Britain’s beautiful inland waterways are a great place to visit in the Springtime. This when the countryside is bursting into new life. Blossom covers hedges and waterside trees. There are birds busy rearing their young. And lambs playing in the fields and bluebells in waterside woodlands.
Springtime is a great time to be on the water.
Drifters offers the choice of 550 boats from 45 bases across England, Scotland and Wales. All Drifters operators provide hirers with boat steering tuition and canal boat holidays are pet friendly.
2024 Springtime break prices start at £590 for a short break (three or four nights) on a boat for four people, £815 for a week.
Drifters’ guide to the top 8 Springtime breaks for 2024 include:
1. Explore the ancient woods at Skipton Castle
For a short springtime break visit the Drifters narrowboat hire base at Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire. Boaters can travel to the historic town of Skipton, with its medieval fortress and ancient woods to explore. Skipton’s 900-year old castle is one of the most complete and best preserved medieval castles in England. And its extensive woodlands are home to at least 18 species of trees, and hundreds of flowering plants. These include wild orchids and bluebells. The journey to Skipton and back takes around seven hours, travelling 13 miles with no locks.
2. Glide through the Brecon Beacons
Isolated from the main canal network, the beautiful Monmouth & Brecon Canal runs through the Brecon Beacons National Park. It offers canal boat holiday-makers incredible mountain views, plenty of wooded sections. They are full of the sound of woodland birds. Enjoy a series of historic village pubs to visit along the way.
On a short springtime break from Drifters’ base at Goytre Wharf, near Abergavenny, boaters can cruise lock-free to Llangynidr and back. Pass the Lion Inn at Govilon and the Bridge End Hotel at Llangattock. On a week’s break, boaters can travel on to Brecon. This time passing through Talybont-on-Usk. Walk from there to the waterfalls at Blaen y Glyn and the popular Star and White Hart pubs.
3. Drift through the prehistoric Vale of Pewsey
From Drifters base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Devizes, it takes around 20 hours, travelling 27 miles through 53 locks to reach the historic town of Hungerford. It’s a perfect for a week afloat. Along the way, boaters travel up the spectacular flight of 16 locks in a row at Caen Hill. And cruise through the beautiful Vale of Pewsey. They pass close to prehistoric Avebury and along the edge of the ancient Savernake Forest, full of bluebells in the Spring. Once at Hungerford, narrowboat holiday-makers enjoy eating in a choice of pubs and cafes, and browsing in the town’s numerous antique shops.
4. Boat to Brewood and back
From Drifters’ boat yard at Gailey on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal, it takes around five hours to reach Brewood. This historic village is full of half-timbered cottages and Georgian houses. The 13-mile journey, which passes through just one lock, takes boaters through beautiful stretches of Shropshire countryside, and passes the waterside Anchor Inn at Cross Green.
On reaching Brewood, there’s a choice of pubs, restaurants and tea rooms to dine at, including the canalside Bridge Inn. The journey to Brewood is perfect for a relaxing weekend away.
5. Float across ‘The Stream in the Sky’
From Drifters’ base at Chirk on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, the Eisteddford town of Llangollen on the edge of the Berwyn Mountains can be reached on a short break. Pass over the World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct along the way. Standing at 38 metres high above the Dee Valley, this incredible 300-metre long structure consists of a cast iron trough.
It is supported by 18 enormous pillars and 19 elegant arches. On reaching Llangollen, boaters can enjoy visiting the town’s independent shops, pubs and restaurants, as well as its Steam Railway and Horseshoe Falls.
6. Visit the old mill town of Hebden Bridge
From our base at Sowerby Bridge in West Yorkshire, canal boat holiday-makers can travel along the leafy Calder & Hebble Navigation through the Calder Valley to the old mill town of Hebden Bridge, nestled in a fork in the hills. Climbing through woods, fields and small stone towns, the journey there covers seven miles, passes through 10 locks. That takes around five-and-a-half hours. It’s perfect for short break. Once at Hebden, boaters can enjoy a variety of shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs. As well as stunning countryside walks with woods, crags and the Calder running alongside.
7. Cruise through Shakespeare country
From Drifters’ narrowboat hire base at Wootton Wawen, on the Stratford Canal near Henley-in-Arden, it takes around six hours, travelling through 17 locks to reach Stratford upon Avon. Travelling through the Warwickshire countryside, boaters can stop off along the way to visit Mary Arden’s Tudor Farm in the canalside village of Wilmcote where Shakespeare’s mother grew up. Once in Stratford, boaters can moor up in Bancroft Basin, just a stone’s throw from the Swan Theatre and the town’s shops, restaurants and museums.
8. Navigate the Cheshire Ring
Starting from the Drifters’ base at Anderton, this epic cruising ring, takes boaters on a 97 mile tour through some of the most beautiful Cheshire countryside. The route passes through 92 locks and takes around 55 hours, and can be done in a week from Anderton, but a 10-day or two-week break leaves more time for visiting destinations along the way. The route passes through the heart of Manchester and the Peak District via the Ashton, Macclesfield, Peak Forest, Rochdale, Trent & Mersey and Bridgewater canals. Highlights include the spectacular vertical Anderton Boat Lift, also known as ‘The Cathedral of the Canals’, Dunham Massey Hall and its working Elizabethan Mill alongside the Bridgewater Canal, Manchester’s China Town, the Top Lock at Marple on the Peak Forest Canal with fantastic views of the Peak District, and the Cheshire Plain with its heavily locked ‘Heartbreak Hill’.