Canal boat holidays are great for families, offering the chance to set off on an adventure together out in the open air, 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 Waterway Holidays (www.drifters.co.uk) offers the choice of 550 boats from 45 bases across the country. All its operators provide hirers with life jackets and boat steering tuition.
Drifters has published its top five destinations for Easter 2022:
- Cruise through the beautiful Churnet Valley – from Drifters’ base at Stoke on Trent at the junction of the Caldon and Trent & Mersey canals in Staffordshire, on a short break canal boat holiday-makers can cruise along the Caldon Canal to Flint Mill and back. Often described as ‘one of the finest canals in Britain’, the peaceful 17-mile long Caldon Canal runs from the Trent & Mersey Canal at Etruria in Stoke-on-Trent, to Froghall Wharf in the Staffordshire Moorlands. The route to Flint Mill takes boaters through moorlands close to Denford, water meadows at Cheddleton and the beautiful wooded Churnet Valley. There and back it travels 23 miles, through 24 locks (12 each way) and takes around 15 cruising hours. ***The 52ft ‘Princess’ narrowboat for up to six people is currently available to hire from Drifters’ Stoke on Trent base 11-15 April for £1,249. Price includes damage waiver, tuition, Wifi, gas, bedlinen, towels and car parking. Fuel is extra, charged depending on use, circa £10-15 per day. Pets are charged at £30 each.
- Visit the Tudors exhibition at The Holbourne Museum in Bath – on a short break from Drifters’ base at Hilperton in Wiltshire, boaters can travel gently along the beautiful Kennet & Avon Canal to reach moorings at Sydney Wharf on the edge of Bath City Centre. The journey there and back travels 25 miles, passing through six locks (three each way) and takes around 13 cruising hours. Along the way, the route passes through the historic town of Bradford on Avon with its fascinating 14th century Tithe Barn, and over the beautiful Avoncliff and Dundas Bath stone aqueducts. Once at Sydney Wharf, boaters can moor up and take a 15-minute walk into Bath City Centre to visit a choice of attractions, including the The Holbourne Museum’s The Tudors exhibition. ***The 47ft ‘African Swift’ narrowboat for up to four people is available 18-22 April for £999. Price includes a non-refundable damage waiver, bed linen, towels, car parking, two pets, buoyancy aids and tuition. A fuel deposit of £50 for a short break, £90 for a week is payable with the balance of hire. Fuel costs approx. £10-15 per day.
- Stop off at the World’s biggest Cadbury shop – 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 for handmade Easter eggs at Cadbury World. With more canals than Venice, boaters can travel right into the heart of the City of Birmingham, where over-night moorings are available at Gas Street Basin, close to Brindleyplace. There’s plenty for families to see and do, including penguin feeding at the National Sea Life Centre and star gazing in the Planetarium at Birmingham’s Science Museum Thinktank. ***The 65ft ‘Hydra’ narrowboat for up to four people is currently available from Tardebigge 15-18 April for £1,075. Price includes boat hire, damage waiver, gas, car parking, tuition on arrival, buoyancy aids, bed linen towels and first pet. Diesel is extra – a £50 deposit is taken for short breaks (three or four nights), £90 for a week. Charge based on use, circa £10-15 per day. Second pet is charged at £25 for a short break, £35 for a week.
- Navigate to the old mill town of Hebden Bridge – on a short break from Drifters’ base at Sowerby Bridge, canal boat holiday-makers can travel along the Rochdale Canal to Hebden Bridge and back. The journey there and back travels 14 miles, passes through 20 locks (10 each way) and takes around 11 hours. The route takes boaters through Mytholmroyd, birthplace of Ted Hughes and Fallingroyd Tunnel. Once at Hebden Bridge, visitors can choose from a series of scenic waymarked walks and a great variety of shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs. ***The 53ft ‘York 4’ narrowboat for four people is currently available from Sowerby Bridge 18-21 April for £707. Prices include damage waiver, pre-holiday information, comprehensive instruction, fuel, gas, parking, buoyancy aids and bed linen.
- Float across ‘The Stream in the Sky’ – from Drifters’ base at Chirk on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, the pretty Eisteddford town of Llangollen on the edge of the Berwyn Mountains can be reached on a short break. Along the route, canal boat holiday-makers will cross the UNESCO World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, towering 38 metres above the Dee Valley. On reaching Llangollen, boaters can enjoy visiting the town’s independent shops, pubs and restaurants, as well as its Steam Railway and Horseshoe Falls. On a week’s break, narrow boat holiday-makers can also travel east to Ellesmere, in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District. ***The 52ft ‘Duchess’ narrowboat for up to four people is currently available to hire from Drifters’ base at Chirk for a short break (9-12 April) for £997, or for a week (9-16 April) for £1,615. Price includes damage waiver, tuition, Wifi, gas, bedlinen, towels and car parking. Fuel is extra, charged depending on use, circa £10-15 per day.
For more information about Drifters boating holidays call 0344 984 0322 or visit www.drifters.co.uk
For more information about visiting the canals go to www.canalrivertrust.org.uk