Britain’s 3,000-mile network of inland waterways meanders through some of the nation’s best loved countryside, including woodlands and forest remains.
Drifters Waterways Holidays (drifters.co.uk) offers over 550 boats for hire from 45 locations across England, Scotland and Wales. 2023 hire prices start at £590 for a short break (three or four nights) on a boat for four, £815 for a week. Tuition is included in all Drifters’ holiday prices.
To celebrate the Autumn colours in the trees and hedgerows that line Britain’s canals, Drifters has listed its top five leafy canals to cruise along this Autumn:
1. The Calder & Hebble in West Yorkshire
The 21-mile long leafy Calder & Hebble Navigation links Wakefield with Sowerby Bridge. On a short break from Drifters’ base at Sowerby Bridge, canal boat holiday-markers can cruise along the Calder & Hebble to Shipley. The route takes boaters through wooded valleys and the towns of Elland and Brighouse. The journey there and back travels 22 miles, passes through 32 locks and takes around 16 hours.
******The 56ft ‘Westmorland 4’ narrowboat for up to four people is currently available from Sowerby Bridge for a weekend break 2-6 October 2023 for £815, saving £90. Price includes damage waiver, pre-holiday information, comprehensive instruction, fuel, gas, parking, buoyancy aids, first pet and bed linen. Second pet is charged at £25.
2. The Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal in South Wales
This 35-mile long peaceful waterway follows the line of the wooded Usk Valley through the Brecon Beacons National Park. On a short break from Drifters’ base at Goytre Wharf, narrowboat holiday-makers can cruise to Talybont-on-Usk and back, passing the villages and hamlets of Llaellen, Llanfoist, Govilon, Llangattock and Llangynidr along the way. The journey there and back travels 39 miles, passes through 10 locks and takes around 18 hours.
******The 56ft ‘Red Sea Swallow’ narrowboat for up to four people is currently available from Goytre for a four-night mid-week break 25-29 September 2023 for £1,120, saving £429. Price includes a non-refundable damage waiver, bed linen, towels, car parking, two pets, buoyancy aids and tuition. A fuel deposit of £50 for a short break, £90 for a week is payable with the balance of hire. Fuel costs approx. £15 per day.
3. The Macclesfield Canal in Cheshire
This 26-mile long tree-lined canal runs from Marple in Cheshire to Hall Green, on the Trent & Mersey Canal. On a week’s break from Drifters’ canal boat hire base at Stoke on Trent, boaters can connect to the Macclesfield Canal and cruise to Macclesfield and back. The route passes through the 1.5 mile long Harecastle Tunnel on the Trent & Mersey Canal, before transferring onto the Macclesfield Canal. Here boaters can meander through the countryside to enjoy a series of wooded sections, as well stretches with views of the distant hills. The journey to Macclesfield and back travels 42 miles, passes through 26 locks and takes around 21 hours.
******The 52ft ‘Princess’ narrowboat for up to six people is currently available to hire from Drifters’ base at Stoke on Trent for a week 23-30 September for £1,104, saving £367. Price includes damage waiver, tuition, Wifi, gas, bedlinen, towels, car parking and first pet. Fuel is extra, charged depending on use, circa £15 per day. Second pet is charged at £30.
4. The Stratford Canal in Warwickshire
This 25.5-mile long narrow canal connects Stratford-upon-Avon with the Worcester & Birmingham Canal at Kings Norton Junction. The middle section is wooded, passing through the remains of the Forest of Arden. On a short break from Drifters’ base at Wootton Wawen, boaters can cruise through quiet leafy countryside to Hatton and back. The journey takes canal boat holiday-makers through the village of Lowsonford with its popular Fleur de Lys canalside pub, and Lapworth where the route transfers onto the Grand Union Canal. The journey to Hatton and back cruises 21 miles, passes through 34 locks and takes around 14 hours.
******The 67ft ‘Summer’ narrowboat for up to four people is currently available for a mid-week break from Wootton Wawen 9-13 October for £1,180. Price includes boat hire, gas, car parking, cancellation protection, tuition on arrival, buoyancy aids, bed linen, towels and first pet. There’s a £50 compulsory damage waiver and a £70 fuel deposit is taken for short breaks, with final charge based on use, circa £15 per day. Second pet is charged at £25 for a short break.
5. The Kennet & Avon Canal in Wiltshire
The 87-mile long Kennet & Avon Canal links the Bristol Avon near Bath, with the River Thames at Reading. On a week’s break from Drifters’ narrowboat hire base at Devizes, at the foot of the famous Caen Hill flight of locks, boaters can cruise to Hungerford and back. The route takes boaters through the Vale of Pewsey, part of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and a series of wooded sections, including the woodlands of the Savernake Forest. The journey to Hungerford and back travels 54 miles, passes through 106 locks and takes around 40 hours.
******The 52ft ‘Fennec Fox’ narrowboat for up to five people is currently available for a week 6-13 October for £1,093, saving £225. Price includes fuel, gas, damage waiver, parking, bedding, towels, life jackets and tuition. Pets are extra, charged at £30 each.
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