Canal boat holidays are great for families – offering the chance to ship out together on an adventure afloat, learning how to navigate the canals, work the locks and look out for waterway wildlife along the way.
A licence isn’t required to steer a canal boat and all Drifters operators provide hirers with boat steering tuition as part of their holiday packages.
Drifters narrowboats range from 32ft to 70ft and can accommodate between two and 12 people.
All are equipped with essential home comforts, including central heating, hot water, TV, showers, microwaves, flushing toilets, and many now have WiFi too. 2020 hire prices start at £560 for a short break (three or four nights) on a boat for four people, £725 for a week.
Here are Drifters’ top five canal boat holiday destinations for this October Half Term
1. Cruise through the Warwickshire countryside to Packwood House – from Drifters’ narrowboat hire base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, it is a peaceful seven-hour cruise through the countryside to the village of Lapworth. With locks along the way, it’s a great short break for beginners. Once moored up in Lapworth, canal boat holiday-makers can take a short walk to the National Trust’s Packwood House, with magnificent gardens, including the iconic Yew Garden, where according to legend, the 350-year old trees represent the ‘Sermon on the Mount’.
The 48ft narrowboat for up to four people ‘Rowan 4’ is available 26th-30th October for £795. Price includes gas, car parking, cancellation protection, tuition on arrival, buoyancy aids, bed linen, towels and first pet. Extras include a compulsory £50 damage waiver and fuel. A fuel deposit of £50 for a short break and £90 for a week is taken. Charge based on use, circa £10-15 per day.
2. Cruise the leafy Calder & Hebble Navigation to Brighouse – on a short break from Drifters’ boatyard at Sowerby Bridge, canal boat holiday-makers can travel to Brighouse and back along the leafy Calder & Hebble Navigation. This historic town, famous for its Brighouse and Rastick Brass Band, offers glorious Pennines walks, places to eat and shops. Along the way, boaters pass through the historic market town of Elland and the village of Mirfield, with medieval stocks and ducking stool, plus Dumb Steeple thought to have been a landmark to guide travellers on their way across the moor and later a Luddite rallying point.
The journey there and back travels 12 miles, passes through 20 locks (10 each way) and takes around eight hours. The 56ft narrowboat for up to four people ‘Somerset 4’ is available 23rd-26th October for £696. Price includes damage waiver, diesel, gas, parking, bed linen, life jackets, first pet and tuition.
3. Glide across ‘The Stream in the Sky’ to Whitchurch – on a week’s holiday from Drifters’ narrowboat hire centre at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, boaters can travel to Whitchurch and back. The journey there and back takes around 44 hours, passing through just four locks (two each way). Along the way, boaters travel across the incredible UNESCO World Heritage designated Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which carries the canal 38 metres high above the Dee Valley and through Ellesmere in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District. Once at Whitchurch, there are plenty of places to moor and explore the historic town with independent shops, pubs, restaurants and way-marked walks.
The 48ft narrowboat for up to four people ‘Osney’ is available 23rd-30th October for £1,095. Price includes gas, car parking, cancellation protection, tuition on arrival, buoyancy aids, bed linen, towels and first pet. Extras include a compulsory £50 damage waiver and fuel. A fuel deposit of £50 for a short break and £90 for a week is taken. Charge based on use, circa £10-15 per day.
4. Potter through the Shropshire countryside to Market Drayton – from Drifters’ canal boat hire base at Brewood on the Shropshire Union Canal, it takes around 10 hours to reach the historic market town of Market Drayton, home of the gingerbread man – perfect for a mid-week break afloat. Along the way, boaters pass through miles of beautiful Shropshire countryside, six locks and a series of villages with canalside pubs, including the Royal Oak at Gnosnall.
The 51ft narrowboat for up to four people ‘Sir Cador’ is available 23rd-26th October for £611. Price includes diesel, gas, damage waiver, car parking, bed linen, buoyancy aids, tuition on arrival and up to two pets.
5. Cruise to Castle Quay in Manchester – from Drifters canal boat hire base at Anderton on the Trent & Mersey Canal in Cheshire, it takes around 10½ hours to reach Castle Quay, cruising along 31 miles of inland waterways and passing through just one lock. This route, which begins at the site of the incredible Anderton Boat Life, AKA ‘The Cathedral of the Canals’, is perfect for a four-night mid-week break afloat. It includes three tunnels, miles of the quiet countryside, the pretty village of Lymm and an urban section passing the Manchester United football ground, Salford Quays and the Old Trafford Crick Ground, before reaching moorings at Castle Quay.
The 66ft narrowboat for up to six people ‘Laughing Gull’ is available 26th-30th October for £999. Price includes damage waiver, gas, parking, tuition on arrival, towels, bedding and first pet. Fuel is extra. A £50 deposit is taken for a short break. Charge based on use, circa £10-15 per day.