1. Take a one-way trip through the Pennines…one of the great canal journeys takes you across the backbone of England and through the heart of West Riding, in scenery varying from the timeless calm of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal summit to the hubbub of Leeds waterfront.
Highlights: the Stanley Ferry aqueducts; Leeds waterfront and Royal Armouries Museum; Sir Titus Salt’s Italianate mills and model town at Saltaire; Bingley Five Rise of locks; spectacular views of the Yorkshire Dales; and Foulridge Tunnel driven through the top of the Pennines.
Bases: One-way trips start either at the junction of the Rochdale Canal and Calder & Hebble Navigation in Sowerby Bridge in Yorkshire or on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal Foulridge in Lancashire.
Prices: Week’s hire on a boat for four people starts from £825, rising to £1,500 in peak summer holidays. Fuel included. First pet goes free. Transfers for four people cost £40.
2. Float across ‘The Stream in the Sky’…the Llangollen Canal’s awesome 305-metre long World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in North Wales stands at over 38 metres high above the Dee Valley. With not even a handrail on the south side of the aqueduct to obscure the stunning views of the valley below, canal boaters literally feel like they are floating above the earth!
Highlights: the picturesque town of Llangollen and its access to Horseshoe Falls; Ellesmere lakes (the Shropshire Lake District) teeming with wildlife; Chirk Castle; and the historic market town of Whitchurch.
Bases: Trevor is the closest base to the aqueduct, just 20 minutes cruise away but Drifters also has bases on the Llangollen at Chirk, Wrenbury, Whitchurch and Blackwater Meadow.
Prices: from £385 for a short break and £595 for a week.
3. Travel on a luxury boat to Bath…dozens of new boats are being introduced to the Drifters fleet for 2013, including the new ‘Lark’ class at Hilperton on the Kennet & Avon Canal in Wiltshire near Trowbridge. These six-berth boats have extra special features such as wider beds, a TV in the bedroom as well as the saloon and a front deck table – perfect for al fresco dining. From Hilperton, the World Heritage City of Bath is a peaceful cruise away along the beautiful Kennet & Avon Canal. Or pick up the new four-berth ‘Bond’ class boat from Bradford on Avon, just a seven-hour cruise from Bath City Centre. Special features on ‘Bond’ boats include an extra shower room, a large stern and foredeck and a solid fuel stove.
Highlights: Bath’s fabulous Georgian architecture, Thermae Spa, shops, restaurants and museums; the stunning Medieval Tithe Barn at Bradford on Avon; and The George at Bathampton, once a 12th century monastery.
Bases: Hilperton and Bradford on Avon on the Kennet & Avon Canal in Wiltshire.
Prices: Short break on a ‘Bond’ Class boat from Bradford on Avon from £560 and weekly hire from £800. A short break on a ‘Lark’ starts at £585 and a week’s hire from £895.
4. Glide through the Brecon Beacons…isolated from the main canal network, the beautiful Monmouth & Brecon Canal offers 35 miles of quiet countryside. Running through the Brecon Beacons National Park from Brecon to Cwmbran it has few locks but incredible mountain views.
Highlights: the wonderful Georgian town of Crickhowell with 13th century castle; picturesque Talybont-on-Usk with access to Blaen y Glyn waterfalls; and Brecon with its cathedral, castle ruins and stunning Georgian architecture.
Base: Goytre Wharf on the Mon & Brec near Abergavenny.
Prices: from £455 for a short break and £695 for a week on a five-berth.
5. Discover Europe’s only short break canal circuit…50 years ago campaigning began to restore the Droitwich Canals and they finally reopened in 2011, creating the only cruising ring in Europe which can be completed on a short break. The Droitwich Ring takes 16 hours to cruise, covering 21 miles and 33 locks. It incorporates the River Severn and the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, as well as the Droitwich Canals.
Highlights: the historic Spa town of Droitwich; the Hanbury flight of locks; stunning views of the Worcestershire countryside along the River Severn; and the beautiful City of Worcester with its stunning 12th century cathedral.
Bases: Drifters base at Worcester is on the ring and Stoke Prior is just a few miles north of the ring on the Worcester & Birmingham.
Prices: from £412 for a short break and £634 for a week on a boat for four.
6. Cruise into the heart of Birmingham and take in a show…boasting more canals than Venice, Birmingham simply has to be visited by water. City centre moorings are available at Gas Street Basin with easy access to Brindley Place, the Mailbox and Bullring shopping centres, theatres, museums and restaurants. In 2013, Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery is holding a special exhibition of The Staffordshire Hoard Anglo-Saxon collection and War Horse comes to the Birmingham Hippodrome in the autumn.
Highlights: Brindley Place and Gas Street Basin.
Bases: Drifters base at Tardebigge is just a five-hour lock-free cruise away from Birmingham City Centre. Birmingham is also accessible on a week’s break from Drifters bases at Alvechurch and Stoke Prior.
Prices: from £465 for a short break and £660 for a week on a four berth boat.
7. Visit Scotland’s lowland canals and experience the world’s first rotating boat lift…Built as part of the Millennium Link project to restore the canals linking the east and west coasts of Scotland, The Falkirk Wheel is the world’s first and only rotating boat lift. Standing at a height of 35 metres, it moves boats between the Union and Forth & Clyde canals, replacing a flight of 11 locks dismantled in 1933. It can carry up to 600 tonnes and uses just 1.5KWh of energy to turn – the same amount as it would take to boil eight kettles. Once the Wheel has taken you up, boaters can travel along the peaceful Union Canal, reaching Edinburgh in a day and a half. Visitor moorings are available at Edinburgh Quay, just a five-minute walk from Princes Street with easy access to the City’s fantastic museums, shops, restaurants and its world-famous castle.
Highlights: the Falkirk Wheel; the pretty canal villages of Ratho and Linlithgow; and the bright lights of Edinburgh.
Bases: Drifters has two bases at the Falkirk Wheel.
Prices: from £455 for a short break and £695 for a week on a boat for four.
8. Meander through the heart of England on the Warwickshire Ring…the popular Warwickshire Ring combines stretches of beautiful unspoilt countryside with exciting urban centres, including Birmingham and Warwick. It covers 101 miles, 94 locks and takes 48 hours of cruising, so can be done is a week but there’s more time for sight-seeing on a two-week break. The journey includes stretches of the Grand Union, Oxford, Coventry and Birmingham & Fazeley canals.
Highlights: the pretty canal village of Braunston; the awesome Hatton Flight of 21 locks; Warwick Castle; Leamington Spa; and Birmingham’s Gas Street Basin.
Bases: Stretton, Rugby and Napton on the North Oxford Canal in Warwickshire.
Prices: from £595 for a week.
9. Enjoy a short break on Wedgwood’s Caldon Canal…one of the quietest and most picturesque canals in Britain, the Caldon Canal is a branch of the Trent & Mersey Canal and was originally built to transport porcelain. The Caldon travels 17 miles and uses 17 locks from its junction with the Trent & Mersey Canal at Etruria near Stoke on Trent, through the beautiful Churnet Valley to Froghall Wharf. The journey is ideal for newcomers to canal boat holidays and can easily be done on a short break.
Highlights: stunning views along the River Churnet; the Black Lion Pub at Consall Forge; and the Churnet Valley Railway.
Bases: Stoke on Trent at the junction of the Caldon and Trent & Mersey Canals in Staffordshire.
Prices: short breaks from £412, weekly hire from £634.
10. Visit London afloat and see an unexpected side of the Capital…travel through the heart of London, starting on the Grand Union Canal at Greenford in West London and finishing in the docklands in the east at Limehouse Basin, where the Regent’s Canal meets the mighty River Thames. Along the way you’ll see a quieter more peaceful side of the Capital, passing through Little Venice, Regent’s Park, London Zoo and Victoria Park. There are plenty of safe places to moor with easy access to London’s top attractions, theatres, restaurants and shops.
Highlights: passing over the North Circular and watching the queues of traffic as you glide on by; pretty and tranquil Little Venice with waterside eateries; vibrant Camden Lock and its market; the Victorian Ragged School Museum at Mile End; and Gordon Ramsey’s The Narrow Pub at Limehouse Lock.
Base: London on the Grand Union Canal at Greenford.
Prices: short breaks from £525, weekly hire from £808.
For more information visit www.drifters.co.uk or call 0844 984 0322.
Hi , I have been looking through your website and have difficulty in finding what your prices for September and for a particular boat. we have asked for a brochure so maybe that will tell us what we want to know.
Yes, the article is to give readers ideas. A brochure or the company’s website will give you up-to-date prices. Hope you enjoy a canal trip.