Canalside pubs are popular destinations for canal boat holiday-makers, and there are hundreds to choose from.
With names like The Lock Inn, The Navigation Inn, The Narrowboat, The Tunnel and The Bridge, many of them date back to the days when canals were the transport infrastructure of the industrial revolution. Canalside inns provided refreshment for working boat families and their horses, as well as professional leggers who propelled boats through tunnels.
To celebrate the return to indoor drinking and eating in pubs from next Monday, Drifters has put together its Top 10 waterside pubs for 2021;
1. The Weighbridge at Alvechurch Marina in Worcestershire – this historic country pub next to the Worcester & Birmingham Canal at Alvechurch Marina near Bromsgrove, has a rustic vibe with quirky décor and an open log fire. It’s renowned for its two-in-one pie, with beef (or other filling options) on one side and cauliflower cheese on the other, all topped with pastry. Drifters nearest canal boat hire base is next door at Alvechurch Marina.
2. The Holly Bush Inn at Denford in Staffordshire – this converted flour mill on the Caldon Canal in Denford near Leek is surrounded by Staffordshire Moorlands. The pub offers award winning ales and delicious homemade food. It has a large canalside beer garden and is both family and dog friendly. From Drifters’ narrowboat hire base at Stoke on Trent, it takes around seven hours to reach The Holly Bush.
3. The Stubbing Wharf at Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire – as well as a canalside beer garden and an excellent choice of real ales, the Stubbing Wharf on the Rochdale Canal at Hebden Bridge offers home cooked food, including traditional Sunday lunch roasts. Built soon after the completion of the Rochdale Canal in 1789 to serve the needs of travellers on both the canal and the turnpike road, its curious name derives from the ancient settlement of Stubbing, an Anglo-Saxon word for clearing where the tree stumps have been left. From Drifters canal boat hire base at Sowerby Bridge, it takes around five-and-a-half hours to reach Hebden Bridge.
4. The Swan at Fradley in Derbyshire – on the junction of the Trent & Mersey and Coventry canals at Alrewas, the historic Swan pub at Fradley is known locally as the ‘Mucky Duck’. Offering traditional home cooked meals and a choice of cask ales, the pub has a bar area decorated with Roses & Castles narrowboat art, and a large canalside garden. Drifters’ base at Great Haywood is a six-hour cruise away, and Kings Orchard is just one-and-a-half hours away.
5. The Blue Lias at Stockton in Warwickshire – this historic pub on the Grand Union Canal near Stockton in Warwickshire, was named after the limestone and clay that is quarried locally and is derived from material laid down in the early Jurassic seas, when dinosaurs roamed the earth. The Blue Lias is eight locks and less than a mile away from Drifters’ canal boat hire base at Stockton Top Lock.
6. The Plume of Feathers at Barlaston in Staffordshire – this popular pub on the Trent & Mersey Canal at Barlaston in Staffordshire is part owned by ‘Men Behaving Badly’ star, Neil Morrissey. Visitors can sample some of Neil’s own beers and ales, and choose from a menu of homemade dishes made from fresh local ingredients. It takes just over three hours to reach Barlastan from Drifters’ base at Stoke on Trent, and its seven cruising hours from Great Haywood.
7. The Cross Guns at Avoncliff in Wiltshire – this 17th century Wiltshire inn has idyllic riverside pub gardens offering panoramic views of the foothills of the Cotswolds and the Kennet & Avon Canal crossing the river via the beautiful Avoncliff Aqueduct. The Cross Guns serves a selection of British pub favourite food, local ales, cider and craft beer. It’s just an hour from Drifters base at Monkton Combe, and an hour and a half from Hilperton.
8. The Olde Barbridge Inn at Nantwich in Cheshire – this historic pub on the Shropshire Union Canal near Nantwich sells a selection of local ales brewed at its own local brewery, and serves classic British food made with local produce. The Olde Barbridge Inn is an hour’s cruise from Drifters narrowboat hire base at Bunbury .
9. The Narrow Boat at Whittington in Shropshire – with its tranquil canalside location and beer garden, the family owned Narrow Boat Inn on the Llangollen Canal at Whittington in Shropshire offers hearty pub food and real ale. The Narrow Boat is just over an hour by boat from Drifters base at Blackwater Meadow, and three hours from Chirk.
10. The Fleur De Lys at Lowsonford in Warwickshire – this pretty 17th century country pub in the Warwickshire village of Lowsonford has a lovely beer garden on the banks of the Stratford Canal. The Fleur De Lys has been famous for its pies since the 1950’s, all served with seasonal vegetables, chunky chips and gravy. Drifters nearest narrowboat hire base is just three cruising hours away at Wootton Wawen.
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