Missed out on a hotel booking this summer? Try a canal boat – best UK routes

Simon Calder offers advice on booking staycations for 2021

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A canal cruise isn’t a summer-only option for an alternative staycation. Drifters Waterway Holidays, which is made up of nine hire boat companies, has released their top canal boat destinations, perfect for summer and looking a bit further ahead, autumn.

To steer a canal boat, holidaymakers don’t require a license, and some boat steering tuition may even be part of the holiday package.

Narrowboats can drift along the vast network of canals and rivers around the country and provide an alternative way of visiting the UK.

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty can easily be reached and visited on a canal boat holiday.

The Vale of Aylesbury, part of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty can be reached going south from Grand Union Canal in Northamptonshire.

READ MORE: Canal boat holidays in England to restart on July 4

Going west from Oxford and following the River Thames, boaters can reach Lechlade, situated in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the edge of the Cotswolds.

Alternatively, boaters in Wales can start from Llangollen Canal and drift through the Dee Valley AONB to Llangollen. This route also passes the UNESCO World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.

Drifter’s top canal boat destinations include locations all over the country and various boating lengths.

From Acton Bridge to Manchester and back, holidaymakers can travel 68 miles.

From Braunston, Coventry is easily accessible, passing through the Northamptonshire countryside.

From Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal, it takes seven hours to reach Stratford upon Avon, birthplace of Shakespeare.

In West Yorkshire, a canal boat can take tourists from Sowerby Bridge to the old mill town of Hebden Bridge.

Another option is to travel though the Shropshire countryside to Market Drayton.

For something truly extraordinary, a cruise through the Bath Valley from Trowbridge in Wiltshire to Bath.

In the list of top destinations and canal boat journeys, Scotland isn’t forgotten, with a cruise through the lowlands from Falkirk Wheel to the town of Linlithgow.

Canal boats can usually moor close to the centre of cities and towns, turning a river and canal adventure into a sightseeing trip once boaters reach their destination.

Along the way, canalside pubs are part of the highlights of a canal boat trip.

Many of the establishments used to cater to the canal trade, and while most have been refurbished, some have changed little.

Most of the canalside pubs have moorings outside and many boaters plan their trips so they can stop outside a pub every evening.

From a short break to a week-long trip, a canal boat holiday offers plenty of options.

Following the country’s waterways, holidaymakers can explore areas of outstanding beauty on an adventure that includes pub time every day.
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