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

Full tuition is included, so it’s a great way for newcomers to canal boating to get the hang of steering, mooring up and working the locks. 

All Drifters’ day boats are equipped with cutlery, crockery and a kettle, and most also have a toilet, cooker and fridge.  So day boaters 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 hire prices start at £99 on weekdays, and £150 on weekends and bank holidays.

Drifters has published a guide to its top 8 destinations for days out boating on the canals this summer:

1.      Navigate through the Staffordshire countryside to Bonehill – from King’s Orchard Marina, on the Coventry Canal near Lichfield, day boaters 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, day boaters 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’ can carry up to 10 people. 

3.      Navigate to The Star Inn at Mamhillad in the Brecon Beacons – on day out boating along on the beautiful Monmouth & Brecon Canal from Goytre Wharf, boaters can enjoy 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’ can carry up to eight people each. 

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

5.      Boat along the Shropshire Union Canal to Nantwich – from Drifters’ day boat hire base at Bunbury Wharf on the Shropshire Union Canal near Tarporley, boaters can cruise south for six miles to Nantwich.  The journey takes day boaters across the impressive Grade II* listed Nantwich Aqueduct, with panoramic views across the town.  The route passes 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-half hours.  *Day boat ‘Bella’ can carry up to 10 people. 

6.      Cruise through Shakespeare country to Wilmcote – from Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal, day boaters 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’ 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 travel 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.  The journey to Chirk takes around two-and-a-half hours. *Day boats ‘Jacob’, ‘Daniel’ and ‘Lotty’ can carry up to 10 people each. 

8.      Boat along the Kennet & Avon Canal to Avoncliff Aqueduct – from Hilperton Marina, near Trowbridge in Wiltshire, day boaters can head west to Avoncliff, passing through the picturesque town of Bradford on Avon.  There’s just one lock to pass through at Bradford on Avon, before reaching the impressive Bath stone Avoncliff Aqueduct.  Here day boaters can moor up enjoy lunch at the popular canalside Cross Guns pub.  The journey to Avoncliff takes around three hours. *Day boat ‘Cheers’ can carry up to 10 people. 

For more information about Drifters day boat hire go to Day Boats. Canal boat day hire. Rent a boat for a day (drifters.co.uk)

For more information about visiting the canals go to www.canalrivertrust.org.uk


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