Day boat hire on the canals in Spring 2024

Top 8 summer days out boating on the canals

Drifters hires out day boats from 18 narrowboat hire bases in England and Wales, offering the chance to enjoy a family day afloat on the canals this Summer.

Full tuition is included, so if you are new to canal boating, you can get the hang of steering, mooring up and working the locks.

All our day boats are equipped with cutlery, crockery and a kettle, and most also have a toilet, cooker and fridge.

So you can plan a picnic afloat or stop-off for lunch at a canalside pub along the way.

Boats range in size and can accommodate between eight and 12 people.

Day boat prices start at £99 on weekdays, and £150 on weekends and bank holidays.

To help you plan your family day out afloat, we’ve listed our top 8 destinations for day boat hire this Summer:

1. Navigate through the Staffordshire countryside to Hopwas

From Kings Orchard Marina, on the Coventry Canal near Lichfield, you can cruise through the Staffordshire countryside to Bonehill Bridge and back.  The route takes boaters through the villages Huddlesford, Whittington and Hopwas.  At Hopwas there are two pubs to choose from – the Tame Otter and the Red Lion.  The journey to Bonehill and back takes five and a half hours and there are no locks.  *Electric day boat ‘Perfect Day’ and day boat ‘Happy Days’ can take up to 10 people.

2. Glide along the leafy Worcester & Birmingham Canal

On a day out from Tardebigge near Bromsgrove, you can cruise north through the remains of the Forest of Arden to Kings Norton Junction.  There’s a choice of pubs to visit along the way, including the canalside Crown and Weighbridge pubs at Alvechurch.  The route is lock-free but there are three tunnels to pass through, including Wast Hill Tunnel, which is nearly 2.5km long.  *Day boat ‘Emma’ at Tardebigge can carry up to 10 people. 

3. Navigate to The Star Inn at Mamhillad in the Brecon Beacons

Heading out for a day afloat from Goytre Wharf, day boaters can travel along the beautiful Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal, enjoying incredible mountain views.  It takes around two-and-a-half-hours to cruise to moorings close to the popular Star pub at Mamhillad, a short walk from bridge 62.  *Day boats ‘Robin’ and Rooster’ at Goytre can carry up to eight people each. 

4. Cruise along the Grand Union Canal to Napton-on-the-Hill

From our day boat hire centre at Braunston in heart of the canal network, you can cruise to the historic village of Napton-on-the-Hill.  The journey, which takes around three hours, takes you through the Northamptonshire countryside and into Warwickshire.  Once at Napton, you can moor up and walk into the village where there’s a choice of pubs, including the popular Kings Head.  *Day boat ‘Ouzel II’ at Braunston can carry up to 12 people. 

5. Boat along the Shropshire Union Canal to Nantwich

From our canal boat hire base at Bunbury Wharf on the Shropshire Union Canal near Tarporley, you can cruise south for six miles to Nantwich.  There you can travel across the impressive Grade II* listed Nantwich Aqueduct, enjoying panoramic views across the town.  You’ll pass the Barbridge Inn along the way, and there’s a choice of places to eat and drink in Nantwich.  The journey to Nantwich takes around two-and-a-hafl hours. *Day boat ‘Bella’ at Bunbury can carry up to 10 people. 

6. Cruise through Shakespeare country to Wilmcote

From Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal, you can cruise to the pretty village of Wilmcote, home of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s Mary Arden Farm.  The journey takes two-and-a-half hours, and crosses over the Edstone Aqueduct with amazing views across the Warwickshire countryside.  From moorings at the top of the Wilmcote lock flight, it’s a short walk into Wilmcote and the Mary Arden Inn.  *Day boats ‘Dolly’ and ‘Charlie’ at Wootton Wawen can carry up to 10 people each.

7. Float across ‘The Stream in the Sky’ in North Wales

From Trevor on the Llangollen Canal, day boaters can cruise across the UNESCO World Heritage status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.  Standing at over 38 metres high above the Dee Valley, this incredible structure offers stunning views of the Dee Valley below.  After cruising over the Aqueduct, there are two tunnels and another aqueduct to cross, before reaching the Bridge Inn at Chirk. It takes around two-and-a-hours to reach Chirk. *Day boats ‘Jacob’, ‘Daniel’ and ‘Lotty’ at Trevor can carry up to 10 people each. 

8. Boat along the Kennet & Avon Canal to Avoncliff Aqueduct

From Hilperton Marina, near Trowbridge in Wiltshire, you can head west to the picturesque town of Bradford on Avon.  You pass through one lock and then on to the impressive Bath stone Avoncliff Aqueduct for lunch at the Cross Guns.  The journey to Avoncliff takes around three hours. *Day boat ‘Cheers’ at Hilperton can carry up to 10 people. 

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