With spooky tunnels, misty towpaths, bats, toads, spiders and ghosts galore, Britain’s 200-year old canal network provides the perfect backdrop for a haunting Halloween.
Drifters’ prices for boats for up to four people for a week over Halloween start at £775.
Here’s a guide to our spookiest destinations for Halloween 2022:
1. Beware the Monkey Man at Norbury
The Shropshire Union Canal is said to be Britain’s most haunted canal with five ghosts along its length, including the terrifying ‘Monkey Man’ at Bridge 39 near Norbury. This hideous black, shaggy coated being is believed to be the ghost of a boatman drowned there in the 19th century. Narrowboat holiday-makers can reach Norbury from our narrowboat hire base on the Shropshire Union Canal at Brewood in around four and a half hours. The journey travels 10 miles and passes through one lock.
2. Get spooked at Blisworth Tunnel
On the Grand Union Canal at Stoke Bruerne in Northamptonshire, the Blisworth Tunnel has spooked a number of boaters over the years. At 2,795 metres long, it’s one of the longest on the canal system. When construction began in 1793, teams of navvies worked with picks and shovels for three years until they hit quicksand and the tunnel collapsed, killing 14 men. A new route for the tunnel was found, and it finally opened on 25 March 1805. Over the years, a number of boaters travelling through the tunnel have reported seeing lights and a second route emerging. But the tunnel runs straight through the hill so people must have seen the spot where the first tunnel would have intersected with the main canal tunnel. Perhaps the ghostly navvies are still working there…? The Blisworth Tunnel is less than an hour away from our base at Braunston on the Grand Union Canal in Northamptonshire, it takes around eight hours to reach the Blisworth Tunnel. The route travels 18 miles and passes through 13 locks.
3. Look out for an eerie figure Aqueduct Apparition
The Llangollen Canal in Wrexham is haunted by an eerie figure that can sometimes be seen on moonlit nights, gliding along the towpath on the UNESCO World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. From our base at Whitchurch on the Llangollen Canal it takes around 14 cruising hours, travelling 25 miles and passing through four locks to reach the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in time for Halloween.
4. Prepare for a visit from the Viscount – the canalside George Inn at Bathampton is said to be haunted by the ghost of Viscount John Baptiste Du Barre, who was mortally wounded in the last legal duel fought in Britain. From Drifters’ narrowboat hire base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Devizes, it takes around nine hours to reach the George Inn at Bathampton, cruising 17 miles of the Kennet & Avon Canal and passing through eight locks.
5. Watch out for a shrieking boggart at Harecastle Tunnel
The Trent & Mersey Canal’s Harecastle Tunnel at Kidsgrove is said to be home to a shrieking boggart – the ghost of Kit Crewbucket who was murdered and his headless corpse was dumped in the canal. Harecastle Tunnel is a 12-hour cruise away from Drifters’ base at Stoke on Trent. The journey travels 22 miles of the Trent & Mersey Canal, and passes through 18 locks.
6. Witness some ghostly goings-on at The Navigation Inn
The Navigation Inn on the Calder & Hebble Navigation at Sowerby Bridge dates back to the 15th century, and served travellers along the old salt road from Chester to York long before the canal was built. According to the landlord, there’s plenty of supernatural activity in this ancient building, including noises in the cellar, clocks that mysteriously stop and spirits that appear in the kitchen. The Navigation Inn is very close to our canal boat hire base at Sowerby Bridge.
7. Beware the blood stained steps at Brindley Bank
The Trent & Mersey Canal at Brindley Bank Aqueduct in Staffordshire, is said to be haunted by Christina Collins. Christina was murdered there on 17 June 1839 and her body was flung into the canal. Three boatmen were convicted of her killing; two were hanged, and the third was transported. As Christina’s body was dragged from the water, her blood ran down a flight of sandstone steps leading from the canal, and it is said that the stain occasionally reappears on those stones. From our base at Springwood Haven on the Coventry Canal, it takes around 16 hours to reach Brindley Bank. The route travels 33 miles and passes through 16 locks.
8. Look out for the ghost of a Roman Centurian in Chester
At the City’s old Northgate, where the canal was dug into part of the town’s moat, a Roman centurion can sometimes be seen guarding the entrance to the City. From our base on the Shropshire Union Canal at Brewood, it takes around 26 hours to cruise to Northgate Staircase Locks in Chester. The journey travels 52 miles and passes through 39 locks.