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 £710 for a short break (three or four nights) on a boat for four people, £1,010 for a week.
Here are our top eight destinations for Easter 2024:
1. Visit the World’s biggest Cadbury shop at Cadbury World
Perfect for beginners, you 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 visiting the Planetarium at Birmingham’s Science Museum Thinktank.
2. Join the Easter Boat Gathering at the National Waterways Museum
Over the Easter Weekend (29 March to 1 April 2024), the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire celebrates the start of the summer boating season with a large boat gathering and music and activities for the whole family. From our 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 and passing through the historic City of Chester along the way, perfect for a week away.
3. Visit the Bath Comedy Festival
On a short break from Drifters’ base at Hilperton near Trowbridge in Wiltshire, you can travel along the beautiful Kennet & Avon Canal and reach Bath Top Lock in 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 Bath Comedy Festival, on from 1-21 April 2024.
4. See the ancient Rock Houses 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 the National Trust’s ancient Rock Houses to visit. 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 our base at Chirk on the beautiful Llangollen Canal in North Wales, the awesome World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and the pretty Eisteddfod town of Llangollen can be reached on a short break. The incredible 1,000ft-long Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, also known as ‘The Stream in the Sky’ stands over 125ft high above the Dee Valley. With not even a hand rail on the south side of the aqueduct to obscure the stunning views of the valley below, crossing the aqueduct by boat you literally feel like you’re floating above the earth. On a week’s holiday, you can also head east along the Llangollen Canal to Ellesmere and the historic town of Whitchurch.
6. Step back in time in Mary King Close in Edinburgh
From our boat yard at Falkirk, at the junction of the Union and Forth & Clyde canals, on a mid-week (four night) break you 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, you can moor up in Edinburgh Quay to enjoy the City’s attractions, including a tour of Mary King Close frozen in time beneath the Royal Mile.
7. Witness the Trebuchet being fired at Warwick Castle
Said to be Britain’s greatest medieval experience, you can travel to Warwick and back on a short break from our Stockton base on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire. Once there, you can moor up to explore the Castle and enjoy some of the daily shows over the Easter holidays, including the Legend of the Trebuchet where this deadly instrument of medieval warfare is demonstrated, and the Falconer’s Quest bird of prey show. The journey to Warwick and back travels 23 miles, passes through 44 locks (22 each way) and takes around 17 hours.
8. Star gaze in the Brecon Beacons
Isolated from the main canal network, the beautiful Monmouth & Brecon Canal runs through Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) National Park, now officially an International Dark Sky Reserve. 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 on clear nights. On a short break from our base at Goytre Wharf, near Abergavenny, you 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, you can travel on to Brecon, passing through Talybont-on-Usk with its popular Star Inn.