Tag Archive for: Rochdale Canal

One-way canal boat holidays across the Pennines

Pennine one-way trips

We offer one-way narrowboat holidays across the Pennines for experienced boaters

Explore Yorkshire’s inland waterways and cross the Pennines on a one-way canal boat holiday adventure with Drifters.

You’ll encounter some of the Wonders of the Waterways, including the Bingley Five Rise Locks at Bradford. And you’ll enjoy incredible views of the Pennines, Yorkshire Dales and Calder Valley.

We offer the choice of two Pennine one-way trips for crews with experience of locks. They are available for 10 or 11 day holiday hire, starting on a Friday or a Monday. Minibus transfers are included in the boat hire price.

1. One-way trips across the Pennines via Leeds (79 miles, 79 locks, 45 hours)

This epic canal journey starts either on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal at Barnoldswick or the Calder & Hebble Navigation at Sowerby Bridge.  You’ll travel stretches of the Calder & Hebble Navigation, the Aire & Calder Navigation and the Leeds & Liverpool Canal.

Highlights along the way include: the Hepworth Wakefield gallery; Leeds Dock and Royal Armouries Museum; UNESCO World Heritage Saltaire; the Bingley Five Rise Locks; Skipton with its medieval castle; and incredible views of the Yorkshire Dales.

2. One-way trips across the Pennines via Wigan (103 miles, 136 locks, 65 hours)

This challenging narrowboat adventure appeals to very serious boaters committed to long days with lots of locks. You’ll travel sections of the Rochdale Canal, Bridgewater Canal and Leeds & Liverpool Canal.

Highlights along the way include: the historic market towns of Hebden Bridge and Todmorden; the exhilarating Pennine Summit stretch and Summit Inn; Picadilly Village, Manchester City Centre and Castlefield Basin; the Trafford Centre on the Bridgewater Canal; the Barton Swing Aqueduct; spectacular views from the top of the Wigan Flight; views of the Lancashire Calder Valley; historic Blackburn; the Burnley Mile; the deep locks at Barrowford; and Foulridge Tunnel.

There’s information about the boats available for these one-way trips here

Top 5 Yorkshire canal boat holidays

Top 5 Yorkshire canal boat holidays

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

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

1. Visit Skipton and its medieval castle

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

2. Sail to the historic market town Selby

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

3. Toddle to Todmorden for some stunning Pennine scenery

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

4. Cruise to Rishton for a trip through industrial history

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

5. Journey to the Hepworth Wakefield

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

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

Best canal boat holiday cruising rings

Best canal boat holiday cruising rings

Canal boat holiday cruising rings offer journeys along several different waterways, taking in a huge variety of urban and rural landscapes.

Some canal boat holiday rings are seriously challenging with steep flights of locks and long dark tunnels to negotiate.

Here’s a guide to our top 9 canal boat holiday rings and circuits:

1. The Droitwich Ring (21 miles, 33 locks, 16 hours)

Starting from Worcester or Stoke Prior, this canal boat holiday ring is the only one that can be completed on a short break. It re-opened in 2011 following the £13million restoration of the Droitwich Canals.  This reconnected the River Severn and the Worcester & Birmingham Canal at Worcester. Highlights include: the historic Spa town of Droitwich; the Hanbury flight of locks; and Worcester cathedral.

2. The Outer Pennine Ring (192 miles, 248 locks, 130 hours)

Not for the faint-hearted nor inexperienced, this epic three-week journey can be undertaken from Sowerby Bridge or Silsden. It crosses the Pennines twice and includes Britain’s longest canal tunnel. It takes in the Calder & Hebble Navigation, the Huddersfield Narrow, Ashton, Rochdale, Bridgewater, Leeds & Liverpool canals. And the Aire & Calder Navigation with electric locks. Highlights include: dramatic Pennine views; Tuel Lane Deep Lock; and Manchester City Centre. Also the three-and-a-quarter-mile long Standedge Tunnel which cuts through the Pennies to link Marsden and Diggle; Bingley Five Rise locks; Skipton with its medieval castle; Leeds City Centre and waterside Royal Armouries Museum.

3. The Stourport Ring (74 miles, 118 locks, 44 hours)

Starting from Autherley, Stoke Prior, Gailey or Alvechurch, this offers an exhilarating and hugely popular week. The route takes in the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal, the Worcester & Birmingham Canal Navigation, the upper section of the River Severn, Birmingham & Fazeley Canal, Birmingham Canal Main Line and the Birmingham Canal Old Main Line. The Stourport Ring visits three cities: Wolverhampton; Birmingham; and the ancient City of Worcester. Highlights include: Wolverhampton 21 locks; Brindleyplace and Gas Street Basin in Birmingham; open countryside on the River Severn; Stourport Basins; Bratch Locks at Wombourne; the pretty village of Kinver with National Trust rock houses; the Black Country Living Museum; and Cadbury World.

4. The Cheshire Ring (97 miles, 92 locks, 55 hours)

Starting from Bunbury, Wrenbury, Whitchurch, Anderton or Acton Bridge, this superb canal boat holiday ring goes through the heart of Manchester and the Peak District via the Ashton, Macclesfield, Peak Forest, Rochdale, Trent & Mersey and Bridgewater canals. Highlights include: Anderton Boat Lift (also known as ‘The Cathedral of the Canals’); Preston Brook Tunnel; Dunham Massey Hall; Castlefield Basin; Manchester’s China Town; the Rochdale 9 locks; Buxworth Basin, Whaley Bridge and the glorious Top Lock at Marple on the Peak Forest Canal; the Cheshire Plain; and heavily locked ‘Heartbreak Hill’.

5. The Warwickshire Ring (101 miles, 94 locks, 48 hours)

Starting from Napton, Stockton, Springwood Haven, Kings Orchard or Braunston the Warwickshire Ring is easily navigated in 10 days or two weeks. It takes in the Grand Union, Oxford, Coventry and Birmingham & Fazeley canals. Highlights include: the flight of 11 locks into Atherstone; Hillmorton locks (three pairs); the Knowle Flight of five locks; the canal village of Braunston; Napton Junction; Newbold and Shrewley tunnels; the awesome Hatton Flight of 21 locks; Warwick Castle; Leamington Spa; and Birmingham’s Gas Street Basin.

6. Avon Ring (108 miles, 130 locks, 58 hours)

Starting from Napton, Autherley, Stoke Prior or Wootton Wawen, this canal boat holiday ring has 130 locks. Most people do this trip in 10 days or two weeks. The Avon Ring navigates sections of the Stratford Canal, River Avon, River Severn and Worcester & Birmingham Canal. Highlights include: Stratford-Upon-Avon and its famous Swan Theatre; the Lapworth flight of 25 locks; the Wilmcote flight of 11 locks; the River Avon and its panoramic views across the Cotswolds; historic Evesham and Tewskesbury; Worcester and its magnificent cathedral; the tidal River Severn double river-lock at Diglis, the 30 locks at Tardebigge; and the 2,495-metre long Wast Hills Tunnel.

7. The Four Counties Ring (110 miles, 94 locks, 55 hours)

Departing from Autherley, Acton Bridge, Brewood, Great Haywood, Stoke-on-Trent, Whitchurch, Wrenbury, Nantwich or Gailey, this canal boat holiday ring is best done on a 10-day or two-week holiday. The four counties are Staffordshire, the West Midlands, Cheshire and Shropshire. The route includes the Trent & Mersey, Staffs & Worcs and Shropshire Union canals. Predominantly rural, this ring’s highlights include: the 2,670-metre long Harecastle Tunnel; deep cuttings on the Shropshire Union; Market Drayton home of gingerbread; Wedgewood Pottery Visitor Centre; views of the rolling Cheshire Plains; the Roman town of Middlewich; Waterworld at Etruria; Shugborough Hall; the waters at Tixall Wide; and the flight of 15 locks at Audlem.

8. The Black Country Ring (125 miles, 79 locks, 60 hours)

From Autherley, Great Haywood, Kings Orchard or Gailey this exhilarating canal boat holiday ring is achievable in a week. The Ring takes in the Birmingham & Fazeley, Birmingham Main Line, Coventry, Staffordshire & Worcestershire and Trent & Mersey canals. Highlights include: Birmingham’s Gas Street Basin; 21 locks at Wolverhampton; the Black Country Living Museum; Dudley Zoo & Castle; Drayton Manor Park at Fazeley; the Staffs & Worcs Roundhouses; the waters at Tixhall Wide; Fradley Pool Nature Reserve at Fradley Junction; 11 locks at Ashton; and 13 at Farmer’s Bridge.

9. The Leicester/East Midlands Ring (157 miles, 102 locks, 75 hours)

Departing from Napton, Braunston, Kings Orchard, Springwood Haven or Gayton this epic canal boat holiday ring is achievable in two weeks. The route cruises a mixture of non-tidal, broad and narrow canals, including the Birmingham & Fazeley, Coventry, Oxford, Trent & Mersey canals, the Grand Union Leicester Line and the rivers Soar and Trent. Highlights include: Saddlington Tunnel; the Foxton Staircase of Locks; the pretty canal village of Stoke Bruerne with its Canal Museum; Blisworth Tunnel; Braunston canal village; Hillmorton Locks; 11 locks at Atherstone; Coventry and views of its magnificent cathedral; and the 18th century canal village of Shardlow.

The Cross Guns pub at Avoncliff on the Kennet & Avon Canal

Top 10 canalside pubs to visit on a canal boat holiday

Canalside pubs are popular destinations for canal boat holiday-makers, and there are hundreds to choose from.

They often have names like The Lock Inn, The Navigation Inn, The Narrowboat, The Tunnel and The Bridge.  And many date back to the days when canals were the transport infrastructure of the industrial revolution.  Canalside inns provided refreshment for working boat families and their horses, as well as professional leggers who propelled boats through tunnels.

We’ve published a guide to our top 10 canalside pubs to visit on a canal boat holiday in 2024:

1. The Cross Guns at Avoncliff in Wiltshire

Located alongside the Kennet & Avon Canal, this 17th century inn has idyllic riverside pub gardens.  It has panoramic views of the foothills of the Cotswolds and the beautiful Avoncliff Aqueduct.  The Cross Guns serves a selection of British pub favourite food, local ales, cider and craft beer.  It’s close to our bases at Bath, Monkton Combe, Hilperton and Bradford on Avon.

2. The Holly Bush Inn at Denford in Staffordshire

Housed in an old flour mill on the Caldon Canal, the Holly Bush Inn is surrounded by Staffordshire Moorlands.  The pub offers award winning ales and delicious homemade food.  It has a large canalside beer garden and is both family and dog friendly.  From our narrowboat hire base at Stoke on Trent, it takes around seven hours to reach The Holly Bush.

3. The Stubbing Wharf at Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire

The Stubbing Wharf on the Rochdale Canal offers home cooked food, including Sunday lunch roasts. It has a choice of real ales and a canalside beer garden. The pub was built soon after the completion of the Rochdale Canal in 1789.  It served travellers on both the canal and the turnpike road.  Its curious name derives from the ancient settlement of Stubbing, an Anglo-Saxon word for clearing where the tree stumps have been left.  From Drifters canal boat hire base at Sowerby Bridge, it takes around five-and-a-half hours to reach Hebden Bridge.

4. The Swan at Fradley Junction in Derbyshire

At the junction of the Trent & Mersey and Coventry canals at Alrewas, the historic Swan pub is known locally as the ‘Mucky Duck’.  The pub offers traditional home cooked meals and a choice of cask ales.  The Swan’s bar area is decorated with Roses & Castles narrowboat art. Drifters’ base at Great Haywood is a six-hour cruise away, and Kings Orchard is just one-and-a-half hours away.

5. The Blue Lias Inn at Stockton in Warwickshire

Located on the Grand Union Canal, this historic rural pub was named after the limestone and clay that is quarried locally.  The clay is derived from material laid down in the early Jurassic seas, when dinosaurs roamed the earth.  The Blue Lias is around two-and-a-half hours by boat from our Stockton base.

6. The Plume of Feathers at Barlaston in Staffordshire

This popular pub on the Trent & Mersey Canal is part owned by the actor Neil Morrissey.  Visitors can sample some of Neil’s own beers and ales, and choose from a menu of homemade dishes made from fresh local ingredients.  It takes just over three hours to reach Barlastan from Drifters’ base at Stoke on Trent, and it’s seven cruising hours from Great Haywood.

7. The Crown Inn at Alvechurch in Worcestershire

This historic country pub next to the Worcester & Birmingham Canal has a rustic charm, a good selection of ales and lagers and great value food.  Our nearest bases are at Alvechurch and Tardebigge.

8. The Olde Barbridge Inn at Nantwich in Cheshire

This historic pub on the Shropshire Union Canal near Nantwich sells a selection of local ales brewed at its own local brewery. The pub serves classic British food made with local produce.  Our nearest bases are at Nantwich and Bunbury.

9. The Poacher’s Pocket at Chirk in Shropshire

With its tranquil canalside location and beer garden, the Poacher’s Pocket on the Llangollen Canal offers authentic pub food, including curries, steaks, burgers and salads.  Our nearest bases are at Chirk, Trevor and Blackwater Meadow.

10. The Fleur De Lys at Lowsonford in Warwickshire

This pretty 17th century country pub on the banks of the Stratford Canal has a lovely beer garden.  The Fleur De Lys has been famous for its pies since the 1950’s, all served with seasonal vegetables, chunky chips and gravy.  Drifters nearest narrowboat hire base is just three cruising hours away at Wootton Wawen.

Canal boat holidays in England, Wales and Scotland

Best canal boat holidays in 2024

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

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

1. Cruise through the Cheshire countryside to Middlewich

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

2. Travel through the Scottish Lowlands to Edinburgh

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

3. Navigate to the UNESCO World Heritage City of Bath

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

4. Glide through the Calder Valley to Hebden Bridge

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

5. Travel round the Black Country Ring

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

6. Cruise across The Stream in the Sky to Whitchurch

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

7. Boat through the Staffordshire countryside to Market Drayton

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

8. Chug through the Brecon Beacons by boat

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

Top 7 summer canal boat holidays in 2023

Travelling through the countryside at just four-miles-an-hour, canal boat holidays are the fastest way to slow down this summer.

Drifters offers 550 narrowboats for hire from 45 bases across England, Scotland and Wales.  Our summer holiday prices for a short break (three or four nights) on a boat for four people start at £835, and at £1,145 for a week.

We’ve published a guide to our Top 7 Summer Canal Boat Holidays for 2023:

1. Yorkshire: Toddle to Todmorden for some stunning Pennine scenery

On a short break from Sowerby Bridge, you can travel along the Rochdale Canal to Todmorden.  This historic town offers visitors fine Victorian architecture, plenty of pubs and restaurants, and a busy market.  Along the way, you’ll pass through the village of Mytholmroyd, the birthplace of Ted Hughes. And the old mill town of Hebden Bridge, where the BBC’s popular ‘Happy Valley’ drama is set.  The journey to Todmorden and back travels 20 miles, passes through 34 locks (17 each way) and takes around 16 hours.

2. South Wales: Glide through the Usk Valley to Brecon and back

On a week’s holiday from Goytre Wharf near Abergavenny, you can navigate through the Usk Valley on the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal.  You can reach the pretty market town of Brecon, in the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park.  Brecon offers theatre, cinema, cafes and restaurants and access to the National Park, with walking routes, cycle hire and pony trekking.  Along the way, you can stop off at Llanfoist to take the old tramway into the Black Mountains.  You could visit the 13th century caste at Crickhowell or walk to the Blaen y Glyn waterfalls at Talybont-on-Usk.  The journey there and back travels 51 miles, passing through 12 locks (six each way) and takes around 25 hours.

3. Scotland: Travel through the Scottish Lowlands to Edinburgh

On a four-night mid-week break from Falkirk, you can cruise along the Union Canal to Edinburgh Quay.  The journey starts with a trip through the world’s first rotating boat lift, the Falkirk Wheel.  You’ll then pass through two tunnels and soon after across the magnificent Avon Aqueduct.  Then it’s on through the lovely lowland villages of Linlithgow, Broxburn and Ratho.  The journey to Edinburgh Quay and back travels 64 miles, passes through four locks (two each way) and takes around 22 hours.

4. Wiltshire: Visit Georgian Bath afloat

On a short break from Devizes you can navigate along the Kennet & Avon Canal to Georgian Bath.  Along the way, the route passes a series of canalside pubs and the historic market town of Bradford on Avon.  You’ll also travel across the beautiful Bath stone Avoncliff and Dundas aqueducts.  There are 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.

5. North Wales: Glide across the awesome Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

Passing through stunning North Wales landscapes, the Llangollen Canal is one of the most popular waterways on the network.  On a short break from Chirk, you can travel to the pretty Eisteddfod town of Llangollen and back.  The route cruises the 11 miles of the Llangollen Canal UNESCO World Heritage Site, including the awesome Chirk and Pontcysyllte aqueducts. The journey from Chirk to Llangollen Basin and back travels 14 miles and takes around four hours.

6. Northamptonshire: Travel along the peaceful Ashby Canal to Shakerstone

On a week’s holiday from Braunston base on the Grand Union Canal in Northamptonshire, you can explore the beautiful Ashby Canal.  There no locks along this peaceful 22-mile waterway.  Just mile-upon-mile of countryside to enjoy, as well as the pretty town of Market Bosworth and the site of the Battle of Bosworth Field.  The journey to Shakerstone and back, travels 95 miles, passes through eight locks (four each way) and takes around 37 hours.

7. Shropshire: Cruise through the Shropshire countryside to Market Drayton

On a four night mid-week break from Brewood on the Shropshire Union Canal, you can reach the historic market town of Market Drayton.  The route passes through a series of villages with canalside pubs, including the Junction Inn at Norbury and the Royal Oak at Gnosnall.  And through tunnels of trees in a series of deep canal cuttings. The total journey Market Drayton and back travels 42 miles, passes through 12 locks and takes around 19 hours.

Top 5 Easter 2023 Canal Boat Holidays

Canal boat holidays are great for families, offering the chance to set off on an adventure together out in the open air, 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.

To celebrate the coming Easter holidays, we’ve published our top five narrowboat holiday destinations for Easter 2023:

1. Join the annual Easter Boat Gathering at Ellesmere Port

Over the Easter Weekend (7-10 April), the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire celebrates the start of the Summer boating season with a large boat gathering, live music, workshop tours, historic boats and museum activities.  From our canal boat hire base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire, it takes 10 hours to reach Ellesmere Port – perfect for a week afloat.  The journey, which takes you through the Ancient City of Chester, travels 21 miles and passes through 12 locks.

2. Navigate to the old mill town of Hebden Bridge, home of ‘Happy Valley’

On a short break from Sowerby Bridge, you can travel along the Rochdale Canal to Hebden Bridge, made famous by the hit BBC drama ‘Happy Valley’.  The journey to Hebden travels seven miles, passes through 10 locks and takes around 5.5 hours.  On the way, the route passes through Mytholmroyd, birthplace of Ted Hughes.  Once at Hebden Bridge, yous can choose from a series of scenic waymarked walks, and a great variety of shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs.

3. See the Tiger Who Came To Tea at Theatre Royal Bath 

From our narrowboat hire base at Hilperton in Wiltshire, you can travel gently along the beautiful Kennet & Avon Canal to the edge of Bath.  The journey there and back travels 25 miles, passing through six locks (three each way) and takes around 13 cruising hours.  Along the way, the route passes through the historic town of Bradford on Avon with its fascinating 14th century Tithe Barn.  And over the beautiful Avoncliff and Dundas Bath stone aqueducts.  At Sydney Wharf, boaters can moor up and take a 15-minute walk into Bath City Centre to visit a choice of attractions, including the The Tiger Who Came To Tea at Theatre Royal Bath, 9-10 April.

4. Stop off at the World’s biggest Cadbury shop

You can travel lock-free to Birmingham in just five hours from our Tardebigge base on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, stopping off along the way for handmade Easter eggs at Cadbury World.  With more canals than Venice, you can travel right into the heart of the City of Birmingham, where there are over-night moorings at Gas Street Basin.  There’s plenty for families to see and do, including a visit to the National Sea Life Centre at Brindleyplace or the Planetarium at Birmingham’s Science Museum Thinktank.

5. Float across ‘The Stream in the Sky’ to Llangollen

From our base at Chirk on the Llangollen Canal, the pretty town of Llangollen on the edge of the Berwyn Mountains can be reached on a short break.  Along the way, you’ll cross the UNESCO World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, towering 38 metres above the Dee Valley.  On reaching Llangollen, you can enjoy visiting the town’s independent shops, pubs and restaurants, as well as its Steam Railway and Horseshoe Falls.

DownieLive Travels by Boat, 17 December 2022

‘Narrowboating the Deepest Canal Lock in the UK’ Michael Downie sets off from Drifters’ base at Sowerby Bridge and travels through Tuel Lock https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmBBnaRHkik&t=1151s

DownieLive Travels by Boat

Canadian Youtuber Michael Downie has made a series of films about the canals and canal boat holidays.

In the first episode, he sets off from our canal boat hire base at Goytre Wharf and travels along the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal.

In episode two, he leaves from our Acton Bridge base in Cheshire and navigates through the Anderton Boat Lift.

In the third episode, he sets off from our Trevor base in North Wales and travels across the UNESCO World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.

In episode four he departs from our Sowerby Bridge base in West Yorkshire, and travels through the deepest lock in the country.

In the final episode, he travels through the Standedge Tunnel, the longest, deepest and highest canal tunnel on the network.

You’ll find DownieLive Travels by Boat here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGcGMcj2dWM

Top 5 Easter Canal Boat Holiday Breaks

Canal boat holidays are great for families, offering the chance to set off on an adventure together out in the open air, 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 offers the choice of 550 boats from 45 bases across the country.  All our operators provide hirers with life jackets and boat steering tuition.  To celebrate the Spring and the start of the main boating season, we’ve published our top five destinations for Easter 2022:

1. Cruise through the beautiful Churnet Valley

From our narrow boat hire base at Stoke on Trent at the junction of the Caldon and Trent & Mersey canals in Staffordshire, on a short break canal boat holiday-makers can cruise along the Caldon Canal to Flint Mill and back.  Often described as ‘one of the finest canals in Britain’, the peaceful 17-mile long Caldon Canal runs from the Trent & Mersey Canal at Etruria in Stoke-on-Trent, to Froghall Wharf in the Staffordshire Moorlands.  The route to Flint Mill takes boaters through moorlands close to Denford, water meadows at Cheddleton and the beautiful wooded Churnet Valley.  There and back, the journey travels 23 miles, through 24 locks (12 each way) and takes around 15 cruising hours.

2. Visit the Tudors exhibition at The Holbourne Museum in Bath

On a short break from Drifters’ base at Hilperton in Wiltshire, boaters can travel gently along the beautiful Kennet & Avon Canal to reach moorings at Sydney Wharf on the edge of Bath City Centre.  The journey there and back travels 25 miles, passing through six locks (three each way) and takes around 13 cruising hours.  Along the way, the route passes through the historic town of Bradford on Avon with its fascinating 14th century Tithe Barn, and over the beautiful Avoncliff and Dundas Bath stone aqueducts.  Once at Sydney Wharf, boaters can moor up and take a 15-minute walk into Bath City Centre to visit a choice of attractions, including the The Holbourne Museum’s The Tudors exhibition.

3. Stop off at the World’s biggest Cadbury shop

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

4. Navigate to the old mill town of Hebden Bridge

On a short break from our narrow boat rental base at Sowerby Bridge, canal boat holiday-makers can travel along the Rochdale Canal to Hebden Bridge and back.  The journey there and back travels 14 miles, passes through 20 locks (10 each way) and takes around 11 hours.  The route takes boaters through Mytholmroyd, birthplace of Ted Hughes and Fallingroyd Tunnel.  Once at Hebden Bridge, visitors can choose from a series of scenic waymarked walks and a great variety of shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs.

5. Float across ‘The Stream in the Sky’

From our boat yard 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.  Along the route, boaters cross the UNESCO World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, towering 38 metres above the Dee Valley.  On reaching Llangollen, boaters can moor up and enjoy visiting the town’s independent shops, pubs and restaurants, as well as its Steam Railway and Horseshoe Falls.  On a week’s break, narrow boat holiday-makers can also travel east to Ellesmere, in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District.