Tag Archive for: Kennet & Avon 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/

Visit a bluebell wood on a canal boat holiday

Bluebell woods to explore on a canal boat holiday

Canals meander through some of Britain’s best loved countryside, and there are places where you can explore bluebell woods on a canal boat holiday.

The UK is home to almost half the world’s bluebells, and they are one of the nation’s favourite wildflowers.  Native bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) are an ancient woodland indicator.

The Woodland Trust says, “most flowering usually happens in April, so this is the best time to see that iconic carpet of blue.”

To celebrate, we’ve listed our top 7 beautiful bluebell woods to explore on a canal boat holiday:

1. Copley Woods on the Calder & Hebble in West Yorkshire

The bluebells are stunning in the woods alongside the Calder & Hebble Navigation at Copley.  From our narrowboat hire base at Sowerby Bridge, it takes just under 30 minutes by boat to reach Copley.

2. Coed Cefn at Crickhowell on the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal

This ancient woodland managed by the Woodland Trust has an iron age hill fort at its centre.  There’s a circular walk perfect for enjoying fantastic displays of bluebells in April and May.  From our base at Goytre in South Wales, it takes around five hours to reach Llangattock Wharf.  From there it’s a two-mile walk to Coed Cefn.

3. Chirk Castle Woods, close to the Llangollen Canal in Wrexham

Owned by the National Trust, the grounds of Chirk Castle include 480 acres of woodland and parkland.  There are carpets of bluebells, veteran trees and a section of the historic Offa’s Dyke trail to discover.  Setting out from our Chirk base on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, it takes just 40 minutes to cruise to visitor moorings at Chirk Bank.  From there, it’s a 30-minute walk up to Chirk Castle to explore bluebell woods on a canal boat holiday.

4. Cliveden on the River Thames in Berkshire

Set high above the River Thames near Maidenhead, Cliveden has 375 acres of glorious gardens and woodlands to explore.  These include a magnificent carpet of bluebells alongside the beautiful tree-lined Green Drive.  From our canal boat hire base at Aldermaston, it’s a 14 hour journey to Cliveden Reach.

5. Packwood House near the Stratford Canal in Warwickshire

The National Trust’s magnificent Packwood House has 150 acres of parkland to explore, including an area of ancient woodland with bluebells.  From our base at Alvechurch, it takes around six hours to cruise to moorings on the Stratford Canal at Lapworth, close to Packwood House. From there you can walk to these bluebell woods to explore on a canal boat holiday.

6. Savernake Forest on the Kennet & Avon Canal in Wiltshire

There are over 4,500 acres of woodlands to explore at Savernake Forest, and it’s a bluebell paradise in Spring. The Kennet & Avon Canal runs alongside the Savernake Forest, with bluebell woods to explore on a canal boat holiday. From our Devizes base, it takes around 10 hours to reach the village of Wootton Rivers, a great starting point for a variety of walks around the Forest.

7. Skipton Castle Woods on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire

Skipton Castle Woods is a rare ancient woodland habitat cared for by the Woodland Trust. These woods close to the Leeds & Liverpool Canal are reputed to be one of the best places to spot bluebells in Yorkshire.  From our base at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire, it takes just around four cruising hours to reach Skipton Castle.

Castles to visit on a narrowboat holiday in England and Wales

Castles to visit on a narrowboat holiday

There’s a great choice of castle to visit on a narrowboat holiday.

From prison cells and dungeon tours, to ramparts and banqueting halls, Britain’s beautiful castles bring history to life.

Here are our top five castles to visit on a narrow boat holiday:

1. Explore the 18th century prison cells at Oxford Castle & Prison

Cruising from our base at Oxford on the River Thames, it’s a tranquil three-hour cruise to moorings at Hythe Bridge, close to Oxford Castle.  The journey travels six miles and passes through three locks.  Oxford Castle was founded by the Norman baron Robert D’Oilly the elder in 1071, but most of the fortress was destroyed in the English Civil War. By the 18th century, the remaining buildings had become Oxford’s local prison.  Today, as well as exploring the castle’s tower, crypt and mound, visitors can take a guided tour of the prison and learn about the lives of the people who were held there.

2. See the Changing of the Guard at Windsor Castle

You can visit Windsor Castle on a narrowboat holiday departing from Aldermaston on the Kennet & Avon Canal in Berkshire. It takes two days to reach Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world.  The journey travels 39 miles and passes through 22 locks.  With 1,000 years of Royal history to discover, including Charles II’s magnificent State Apartments, Windsor Castle is packed with treasures from the Royal Collection.  The Changing of the Guard ceremony, which takes place on Thursdays and Saturdays at 11am, is a colour spectacle of British pageantry, with a continuing military purpose.

3. Climb the ramparts at Warwick Castle

From our Stockton on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, it’s a seven-hour journey, passing through 20 locks, to reach Warwick Castle on the banks of the River Avon. This is an amazing castle to visit on a narrowboat holiday! Dating back to William the Conqueror, Warwick Castle has ramparts to climb, the spooky Castle Dungeon tour to experience, the Great Hall and Staterooms to explore, and the sights, sounds and smells of the medieval period to witness in the Kingmaker exhibition.  There are also soaring birds of prey and trebuchet firing displays to watch, landscaped gardens wonder through and regular special live action performances.

4. Find out about the siege at Skipton Castle

Cruising from Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire, it takes around 3.5 hours to reach Skipton Castle.  This 900-year old fortress is one of the most complete and best preserved medieval castles in England. And it’s very close to the Leeds & Liverpool Canal so it’s a great castle to visit on a narrowboat holiday. Skipton Castle withstood a three-year siege during the English Civil War.  Today, visitors can climb from the depths of the Dungeon up to the top of the Watch Tower, and explore the magnificent Banqueting Hall, Kitchen, Bedchamber and Privy in between.

5. Discover murder holes at Chirk Castle

From Chirk on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, it takes just 40 minutes to cruise to Chirk Bank visitor moorings.  From there, it takes around 30 minutes to walk up to Chirk Castle.  Owned by the National Trust, Chirk Castle is one of several medieval marcher fortresses built on the Welsh-English border to keep the Welsh under English rule.  Started in 1295, Chirk Castle had the most up-to-date defences of the time. These include round ‘drum’ towers that allowed archers a wide firing field, and created a ‘killing zone’ where the fields of fire overlapped.  Today, visitors can explore the Castle’s lavishly furnished rooms and Adam Tower, complete with two-level dungeons, medieval toilets and murder holes.  There are also 480 acres of parkland with walking trails to enjoy, and a glorious gardens to stroll through.

Best bank holiday canal boat city breaks

Best bank holiday canal boat city breaks

Britain’s beautiful 3,000-mile network of inland waterways weaves through the countryside into some of our best-loved towns and cities.

To celebrate the forthcoming May bank holidays, we’ve published a guide to our most popular city breaks you can do on a short break:

Worcester

This beautiful Cathedral City on the River Severn is connected to the canal network at Diglis Junction.  Drifters offers canal boat holidays from Worcester Marina.  From there, you can complete the Droitwich Ring on a short break.  This 20-mile circuit takes you through Worcester along the River Severn, along the Droitwich Canals and a section of the Worcester & Birmingham Canal.  There are 33 locks and it takes around 16 hours.

Bath

From Bradford on Avon on the Kennet & Avon Canal on the edge of the Cotswold Hills in Wiltshire, you can cruise to the UNESCO World Heritage City of Bath and back.  The six hour journey to Sydney Wharf on edge of the city centre travels nine miles through the Avon Valley, passing through three locks along the way.  You can moor up at Sydney Wharf and take a 15 minute into Bath City Centre to visit attractions including the Roman Baths and Royal Crescent.  You can also visit Bath on a short break from our bases at Devizes, Hilperton, Monkton Combe and Bath.

Edinburgh

On a four-night break from Falkirk where the Scottish Lowland canals meet, you can cruise to Edinburgh Quay and back.  The route starts at the site of the Falkirk Wheel, the world’s first rotating boat lift.  The journey along the Union Canal goes through the Falkirk Tunnel, across the magnificent Avon Aqueduct and through the villages of Linlithgow and Ratho.  Once in Edinburgh, you can moor up in Edinburgh Quay and walk into the City Centre to visit attractions including Holyrood Palace and Mary King Close.

Oxford

From our base on the River Thames, you can reach Oxford in around three and a half hours, passing through four locks along the way. There are places to moor up near Hythe Bridge, a short walk into the city centre.  Places to visit include Oxford Castle, the Bodleian Library and Ashmolean Museum.

Cambridge

On a short break from our base on the River Ouse at Ely, you can cruise to the historic university city of Cambridge and back.  There are moorings just below Jesus Green Lock on the River Cam. From there, you can explore Cambridge, including King’s College Chapel and quaint streets filled with antique shops, museums, art galleries, restaurants and tearooms. The journey from Ely to Cambridge and Wicken Fen and back travels 38 miles, passes through six locks (three each way) and takes around 13 hours.

Click here to check availability and book, or call us on 0344 984 0322.

Visit Stratford-upon-Avon on a canal boat holiday

Popular canal boat holiday destinations for overseas visitors

We’re proud to welcome many overseas visitors to experience a canal boat holiday on Britain’s historic network of inland waterways.  Most of our overseas visitors come from America, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Germany and The Netherlands.

Our overseas visitors often want to visit some of Britain’s best-known historic towns and cities by canal boat.  We’ve published a guide to our most popular destinations with overseas visitors.

Shakespeare’s Stratford, England

From our canal boat rental base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal near Henley-in-Arden, you can cruise to Stratford-upon-Avon and back.  This historic town is home to Shakespeare’s Birthplace and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.  It takes around six hours to cruise through the Warwickshire countryside to Stratford-upon-Avon.  Along the way you’ll go through 17 locks.

Historic pubs to enjoy include Mary Arden Inn at Wilmcote and The One Elm in Stratford-upon-Avon.

  • Wootton Wawen is a 25 min (17 miles) drive or taxi ride from Birmingham Airport.
  • It’s a 1hour 40min (93 miles) drive from London Heathrow Airport.

Warwick Castle, England

Said to be Britain’s greatest medieval experience, on a short break from our canal boat rental place at Stockton, you reach the historic town of Warwick and its castle on the River Avon in around seven hours, passing through 20 locks.  Along the way, you’ll pass through the historic village of Long Itchington and Royal Leamington Spa.

Historic pubs to visit include The Duck on the Pond at Long Itchington, The Newbold Comyn Arms at Leamington Spa and The Roebuck Inn in Warwick.

  • Stockton is a 35 minute (24 mile) drive or taxi ride from Birmingham Airport.
  • It’s a 1hour 30min (83 miles) drive from London Heathrow Airport.

Bath, England

From Bradford on Avon on the Kennet & Avon Canal on the edge of the Cotswold Hills in Wiltshire, you can cruise to the UNESCO World Heritage City of Bath and back, with its breath-taking Georgian architecture.  The journey to Bath travels nine miles through the beautiful Avon Valley, passing through three locks along the way.  The Journey to Bath and back takes around 11 hours.  You can moor up close to Sydney Wharf and take short walk into Bath City centre to explore the Roman Baths, Victorian Pump Rooms, Jane Austen Museum, Bath Abbey and breath-taking Royal Crescent.

Historic pubs to visit include ‘The Cross Guns at Avoncliff, The George at Bathampton and The Saracens Head in Bath.

  • Bradford on Avon is a 2hour 26min train journey or 1hour 40min (97 miles) drive from London Heathrow Airport
  • It’s a 1hour 9min train ride or a 46 min (26 miles) drive/taxi ride from Bristol Airport

We also offer canal vacations on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Bath, Monkton Combe, Hilperton, Devizes and Aldermaston.

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, North Wales

Also known as The Stream in the Sky’, the incredible Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in North Wales is part of an 11-mile section of Llangollen Canal designated UNESCO World Heritage status in 2009.  On a short break from our canal boat rental base at Blackwater Meadow Marina, at Ellesmere in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District, you can cruise the whole World Heritage section.  Your journey will include passing through Chirk, with medieval Castle upon the hill.  You’ll cruise across the magnificent Chirk Aqueduct with the railway viaduct alongside.  You’ll go through Chirk Tunnel, then Whitehouses Tunnel before reaching the Poncysyllte Aqueduct.  This incredible structure carries the canal 38 metres high above the River Dee on 19 massive stone pillars.  After the aqueduct, you can continue on to the beautiful town of Llangollen, nestled in the Berwyn Mountains.  Here you can moor up in Llangollen Basin and visit some of the town’s historic sites, including the Horseshoe Falls, Plas Newydd House, Dinas Bran Castle ruins and the Llangollen Steam Railway.  The journey from Blackwater Meadow to Llangollen and back travels 37 miles, passes through four locks (two each way) and takes around 16 hours.

Historic pubs to visit include the Bridge Inn at Chirk and The Sun Inn at Llangollen.

  • Ellesmere is a 1hour 4min (53 miles) drive/taxi ride from Manchester Airport
  • Or a 2hour 53min train ride or 1hour (51 miles) drive/taxi ride from Liverpool Airport

Drifters also offers canal vacations on the Llangollen Canal at Trevor, Chirk, Whitchurch, Whixall and Wrenbury.

Edinburgh, Scotland

From our canal boat rental location at Falkirk where the Scottish Lowland canals meet, you can cruise to Edinburgh Quay and back on a four-night trip.  The route starts at the site of the Falkirk Wheel, the world’s first rotating boat lift officially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2002.  The journey to Edinburgh will take you along the Union Canal, through the Falkirk Tunnel, across the magnificent Avon Aqueduct and through the villages of Linlithgow with its Palace, birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots and the conservation village of Ratho.  Once in Edinburgh, you can moor up in Edinburgh Quay and walk into the City Centre to visit Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace and Mary King Close frozen in time beneath the Royal Mile.

Historic pubs to visit include The Four Marys in Linlithgow, The Bridge Inn at Linlithgow and Deacon Brodie’s Tavern in Edinburgh.

  • The Falkirk Wheel is a 1hour 34min train ride or a 30min (22 miles) drive/taxi ride from Edinburgh Airport

Oxford, England

The historic City of Oxford, also known as the City of Dreaming Spires, is famous for its University colleges, Bodleian Library, Carfax Tower, Ashmolean Museum, Natural History Museum and Oxford Castle.  From our canal boat rental place on the River Thames near Oxford, it takes around three-and-a-half hours to cruise through the Oxfordshire countryside to moorings on the edge of the city centre.  You’ll pass through four locks along the way.

Historic pubs to visit include The Trout Inn at Wolvercote and The Turf Tavern in Oxford.

  • Our Oxford canal boat rental base at Eynsham near Witney is a 56 min (52 mile) drive from London Heathrow Airport.
  • Or you can get a train from the Airport to Oxford (1hr 30min) and then it’s a 12 minute taxi ride to the boat yard.

Cambridge, England

From our canal boat rental location on the River Ouse at Ely, you can cruise to the world famous historic city of Cambridge and back.  On a short break, you can also reach the Wicken Fen wetland nature reserve.  In Cambridge, you can moor up just below Jesus Green Lock on the River Cam and explore Cambridge, including King’s College Chapel and quaint streets filled with antique shops, museums, art galleries, restaurants and tearooms. The journey from Ely to Cambridge and Wicken Fen and back travels 38 miles, passes through six locks (three each way) and takes around 13 hours.

Historic pubs to visit include The Eagle in Cambridge and The Prince Albert in Ely.

  • Ely is a 2hour 2min train journey from London Heathrow Airport or a 1 hour 37min (89 miles) drive
  • Or a 47 min train journey or 51 min (48 miles) drive/taxi ride from London Stansted Airport

To see our canal boat holiday guide for overseas visitors, answering frequently asked questions, go to https://www.drifters.co.uk/everything-americans-need-to-know-about-canal-boat-vacations-in-britain/

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/

Top 8 Easter canal boat holidays

Top 8 Easter canal boat holidays

Canal boat holidays are fantastic for families – offering the chance to set off on an adventure together, learning how to work the locks and speak the boating lingo, as well as spotting wildlife, exploring traffic-free towpaths and visiting waterside attractions along the way.

Drifters’ prices this Easter start at £710 for a short break (three or four nights) on a boat for four people, £1,010 for a week.

Here are our top eight destinations for Easter 2024:

1. Visit the World’s biggest Cadbury shop at Cadbury World

Perfect for beginners, you can travel lock-free to Birmingham in just five hours from Drifters’ base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, stopping off along the way to find handmade Easter eggs in the World’s biggest Cadbury shop at Cadbury World. With more canals than Venice, boaters can travel right into the heart of the City where over-night moorings are available at Gas Street Basin, close to Brindleyplace with plenty for families to see and do, including visiting the Planetarium at Birmingham’s Science Museum Thinktank.

2. Join the Easter Boat Gathering at the National Waterways Museum

Over the Easter Weekend (29 March to 1 April 2024), the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire celebrates the start of the summer boating season with a large boat gathering and music and activities for the whole family. From our base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire, it’s a 10-hour journey to Ellesmere Port, travelling 21 miles through 12 locks and passing through the historic City of Chester along the way, perfect for a week away.

3. Visit the Bath Comedy Festival

On a short break from Drifters’ base at Hilperton near Trowbridge in Wiltshire, you can travel along the beautiful Kennet & Avon Canal and reach Bath Top Lock in seven hours, with just one lock to pass through. From there, it’s a short walk to Georgian Bath’s City Centre attractions, including the Roman Baths and the Bath Comedy Festival, on from 1-21 April 2024.

4. See the ancient Rock Houses at Kinver Edge

From our narrowboat hire base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, it’s a 20-hour, 37-mile, 32-lock journey to Kinver on the Staffordshire & Worcester Canal. Kinver Edge offers visitors miles of wildlife-rich health land and woods to explore, and the National Trust’s ancient Rock Houses to visit. Kinver is on the route of the Stourport Ring, which can be navigated on a week’s holiday from Tardebigge, travelling a total of 76 miles via Birmingham, Kidderminster, Stourport and Worcester.

5. Float across ‘The Stream in the Sky’

From our base at Chirk on the beautiful Llangollen Canal in North Wales, the awesome World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and the pretty Eisteddfod town of Llangollen can be reached on a short break.  The incredible 1,000ft-long Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, also known as ‘The Stream in the Sky’ stands over 125ft high above the Dee Valley.  With not even a hand rail on the south side of the aqueduct to obscure the stunning views of the valley below, crossing the aqueduct by boat you literally feel like you’re floating above the earth. On a week’s holiday, you can also head east along the Llangollen Canal to Ellesmere and the historic town of Whitchurch.

6. Step back in time in Mary King Close in Edinburgh

From our boat yard at Falkirk, at the junction of the Union and Forth & Clyde canals, on a mid-week (four night) break you can travel through the Scottish Lowlands to Edinburgh and back. The journey starts with trip through the iconic Falkirk Wheel, the world’s first and only rotating boat lift, which lifts boats 100ft from the Forth & Clyde Canal to the Union Canal above. Once in Edinburgh, you can moor up in Edinburgh Quay to enjoy the City’s attractions, including a tour of Mary King Close frozen in time beneath the Royal Mile.

7. Witness the Trebuchet being fired at Warwick Castle

Said to be Britain’s greatest medieval experience, you can travel to Warwick and back on a short break from our Stockton base on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire. Once there, you can moor up to explore the Castle and enjoy some of the daily shows over the Easter holidays, including the Legend of the Trebuchet where this deadly instrument of medieval warfare is demonstrated, and the Falconer’s Quest bird of prey show.  The journey to Warwick and back travels 23 miles, passes through 44 locks (22 each way) and takes around 17 hours.

8. Star gaze in the Brecon Beacons

Isolated from the main canal network, the beautiful Monmouth & Brecon Canal runs through Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) National Park, now officially an International Dark Sky Reserve. Stretching 35 miles from Brecon to Cwmbran, this peaceful waterway, with very few locks, offers canal boat holiday-makers incredible mountain views, a series of historic village pubs to visit along the way and dark skies perfect for star-gazing on clear nights. On a short break from our base at Goytre Wharf, near Abergavenny, you can cruise lock-free to Llangynidr and back, passing the Lion Inn at Govilon and the Bridge End Inn at Llangattock. On a week’s break, you can travel on to Brecon, passing through Talybont-on-Usk with its popular Star Inn.

Best Spring canal boat holidays

Best spring canal boating breaks

Britain’s beautiful inland waterways are a great place to visit in the Spring time, when the countryside is bursting into new life, with blossom on the hedges and waterside trees, birds busy rearing their young, spring lambs playing in the fields and bluebells in waterside woodlands.

To celebrate the beauty of Spring-time on the canals, here’s a guide to our top 8 Spring narrowboat holidays for 2024:

1. Drift through the prehistoric Vale of Pewsey

From our boat hire base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Devizes, it takes around 20 hours, travelling 27 miles through 53 locks to reach the historic town of Hungerford, perfect for a week afloat.  Along the way, you’ll travel up the spectacular flight of 29 locks at Caen Hill and cruise through the beautiful Vale of Pewsey.  You’ll pass closeby to prehistoric Avebury and along the edge of the ancient Savernake Forest, home to thousands of ‘Ancient’, ‘Veteran’ and ‘Notable’ trees and carpets of bluebells in the Spring.  Once at Hungerford, there’s a choice of places to eat and drink and antique shops to browse in.

2. Explore the ancient woods at Skipton Castle

On a short break from Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire, you can travel to the historic town of Skipton, with its medieval fortress and ancient woods bursting with bluebells to explore.  Skipton’s 900-year old castle is one of the most complete and best preserved medieval castles in England and its extensive woodlands are home to at least 18 species of trees, and hundreds of flowering plants, including wild orchids and bluebells. The journey to Skipton and back takes around seven hours, travelling 13 miles with no locks.

3. Glide through the Brecon Beacons

Isolated from the main canal network, the beautiful Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal runs through the Brecon Beacons National Park and offers canal boat holiday-makers incredible mountain views, wooded sections full of the sound of woodland birds, and a series of historic village pubs to visit along the way.   On a short break from Goytre Wharf, near Abergavenny, you can cruise lock-free to Llangynidr and back, passing the Lion Inn at Govilon and the Bridge End Hotel at Llangattock.  On a week’s break, you can travel on to Brecon, passing through Talybont-on-Usk, with walks to the waterfalls at Blaen y Glyn and the popular Star Inn.

4. Boat to Brewood and back

From Gailey on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal, it takes around five hours to reach the historic village of Brewood, with its half-timbered cottages and Georgian houses, perfect for a relaxing short break. The 13-mile journey, which passes through just one lock, takes you through beautiful stretches of Shropshire countryside, and passes the waterside Anchor Inn at Cross Green.  On reaching Brewood, there’s a choice of pubs, restaurants and tea rooms to dine at, including the canalside Bridge Inn.

5. Float across ‘The Stream in the Sky’

From our base at Chirk on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, the pretty Eisteddford town of Llangollen on the edge of the Berwyn Mountains can be reached on a short break, with the awesome World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct to travel across along the way.  Standing at 38 metres high above the Dee Valley, this incredible 300-metre long structure consists of a cast iron trough supported by 18 enormous pillars and 19 arches.  On reaching Llangollen, you can moor up in Llangollen Basin and enjoy visiting the town’s independent shops, pubs and restaurants, as well as its Steam Railway and Horseshoe Falls. 

6. Visit the old mill town of Hebden Bridge

On a short break from our base at 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 covers seven miles, passes through 10 locks and takes around five-and-a-half hours. Once at Hebden, you can enjoy an amazing variety of shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs, as well as stunning countryside walks with woods, crags and the Calder running alongside.

7. Cruise through Shakespeare country

From Wootton Wawen, on the Stratford Canal near Henley-in-Arden, it takes around six hours, travelling through 17 locks to reach Stratford-upon-Avon, perfect for a short break.  Travelling through the pretty Warwickshire countryside, you can stop off along the way to visit Mary Arden’s Tudor Farm in the canalside village of Wilmcote where Shakespeare’s mother grew up.  Once in Shakespeare’s Stratford, you can moor up in Bancroft Basin, just a stone’s throw from the Swan Theatre and the town’s shops, restaurants and museums. 

8. Navigate the Cheshire Ring

Starting from Anderton, this epic cruising ring takes you on a 97-mile tour through some of the most beautiful Cheshire countryside.  The route passes through 92 locks and takes around 55 hours, taking you through the heart of Manchester and the Peak District via the Ashton, Macclesfield, Peak Forest, Rochdale, Trent & Mersey and Bridgewater canals.  Highlights include the spectacular vertical Anderton Boat Lift, also known as ‘The Cathedral of the Canals’, Dunham Massey Hall and its working Elizabethan Mill alongside the Bridgewater Canal, Manchester’s China Town, the Top Lock at Marple on the Peak Forest Canal with fantastic views of the Peak District, and the Cheshire Plain with its heavily locked ‘Heartbreak Hill’. The Cheshire Ring can be done on a week’s break from Anderton, but a 10-day or two-week breaks gives more time to visit destinations along the route.

Visit Bath on a canal boat holiday

Love Travelling visits Bath on a canal boat holiday

Little Miss Traveller from the Love Travelling blog recently took a Drifters press trip on the Kennet & Avon Canal, setting off from our Devizes canal boat hire base.

She travelled to Georgian Bath and back with her husband and son on a four night break.

Marion reviews the boat, the handover process (where someone from the boat yard explains how to drive and look after the boat) and the route.

They stopped off at many destinations, including:

  • The Barge Inn at Seend;
  • The historic town of Bradford on Avon;
  • Avoncliff Aqueduct;
  • The George Inn at Bathampton;
  • Bathampton village church;
  • Sydney Gardens and Pulteney Bridge in Bath;
  • The Holburne Museum in Bath;
  • The historic Claverton Pumping Station;
  • Dundas Aqueduct;
  • Brassknocker Basin and the Somerset Coal Canal;
  • The Boat House restaurant at Bradford on Avon Marina; and
  • The Caen Hill flight of locks at Devizes.

To read the full review, go to https://lovetravellingblog.com/2023/12/08/narrowboating-along-the-kennet-and-avon-canal/