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Best canal and riverside pubs

Best canal and riverside pubs

There are hundreds of lovely canal and riverside pubs to enjoy across Britain

It’s great to be by the water in the summer time. And there are plenty of canal and riverside pubs with waterside gardens perfect for watching the world go by.

To celebrate, we’ve listed our top 10 canal and riverside pubs for the summer, with our nearest canal boat hire bases:

1. The Bridge Inn, Chirk Bank in Shropshire

You can reach this popular watering hole on the Llangollen Canal on a short break from our bases at Chirk, Trevor and Blackwater Meadow.  Also known as ‘The Trap’, this historic inn enjoys views of the magnificent Chirk Aqueduct. And it’s on the 11-mile stretch of the Llangollen Canal designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.

2. The Boat Inn, Gnosall in Staffordshire

This traditional family run pub on the banks of the Shropshire Union Canal can be reached on a short break from Brewood.  It has a patio area overlooking the canal and is renowned for its homemade pies and fish and chips.

3. The Cross Guns, Avoncliff in Somerset

This popular pub in the beautiful Bath Valley has extensive riverside gardens alongside the Kennet & Avon Canal and magnificent Avoncliff Aqueduct.  It can be reached on a short break from our bases at Bath, Monkton Combe, Bradford on Avon and Devizes.

4. The Leigh Arms, Little Leigh in Cheshire

On the banks of the River Weaver near Northwich, you can reach this charming riverside pub on a short break from our bases at Anderton and Acton Bridge.

5. The Fleur de Lys, Lowsonford in Warwickshire

Famous for its pies, this 17th century country pub has extensive gardens alongside the Stratford Canal. You can reach it on a short break from our base at Wootton Wawen.

6. The Plume of Feathers, Barlaston in Staffordshire

Co-owned by the actor Neil Morrissey, this popular pub on the Trent & Mersey Canal offers homemade food and locally brewed beers. You can reach it on a short break from our bases at Stoke-on-Trent and Great Haywood.

7. The Cutter Inn, Ely in Cambridgeshire

You can reach this popular riverside pub on the Great River Ouse on a short break from our Ely and March bases. It has an outdoor terrace for al fresco drinking and dining with excellent river views.

8. The Dundas Arms, Kintbury in Berkshire

This traditional country pub and hotel on the banks of the Kennet & Avon Canal can be reached on a short break from Aldermaston. It has a large beer garden, perfect for summertime al fresco drinking and dining.

9. The Trout Inn, Lechlade, Gloucestershire

With over 700 years of history, this Cotswold pub on the banks of the River Thames can be reached on a mid-week break from our Oxford base. It’s a traditional family-run inn, with riverside gardens perfect for watching the world go by.

10. The Bridge Inn, Ratho in Midlothian

This historic pub and hotel on the banks of the Union Canal near Edinburgh can be reached on a short break from Falkirk.  There’s a dining terrace overlooking the canal, and home-grown fruit and vegetables are served from the pub’s walled garden.

Visit Stratford-upon-Avon on a canal boat holiday

Popular canal boat holiday destinations for overseas visitors

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

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

Shakespeare’s Stratford, England

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

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

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

Warwick Castle, England

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

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

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

Bath, England

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

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

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

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

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, North Wales

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

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

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

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

Edinburgh, Scotland

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

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

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

Oxford, England

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

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

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

Cambridge, England

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

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

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

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

Top 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.

All aboard for an Autumn canal boat holiday

A canal boat holiday is a great way to enjoy the splendid colours of autumn in the hedgerows and trees that line our waterways.

Narrowboats are like floating holiday cottages, with everything holiday-makers need on board for a self-catering adventure afloat.

Autumn 2022 hire prices start at £561 for a short break (three or four nights) on a boat for four people, £865 for a week.

Here’s a guide to Drifters’ top seven canal boat holiday destinations for Autumn 2022:

1. Potter through the Shropshire countryside to Market Drayton

From our canal boat hire base at Autherley on the Shropshire Union Canal, it takes around 12 hours to reach the historic market town of Market Drayton, home of the gingerbread man.  Along the way, you’ll pass through 26 miles of beautiful Shropshire countryside, seven locks, and a series of wooded canal cuttings, now havens for wildlife.  The route passes through the historic villages of Brewood, Wheaton Aston and Gnosall. And a series of canalside pubs, including the Junction Inn at Norbury and the Hartley Arms at Wheaton Aston.  There are nature reserves to visit at Wheaton Aston (Mottey Meadows), Norbury (Loynton Moss), and Brewood (Belvide Reservoir).  The journey to Market Harborough and back takes around 24 hours, perfect for a relaxed week away.

2. Visit Georgian Bath afloat

On a four-night mid-week break from our Devizes base on the Kennet & Avon Canal in Wiltshire, you can travel to the World Heritage Status City of Bath and back.  The journey to Sydney Wharf takes around 10 hours, travelling across two magnificent aqueducts and passing through 10 locks.  There’s a choice of canalside pubs, including the Barge Inn at Seend and the Cross Guns at Avoncliff.  There are moorings a short walk from Bath City Centre at Sydney Wharf.

3. Explore Skipton and its medieval castle

On a short break from our Barnoldswick base, you can head east along he Leeds & Liverpool Canal to Skipton.  The journey there and back travels 26 miles, passes through 30 locks (15 each way) and takes around 20 cruising hours.  This breath-taking route winds along the contours of the side of Airedale.  There are extensive views of sheep country – farmhouses, barns, stone walls and the occasional village or town.  Once in Skipton, you can moor in the centre of the town, visit shops and restaurants and explore the 900-year old Skipton Castle.

4. Cruise to Manchester

On a week’s break from our narrowboat hire base at Acton Bridge, you can cruise to Manchester and back.  The route, which passes through a mixture of urban and rural landscapes, travels 68 miles of waterway (34 each way) and passes through just one lock.  Places to stop off at along the way, include Stockton Heath, with a choice of shops, boutiques, restaurants and pubs, and the historic village of Lymm.  On arrival in Manchester, there are places to moor at Castlefield Basin, within easy reach of City Centre attractions. And to visit the Trafford Centre, you can return via Worsley on the Bridgewater Canal.

5. Travel along the Stratford Canal to Stratford upon Avon

From our base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal, it’s a picturesque seven-hour cruise to Stratford upon Avon.  The route, which is perfect for a short break, passes through 17 locks.  Along the way, you’ll cruise through the Warwickshire countryside, with plenty of hedgerow foraging opportunities along the way.  Once at the birthplace of the Bard, there are over-night moorings in Bancroft Basin.  This is perfect to use as a base to explore the town’s many independent shops, restaurants, theatres and museums.

6. Glide across The Stream in the Sky

On a week’s break from our canal boat rental base at Wrenbury Mill on the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire, you can cruise through the Shropshire Lake District to the pretty town of Llangollen.  The journey takes 19 hours, passes through 12 locks and two tunnels. It crosses the magnificent World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, also known as ‘The Stream in the Sky’, with amazing views across the Dee Valley and the Welsh Mountains.

7. Cruise through the Scottish lowlands to Ratho

From our base at the Falkirk Wheel boat lift, it’s a peaceful eight-hour cruise along the Union Canal to the historic village of Ratho.  The route to Ratho travels 24 miles, passes through three locks, two tunnels and over two aqueducts.  It also passes close to the historic town of Linlithgow, home to the ruins of Linlithgow Palace, the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots.

Prima, 1 August 2022

‘Plan it, book it, love it’ Cruise through the Scottish lowlands

Sunday Telegraph, 5 June 2022

‘Five great routes for first-timers’ and ‘Top tips for the perfect canal boat holiday’

Head to one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways on your next canal boat holiday

Top 6 short breaks for the Jubilee Weekend

The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Weekend (3-5 June), offers the chance to explore Britain’s beautiful 3,000-mile network of inland waterways by canal boat.

Over the course of her reign, Her Majesty The Queen has made a number of visits to the waterways, and iconic waterside attractions.

Drifters Waterway Holidays (drifters.co.uk) offers over 550 boats for hire from 45 locations across England, Scotland and Wales.  2022 hire prices over the Jubilee Weekend and Half Term holiday start at £985 for a short break (three or four nights) on a boat for four, £1,365 for a week.

To celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, Drifters’ has listed its Top 6 short break canal boat holidays for the Jubilee Weekend:

1. Travel through the Falkirk Wheel and on to Edinburgh

From Drifters’ canal boat hire base at the Falkirk Wheel, officially opened by HRH Queen Elizabeth II in 2002, Edinburgh Quay is a sedate 11-hour journey along the lock-free Union Canal.  The journey, perfect for four-night mid-week break, starts with a trip through the iconic Falkirk Wheel – the world’s first and only rotating boat lift. Once through the Wheel, boaters continue navigating through the Scottish Lowlands, passing through the villages of Linlithgow, Broxburn and Ratho.  Visitor moorings are available at Edinburgh Quay, a five-minute walk from Princes Street.

2. Visit the UNESCO World Heritage City of Bath

On a short break from our narrow boat hire base at Devizes in Wiltshire, boaters can travel along the Kennet & Avon Canal to Sydney Wharf, on the edge of Bath City Centre.  Drifters’ Devizes canal boat hire base is at the bottom of the magnificent flight of locks at Caen Hill, officially reopened by The Queen in 1990.  One of the locks is named in her honour.  The journey to Bath travels 19 miles, passing through eight locks and takes around nine hours.

3. Cruise to the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port

From our boat yard at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire, it takes 10 hours to reach Ellesmere Port.  In 1979, The Queen visited the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port, and boarded a historic working boat.  The journey to Ellesmere Port takes 10 hours, travelling 21 miles and passing through 12 locks.  The route takes boaters through the ancient City of Chester along the way.

4. Navigate to Stratford upon Avon’s Swan Theatre

From Drifters’ narrowboat rental base at on the Stratford Canal at Wootton Wawen in Warwickshire, it’s a picturesque six-hour cruise through the Warwickshire countryside to Shakespeare’s Stratford. Once there, boaters can moor up in Bancroft Basin close the town’s famous Swan Theatre, visited by Queen Elizabeth II in 1986.

5. See the largest pair of equine statues on the planet – at 30-metres high, the magnificent Kelpies stand at the gateway to the new extension to the Forth & Clyde Canal, opened by The Queen in 2017. The Queen Elizabeth II Canal links the Forth & Clyde Canal with the Firth of Forth.  Based on the heavy horses that one plied the canal towpaths, the Kelpies form part of a new 350-hectare Helix park at the end of the canal extension at Grangemouth.  From Drifters’ narrowboat hire base at Falkirk, boaters can reach the Kelpies in around four hours, cruising four miles and passing through 14 locks.

6. Visit Coventry Cathedral by canal boat 

From our narrowboat hire base at Braunston, it takes 12 hours to reach moorings in Coventry Basin.  From there, it’s a short walk to Coventry Cathedral visited by The Queen in 1981, for a special re-dedication service to mark the Royal British Legion’s Diamond Jubilee. Travelling 28 miles and passing through just four locks, the journey to Coventry takes boaters through a series of canalside towns and villages, including Hillmorton and Rugby.

 

 

The Sunday Post, 18 October 2020

Liz Kavanagh reviews her first narrowboat holiday, travelling along the Union Canal in Scotland in her article ‘Who needs wheels! Boats for beginners’.

Drifters boats star in ‘Celebrity Britain by Barge’

Canals are back on our screens with a new Channel 5 series ‘Celebrity Britain by Barge: Then & Now’. The series began on Friday 14 February, starring Bill Oddie, Anne Diamond, Jennie Bond and Pete Waterman aboard a number of Drifters’ narrowboats.

In the first episode, the celebrities travel along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal aboard ‘Worcester’ (shared by Jennie and Anne) and ‘Somerset’ (shared by Bill and Pete).

‘Worcester’, who normally operates out of Sowerby Bridge, is a 56ft narrowboat for up to five people. ‘Worcester’ has a variety of cabin configurations – two fixed doubles, or one fixed double and two fixed singles, or four fixed singles, plus a saloon convertible to one single. She has two toilets, a shower and a bath – which particularly impressed Anne and Jennie.

In the main boating season, the 56ft ‘Somerset’ operates out of Barnoldswick. She has fixed berths for up to four people, plus a saloon which can be converted to a double or two singles. The fixed berths can both be doubles, or they can all be singles, or a mixture. ‘Somerset’ has two toilets and a corner show cubicle.

Both boats have fully equipped kitchens, central heating, TV’s and DVD players.

The celebrities travel from Appleby Bridge to Skipton, stopping off along the way at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Saltaire to visit Salts Mill, once one of the largest textile factories in the world and now an art gallery and high-tech production line.

Along the way, with the help of Canal & River Trust lock keepers, they travel up the famous Bingley Five Rise locks, one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways. Jennie and Anne also visit Skipton Castle, while Pete and Bill speak to Diane Rollin, an ecologist with the Canal & River Trust, to find out more about the wildlife that lives on the waterway.

In Episode 2, the celebrities continue their journey along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. They travel through the beautiful Yorkshire Dales and meet a sheep farmer, connect with the Pennine Way (Britain’s oldest national trail), talk to a Canal & River Trust lock keeper dealing with an emergency repair to a lock and they boat through Foulridge Tunnel.

For more information about Drifters’ holidays in the north east, go to https://www.drifters.co.uk/canals-of-north-east-england/

In Episode 3, to be broadcast this Friday (28 February) at 9pm, the action moves north to the Scottish Lowland Canals, and this time the celebrities are cruising aboard Drifters boats which are available to hire at our Falkirk canal boat hire base. The 62ft long ‘Princess 6’ narrowboat ‘Sarah’, sleeps up to six people, with flexible accommodation in two cabins, plus an optional extra double bed in the saloon. There are two shower rooms, a well-equipped galley, full central heating and a flat screen TV with Freeview and a DVD player.

In episode 3, the celebs travel along the Forth & Clyde Canal to visit the incredible Kelpies, the largest equine sculptures in the world, and learn about the role Clydesdale horses played on the waterway.

In episode 4 (to be broadcast Friday 6 March at 8.30pm), they travel through the incredible Falkirk Wheel Boat Lift and head east along the Union Canal towards Edinburgh. Along the way they pass through the Falkirk Tunnel and learn about the ghost of Irish navvy William Burke, and they travel across the longest aqueduct in Scotland.

For more information about Drifters’ holidays in Scotland go to https://www.drifters.co.uk/canals-of-scotland/

 

Ten good reasons to take a canal boat holiday.

Top 10 Museums to visit afloat

Britain’s beautiful 2,000-mile network of navigable canals and rivers passes through some of our most vibrant towns and cities, with exciting world-class Museums to visit along the way.

Here are our Top 10 museums to visit afloat in 2019:

1. Visit the Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker – from our canal boat hire base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal near Nantwich, it takes around three-and-a-half hours, travelling nine miles and passing through just two locks, to reach Hack Green visitors moorings – just a short walk from the Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker Museum. Once one of the nation’s most secret defence sites, this fascinating blast-proof underground bunker would have been the centre of Regional Government had nuclear war broken out. Decommissioned in 1993, today it offers visitors the chance to see the government’s preparations for nuclear war as well as the largest public display of nuclear weapons in Europe.

2. Travel to Leicester and the new King Richard III Visitor Centre – from our canal boat hire base at Union Wharf on the Leicester Line of the Grand Union Canal in Market Harborough, on a week’s narrowboat holiday boaters can travel to Leicester and back to visit the exciting new King Richard III Visitor Centre. The 13-hour cruise through the Leicestershire countryside, travels 23 miles, encounters 24 locks, and passes through a series of villages with friendly rural pubs to enjoy along the way. Once in Leicester, moorings at Castle Gardens are the perfect base for a foray to the new award-winning King Richard III Visitor Centre, which chronicles the last Plantagenet King’s life and remarkable story of the discovery of his remains under a Leicester car park five years ago.

3. See T-rex skeletons at the University of Oxford’s Natural History Museum – from Drifters’ narrowboat rental base on the River Thames at Eysnham near Witney, boaters can reach moorings in the centre of Oxford in just three hours, passing through four locks along the way. From there, the University of Oxford’s Natural History Museum is short walk away. Housed in a stunning Victorian neo-Gothic building, the Museum is home to an internationally significant collection of natural history specimens, including T-rex skeletons, the Oxford Dodo, whale skeletons, British bird displays, dinosaur fossils and the 4.5 billion-year-old Nantan meteorite.

4. Visit the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds – from our canal boat rental base at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, it takes 17 hours, passing through 28 locks to reach the Royal Armouries Museum at Leeds Dock – perfect for a week afloat. Home to the national collection of arms and armour, there are thousands of objects from across the world to admire across nine galleries, including Henry VIII’s ‘Horned Helmet’, a long bow from the wreck of the Mary Rose and the ‘Swords of Middle Earth’ based on the prop weapons used in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Hobbit’ movies.

5. Head to the Roman Baths Museum in Bath – from our canal boat holiday base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Hilperton, it’s a four-hour journey, travelling 11 miles and passing through one lock to moorings at Sydney Gardens. From there, it takes just 15 minutes to walk into the centre of the UNESCO World Heritage City of Bath, home to the Roman Baths, once one of the greatest religious spas of the ancient world. Here visitors can visit the Sacred Spring, Roman Temple and Roman Bath House and, with the help of costumed interpreters, learn about the people of Aquae Sulis (the Roman name for Bath) and their goddess Minerva.

6. Step back in time at the National Waterways Museum – from our boat yard on the Shropshire Union Canal at Bunbury, on a week’s break, narrowboat holiday-makers can travel through the Cheshire countryside and the ancient City of Chester to reach the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port. The journey takes around 11 hours, travels 21 miles and passes through 16 locks. Once at Ellesmere Port, boaters can moor up and take time to explore the Museum’s historic boat collection, docks, warehouses, forge, stables and workers cottages, which all bring the past vividly to life.

7. Marvel at the medieval splendour of Warwick Castle – cruising from our canal boat hire base at Stockton on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, it takes just over seven hours to reach moorings close to Warwick Castle, perfect for a short break afloat. This incredible 1,000-year-old medieval castle on the banks of the River Avon offers a fantastic day out, with Flight of the Eagles displays, Horrible Histories Maze, Kingmaker exhibition, towers and ramparts to climb, the Castle Dungeon tour and Mighty Trebuchet firing spectacle among the fantastic choice of things to see and do.

8. Take a cultural cruise to Wakefield – on a mid-week or week-long break from Drifters’ canal boat hire base at Sowerby Bridge, canal boat holiday-makers can travel to Wakefield and back to visit the fabulous Hepworth Wakefield Museum. The journey travels 40 miles, through 52 locks and takes around 22 hours. The Gallery, which has moorings right outside, offers visitors over 1,600 square metres of light-filled gallery spaces. As well as showcasing the extraordinary work by the British sculptor Barbara Hepworth, visitors to the Hepworth Wakefield can see works by Henry Moore, Alexander Calder, Naum Gabo, Antony Gormley, David Hockney, Paul Nash, John Nash, David Nash, Bridget Riley and Anthony Caro.

9. Travel through the Scottish Lowlands to Mary King Close in Edinburgh – from our narrowboat hire base at Falkirk, Edinburgh Quay is an 11-hour journey along the lock-free Union Canal, perfect for a four night mid-week break. The cruise starts with a trip through the iconic Falkirk Wheel (the world’s first 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 short walk from the Royal Mile where the Mary King Close Museum takes visitors back in time to explore Edinburgh’s only preserved 17th century street and follow in the footsteps of its former residents.

10. Discover the Gothic elegance of Plas Newydd House Museum – from Drifters’ narrowboat rental base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in Wrexham, North Wales, it takes just two hours to reach the beautiful Eisteddfod town of Llangollen, home to the remarkable Plas Newydd House Museum & Gardens. In the late 18th century this fascinating stone built house was turned into gothic fantasy by Lady Eleanor Butler and Miss Sarah Ponsonby, known as “The Ladies of Llangollen”. Today visitors can enjoy exploring the property’s enchanting gardens and gazing at the fascinating stained glass and elaborately carved oak interiors.