Day boat hire on Britain’s peaceful network of inland waterways is a great way to enjoy a family day out this summer.
Drifters offers day boat hire from 15 canal boat yards across England and Wales, with prices starting from £10 per person. Full tuition is included so if you are new to narrow boating, it’s a great way to 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.
Here’s a guide to our Top 15 day boat destinations for the 2022 summer holidays:
1. Worcestershire: Cruise through the remains of the Forest of Arden
From our day boat hire base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal 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 moor at along the way, including the canalside Crown and Weighbridge pubs at Alvechurch. The route is lock-free but there are two tunnels to pass through, including Wast Hill Tunnel, which is nearly 2.5km long.
*Day boat ‘Emma’ can carry up to 10 people. Weekday hire is £99, weekends & bank holidays £150.
2. South Wales: Navigate to The Star Inn at Mamhillad in the Brecon Beacons
From our day boat hire base at Goytre Wharf on the beautiful Monmouth & Brecon Canal near Abergavenny, boaters can enjoy incredible mountain views on the two-and-a-half-hour journey 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. Prices start from £137.
3. Warwickshire: Travel to The Mary Arden Inn at Wilmcote
From our narrow boat hire base Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal near Stratford upon Avon, boaters can head south 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 beautiful 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.
4. North Wales: Travel across ‘The Stream in the Sky’
From our canal boat hire base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, it takes less than 20 minutes to reach the World Heritage status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. Standing at over 38 metres high above the Dee Valley, this incredible structure offers boaters stunning views of the Dee Valley below. After cruising over the Aqueduct, there are two tunnels and another aqueduct to cross, before reaching the 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.
5. Wiltshire: Boat to Avoncliff Aqueduct and the Cross Guns pub
From our narrow boat hire base at Hilperton Marina on the Kennet & Avon Canal near Trowbridge, you can head west past the picturesque town of Bradford on Avon and its striking 14th century Tithe Barn and on to Avoncliff Aqueduct for lunch at the Cross Guns. The return journey to Avoncliff takes around six hours and there’s just one lock to pass through each way.
*Day boat ‘Cheers’ can carry up to 10 people. Prices start at £119.
6. Staffordshire: Navigate through Cannock Chase to the Wolseley Arms
From our day boat hire base Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal near Stafford, you can cruise four miles, passing through two locks, to reach the historic market town of Rugeley. The journey, which takes around two hours, passes the through the Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the popular Wolseley Arms pub at Wolseley Bridge.
*Day boats ‘Daphne’ and ‘Abi’ can carry up to 10 people each. Weekday hire starts at £99, £150 on weekends and bank holidays.
7. Berkshire: Cruise through the countryside to the Spring Inn
From our day boat hire centre at Aldermaston on the Kennet & Avon Canal near Reading, you can cruise to Theale and back, stopping 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. Prices start from £129.
8. Cheshire: Boat along ‘The Shroppie’ to Nantwich Aqueduct
From our canal boat hire base at Bunbury Wharf on the Shropshire Union Canal near Tarporley, day boaters can cruise south for six miles, and travel across the impressive Grade II* listed Nantwich Aqueduct, enjoying with panoramic views across the town. With no locks along the way, the journey to Nantwich takes around two hours.
*Day boat ‘Bella’ can carry up to 10 people. Weekday hire is £99, weekends & bank holidays £150.
9. Cheshire: Cruise to through the woodlands of Marbury Country Park to Middlewich
From our day boat hire centre at Anderton Marina, next to the incredible Anderton Boat Lift, boaters can travel 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.
*Day boat ‘Daydream’ can carry up to 12 people. Prices start at £139.
10. Warwickshire/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 cruise to the historic village of Napton-on-the-Hill. The journey, which takes around three hours, takes boaters through the Northamptonshire countryside and into Warwickshire. Once at Napton, day boaters 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. Weekday prices are £150, £195 for weekends and bank holidays.
11. Northamptonshire: Navigate to Stoke Bruerne Canal Museum & Cafe
From our canal boat hire base at Gayton on the Grand Union Canal near Northampton, you can navigate to the pretty village of Stoke Bruerne, home of the Canal Museum and waterside cafe. The route takes boaters through the Blisworth Tunnel, which at 3076 yards long is the third longest on the canal network. It takes around one and half hours to cruise to Stoke Bruerne, including thirty minutes to cruise through the tunnel.
*Day boat ‘Day Lark’ can carry up to 12 people. Prices start at £129.
12. Shropshire: Cruise through the Shropshire Lake District to Ellesmere
From our narrow boat hire centre at Whixall Marina, on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal, day boaters travel to Ellesmere in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District. The journey takes around two-and-a-half hours, cruising through eight miles of beautiful countryside, and 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.
13. Worcestershire: Cruise past the Bittell Reservoirs to Hopwood
On a day boat from Alvechurch on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, you can cruise to the Hopwood House Inn and back. The return journey takes around four and a half hours and passes through the 2,726 yard long Wast Hill Tunnel and past the Bittell Reservoirs, a haven for wildlife. There are no locks on this route.
*Day boat ‘Away Day’ can carry up to 10 people. Prices start at £137.
14. Shropshire: Cruise through quiet countryside to Oswestry.
From Blackwater Meadow Marina on the Llangollen Canal, near Ellesmere, day boaters can cruise to Oswestry and back. The route passes through farmland, glacial scenery and beautiful green countryside. The journey there and back takes around five hours and there are no locks.
*Day boat ‘Lazy Days’ can carry up to 10 people. Prices start at £119.
15. Staffordshire: Cruise through the countryside for a pub lunch at Hopwas
From Kings Orchard, on the Coventry Canal near Lichfield, you can cruise through the Staffordshire countryside to Bonehill Bridge and back. The route takes you through the villages of 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 boat ‘Happy Days’ can take up to 10 people. Prices start at £139.
For more information about Drifters’ day boats go to https://www.drifters.co.uk/day-boats/