Fancy a rural retreat with dinner at amazing canalside pubs? Or perhaps you’ve always wanted to explore historic Warwick or Stratford upon Avon from a different perspective?
Welcome to narrowboating. And according to Drifters Waterway Holidays, the inside top is: winter is a great time to go on a canal cruise.
Why winter? Well, hiring a narrowboat in the off-peak months is more affordable – so you may find you can stretch to a bigger boat. Centrally-heated boats are super cosy and you can be completely isolated in the little bubble of the narrowboat if you prefer. Just make sure you bring lots of layers for the nominated person at the tiller! And with the evenings drawing in earlier, you can go at a slower pace and not feel the FOMO if you don’t get too far. Only gone a few miles? It’s OK to moor up and hunker down with a book and a glass of red. It’s free to moor almost anywhere on the Canal River Trust network too.
Winter cruising prices start at £535 for a short break (three or four nights) on a boat for four, £740 for a week. Here are Drifters‘ Top 5 winter cruising destinations for 2020-21:
A winter cruise through the Warwickshire countryside
From Drifters‘ base at Stockton on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, you can cruise to Warwick and back to explore its stunning medieval castle on the banks of the River Avon. Along the way, you’ll pass through the village of Long Itchington and Leamington Spa. The journey to Warwick travels 12 miles of waterway, passes through 22 locks and takes around eight hours. Alternatively, you could head to the pretty canal village of Braunston, where there’s a choice of pubs. Along the way, you’ll pass through the Braunston Tunnel and through six locks, as well as miles of peaceful countryside.
Travel along the Oxford Canal to Napton
Take a short break from Drifter’s narrowboat hire centre on the North Oxford Canal at Rugby, and you can travel through the countryside along the Oxford Canal to the pretty canal village of Napton. The journey passes through just six locks (three each way) and the canal village of Braunston, with a choice of pubs.
Cruise through the Shropshire Lake District
This one begins on the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire, where Drifters‘ narrowboat base can be found in Blackwater Meadow. Take a short break cruise to Whitchurch and back, passing Blake Mere and Whixall Moss along the way. The journey travels through 12 miles of beautiful Shropshire countryside. There are no locks but there are four moveable bridges and one tunnel to negotiate. Once at Whitchurch, boaters can moor up and take time to explore this historic town with a choice of independent shops and restaurants, way-marked circular walks, Brown Moss nature reserve and historic Black Bear pub.
Through the Staffordshire countryside
Begin your adventure at Drifters‘ canal boat holiday hire base at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal in Staffordshire. Head south, reaching Fradley Junction in five hours. The journey passes through 12 peaceful miles of countryside, with just five locks to negotiate along the way. Highlights along the way include The Wolseley Centre run by the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, the Wolseley Arms and the village of Rugeley with its canalside Mossley Tavern. At Fradley, boaters can enjoy refreshments at the Canalside Café or The Swan Inn and explore the Fradley Pool Nature Reserve.
Visit historic Chester afloat
Drifters’ canal boat hire base on the Shropshire Union Canal at Bunbury is the perfect place to start your cruise through the Cheshire countryside to the ancient city of Chester. Along the way, you’ll cruise through 12 miles of countryside and pass through nine locks. Once moored up at Northgate visitor moorings, you can explore the city and its Roman Walls, Cathedral, Chester Rows and choice of places to eat.
Book your break today at drifters.co.uk