With spooky tunnels, misty towpaths and plenty of ghosts, Britain’s 200-year old canal network provides the perfect backdrop for a haunting Halloween. Drifters’ narrow boat hire prices for boats for up to four people over Halloween start at £560 for a weekend break, £740 for a week.
Here’s a guide to our spookiest destinations for Halloween 2021:
- Prepare to be spooked at Blisworth Tunnel – on the Grand Union Canal at Stoke Bruerne in Northamptonshire, the Blisworth Tunnel has spooked a number of boaters over the years. At 2,795 metres long, it’s one of the longest on the canal system. When construction began in 1793, the tunnel was a major engineering challenge. Teams of navvies worked with picks and shovels for three years until they hit quicksand and the tunnel collapsed, killing 14 men. A new route for the tunnel was found and it finally opened on 25 March 1805. Over the years, a number of boaters travelling through the tunnel have reported seeing lights and a second route emerging. But the tunnel runs straight through the hill so people must have seen the flicker of candlelight at the spot where the first tunnel would have intersected with the main canal tunnel. Perhaps the ghostly navvies are still working there…? The Blisworth Tunnel is less than an hour away from Drifters’ base at Gayton on the Grand Union Canal in Northamptonshire.
- Watch out for an Aqueduct Apparition – the Llangollen Canal is haunted by an eerie figure that can sometimes be seen gliding along the towpath alongside the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. From Drifters’ base on the Llangollen Canal at Trevor, it’s a 10-minute cruise to the Aqueduct. On a short break from Trevor, canal boat holiday-makers can travel across the Aqueduct and on to Ellesmere in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District.
- Steel yourself for a visit from the Viscount – Once a 13th century monastery, The George Inn at Bathampton is said to be haunted by the ghost of Viscount John Baptiste Du Barre, who mortally wounded in the last legal duel fought in Britain. The Viscount was reputedly a decadent man who held lavish parties and enjoyed gambling. Following an argument over a card game, a challenge was thrown down and on 18 November 1778, he and his opponent met on Claverton Down at dawn. Drifters’ canal boat hire base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Bath is a 20-minute cruise from the George Inn.
- Hear echoes of a killing at Kidsgrove – the Trent & Mersey Canal’s Harecastle Tunnel at Kidsgrove is said to be home to a shrieking boggart – the ghost of Kit Crewbucket who was murdered and his headless corpse was dumped in the canal. Harecastle Tunnel is an hour away from Drifters’ narrowboat hire base at Stoke on Trent.
- Witness some ghostly goings-on at The Navigation Inn – the Navigation Inn on the Calder & Hebble Navigation at Sowerby Bridge dates back to the 15th century. It served travellers along the old salt road from Chester to York long before the canal was built. According to the landlord, there’s plenty of supernatural activity in this ancient building, including noises in the cellar, clocks that mysteriously stop and spirits that appear in the kitchen. The Navigation Inn is very close to Drifters’ canal boat hire base at Sowerby Bridge.
- Beware the blood stained steps at Brindley Bank – the Trent & Mersey Canal at Brindley Bank Aqueduct in Staffordshire, is said to be haunted by Christina Collins. She was murdered there on 17 June 1839 and her body flung into the canal. Three boatmen were convicted of her killing; two were hanged, the third transported. As Christina’s body was dragged from the water, her blood ran down a flight of sandstone steps leading from the canal. It is said that the stain occasionally reappears on those stones. Brindley Bank is just over an hour away from Drifters’ narrowboat hire base at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal.
- Get the chills in Chester – visit the City’s old Northgate where the canal was dug into part of the town’s moat and a Roman centurion can sometimes be seen guarding the entrance to the City. Canal boat holiday-makers can hire a boat from Drifters’ base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire, and reach Chester in seven hours, and passing through nine locks.
- Mind the Monkey Man at Norbury – the terrifying ‘Monkey Man’ haunts the Shropshire Union Canal at Bridge 39 near Norbury. This hideous black, shaggy coated being is believed to be the ghost of a boatman drowned there in the 19th century. Narrowboat holiday-makers can head north from our base at Brewood near Stafford, reaching Bridge 39 in around four and a half hours.