the edge of the Cotswolds

On a four-night mid-week break from Oxford, you can travel west along the River Thames to the pretty market town of Lechlade, in an AONG on the edge of the Cotswolds.  The route passes through 22 miles of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire countryside. You’ll pass close-by to Kelmscott Manor, once the Cotswold retreat of William Morris.  It takes around 17 hours to cruise there and back, passing through seven locks each way.

8. Travel through the Yorkshire Dales to Skipton

On a short break from Barnoldswick, you can head north-east along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal to historic Skipton. The journey travels 13 miles through the Yorkshire Dales, passing through 15 locks in around 10 hours.  This breath-taking route winds along the contours of the side of Airedale, with extensive views of the Yorkshire Dales.  You see sheep, farmhouses, barns, stone walls and the occasional village or town.  Once in Skipton, you can moor up 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.

*The Canal & River Trust’s research was carried out by King’s College London, Nomad Projects and J&L Gibbons using Urban Mind, a smartphone based app to collect thousands of real time audits about participants’ location and mental wellbeing. Proof that time by water helps boost your mood | Canal & River Trust (canalrivertrust.org.uk)

 

Electric day boat hire on the Kennet & Avon Canal in Wiltshire

Our first electric day boat launches on the Coventry Canal

On Monday 3 April 2023, Drifters member ABC Boat Hire is launching its first electric day boat.

Operating from Kings Orchard Marina, on the Coventry Canal near Lichfield in Staffordshire, the 36ft ‘Perfect Day’ narrowboat is the first of nine new electric day boats to be added to the fleet over the next 18 months.

Haley Hadley, Marketing & Sales Director for ABC Leisure, says:

“We are delighted to launch our first electric narrowboat using products from our Onboard Energy Direct off-grid energy range, including lithium batteries and a Beta Marine 10Kw motor engine.

“The waterways are havens for wildlife and many of our customers are interested in taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint and environmental impact. We look forward to hearing about people’s all electric boating experiences aboard ‘Perfect Day’.”

From Kings Orchard you can cruise through the Staffordshire countryside to Fradley Junction or Bonehill and back.

No previous canal boating experience is required and tuition is included in our day hire prices.

‘Perfect Day’ can accommodate up to 10 passengers.

Facilities aboard include indoor and outdoor seating, a toilet, kitchen with induction hob, microwave, sink and fridge.

Day boat hire aboard ‘Perfect Day’ starts at £99 on a weekday, £189 on a weekend or bank holiday.

To book ‘Perfect Day’, go via Drifters day boat hire https://www.drifters.co.uk/day-boats/

Celebrate the King’s Coronation with some bank holiday boating

The King’s Coronation bank holiday weekend (6-8 May) offers the perfect excuse to plan a boating break on Britain’s beautiful inland waterways.

Our 250-year old network of navigable canals and rivers is steeped in history, with locks, bridges, tunnels, marinas, junctions and pubs named after various Kings across the centuries.

To celebrate the forthcoming Coronation of King Charles III, we’ve listed our Top 6 bank holiday boating breaks with a Royal connection:

1. Cruise from King’s Orchard Marina to Great Haywood

On a weekend’s break from our’ base at Kings Orchard in Staffordshire, canal boat holiday-makers can cruise to the pretty canal village of Great Haywood and back. The journey begins on the Coventry Canal, transferring onto the Trent & Mersey Canal at Fradley Junction, close to Fradley Pool Nature Reserve.  From there, you’ll travel on through the Staffordshire countryside through the village of Rugeley. Then past Cannock Chase Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty and the National Trust’s impressive Shugborough Estate, before reaching Great Haywood.  The journey to Great Haywood travels 15 miles, passes through four locks and takes around seven cruising hours.

2. Navigate to the King’s Lock Inn at Middlewich

On a weekend break from our base at Anderton Marina, you can navigate to the King’s Lock Inn at Middlewich.  The journey travels nine miles along the Trent & Mersey Canal, passes through four locks and takes around five hours.  Next to Middlewich Junction, the Kings Lock pub serves craft ales, offers fresh food and hosts regular live music events.

3. Pass through King’s Norton Junction & Tunnel to Lapworth

On a weekend’s break from Tardebigge on the Worcestershire & Birmingham Canal, you can reach King’s Norton Junction and Tunnel.  The journey takes around four hours and travels nine miles, through a series of tunnels and the remains of the Forest of Arden.  At King’s Norton Junction you’ll transfer onto the North Stratford Canal and then pass through Brandwood Tunnel, also known as King’s Norton Tunnel. There are moorings further along the Stratford Canal, perfect for exploring the village of Lapworth and local attractions.

4. Navigate to Bosworth Field where King Richard III lost his crown

On a week’s holiday from Braunston, you can cruise to moorings at Sutton Cheney, close to the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre.  Here, the Battle of Bosworth Field, where King Richard III lost his crown to Henry Tudor in 1485, is explained with exhibitions and guided walks.  The journey to Sutton Cheney travels 37 miles, passes through four locks and takes around 16 cruising hours.

5. Travel to King John’s Bridge on the River Avon

On a week’s holiday from Wootton Wawen you can reach King John’s Bridge on the River Avon near Tewkesbury. The journey, which travels 49 miles, passing through 34 locks, takes you along the Stratford Canal to Shakespeare’s Stratford. At Stratford-upon-Avon, you’ll transfer onto the River Avon and cruise on to King John’s Bridge via the historic market town of Evesham.

6. Cruise to the King’s Head pub at Napton

From our canal boat hire base at Stockton, it takes just one-and-a-half hours to cruise to Napton Junction. From there it’s a short walk from the popular King’s Head pub. This country pub in the picturesque village of Napton-on-the-Hill, serves food all cooked fresh and from scratch, using locally sourced ingredients.  On a weekend’s break from Stockton, you can continue on to the pretty canalside village of Hillmorton. The journey from Stockton travels 15 miles, passes through six locks and takes just over six hours.