Relaxing on our canals

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

On the SowerbyBridge and Rochdale Canal

Looking for something different to do this coming weekend?

On Sunday the 15th of April from 11am until 4pm, Drifters Waterway Holidays in conjunction with the Canal & River Trust are offering people the chance to try canal boating for free at nineteen locations across England and Wales.

That day you will be able to crew a canal boat, learn the boating lingo, watch wildlife, have free trips on skippered narrowboats, as well as having boat tours and holiday discounts. No advance booking or experience is required, with people of all ages encouraged to just turn up.

The purpose is obviously to encourage us to make more use of one of our often overlooked assets – the 2,000-mile network of inland waterways canals. These have been publicised in recent years by television programmes that included Prunella Scales and Timothy West sedately cruising our canals and a slightly unusual programme about a two-hour canal boat journey in real-time along the Kennet and Avon Canal which had large viewing figures for a programme of its kind.

In the last few weeks it has been announced that a grant has been given to clear part of the Montgomery Canal in the Welsh Marches with the hope that in about ten years all of the 35 mile long canal will be usable. Volunteers groups everywhere are cleaning, restoring and re-opening new stretches of canals including one that in my childhood days I was warned to go no-where near because, falling in, would lead to all sorts of diseases. Now no parent could say that about most of the canal network.

Unfortunately there are no opportunities in Scotland or Northern Ireland to try canals out at no cost on the 15th but here is a list of those in England and Wales. Full details can be found at

The 19 locations are as follows:

  • Aldermaston – Berkshire
  • March – Cambridgeshire
  • Bunbury – Cheshire
  • Anderton – Cheshire
  • Coventry Basin – Coventry
  • Abergavenny – Monmouthshire
  • Gayton – Northamptonshire
  • Witney – Oxfordshire
  • Great Haywood – Staffordshire
  • Henley-in-Arden – Warwickshire
  • Stafford – Staffordshire
  • Stoke on Trent – Staffordshire
  • Ellesmere – Shropshire
  • Whitchurch – Shropshire
  • Trowbridge – Wiltshire
  • Alvechurch – Worcestershire
  • Bromsgrove – Worcestershire
  • Llangollen – Wrexham
  • Sowerby Bridge – Yorkshire (West)
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