Britain’s 3,000-mile network of inland waterways flow through some of our most beautiful and unspoilt countryside, including many Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs).
Drifters Waterway Holidays (drifters.co.uk) offers over 550 boats for hire from 45 locations across England, Scotland and Wales. 2021 hire prices start at £540 for a short break (three or four nights) on a boat for four, £760 for a week. Tuition is included in all Drifters holiday packages.
Here’s a guide to Drifters’ Top 6 cruises through AONB’s for 2021:
- Explore the Staffordshire countryside & Cannock Chase – on a short break from Drifters’ new narrowboat hire base at Kings Orchard in the Coventry Canal in Staffordshire, canal boat holiday-makers can cruise to the beautiful wildlife rich Tixall Wide and back, passing through the Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty along the way. The journey there and back travels 32 miles, passes through 10 locks (five each way) and takes around 16 hours.
- Drift through the prehistoric Vale of Pewsey to Hungerford – from Drifters’ canal boat hire base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Devizes, on a week away, boaters can cruise to the historic town of Hungerford, passing through the beautiful Vale of Pewsey, part of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The journey there and back takes around 40 hours, travelling 54 miles through 106 locks.
- Navigate along the Pennine Summit to Barrowford – starting from Drifters’ narrowboat hire base at Barnoldwick on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in Lancashire, on a short break, boaters can travel Barrowford, close to Pendle Hill and the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The journey there and back covers 20 miles, passes through six locks (four each way) and takes around eight hours.
- Cruise to the Aylesbury Vale – on a week’s break from Drifters’ canal boat hire base at Gayton Marina on the Grand Union Canal in Northamptonshire, boaters can travel south to the Aylesbury Arm and into the Vale of Aylesbury, part of the Chilterns AONB. The journey to Aylesbury, which passes through a series of canalside towns and villages, including Stoke Bruerne with its Canal Museum and Marsworth next to Tring Reservoirs, travels 44 miles, passes through 41 locks and takes around 22 hours.
- Float through the Dee Valley in North Wales – from Drifters’ base at Chirk on the Llangollen Canal, on a short break canal boat holiday-makers can float through the Dee Valley AONB to the pretty Eisteddfod town of Llangollen, passing over the UNESCO World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct along the way. The journey to Llangollen and back takes around eight hours, travelling 14 miles, with no locks.
- Take a Thames boating holiday to the edge of the Cotswolds – on a four-night break from our narrowboat rental base on the River Thames at Oxford, narrowboaters can travel west along the River Thames to the pretty market town of Lechlade, situated in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the edge of the Cotswolds. The route passes through 22 miles of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire countryside, past Kelmscott Manor, once the Cotswold retreat of William Morris and through 14 locks (seven each way). It takes around 17 hours to cruise there and back.
For more information about Drifters boating holidays call 0344 984 0322 or visit www.drifters.co.uk.
For information about visiting the canal network go to www.canalrivertrust.org.uk
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. Narrowboats range from 32ft to 70ft and can accommodate up to 12 people. www.drifters.co.uk Tel 0344 984 0322.