Will hiring be so popular now?

IT IS that time of the year when Drifters hold their National Open Day, offering would-be hirers a taster session on the waterways.

We are told that 'around 2,000 people' took part at its 18 canal boat hire bases across England and Wales.

driftersWill it be so popular?

But with the perilous state of the waterways with main arteries closed and stoppages already coming fast and many hirers having had their last season holidays cut short, will it be so popular?

The two popular cruising rings—the Four Counties and the Cheshire are both closed, with the Four Counties having little chance of being opened this cruising season, caused by the Middlewich breach.  And the Cheshire having the Marple Flight closed, its opening date having been put back time and time again, and also preventing access to the northern canals.

Stoppage after stoppage

The most spectacular of them all, the Huddersfield Narrow has already had stoppage after stoppage, and its lack of maintenance will ensure there will be more. And how will the Grand Union fare? We only managed to avoid being caught in its 'indefinite closure' last year by two days, and it still leaks.

However, Tim Parker, Chairman of Drifters Waterway Holidays, tells us:

“We are delighted to report that despite mixed weather across the country, around 2,000 people experienced a canal boat trip at our national open day this year, and many of the visitors to our events were enthusiastic about the idea of holidaying on the canals.

“It’s absolutely vital that we attract newcomers to the canals with taster events like these, so that more people discover the joys of a narrowboat holiday and the beauty of our inland waterways.

“We hope the people who visited our open day events come back to the canals again soon and we are always happy to see people at our boatyards to chat about boats, routes and holidays.”

Drifters Waterway Holidays is made up of a consortium of 11 hire boat companies: ABC Boat Hire, Anglo Welsh, Black Prince, Countrywide Cruisers, Foxhangers, Kate Boats, Rose Narrowboats, Napton Narrowboats, Shire Cruisers, Valley Cruises and Union Canal Carriers. Between them they offer over 590 boats for hire, operating from 47 bases across England, Scotland and Wales.

2018 hire prices start at £445 for a short break, £675 for a week. Narrowboats range from 32ft to 70ft and can accommodate up to 12 people. www.drifters.co.uk