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 England, Scotland and Wales. All its operators provide hirers with life jackets and boat steering tuition.
Drifters has published its top five destinations for Easter 2023:
1. Join the annual Easter Boat Gathering at Ellesmere Port – over the Easter Weekend (7-10 April), the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire celebrates the start of the Summer boating season with a large boat gathering, live music, workshop tours, historic boats and museum activities. From Drifters’ canal boat hire base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire, it takes 10 hours to reach Ellesmere Port – perfect for a week afloat. The journey travels 21 miles, passes through 12 locks, and through the ancient City of Chester along the way. ***The 62ft ‘Merlin’ narrowboat for up to four people is available 7-14 April for £1,300. Price includes boat hire, gas, car parking, tuition on arrival, buoyancy aids, bed linen towels and first pet. There’s a compulsory non-refundable damage waiver of £50 and diesel is also extra – a £70 deposit is taken for short breaks (three or four nights), £110 for a week. Charge based on use, circa £15 per day. Second pet is charged at £25 for a short break, £35 for a week.
2. Navigate to the old mill town of Hebden Bridge, home of ‘Happy Valley’ - on a short break from Drifters’ base at Sowerby Bridge, canal boat holiday-makers can travel along the Rochdale Canal to Hebden Bridge, made famous by the hit BBC drama ‘Happy Valley’. The journey to Hebden by boat travels seven miles, passes through 10 locks and takes around 5.5 hours. On the way, the route passes through Mytholmroyd, birthplace of Ted Hughes and Fallingroyd Tunnel. Once at Hebden Bridge, visitors can choose from a series of scenic waymarked walks, a great variety of shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs and . ***The 56ft ‘Northumberland 4’ narrowboat for four people is currently available from Sowerby Bridge 7-10 April for £1,210. Prices include damage waiver, pre-holiday information, comprehensive instruction, fuel, gas, parking, buoyancy aids, first pet and bed linen. Second pet is charged at £25.
3. See the Tiger Who Came To Tea at Theatre Royal Bath – 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 Tiger Who Came To Tea at Theatre Royal Bath, 9-10 April. ***The 47ft ‘Corn Bunting’ narrowboat for up to four people is currently available 7-14 April for £1,275 (saving £224). 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. £15 per day.
4. 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 a visit to the National Sea Life Centre at Brindleyplace and the Planetarium at Birmingham’s Science Museum Thinktank. ***The 48ft ‘Rowan’ narrowboat for up to four people is currently available from Tardebigge 7-10 April for £880. Price includes boat hire, gas, car parking, tuition on arrival, buoyancy aids, bed linen towels and first pet. There’s a compulsory non-refundable damage waiver of £50 and diesel is also extra – a £70 deposit is taken for short breaks (three or four nights), £110 for a week. Charge based on use, circa £15 per day. Second pet is charged at £25 for a short break, £35 for a week.
5. Float across ‘The Stream in the Sky’ to Llangollen - 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 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. ***The 52ft ‘Princess’ narrowboat for up to six people is currently available to hire from Drifters’ base at Chirk for an Easter short break (7-10 April) for £1,325. Price includes damage waiver, tuition, Wifi, gas, bedlinen, towels, car parking and first pet. Fuel is extra, charged depending on use, circa £10-15 per day. Second pet is charged at £30.
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