FROM rural retreats to vibrant city centres, narrowboat holidaymakers can use their boat as a floating holiday home to explore Britain’s network of inland waterways. There’s a great choice of hundreds of waterside destinations and canalside pubs to stop off at along the way.
Here are Drifters’ waterways holidays’ top canal boat holidays for 2023:
Cruise through the Cheshire countryside to Wrenbury Mill from Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal. The peaceful 10-mile route passes through 11 locks and takes around six hours, starts on the Shropshire Union Canal and transfers on to the Llangollen Canal at Hurleston Junction. At Wrenbury Mill, boaters can moor up for country walks and a choice of pubs, including the popular Dusty Miller.
Navigate the Black Country Ring on a week’s holiday from Drifters’ base at Kings Orchard in Staffordshire. The 75-mile journey takes in a mixture of urban and rural scenery and travels sections of the Coventry, Trent & Mersey, Staffordshire & Worcestershire, New Birmingham Main Line and Birmingham & Fazeley canals. Highlights include: the quiet waters at Tixall Wide, Gas Street Basin in Birmingham and Fradley Pool Nature Reserve at Fradley Junction.
Visit the UNESCO World Heritage City of Bath on a midweek break from Devizes in Wiltshire. Boaters can travel along the Kennet & Avon Canal to reach moorings at Sydney Wharf, on the edge of the city centre. On the way, the 19-mile route passes through the village of Seend with its popular canalside Barge Inn, and the historic town of Bradford on Avon, with a choice of independent shops and restaurants.
Explore the Llangollen Canal UNESCO World Heritage site on a week’s holiday from Drifters’ base at Whitchurch in Shropshire. Boaters can travel to Llangollen and back. Beginning at Gledrid, it comprises a series of embankments, tunnels, viaducts and aqueducts, including the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. The 61-mile journey from Whitchurch to Llangollen passes through four locks and takes around 27 hours.
Complete the Stourport Ring on a week’s break from Stoke Prior in Worcestershire. The route includes sections of the Worcestershire & Birmingham Canal, River Severn and the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal. Highlights of the 84-mile route include: the Tardebigge Flight of 30 locks and the cathedral city of Worcester.
Cruise to Fenny Compton and back on a weekend break from Stockton in Warwickshire. The journey begins on the Grand Union Canal, transferring on to the Oxford Canal at Napton Junction. Winding gently through 15 miles of countryside, the route passes through 12 locks, and takes around eight hours. Pubs to stop off at along the way include the King’s Arms at Napton-on-the-Hill, and The Wharf Inn at Fenny Compton.
Visit Skipton and its medieval castle on a weekend break from Barnoldswick, heading east along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. The journey there and back covers 26 miles and takes around 20 cruising hours winding along the contours of the side of Airedale, with extensive views of sheep country. Once in Skipton, boaters can moor in the centre of the town, visit shops and restaurants and explore the 900-year-old castle, one of the most complete and best preserved medieval castles in England.
Travel slowly through the countryside to Hawkesbury Junction on a weekend break from Drifters’ base at Braunston. The route begins on the Grand Union Canal, transferring on to the North Oxford Canal at the Braunston Turn. Travelling 23 miles to Hawkesbury, passing through four locks and Newbold Tunnel along the way, the journey takes around seven hours. Pubs to stop off at include: the Bell Inn at Hillmorton; the Barley Mow at Newbold; and the Greyhound at Hawkesbury Junction.
Cruise along the Shropshire Union Canal to Market Drayton from Autherley in Staffordshire. On a midweek break holidaymakers can cruise to the historic town of Market Drayton and back. This rural route, perfect for beginners, takes boaters along the Shropshire Union Canal through more than 26 miles of peaceful countryside. It passes through seven locks and a series of pretty villages with canalside pubs, including the Bridge Inn at Brewood and the Hartley Arms at Wheaton Ashton.
Drifters Waterway Holidays offers more than 550 boats for hire from 45 locations across England, Scotland and Wales and its 2023 hire prices start at £590 for a short break (three or four nights) on a boat for four, £815 for a week with tuition included in all its holiday packages. For more information call 0344 984 0322 or visit www.drifters.co.uk