Following government guidance, Drifters Waterways Holiday operators, who between them offer over 550 self-drive narrowboats for hire, from 45 bases across England, Wales and Scotland, are planning to restart their holidays on 4 July.
Self-drive narrowboat holidays provide a floating holiday home for cruising through the countryside, watching out for wildlife and enjoying walks along towpaths and connecting footpaths along the way. Narrowboat holiday-makers can take all the supplies they need and have the freedom to moor up for the night alongside rural towpaths and canalside pubs offering take-outs.
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.
To celebrate, Drifters has put together its Top 7 countryside cruises into the countryside for narrowboat beginners:
- Bob gently along to Fradley Pool Nature Reserve – on a short break from Drifters’ canal boat hire base on the Trent & Mersey Canal at Great Haywood in Staffordshire, narrowboat holiday-makers can head south to Fradley Junction, where the Coventry Canal meets the Trent & Mersey. The journey takes around five hours, travelling through 12 peaceful miles of Staffordshire countryside and passing through just five locks. Along the way, the route takes boaters past the National Trust’s Shugborough Estate and Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. At Fradley, boaters can moor up to explore Fradley Pool Nature Reserve, a haven for many types of water and woodland birds.
- Cruise through the Worcestershire countryside to complete the Droitwich Mini-Ring – the Droitwich Ring is the only canal boat holiday cruising circuit in Britain which can be completed on a short break (three or four nights). Cruising through the Worcestershire countryside along sections of the River Severn and the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, and the Droitwich canals, this 21-mile, 33-lock canal boat holiday circuit can be cruised in 16 hours from Drifters’ narrowboat hire base on the River Severn at Worcester.
- Glide along the Oxford Canal to Rugby & back – from Drifters’ boat yard at Napton on the Oxford Canal in Warwickshire, it takes just over six hours to travel 15½ miles, and pass through three locks to reach the rural outskirts of Rugby. Along the way, boaters pass through just three locks and series of canalside villages, including Braunston and Hillmorton.
- Cruise the leafy Calder & Hebble Navigation to Brighouse and back – on a short break (three or four nights) from Drifters’ base 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 (12 miles, 20 locks, 8 hours return).
- Cruise into the Shropshire Lake District – from Drifters’ canal boat hire base at Whixall on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire, on a three-night weekend break, narrowboat holiday makers can cruise through the Shropshire Lake District to Ellesmere and back. On a four-night mid-week break, boaters can continue on to Chirk on the Welsh border, with its magnificent aqueduct, 459-yard long tunnel and magnificent Medieval Castle on the hill.
- Travel through the Wiltshire countryside to Bradford on Avon – from Drifters’ canal boat hire base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Devizes, it takes around six hours, travelling 10 miles and passing through seven locks to reach the historic town of Bradford on Avon, famous for its magnificent 14th century Tithe Barn and Bath stone architecture. Along the way, boaters pass through the villages of Seend, Semington and Hilperton, and beautiful stretches of Wiltshire countryside.
- 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. Along the way, boaters pass through miles of unspoilt Shropshire countryside, and a series of woodland cuttings. There are just six locks to pass through each way.
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
For Drifters press enquiries contact Debbie Walker on 01628 618069 mb 077486 40577 firstname.lastname@example.org
Drifters Waterway Holidays is made up of nine hire boat companies: ABC Boat Hire, Anglo Welsh, Black Prince, Countrywide Cruisers, Foxhangers, Kate Boats, Napton Narrowboats, Shire Cruisers and Union Canal Carriers. Between them they offer over 550 boats for hire, operating from 45 bases across England, Scotland and Wales. 2020 hire prices start at £560 for a short break, £725 for a week on a boat for up to four people. Narrowboats range from 32ft to 70ft and can accommodate up to 12 people. All Drifters operators provide hirers with life jackets and boat steering tuition. www.drifters.co.uk Tel 0344 984 0322.