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Escape into the countryside afloat

Our self-drive narrowboat holidays provide a floating holiday home to escape aboard into the countryside, watching out for wildlife and enjoying walks along towpaths and connecting footpaths.  You can take all the supplies you need and have the freedom to moor up for the night alongside rural towpaths.

From forest bathing in Shropshire to wildlife watching in the Brecon Beacons, we’ve put together our Top 7 countryside escapes afloat for 2020:

  1. Glide through the Peak District to Cheddleton and back – on a short break from our canal boat hire base at Stoke on Trent, canal boat holiday-makers can travel into the Peak District along the beautiful Caldon Canal, reaching Cheddleton Flint Mill in around eight hours, passing through 12 locks and travelling just over 11 miles. As the Caldon Canal leaves Stoke, it begins to pass through gently rolling hills and wooded areas, past old mills and then alongside the stunning River Churnet, home to a variety of wildlife including kingfishers, herons, woodpeckers and otters.
  2. Cruise along the summit of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal to enjoy remote beauty – from our narrowboat hire base at Barnoldswick on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in Lancashire, it takes around four hours to gently cruise 10 miles to Bank Newton, passing through just three locks at Greenberfield. Along the way, the route takes boaters through some of the remotest and most beautiful stretch of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, with just sheep and birds in all directions.
  3. Float across ‘The Stream in the Sky’ into the Shropshire Lake District – passing through stunning North Wales landscapes, the Llangollen Canal is one of the most popular navigations on the network. The seven-hour journey from our narrowboat rental base at Trevor near Llangollen in North Wales, to Ellesmere takes canal boat holidays into the heart of the Shropshire Lake District.  There are just four locks each way and the route includes the experience of travelling across the awesome UNESCO World Heritage status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, also known as ‘The Stream in the Sky’, with incredible views of the Dee Valley 30 metres below.
  4. Forest bath on the Shropshire Union Canal – from our canal boat hire base at Brewood on the Shropshire Union Canal, it takes around 10 hours to reach the historic market town of Market Drayton. Along the way, boaters pass through six locks, miles of quiet countryside and long wooded sections of canal, perfect for forest bathing.
  5. Glide through the Brecon Beacons – isolated from the main canal network, the Monmouth & Brecon Canal follows the line of the beautiful Usk Valley through the Brecon Beacons National Park. Stretching 35 miles from Brecon to Cwmbran, this peaceful waterway, with very few locks, offers canal boat holiday-makers incredible mountain views and plenty of wooded sections full of the sound of woodland birds.  There’s a huge variety of wildlife to watch out for along the way, including red kites, buzzards, herons, butterflies, bats and dragonflies.  On a short break from Drifters’ base at Goytre Wharf, near Abergavenny, boaters can cruise lock-free to Llangynidr and back and on a week’s break, boaters can travel on to Brecon, passing through Talybont-on-Usk, with walks to the waterfalls at Blaen y Glyn.
  6. Drift through the prehistoric Vale of Pewsey to Hungerford – from our canal 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, boaters travel up the spectacular flight of 16 locks in a row at Caen Hill (one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways) and cruise through the beautiful Vale of Pewsey, passing close to prehistoric Avebury and along the edge of the ancient Savernake Forest.
  7. Cruise lock-free through the countryside to Lapworth – from our narrowboat hire base on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal at Tardebigge, near Bromsgrove, it takes around seven hours cruising through the Worcestershire and Warwickshire countryside to reach the village of Lapworth. There are no locks to pass through along the way, but there are a couple of tunnels, including Wast Hills, which at 2,493 metres long is one of the longest in the country.

Celebrate Father’s Day with a relaxing day afloat

Day boat hire on Britain’s peaceful network of inland waterways is a great way to celebrate Father’s Day (21 June), enjoying a relaxing day afloat on the first day of summer and stopping off for lunch and a pint at a canalside pub along the way.

Drifters offers day boat hire from 17 boat yards across England and Wales, with prices starting from less than £10 per person.

Full tuition is included so if you are new to canal boating, it’s a great way to get the hang of steering, mooring up and working the locks.  All our day boats are equipped with cutlery, crockery and a kettle, perfect for a picnic afloat, and most also have a toilet, cooker and fridge.

Here’s a list of our Top 10 day boat destinations for Dads:

  1. Glide through the Brecon Beacons – from Goytre Wharf on the beautiful Monmouth & Brecon Canal near Abergavenny, you can enjoy incredible mountain views on the two-and-a-half-hour journey to the popular Star pub at Mamhillad, a short walk from bridge 62. ***‘Rooster’ can carry up to eight people, prices start from £137.
  2. Explore Shakespeare’s country – from Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal near Stratford Upon Avon, you can head south to the pretty village of Wilmcote to enjoy lunch at The Mary Arden Inn and a visit to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s Mary Arden’s Farm, the childhood home of Shakespeare’s mother. The journey takes two-and-a-half hours each way, and crosses over the impressive Edstone Aqueduct with beautiful views across the Warwickshire countryside. ***’Dolie’ and ‘Charlie’ can carry up to 10 people each, prices start at £99 weekdays, £140 on weekends and bank holidays.
  3. 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 World Heritage status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.  Standing at over 38 metres high above the Dee Valley, this incredible structure offers boaters stunning views of the Dee Valley below.  After cruising over the Aqueduct, there are two tunnels to pass through – Whitehouses and Chirk, as well as Chirk Aqueduct with a viaduct running alongside it.  It takes around two-and-a-half hours to reach Chirk and the Poacher’s Pocket pub at Glendrid.  ***‘Jacob’, ‘Daniel’ and ‘Lotty’ can carry up to 10 people each, weekday hire starts at £120, £160 on weekends and bank holidays.
  4. Cruise to the Canal Museum in Stoke Bruerne – from Gayton on the Grand Union Canal in Northamptonshire, it takes around an hour to chug gently along to the pretty canalside village of Stoke Bruerne, passing through the 2,795-metre long Blisworth Tunnel along the way. Once there, you can moor up and visit the intriguing Canal Museum, whose stories, films and collections give visitors a fascinating look at the history of Britain’s canals.  And there are plenty of places to eat in Stoke Bruerne, including the Boat Inn, Navigation Inn and the Museum’s Waterside Café. ***’Daylark’ can carry up to 12 people, prices start at £129.
  5. Boat to beautiful Bradford on Avon – from Hilperton Marina near Trowbridge in Wiltshire on the beautiful Kennet & Avon, you can head west to the picturesque historic town of Bradford on Avon, with its stunning medieval Tithe Barn and choice of pubs, independent cafes and restaurants, including the canalside Barge Inn. ***‘Cheers’ can carry up to 10 people, prices start at £122.
  6. Tunnel through rural Worcestershire to Hopwood – from Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, cruise north to Kings Norton Junction, a pretty rural route with historic pubs along the way, including the family-friendly Hopwood House at Hopwood. The route is lock-free but there are two tunnels to pass through, including the 2493-metre long Wast Hill Tunnel. ***‘Emma’ can carry up to 10 people, weekday hire is £99, weekends & bank holidays £140.
  7. Glide along to the pretty village of Hillmorton – from Braunston on the Grand Union Canal in Northamptonshire, day boat hirer can enjoy a delightful seven-mile journey along the North Oxford Canal to the village of Hillmorton. The village offers the canalside Old Royal Oak to enjoy lunch and a flight of three locks for some gongoozling.  ***‘Water Ouzel’ can carry up to 12 people, weekday hire is £140, £175 on weekends and bank holidays.
  8. Cruise to Whitchurch for lunch at The Black Bear – from Whixall on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire, you can head to the historic market town of Whitchurch. The lock-free journey, which takes just under two hours, travels through six peaceful miles of countryside.  Once at Whitchurch, you can moor up to explore the town with its half-timbered buildings, independent shops, way-marked circular walks, Brown Moss nature reserve and award-winning ‘Black Bear’ pub.  ***’Julia’ can carry up to 10 people, prices start at £99 weekdays, £140 on weekends and bank holidays.
  9. Cruise through the Leicestershire countryside to Foxton Locks – from Union Wharf in Market Harborough it’s a pleasant two-and-a-half hour cruise along the Grand Union Canal Leicester Line to the top of Foxton Locks, where you can enjoy stunning views of the Leicestershire countryside, lunch at the historic waterside Foxton Locks Inn and a visit to the Foxton Inclined Boat Lift Museum to find out about the intriguing Victorian structure that once operated there. ***‘Moorhen’ can carry up to 12 people, weekday hire starts at £160, weekends & bank holidays from £210.
  10. Travel through the Staffordshire countryside to Rugeley – from Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal near Stafford, you can cruise four miles, passing through two locks to reach the historic market town of Rugeley. The journey, which takes around two hours, passes the National Trust’s stunning Shugborough Estate, the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust’s Wolseley Centre and the popular Wolseley Arms pub at Wolseley Bridge.  ***‘Daphne’ and ‘Abi’ can carry up to 10 people each, weekday hire starts at £99, £140 on weekends and bank holidays.

For more information about Drifters day boat hire https://www.drifters.co.uk/day-boats/

 

All aboard for autumn afloat on the canals

All aboard for autumn afloat on the canals

A canal boat holiday is a great way to enjoy the vibrant colours of autumn in the hedgerows and trees that line our waterways – dramatically mirrored in the water.

There’s plenty of wildlife to spot along the way during the autumn months, including flocks of fieldfare and redwing searching for hawthorn berries, and wood mice and bank voles stocking up on food before the winter.

There are also foraging opportunities for people along the way – apples, blackberries, elderberries, damsons and sloes all make fabulous ingredients for fresh fruit crumbles and drinks on board.

Here are Drifters’ top seven destinations this autumn:

1. Amble along the Ashby to Snarestone and back – on a week’s holiday from Drifters’ canal boat hire base at Braunston, canal boat holiday-makers can travel to the pretty village of Snarestone and back, travelling a total of 47 miles, passing through eight locks and taking around 32 hours. This largely rural route takes boaters up the North Oxford Canal to Rugby and on to Hawkesbury Junction to join the Coventry Canal. Five miles later, boaters can transfer onto the peaceful lock-free Ashbury Canal, which winds peacefully through countryside for almost the whole of its 22-mile length. From Carlton Bridge to Snarestone, the canal is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Along the way, boaters pass close to Market Bosworth and the site of the Battle of Bosworth Field. Here in 1485 the reign of Richard III ended and Henry Tudor became Henry VII, the first of the Tudor monarchs.

2. Go blackberry picking on the Stratford Canal – from our boat yard at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal, it’s a picturesque seven-hour cruise through the Warwickshire countryside to Stratford upon Avon, with plenty of hedgerow foraging opportunities along the way – perfect for a short break. Once at the birthplace of the Bard, boaters can moor up in Bancroft Basin, just a stone’s throw from the Swan Theatre, to explore the town’s many independent shops, restaurants and museums, including Shakespeare’s Birthplace and Tudor World.

3. Float through the Brecon Beacons to Taylbont-on-Usk – the beautiful Monmouth & Brecon Canal offers 35 miles of quiet countryside to explore with incredible views of the Brecon Beacons. From our narrowboat hire base at Goytre Wharf near Abergavenny, on a short break (three or four nights) boaters can journey through the wooded Usk Valley to Talybont-on-Usk, visiting villages and historic market towns along the way, including the Georgian town of Crickhowell with its 13th century castle. Once at Talybont-on-Usk, boaters can enjoy walking access to Blaen y Glyn waterfalls and a choice of pubs, including the Star Inn and the White Hart Inn. The total journey there and back travels 36 miles, passing through 10 locks and takes around 18 hours. .

4. Visit the old mill town of Hebden Bridge – on a short break (three or four nights) from Drifters’ canal boat rental base at Sowerby Bridge in West Yorkshire, canal boat holiday-makers can travel along the leafy Calder & Hebble Navigation through the Calder Valley to the old mill town of Hebden Bridge, nestled in a fork in the hills. Climbing through woods, fields and small stone towns, the journey to Hebden Bridge covers seven miles, 10 locks and takes around five and a half hours. Once at Hebden, boaters can moor in the centre of town to enjoy a good choice of pubs, restaurants, cafes, shops and markets as well as stunning walks up to Heptonstall or Hardcastle Crags.

5. Explore Georgian Bath afloat – on a short break from our Hilperton base on the Kennet & Avon Canal near Trowbridge in Wiltshire, canal boat holiday-makers can travel to the World Heritage Status City of Bath and back, enjoying beautiful views of the southern Cotswold hills along the way. The journey to Sydney Wharf takes just six hours, travelling across two magnificent aqueducts, passing through one lock and several canalside pubs, including the popular Cross Guns at Avoncliff. Once in Bath, boaters can moor up and it’s a short walk to the City Centre to visit some of the City’s world class attractions, including the Roman Baths and Royal Crescent.

6. Complete the Stourport Ring – from our narrowboat hire base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, on a week’s break narrowboat holiday-makers canal travel the popular Stourport Ring, travelling a total of 74 miles and passing through 118 locks, which takes around 44 hours). The route takes in the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal, the Worcester & Birmingham Canal Navigation, 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 City Centre; open countryside on the River Severn; Stourport Basins; Bratch Locks at Wombourne; the pretty village of Kinver with access to the National Trust’s famous rock houses; the Black Country Living Museum; and Cadbury World.

7. Cruise through the Scottish lowlands to Linlithgow and back – from our canal boat hire base at the Falkirk Wheel boat lift, it’s a peaceful five-hour cruise through the Scottish lowlands along the Union Canal to the historic town of Linlithgow – perfect for a short break (three or four nights). The route begins passing over the Falkirk Wheel – the world’s first rotating boat lift which replaced a flight of 11 locks and then passes through two tunnels and two aqueducts, plus miles of peaceful countryside before reaching Linlithgow. Once there, narrowboat holiday-makers can visit the beautifully preserved remains of Linlithgow Palace on the shores of Linlithgow Loch, and sample some of the town’s excellent eateries, including the award-winning Four Marys pub.

 

Top 10 Canal Events in 2018

Top 10 Canal Events in 2018

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.

Waterway events make great destinations for canal boat holiday-makers, so we’ve put together a list of the top 10 events for 2018, along with information on our nearest canal boat hire bases:

1. St Richard’s Canal Festival, 4-7 May – this annual event, which takes place in Vines Park alongside the Droitwich Barge Canal, will be extra special this year as the Worcester & Birmingham Canal Society will be celebrating the 45th anniversary of the start of the restoration of the Droitwich Canals. The event offers family entertainment, live music, boats, classic cars, art workshops, community stalls, a real ale bar and the annual ‘Great Droitwich Duck Race’ with over 1,000 plastic ducks competing. Drifters’ nearest canal boat rental bases are Worcester and Stoke Prior.

2. IWA Canalway Cavalcade, 5-7 May – the Inland Waterway Association’s Canalway Cavalcade takes place at Little Venice, close to Paddington Basin 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. Drifters’ nearest narrowboat hire bases are at Oxford and Aldermaston.

3. Rickmansworth Canal Festival, 19-20 May – celebrating canals, the community and the environment, the annual 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. Drifters’ nearest canal boat hire base is on the Grand Union Canal at Braunston.

4. Crick Boat Show & Waterways Festival, 26-28 May – over 300 exhibitors will gather at Crick Marina on the Leicester Line of the Grand Union Canal near Daventry to celebrate the canals and showcase thousands of inland waterways products and services. Now Britain’s biggest inland waterways festival, the event offers visitors a fantastic day out by the water, with free boat trips, live music, children’s activities, arts and crafts stands and a wide variety of food and drink stalls. Drifters’ nearest narrowboat hire bases are at Gayton, Braunston and Market Harborough.

5. Chester Dragon Boat Festival, 10 June – this annual and very colourful charity event on the River Dee in Chester sees over 20 dragon boat teams of up to 16 paddlers and a drummer battling to become the champions. Drifters’ nearest narrowboat hire rental centres are Bunbury and Brewood.

6. Edinburgh Canal Festival & Raft Race, 16 June – taking place at Edinburgh Quay on the Union Canal, this annual community event includes raft racing, music, stalls, kids activities, boat trips, canoe taster-sessions, water walkers, music, dance and food. Drifters’ nearest base is at Falkirk.

7. Stratford River Festival, 30 June-1 July – this two-day free annual event offers visitors waterside family fun in Stratford-upon-Avon with music, a gathering of boats, craft and food stalls, family zone, charity stalls, illuminated boat parade and spectacular fireworks. Drifters’ nearest canal boat hire base is Wotton Wawen.

8. Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, 3-8 July – every year thousands of people from around the World descend on the pretty town of Llangollen on the Llangollen Canal to celebrate dance, music, costume and culture. The Llangollen Eisteddfod is one of the world’s great musical and culture events with six days of world-class competitions and concerts featuring an array of international performers. Drifters’ nearest canal boat hire bases are at Trevor, Chirk and Blackwater Meadow.

9. Stoke Bruerne Village at War, 8-9 September – organised by the Friends of the Stoke Bruerne Canal Museum, the annual vintage themed Village at War event takes people back to the 40’s with live music, tea dances, vintage fashion shows, a Black Market, tanks and other military vehicles, re-enactments and displays. Historic boats are on show, including the Museum’s own restored narrowboat ‘Sculptor’, which saw action in London as a fire boat during the Blitz. Drifters’ nearest narrowboat hire bases are Gayton, Braunston, Stretton and Rugby.

10. Stone Food & Drink Festival, 5-7 October – 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 in the pop up restaurant, street food and a farmers’ market. Drifters’ nearest narrowboat rental bases are Great Haywood, Brewood and Peak District.

Top 5 bank holiday boating breaks

Top 5 bank holiday boating breaks

To celebrate the approaching May bank holiday holidays, Drifters has put together its top five short break narrowboat holidays:

1. See the pop-up art installations on the Droitwich Ring – as part of the Canal & River Trust’s Arts of the Waterways programme, the charity has commissioned artists to produce dynamic temporary artworks and live events along the 21-mile long Droitwich Ring, for visitors to enjoy this Spring and Summer. The restoration of the Droitwich Canals was completed in 2011, reconnecting them to the Worcester & Birmingham Canal and the River Severn, and creating a canal boat holiday cruising ring that can be completed on a short break from our Worcester and Stoke Prior canal boat hire bases.

2. Step back in time at Mary King’s Close beneath Edinburgh’s Royal Mile – from Drifters’ narrowboat hire base at Falkirk, at the junction of the Union and Forth & Clyde canals, on a mid-week (four night) break narrowboat holiday-makers can travel through the Scottish Lowlands to Edinburgh and back. The journey starts with trip through the iconic Falkirk Wheel, the world’s first and only rotating boat lift, which lifts boats 100ft from the Forth & Clyde Canal to the Union Canal above. The 32-mile journey along the Union Canal to Edinburgh passes through three locks and takes around 11 hours. Once at there, boaters can moor up at Edinburgh Quay, just a five-minute walk from City Centre attractions, including Mary King’s Close, a warren of streets frozen in time beneath the Royal Mile.

3. Celebrate 950 years of history at Warwick Castle – from our narrowboat hire centre at Stockton on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, it takes around eight hours, travelling 11 miles and passing through 22 locks, to reach the historic centre of Warwick. Here canal boat holiday-makers can take time to explore the magnificent Warwick Castle established 950 years ago by William the Conqueror on the banks of the River Avon, and said to be ‘Britain’s greatest medieval experience’ with ramparts to climb, birds of prey displays, trebuchet firing, Horrible Histories Maze, Kingmaker exhibition and many other attractions to explore.

4. Travel across the incredible Pontcysyllte Aqueduct – from Drifters’ canal boat rental base at Chirk on the beautiful Llangollen Canal in North Wales, the awesome World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct can be reached on a short break. Standing at over 125ft high above the Dee Valley, this incredible 1,000ft long structure consists of a cast iron trough supported on iron arched ribs, carried on 19 enormous hollow pillars. With not even a hand rail on the south side of the aqueduct to obscure the stunning views of the valley below, canal boaters literally feel like they are floating above the earth.

5. Visit the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford – from our canal boat hire base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal near Henley-in-Arden, it’s a six-hour, 17-lock cruise through the beautiful Warwickshire countryside to Bancroft Basin in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon. From there, it’s a short walk to the town’s restaurants, shops, markets, museums and theatres, including the 1,040 seat Royal Shakespeare Theatre, home to the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Travel the Mid-Worcestershire Ring and enjoy inspiring artworks along the way

Travel the Mid-Worcestershire Ring and enjoy inspiring artworks along the way

From March, a series of events and art installations will take place to celebrate the 21-mile circle of historic waterways which make up the Mid-Worcestershire Ring.

The route, which reopened seven years ago following the restoration of the Droitwich Canals, flows through the urban and rural landscapes of Worcester and Droitwich, via the Droitwich Canals, part of the River Severn and a section of the Worcester & Birmingham Canal.

The Mid-Worcestershire Ring, also known as The Droitwich Ring, can be explored on a short break canal boat holiday from Drifters’ canal boat hire bases at Worcester or Stoke Prior, or on a week’s holiday from Tardebigge and Alvechurch.

The Ring arts programme, which is supported by the Canal & River Trust, features internationally acclaimed artists working with local communities to create a series of unexpected and inspiring artworks that explore the heritage, ecology and people along the waterways of Worcestershire.

Between March and September, audiences are invited to explore The Ring by boat, on foot or bicycle to discover activities taking place along the Mid-Worcestershire Ring waterways.
From sculpture and street art to music and poetry, the artists confirmed for The Ring include:

Rich White, Occupation (Diglis Island Residency), Diglis Island, Worcester (March – Sept 2018)
Bristol-based sculptor Rich White who will be taking residence on and exploring the heritage of Diglis Island, during which he will explore the island’s history and future, and create a temporary, large-scale sculpture, entitled Occupation.

Heather Wastie, The Muck and Shovel Brigade, Droitwich Canals
Former Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Heather Wastie has written a series of poems that sparkle with wit and warmth, inspired by the Droitwich Canals, the people who restored them.

Katy Beinart, Saltways, Vines Park, Droitwich and Droitwich Heritage Centre (May – Sept 2018)
Brighton-based interdisciplinary artist Katy Beinart will explore Droitwich’s historic past as a salt production centre, exporting salt around the world via vital canal routes and other ‘Saltways’.

NEON, Weorgoran Pavilion, South Quay, Worcester City Centre (15 – 24 June 2018)
This innovative performance pavilion will host a vibrant programme of literature, music, dance and workshops led by local artists.

Dave Crowe, Shire Skies, South Quay, Worcester City Centre (15 – 24 June 2018)
Beatboxer Dave Crowe and Stranger Faces headline our opening night performances on The River Spectacle stage (15 June) with a lively mix of funk and beatbox sounds.

Emily Speed, Hollowware, Diglis Canal Basin, Worcester (August 2018)
Working with the Museum of Royal Worcester, sited a short walk from The Ring’s route, Emily Speed presents an interactive performance work.

Lucy McLauchlan, Opening the Floodgates, Oil Dock Basin, Worcester (August – September 2018)
Lucy is one of the UK’s leading female street artists and her internationally acclaimed, large-scale monochromatic paintings combine ancient, almost prehistorical influences with graphic sensibilities.

To find out more about narrowboat holidays on the Mid-Worcestershire Ring visit https://www.drifters.co.uk/

Drifters' Top 5 new canal boats for hire in 2018

Drifters’ Top 5 new canal boats for hire in 2018

There are now over 30,000 canal boats on our inland waterways, more than at the time of the Industrial Revolution, and half a century after the 1968 Transport Act officially recognised Britain’s canal network as a major leisure resource, the popularity of canal boat holidays continues to increase.

Today’s canal boats for hire are fully equipped with all the essential mod cons – central heating, hot water, TV, fully-equipped kitchens, showers and flushing toilets. To create ever higher standards of accommodation, the length of boat per berth is increasing and new canal boats for hire are arriving on the network with extras like baths, drinks fridges, larger showers, solid-fuel stoves, King-sized beds and WiFi.

Here are our top five new narrowboats available for hire in 2018:

1. Float across ‘The Stream in the Sky’ aboard ‘Lily’ – the brand new luxury four-berth ‘Lily’ Heritage class boat is now available to hire from Drifters’ narrowboat hire base at Trevor, on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales. This 66ft long semi-traditional stern narrowboat offers ‘heritage’ features, including a Belfast sink, port holes and a solid fuel stove in the saloon, alongside modern home comforts, including two showers and two toilets, two double beds (which can be made into twin beds) in separate cabins, LED lighting, full radiator central heating and WiFi. ***ROUTES – on a short break from Trevor, canal boat holiday-makers can travel across the awesome World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, a pioneering masterpiece of engineering. Standing at 38 metres high above the Dee Valley, this incredible 307-metre long structure offers stunning views of the valley below. ***PRICES for ‘Lily’ start at £740 for a short break, or £1,060 for a week. Price includes bed linen, towels, cancellation protection, first pet, parking and tuition on arrival. A £50 non-refundable damage waiver and fuel deposit (£50 for a short break, £90 for a week) are extra. Fuel charge is based on use, circa £10-15 per day.

2. Travel to Georgian Bath and back aboard ‘Darwin’s Fox’ – from our canal boat hire base at Foxhangers on the Kennet & Avon Canal in Devizes, this season the new 65ft ‘Darwin’s Fox’, with accommodation for up to seven people, takes to the water. This luxury canal boat is perfect for two couples or small families wanting the greatest amount of privacy and comfort aboard a narrowboat. It has a central saloon and open plan galley, with the two permanent sleeping cabins privately positioned at either end of the boat. The rear double can be converted from a standard double into a king size bed and the forward cabin has a range of flexible sleeping configurations. ‘Darwin Fox’ has central heating, a 240v electrical system, fully equipped galley including a microwave and extra drinks fridge. There are TV’s in each cabin, the saloon, the master double and secondary cabin/media room where a single bed converts into a desk and TV. ***ROUTES – from Foxhangers, canal boat holiday-makers can travel west to the World Heritage Status City of Bath, famous for its stunning Georgian architecture and fascinating Roman Baths, or head east to the beautiful Vale of Pewsey, travelling up the spectacular Caen Hill flight of locks, one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’. ***PRICES for ‘Darwin’s Fox’ start at £1,098 for a week. Price includes damage waiver, diesel and gas for cooking, bed linen and towels, car parking, tuition and buoyancy aids. Pets are charged at £30 each.

3. Enjoy stunning Pennine scenery aboard ‘Lincoln’ – this 46ft cosy narrowboat for two launches this season from Drifters’ narrowboat rental base at Sowerby Bridge on the junction of the Calder & Hebble Navigation and Rochdale Canal in West Yorkshire. ‘Lincoln’ offers canal boat holiday-makers a fixed double cabin (plus convertible single bed in the saloon), an extra-large shower, LED lighting, central heating, radio CD player with 4 speakers, Bluetooth, USB, iPod and Android, TV/DVD, hairdryer, 240v electrical system, a well-equipped galley with hob and fitted oven and grill, microwave, fridge and dining table. ***ROUTES – On a short break (three or four nights) from Drifters’ base at Sowerby Bridge, canal boat holiday-makers can travel to Todmorden and back along the Rochdale Canal, passing through the beautiful Calder Valley and stunning Pennine scenery along the way. ***PRICES for ‘Lincoln’ start at £485 for a short break, £745 for a week. Price includes damage waiver, cruising guide, comprehensive instruction, fuel, gas, parking, buoyancy aids, bed linen and first pet.

4. Visit historic Warwick aboard the spacious ‘Harry Hudson’ – new for the 2018 season, the 70ft ‘Harry Hudson’ has accommodation for up to six people, with two fixed doubles (one of which can also be set up as two fixed singles), each with an en suite toilet and shower room. The spacious lounge can also be made up as either twin singles or a large double. ‘Harry Hudson’ has a fully equipped galley, with a full sized gas cooker, fridge, microwave, and plenty of worktop space. The spacious lounge is equipped with TV, DVD, radio with CD player. There are 3-pin sockets throughout the boat, and a USB charging point. ***ROUTES – on a short break from Drifters’ canal boat rental base at Warwick on the Grand Union Canal, canal boat holiday-makers can cruise to Long Itchington and back, with plenty of historic canalside pubs to enjoy a along the way. On a week’s holiday, canal boat hirers can complete the Warwickshire Ring, passing through the centre of Birmingham as well as the beautiful Warwickshire countryside. ***PRICES for ‘Harry Hudson’ start at and £720 for a short break (three or four nights), £1,000 for a week. Price includes diesel, gas, car parking, tuition on arrival, buoyancy aids and bed linen. A non-refundable compulsory damage waiver is extra, and pets are charged at £25 each.

5. Step aboard the new Warbler at Worcester and complete the Mid-Worcestershire Ring – a brand new 69ft ‘Warbler’ narrowboat, with accommodation for up to eight people, will be available to hire from Drifters’ canal boat hire centre at Worcester from this July. The ‘Warbler’ has three flexible layout cabins (all with wider beds), two bathrooms, LED lighting throughout, two TV’s, a fully equipped kitchen with a dining table and a front deck table too. ***ROUTES – from Worcester on the River Severn, canal boat holiday-makers can complete the Mid-Warwickshire Ring on a short break, travelling 21 miles, through 33 locks in around 16 hours, stopping off to enjoy ‘The Ring’ series of art installations taking place there this year. On a week’s holiday, boaters can complete the longer Stourport Ring, travelling through Wolverhampton, Birmingham and the mighty Tardebigge Flight of locks. ***PRICES for the Warbler start at £999 for a short break (three or four nights), £1,599 for a week. Price includes damage waiver, gas, parking, tuition, towels, bedding and first pet. Fuel is extra, circa £10-15 per day. A fuel deposit of £50 is taken for short breaks, £90 for a week’s hire.

 

 

Top 8 Easter destinations afloat

Top 8 Easter destinations afloat

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

Drifters’ prices this Easter start at £495 for a short break on a boat for four people, £775 for a week.

Here are our top eight destinations for Easter 2018:

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

2. Join the Easter Boat Gathering at the National Waterways Museum – over the Easter Weekend, the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire celebrates the start of the Summer boating season with a large boat gathering and Sea Shanty Festival. From Drifters’ base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire, it’s a 10-hour journey to Ellesmere Port (travelling 21 miles through 12 locks), where canal boat holiday-makers can moor up and join the celebrations, passing through the historic City of Chester along the way.

3. Take in a show at the Egg theatre in Bath – on a short break from Drifters’ base at Hilperton near Trowbridge in Wiltshire, boaters can travel gently along the beautiful Kennet & Avon Canal, passing through Bradford on Avon and reaching Bath Top Lock in just seven hours, with just one lock to pass through. From there, it’s a short walk to Georgian Bath’s City Centre attractions, including the Roman Baths and the Theatre Royal’s award-winning egg theatre where each evening from 29 March to 8 April a different selection of new plays written and performed by local adults and children will be performed as part of the theatre’s ‘Out of Your Mind’ event.

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

5. Float across ‘The Stream in the Sky’ – from Drifters’ base at Chirk on the beautiful Llangollen Canal in North Wales, the awesome World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and the pretty Eisteddfod town of Llangollen can be reached on a short break. Standing at over 125ft high above the Dee Valley, the incredible 1,000ft long Pontcysyllte Aqueduct consists of a cast iron trough supported on iron arched ribs, carried on 19 enormous hollow pillars. With not even a hand rail on the south side of the aqueduct to obscure the stunning views of the valley below, canal boaters literally feel like they are floating above the earth. On a week’s holiday, boaters can also head east along the Llangollen Canal to Ellesmere and the historic town of Whitchurch.

6. See a T-Rex skeleton at the National Museum of Scotland – from our boat yard at Falkirk, at the junction of the Union and Forth & Clyde canals, on a mid-week (four night) or week’s break, narrowboat holiday-makers can travel through the Scottish Lowlands to Edinburgh and back. The journey starts with trip through the iconic Falkirk Wheel, the world’s first and only rotating boat lift, which lifts boats 100ft from the Forth & Clyde Canal to the Union Canal above. Once in Edinburgh, narrowboat holiday-makers can moor up in Edinburgh Quay to enjoy the City’s attractions, including the National Museum of Scotland’s Natural World Gallery with stuffed and model animals from around the world and a recreated Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton.

7. Wend your way to Warwick Castle – said to be Britain’s greatest Medieval experience, Warwick Castle is a leisurely day’s cruise from Drifters’ Stockton base on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire. Once there, canal boat holiday-makers can moor up in the centre of Warwick to explore the Castle and enjoy some of the special events planned there for Easter to celebrate the 950th anniversary of William the Conqueror’s motte and bailey castle, including the new ‘Conqueror’s Fortress’ interactive exhibition exploring the castle’s fascinating founding story and ‘Knight’s School’ where visitors can learn tactical defence skills.

8. Star Gaze in the Brecon Beacons – isolated from the main canal network, the beautiful Monmouth & Brecon Canal runs through the Brecon Beacons National Park, now officially an International Dark Sky Reserve, one of only five in the world. Stretching 35 miles from Brecon to Cwmbran, this peaceful waterway, with very few locks, offers canal boat holiday-makers incredible mountain views, a series of historic village pubs to visit along the way and dark skies perfect for star-gazing and seeing the Blue Moon on 31 March. On a short break from Drifters’ base at Goytre Wharf, near Abergavenny, boaters can cruise lock-free to Llangynidr and back, passing the Lion Inn at Govilon and the Bridge End Inn at Llangattock. On a week’s break, boaters can travel on to Brecon, passing through Talybont-on-Usk with its popular White Hart and Star inns.

Take a romantic canal boat holiday for two this Valentine’s

Top 4 Romantic Destinations Afloat

Cosy double berths, quiet moorings and historic canalside pubs with roaring log fires make canals the perfect Romantic hideaway.

Drifters offers winter cruising* and romantic boats for two from a number of its bases, giving couples the chance to escape on board their very own ‘love boat’.

Today’s canal boats are fully equipped with all the essential mod cons, including central heating, hot water, televisions and DVD players, and many now have Wifi too. So whatever the weather, it’s always nice and cosy on board.

Here are Drifters’ Top four romantic destinations for Valentine’s 2018:

1. Propose across the ‘Stream in the Sky’ – the awe-inspiring 300 metre-long World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which soars nearly 40 metres high above the rushing waters of the River Dee, is truly one of the wonders of the waterways. And what a place to propose?! From Drifters’ canal boat hire base on the Llangollen Canal at Trevor, close to the aqueduct, a short break to Frankton Junction and back offers the chance to explore the beautiful Vale of Llangollen and stop off at cosy country pubs along the way, like the Poacher’s Pocket at Gledrid.

2. Visit Georgian Bath and its romantic Pulteney Bridge – from our narrowboat hire centre on the Kennet & Avon Canal in the World Heritage Status City of Bath, it takes two hours, passing through six locks, to reach city centre moorings close to the romantic Pulteney Bridge. Together with the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Pulteney Bridge is one of the World’s most beautiful bridges, and is one of only a handful of historic bridges in the world with shops built into it. Bath offers a huge variety of places restaurants for romantic dining, including the ‘Sotto Sotto’ costy Italian restaurant set in one of Bath’s many underground vaults.

3. Potter through the rural ‘heart of the canal network’ – from Drifters’ boat yard in the historic canal village of Braunston at the heart of the canal network, on a short break (three or four nights) couples can cruise gently through the Northamptonshire countryside to the pretty village of Crick and back, stopping off at rural locals along the way, including The New Inn at Buckby Wharf, serving traditional British pub food. On a week’s holiday, canal boat holiday-makers can continue on to Foxton Locks, with stunning views of the Leicestershire countryside all around.

4. Cruise lock-free through the Warwickshire countryside – on a short break from canal boat yard at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, it takes seven peaceful hours, passing through the beautiful Warwickshire countryside and remnants of the ancient Forest of Arden, to reach the village of Hockley Heath on the Stratford Canal. With no locks along the way, there’s plenty of time to stand together at the tiller, watching the world go by. Once at Hockley Heath, couples can moor up to enjoy a drink at The Wharf Tavern and take a stroll to the pretty red brick church of St Thomas.

*NB Winter stoppages affect some routes

Top 10 canal boat holidays for 2018

Top 10 canal boat holidays for 2018

With boats travelling at a maximum speed of 4mph, and over 3,000 miles of navigable peaceful inland waterways to explore across Britain, canal boat holidays really are the fastest way to slow down.  From rural retreats to vibrant city centres, narrowboat holiday-makers can use their boat as a floating holiday home to explore.

Drifters’ offers over 580 boats for hire from 45 locations across England, Scotland and Wales. 2018 hire prices start at £395 for a short break (three or four nights) on a boat for four, £575 for a week. Tuition is included in all our holiday packages.

There are hundreds of routes and destinations to choose from, but to help plan your next boating adventure, here are our Top 10 narrowboat holidays for 2018:

1. Visit the newly reopened iconic Piece Hall in Halifax…on a short break (three or four nights) from Drifters’ base at Sowerby Bridge, Salterhebble Basin on the Halifax Branch of the Calder & Hebble Navigation is a two mile cruise away. From there, it’s a two mile walk to Piece Hall, one of the most iconic heritage buildings in Britain. Once the centre of the global woollen trade, following a multi-million-pound transformation, this monumental Georgian structure with its immense, open air piazza is now home to a mix of independent bars, shops and cafes, and a seasonal programme of events.

2. See the pop-up art installations on the Droitwich Ring…as part of the Canal & River Trust’s Arts of the Waterways programme, the charity which cares for our canals and rivers is commissioning artists to produce dynamic temporary artworks and live events along the 21-mile long Droitwich Ring, for visitors to enjoy from March to September 2018. The restoration of the Droitwich Canals was completed in 2011, reconnecting them to the Worcester & Birmingham Canal and the River Severn, and creating a canal boat holiday cruising ring that can be completed on a short break (three or four nights), travelling through 33 locks in around 15 hours from Drifters’ Worcester base.

3. Marvel at the Caen Hill Flight at Devizes…arguably the most impressive flight of locks on the UK waterway network, the spectacular 16 locks in a row climbing Caen Hill on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Devizes, forms the middle section of 29-lock flight stretching for two miles and raising the canal up by 237ft. The Caen Hill Locks were the final section of the canal to be completed in 1810 and one of the final sections to be restored before the re-opening of the Kennet & Avon Canal in 1990. From Drifters’ boatyard at Hilperton near Trowbridge, it’s a four-hour cruise, travelling seven miles, through seven locks, to reach Fox Hanger Wharf at the base of the Caen Hill Flight. It takes a further five hours to reach the top of the flight.

4. Follow the Lime Kiln Trail on the Mon & Brec…isolated from the main canal network, the beautiful Monmouth & Brecon Canal runs through the Brecon Beacons National Park and is home to a series of historic lime kilns. Stretching 35 miles from Brecon to Cwmbran, this peaceful waterway, with very few locks, offers canal boat holiday-makers incredible mountain views and a fascinating insight into the history of lime production, in an area where both limestone and coal were in plentiful supply. On a short break from Drifters’ base at Goytre Wharf, near Abergavenny, boaters can cruise lock-free to Llangynidr and back, with lime kilns to visit along the way at Goytre, Gilwern and Llangattock.

5. See the ancient topiary at Packwood House…From our canal boat hire base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal near Henley-in-Arden, it’s a seven-mile, 31-lock and 10-hour journey through the Forest of Arden to Lapworth Lock No 6. From there it’s a half-mile walk to the National Trust’s beautiful timber-framed Tudor manor house, Packwood House, where, according to legend, the famous 350-year old trees in Packwood’s iconic Yew Garden represent the ‘Sermon on the Mount’.

6. Float across ‘The Stream in the Sky’…from Drifters’ base at Chirk on the beautiful Llangollen Canal in North Wales, the awesome World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct can be reached on a short break. Standing at over 125ft high above the Dee Valley, this incredible 1,000ft long structure consists of a cast iron trough supported on iron arched ribs, carried on 19 enormous hollow pillars. With not even a hand rail on the south side of the aqueduct to obscure the stunning views of the valley below, canal boaters literally feel like they are floating above the earth.

7. Discover the story of the Staffordshire Hoard…from our Tardebigge base on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, it’s a five-hour (three-lock) journey to Gas Street Basin in the centre of Birmingham, a short walk from dozens of top attractions, including the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. Here visitors can see the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found and learn about its warrior history. Hundreds of pieces from the Hoard are on show, along with hands-on displays exploring how these intriguing items were used, before they were buried some 1,400 years ago.

8. Cruise the Cheshire Ring for some stunning Pennine views…on a week’s break from our Anderton base on the Trent & Mersey Canal, narrowboat holiday-makers can cruise the 97-mile, 92-lock Cheshire Ring in around 48 hours. This popular circuit takes six different waterways, the incredible Victorian Anderton Boat Lift and a complete range of canal scenery, including spectacular views of the Pennines from the Macclesfield Canal, gentle rolling Cheshire countryside on the Trent & Mersey Canal, and the lively city centre of Manchester on the Rochdale Canal.

9. Climb Edinburgh’s extinct volcano for stunning views of the city…From Drifters’ base at Falkirk, at the junction of the Union and Forth & Clyde canals, on a week’s break narrowboat holiday-makers can travel through the Scottish Lowlands to Edinburgh and back. The journey starts with trip through the iconic Falkirk Wheel, the world’s first and only rotating boat lift, which lifts boats 100ft from the Forth & Clyde Canal to the Union Canal above. The 32-mile journey along the Union Canal to Edinburgh passes through three locks and takes around 11 hours. Once at there, boaters can moor up at Edinburgh Quay, and walk through Holyrood Park to the top of Arthur’s Seat for stunning views of the city below.

10. Pass through Blisworth Tunnel to reach the Canal Museum at Stoke Bruerne…on a week’s break from Drifters’ base at Stockton on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, canal boat holiday-makers can cruise gently through the Warwickshire and Northamptonshire countryside to the canalside village of Stoke Bruerne, passing through the 2,813-metre long Blisworth Tunnel, the third longest on the network. Once in Stoke Bruerne, visitors can enjoy a choice of canalside pubs, woodland walks and browsing the intriguing waterway history collections at the Canal Museum. The journey to Stoke Bruerne travels 30 miles, passing through 22 locks and takes around 19 hours.