Home THE JOURNEY Boating Holidays Top 8 Canal Boat Holidays for Wellbeing This Summer

Top 8 Canal Boat Holidays for Wellbeing This Summer

It’s well known that spending time in green space connecting with nature is good for our mental health and wellbeing. Recent research by the Canal & River Trust confirms the combination of green and blue space with wildlife experienced by visitors to the inland waterways gives an extra wellbeing boost*.

Britain’s 3,000-mile network of inland waterways flow through some of our most beautiful and unspoilt countryside, including National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Drifters Waterway Holidays (drifters.co.uk) offers over 550 boats for hire from 45 locations across England, Scotland and Wales. 

Here’s a guide to Drifters’ Top 8 wellbeing destinations for wellbeing in Summer 2023:

  1. Navigate the Peak Forest Canal to Whaley Bridge – on a week’s holiday from Drifters’ base at Stoke on Trent, canal boat holiday-makers can travel along the Trent & Mersey and Macclesfield canals to connect to the Peak Forest Canal and its terminus at Whaley Bridge. The Peak Forest Canal is said to be one of Britain’s most scenic waterways, running through beautiful countryside on the edge of the Peak District National Park.  The journey to Whaley Bridge travels 39 miles, passes through the Harecastle Tunnel and 13 locks, and takes around 20 cruising hours.  
  2. Explore the Staffordshire countryside & Cannock Chase – on a short break from Drifters’ narrowboat hire base at Kings Orchard in the Coventry Canal in Staffordshire, canal boat holiday-makers can cruise to the beautiful waters wildlife at Tixall Wide and back, passing through the Cannock Chase AONB along the way. The journey there and back travels 32 miles, passes through 10 locks (five each way) and takes around 16 hours. 
  3. 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’s break, boaters can cruise to the historic town of Hungerford, passing through the beautiful Vale of Pewsey, part of the North Wessex Downs AONB. The journey there and back takes around 40 hours, travelling 54 miles through 106 locks.  
  4. Glide around the Breacon Beacons – isolated from the main canal network, the beautiful Monmouth & Brecon Canal runs through the Brecon Beacons National Park. Stretching 35 miles from Brecon to Cwmbran, this peaceful waterway, with very few locks, offers canal boat holiday-makers incredible mountain views.  From Drifters’ canal boat hire base at Goytre Wharf, near Abergavenny, on a week’s break, narrowboat holiday-makers can cruise to Brecon and back.  The journey takes boaters through Georgian Crickhowell, with its fascinating 13th century castle, and Talybont-on-Usk with wonderful walks to the waterfalls at Blaen y Glyn.  Brecon itself is home to a cathedral, theatre, cinema, castle ruins and stunning Georgian architecture, as well as some of the best views of the Brecon Beacons from Pen y Fan, the highest point in Southern Britain at 886m. 
  5. 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.
  6. 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. 
  7. Take a Thames boating holiday to the edge of the Cotswolds – on a four-night break from Drifters’ narrowboat rental base on the River Thames at Oxford, narrow boaters 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.  
  8. Travel through the Yorkshire Dales to Skipton – on a short break from Drifters’ base at Barnoldswick, boaters can head north-east along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal to Skipton and back. The journey to Skipton travels 13 miles through the Yorkshire Dales, passes through 15 locks and takes around 10 hours. This breath-taking route winds along the contours of the side of Airedale, with extensive views of the Yorkshire Dales – sheep, farmhouses, barns, stone walls and the occasional village or town.  Once in Skipton, boaters can moor in the centre of the town, visit shops and restaurants and explore the 900-year old Skipton Castle, one of the most complete and best preserved medieval castles in England.