Tag Archive for: Trent & Mersey 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/

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.

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

 

Top canalside events to visit on a canal boat holiday in 2024

Top 9 canalside events to visit on a canal boat holiday

Britain’s canals and rivers host hundreds of exciting events each year, bringing people to the waterways and celebrating the things that make them special.

Here’s our pick of the best canalside events to head to on a canal boat holiday in 2024:

1. Easter Boat Gathering, Friday 29 March to 1 April

The annual Easter Boat Gathering at the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port marks the official start of the cruising season.  Over the weekend, dozens of boats will moor up across the Museum’s seven-acre site and visitors can enjoy live music, children’s activities, workshop tours and historic boats.  Drifters’ nearest narrowboat hire base is at Bunbury.

2. Crick Boat Show, Northamptonshire, 25-27 May

Over 300 exhibitors will gather at Crick Marina on the Leicester Line of the Grand Union Canal near Daventry for the Crick Boat Show.  The event, which is organised by Waterways World and the Canal & River Trust, will showcase thousands of inland waterways products and services. And there’ll be an exciting programme of entertainment, including boat trips, live music, boating seminars and a wide variety of food and drink stalls. Our nearest bases are at Gayton and Braunston.

3. St Richards Canal Festival, Worcestershire, 3-6 May

This annual event organised by the Worcester-Birmingham and Droitwich Canals Society takes place in Vines Park alongside the Droitwich Barge Canal. The event offers family entertainment, live music, boats, classic cars, markets, duck races and a real ale bar. Our nearest bases are at Worcester, Stoke Prior and Tardebigge.

4. IWA Canalway Cavalcade, London, 4 May

The Inland Waterway Association’s annual Canalway Cavalcade takes place at Little Venice in London. This unique waterways and community festival offers fun for all the family with a boaters’ gathering, pageant of boats, trade stalls, live music, kids’ activities, competitions, Morris Dancers, a real ale bar and variety of food stalls. Our nearest base is on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Aldermaston.

5. Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, Wales, 2-7 July

Thousands of people from around the world descend on the pretty town of Llangollen on the Llangollen Canal each year to celebrate dance, music, costume and culture. The Llangollen Eisteddfod is one of the world’s great music and culture events with six days of world-class competitions and concerts featuring an array of international performers. Our nearest bases are Trevor, Chirk and Blackwater Meadow.

6. Stone Food & Drink Festival, Staffordshire, 5-7 July

Staffordshire’s biggest celebration of all things gastronomic takes place at the Georgian market town of Stone on the Trent & Mersey Canal. As well as a range of themed food marquees, the festival hosts demonstrations by top chefs, a beer festival, live music, gourmet dining, street food and a farmers’ market. Our nearest bases are Great Haywood, Brewood and Stoke on Trent.

7. Rickmansworth Canal Festival, Hertfordshire, 18-19 May

Celebrating canals, the community and the environment, the Rickmansworth Canal Festival attracts a spectacular array of canal boats from across the country. Occupying part of the Aquadrome and the Grand Union Canal towpath between Stockers Lock and Batchworth Lock, the event hosts a range of music, performing arts, displays, presentations, traders and catering. Our nearest base is on the Grand Union Canal at Braunston.

8. Fairport Convention at Cropredy, Oxfordshire, 8-10 August

This annual festival of folk and rock music is held in the village of Cropredy, next to the Oxford Canal. The event is run by the Fairport Convention, often credited with being the first English electric folk band.  Drifters’ nearest narrowboat hire base is at Napton.

9. Edinburgh Canal Festival, Scotland, 17 June

Organised by the Fountainbridge Canalside Community Trust, this annual event takes place at Lochrin Basin, at the Edinburgh end of the Union Canal.  The event includes free boat trips, canoe taster-sessions, children’s entertainment, music, dance and food. Our nearest base is at Falkirk.

Longest tunnels to navigate on a canal boat holiday

6 longest tunnels to navigate on a canal boat holiday

There are well over 50 tunnels on the canal network, ranging in length from 25 yards (23 metres) to over three miles (5,210 metres).

The construction of tunnels was one of the most difficult tasks faced by the early canal engineers, and the dangerous and difficult work led to the death of many navvies, including 14 when a section of the Blisworth Tunnel collapsed in 1896.

To celebrate these engineering marvels, we’ve published a guide to the six longest canal tunnels in England and Wales:

  1. The Standedge Tunnel (5,210 metres/5,698 yards)

Tunnelling for 3.24 miles beneath the Pennines, this incredible feat of 18th and 19th century engineering is the longest, highest and deepest tunnel on the canal system.  Cutting through solid rock, it took the navvies 16 years to build and opened in 1811.  In the 20th century, the Huddersfield Canal fell into disrepair, becoming un-navigable by 1948, but after a long restoration programme, both the canal and tunnel were reopened in 2001.  It takes around 1 hour and 20 minutes to navigate through Standedge Tunnel.  Narrow boat holiday-makers need to book their passage though with a Canal & River Trust chaperone.  Drifters’ nearest base is at Sowerby Bridge, on the junction of the Calder & Hebble Navigation and Rochdale Canal, is 20 miles and 65 locks away. The journey to Standedge takes around 21 hours (three days).

  1. Blisworth Tunnel (2,794 metres/3,056 yards)

At 1.74 miles long, Blisworth Tunnel on the Grand Union Canal at Stoke Bruerne in Northamptonshire is the second longest navigable tunnel on the canal system.  Construction began in 1793, and it was opened in 1805.  It’s wide enough to accommodate two narrowboats, so it’s not necessary to book a passage through it.  From Drifters’ base at Gayton on the Grand Union Canal in Northamptonshire, it takes around 38 minutes to reach the northern entrance of the Blisworth Tunnel.

  1. Netherton Tunnel (2,768 metres/3,027 yards)

Tunnelling for 1.72 miles, Netherton Tunnel is on the Birmingham Canal Navigations Netherton Branch in Birmingham.  It was the last tunnel constructed during the canal age, and was built with towpaths on both sides.  From Drifters’ canal boat hire base on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal at Alvechurch, it takes around eight hours to reach Netherton Tunnel, cruising 19 miles of waterway.

  1. Harecastle Tunnel (2,676 metres/2,926 yards)

Harecastle Tunnel on the Trent & Mersey Canal is 1.65 miles long and it takes around 30 minutes to navigate through.  Designed by Thomas Telford, it was completed in 1827. Passage through the tunnel is in a single direction at a time, because only one of the two original Harecastle Tunnels is in operation. Access is controlled by the Canal & River Trust’s Tunnel keeper team, allowing groups of boats to pass through in convoy, before reversing the flow of traffic.  From Drifters’ narrowboat hire base at Stoke on Trent it takes around one and a half hours to reach the southern entrance of Harecastle Tunnel.

  1. Wast Hills Tunnel (2,493 metres/2,726 yards)

At 1.55 miles long, it takes around 37 minutes to navigate through Wast Hills Tunnel, on the Worcestershire & Birmingham Canal.  Designed by Thomas Cartwright and completed in 1796, Wast Hills is wide enough to accommodate two narrowboats, so it’s not necessary to book a passage through it.  From Drifters’ narrowboat hire base at Tardebigge, it takes about two-and-a-half hours to cruise to the southern entrance of Wast Hills Tunnel.

  1. Braunston Tunnel (1,867 metres/2,042 yards)

Braunston Tunnel on the Grand Union Canal in Northamptonshire is 1.17 miles long and was completed in 1796.  It takes around 20 minutes to navigate and it’s wide enough to accommodate passing narrowboats, so there’s no need to book a passage.  With six locks to pass through before reaching the western entrance, Drifters’ canal boat hire base at Braunston is about an hour-and-a-half away.

Best canal boat holidays for beginners

Best canal boat holidays for beginners

With Britain’s inland waterways in better shape than ever and the health benefits of spending time by the water proven, narrowboat holidays are becoming increasingly popular.

You don’t need a licence to steer a canal boat and all Drifters’ operators provide hirers with boat steering tuition as part of their canal boat holiday hire.

Today’s narrowboats are fully equipped with essential home comforts, including central heating, hot water, TV, showers, microwaves, flushing toilets, and many now have WiFi too.

So if you are planning to pack-up and ‘ship-out’ on an adventure afloat, take a look at our top 10 canal boat holidays for beginners to help you learn the ropes:

1. Cruise to the bright lights of Birmingham

Boasting more canals than Venice, Birmingham simply has to be visited by canal boat. And with no locks between our base at Tardebigge and Birmingham City Centre, it’s the perfect opportunity for novices to ‘dip their toe in the water’. Cruising along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, it takes just five hours to reach Birmingham.  The first half of the journey passes through fields, woodlands and sleepy villages, and a series of canal tunnels, before becoming increasingly urban. Once in the centre of Birmingham, you can find over-night moorings at Gas Street Basin, with easy access to Brindleyplace, the Mailbox and other city centre attractions.

2. Love the Llangollen

Passing through stunning North Wales landscapes, the Llangollen Canal is one of the most popular navigations on the network. The journey from our Trevor base to Ellesmere and back offers a fantastic short break holiday for beginners. There are just four locks between Trevor and the beautiful Meres, a journey which takes around seven hours. And the route includes the experience of travelling across the World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, with incredible views of the Dee Valley 30 metres below.

3. Potter through the Peak District

Our base at Stoke on Trent, at the junction of the Caldon and Trent & Mersey canals, offers a fantastic way to experience the Peak District. Starting at the Etruria, home of the industrial potteries, it’s a gentle 11-hour cruise along the peaceful Caldon Canal to Froghall Basin.  The route passes through 17 locks and travels 17 miles.  Pubs to enjoy along the way include the Black Lion at Consall Forge and The Boat Inn at Basford Bridge.

4. Glide through the Brecon Beacons

Isolated from the main canal network, the scenic Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal runs through the Brecon Beacons National Park. This quiet waterway, with very few locks, offers incredible mountain views and is nice and easy for beginners. On a week’s holiday from our base Goytre Wharf near Abergavenny, you can cruise to Brecon and back. Along the way, you’ll pass through Georgian Crickhowell, with its fascinating 13th century castle, and Talybont-on-Usk with walks to the waterfalls at Blaen y Glyn.

5. Visit Georgian Bath

From our base at Hilperton on the Kennet & Avon Canal near Trowbridge in Wiltshire, moorings close to Bath City Centre are a six-hour cruise away. The route passes through seven locks and crosses two stunning Bath stone aqueducts.  You’ll also pass a series of popular historic canalside pubs, including The Cross Guns at Avoncliff and the Barge Inn at Seend. Once at Sydney Wharf on the edge of Bath City Centre, you can use your boat as a base to explore the City, including the Roman Baths and Royal Crescent.

6. Take a rural route to Braunston

From our base at Stockton on the Grand Union Canal, the pretty canal village of Braunston is a peaceful three-hour cruise away. There are only three locks along the way so it’s an easy holiday for first time boaters on a short break. The journey meanders through the Warwickshire and Northamptonshire countryside. Pubs to enjoy include the Kings Head at Napton and the Admiral Nelson at Braunston.

7. Travel through the Scottish Lowlands to Edinburgh

From our base at Falkirk, Edinburgh Quay is a sedate 11-hour journey along the lock-free Union Canal. The journey, perfect for beginners on a mid-week or week-long break, starts with a trip through the iconic Falkirk Wheel – the world’s first and only rotating boat lift – and then passes through the lovely lowland villages of Linlithgow, Broxburn and Ratho. Visitor moorings are available at Edinburgh Quay, just a five-minute walk from Princes Street, with easy access to the City’s many attractions, including Edinburgh Castle and Mark King Close, frozen in time beneath the Royal Mile.

8. Steer gently through the countryside to Stone

From our base at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal it takes around five hours to reach the historic Shropshire market town of Stone. Stone is renowned as the food and drink capital of Staffordshire, with regular markets, a good choice of restaurants and the annual Food & Drink Festival in October. Along the way, there are four locks to pass through and plenty of pubs to enjoy, including The Saracen’s Head at Weston and The Holly Bush Inn at Salt.

9. Navigate to the Yorkshire Dales

The journey from Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal to the pretty North Yorkshire village of Gargrave and back takes around seven hours and passes through three locks. You’ll pass through Skipton with its striking medieval stone castle and extensive woodlands. Once at Gargrave, there are pubs to enjoy, including the popular Mason’s Arms. And it’s easy access to the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the Pennine Way.

10. Boat to historic Brewood and back

The journey to Brewood and back from our base at Gailey on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal offers an excellent short break route for beginners. Travelling a total of 25 miles, and passing through just two locks (one each way), this gentle journey through the Shropshire countryside passes the waterside Anchor Inn at Cross Green.  And transfers boaters onto the Shropshire Union Canal at Autherley Junction. On reaching the historic village of Brewood, there’s a choice of places to eat, including the canalside Bridge Inn.

Canal boat holiday bucket list

Canal boat holiday ‘bucket list’ guide

The ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’ was compiled by Robert Aickman, co-founder of the Inland Waterways Association, and published in his book ‘Know Your Waterways’ over 70 years ago.

Here at Drifters, we’ve added the Falkirk Wheel in Scotland (which opened in 2002) to make the perfect Canal Boat Holiday ‘Bucket List’ guide for 2024:

1. The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct – carrying the Llangollen Canal 38 metres (126ft) high above the River Dee, the awesome World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is the highest and longest aqueduct in Britain. Built between 1795 and 1805, it has 18 magnificent stone piers, supporting a 307-metre (1007ft) long trough for the canal to run through. With not even a hand rail on the south side of the aqueduct to obscure the views of the breath-taking Dee Valley below, boaters literally feel like they are floating above the earth! Drifters has a canal boat hire base on the Llangollen Canal at Trevor in North Wales, just a five-minute cruise from the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.

2. The Anderton Boat Lift – also known as ‘The Cathedral of the Canals’ this extraordinary structure raises boats 15 metres (50ft) from the River Weaver to the Trent & Mersey Canal. Designed by Edwin Clark and opened in 1875, it consists of two caissons, each large enough to take a barge or pair of narrowboats. In 1983 problems with the mechanism caused the lift to close but after a Heritage Lottery Funded restoration, it reopened in 2002. Drifters has a narrowboat hire base on the Trent & Mersey Canal at Anderton, right next to the Lift.

3. The Caen Hill Flight – with 16 of its 29 locks falling in a straight line, the Caen Hill flight of locks on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Devizes in Wiltshire is visually the most impressive in the country. The locks were the final link in the Kennet & Avon Canal’s construction, opening in 1810. By 1950 they had become derelict but after a major restoration effort, they were reopened HM The Queen in 1990. Drifters’ Devizes base is at the base of the flight.

4. The Bingley Five-Rise Locks – completed in 1774, this spectacular staircase of locks on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal 17 miles from Leeds, raises (or lowers) boats 18 metres (60ft) in five cavernous chambers. The locks open directly from one to another, with the top gate of one forming the bottom gate of the next. Our nearest canal boat hire base is on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal at Silsden, a distance of six miles away. With five locks to pass through along the way, the journey to Bingley takes around four-and-a-half hours.

5. The Standedge Tunnel – tunnelling for over three miles beneath the Pennines, this incredible feat of 18 and 19th century engineering is the longest, highest and deepest tunnel on the canal system. Cutting through solid rock, it took the navvies 16 years to build, opening in 1811. In the 20th century, the Huddersfield Canal fell into disrepair, becoming un-navigable by 1948, but after a long restoration programme, both the canal and tunnel were reopened in 2001. Today you need to book your passage though the tunnel with the https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/things-to-do/museums-and-attractions/standedge-tunnel-and-visitor-centre-yorkshire Canal & River Trust, and there is also a trip boat operating from the Marsden end. Our nearest base is at Sowerby Bridge, on the junction of the Calder & Hebble Navigation and Rochdale Canal, 20 miles and 65 locks away. The journey to Standedge takes around 21 hours (three days).

6. Barton Swing Aqueduct – originally built in 1761 by James Brindley to take the Bridgewater Canal across the River Irwell, the Barton Aqueduct was considered a marvel at the time of its opening. But when the Manchester Ship Canal company decided to use the course of the Irwell at Barton as part of its navigation channel, Brindley’s Aqueduct was replaced by the Barton Swing Aqueduct in 1893. The 1,450 tonne, 100-metre long aqueduct swings open, full of water, to allow the passage of ships along the Manchester Ship Canal. Our nearest base is at Acton Bridge, on the Trent & Mersey Canal near Northwich in Cheshire. From there, it takes around nine hours, travelling 26 miles and through just one lock, to reach the Barton Swing Aqueduct.

7. The Burnley Embankment – also known as ‘The Straight Mile’, the mile-long Burnley Embankment carries the Leeds & Liverpool Canal over 18 metres (60ft) high across part of the town, offering boaters breath-taking panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Though costly and difficult to build, the Burnley Embankment, which spans the Calder Valley, avoided the need for a series of locks which would have slowed cargo-carrying boats down. Designed by Robert Whitworth, the embankment was built between 1796 and 1801 and involved the mammoth task of transporting (by horse and cart) around half a million tons of earth from the nearby canal cutting at Whittlefield and tunnel at Gannow. Drifters’ narrowboat hire base at Barnoldswick is just 11 miles and seven locks away from Burnley.

8. The Falkirk Wheel – built as part of the Millennium Link project to restore the canals linking the east and west coasts of Scotland, The Falkirk Wheel is the world’s first and only rotating boat lift. Standing at a height of 35 metres, it moves boats between the Union Canal and Forth & Clyde Canal, replacing a flight of 11 locks which had been dismantled in 1933. It can carry up to 600 tonnes (eight or more boats) and uses just 1.5KWh of energy to turn – the same amount it takes to boil eight kettles. Drifters offers canal boat rental at Falkirk, right next to the Wheel.

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.

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 Cheshire

New canal boat holidays from Nantwich in Cheshire

From the middle of March 2024, we will be offering canal boat holidays from Nantwich Marina on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire.

We’ll have three different sized narrowboats for hire, offering accommodation for between four and eight people.

There’s a great choice of short breaks, week-long holidays and two-week routes from Nantwich.

Here’s a guide to our Top 5 narrowboat holidays from Nantwich:

1. Cruise to ancient Middlewich where three rivers meet

This short break route is great for beginners.  You’ll cruise through the countryside passing the canalside Barbridge Inn at Barbridge Junction, where you transfer onto the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal. A good place to stop is the village of Church Minshull with its popular Badger Inn.  Once in Middlewich, you can moor up to explore this ancient town where the rivers Dan, Croco and Wheelock meet.  The town’s history dates back to Roman times and a medieval market later rose up around the salt industries established there.

The journey to Middlewich and back travels 27 miles, passes through 14 locks (seven each way) and takes around 13 hours.

2. Navigate to the ancient City of Chester to walk the Roman walls

Perfect for a four-night break, the journey to Chester takes you through beautiful unspoilt countryside and a series of villages.  Places to visit along the way include Beeston Castle, and the Ring O’ Bells pub at Christleton.  Once in Chester, you can shop at the famous Chester Rows galleries, walk the Roman City Walls and visit Chester Zoo.

The journey to Chester and back travels 36 miles, passes through 22 locks (11 each way) and takes around 17 hours.

3. Boat to Lymm to see a dinosaur footprint

This is a popular week-long route for beginners.  You’ll cruise first to Barbridge Junction, and onto the Middlewich Branch to Middlewich.  From there you’ll transfer onto the Trent & Mersey Canal and cruise on through the Cheshire countryside to Northwich. At Northwich there’s a choice of places to shop and eat, including the Kingfisher pub.  Another good place to stop is the Salt Barge pub at Marston.  Soon after you’ll reach the Anderton Boat Lift, also known as ‘The Cathedral of the Canals’. After passing through three tunnels, you’ll switch to the Bridgewater Canal.  Then you’ll pass through Stockton Heath with views of the Pennine Hills in the distance.  There’s a choice of places to shop, eat and drink at Lymm, including the Spread Eagle pub in the heart of the village.  And you can see the 240 million years old dinosaur footprint at the Lymm Heritage Centre.

The journey to Lymm and back travels 81 miles, passes through 18 locks and takes around 35 hours.

4. Travel across ‘The Stream in the Sky’ to Llangollen

This week long journey travels the entire length of the Llangollen Canal.  You’ll start off in Cheshire and then you’ll transfer onto the Llangollen Canal at Hurleston Junction.  The route will take you through the Shropshire Lake District and the historic market town of Ellesmere.  Soon after you’ll reach Chirk and then the beginning of the 11-mile UNESCO World Heritage section of the Llangollen Canal.  This will take you through stunning scenery and across the Chirk and Pontcysyllte aqueducts.  Also known as ‘The Stream in the Sky’, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct carries the Llangollen Canal 38 metre’s high above the Dee Valley.  In Llangollen, you can moor up in the basin and visit the town’s independent shops and restaurants, including the Three Eagles bar and grill.

The journey to Llangollen and back travels 92 miles, passes through 42 locks (21 each way) and takes around 48 hours.

5. Complete the Four Counties Ring

On a two-week break from Nantwich you can travel round the Four Counties Ring.  This canal boat holiday odyssey takes you through the counties of Staffordshire, Cheshire, Shropshire and the West Midlands.  You’ll pass through a series of historic towns and villages with canalside pubs.  These include the Gingerbread Man in Market Drayton and the Littleton Arms at Penkridge.  You’ll pass through Macclesfield and Marple Junction.  You’ll cross a series of aqueducts, including the Marple Aqueduct on the Peak Forest Canal with incredible Peak District views. You’ll travel through parts of Manchester and then on to the village of Lymm.  You’ll also pass through Preston Brook Tunnel and past the Anderton Boat Lift.

The Four Counties Ring from Nantwich travels 110 miles, passes through 94 locks and takes around 60 hours.