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On Sunday 17 April 2016, Drifters Waterway Holidays and the Canal & River Trust are offering people the chance to try canal boating for free at 17 narrowboat hire bases across England and Wales.

The taster sessions will include free trips on skippered narrowboats, as well as boat tours and holiday discounts. No booking is required, with people of all ages encouraged to just turn up. 

Close to 400,000 people go canal boating each year and according to research by the British Marine Federation’s ‘Watersports Participation Report 2014, the numbers have increased by 23% since 2009. 

“Travelling at just 4mph through peaceful countryside, sleepy villages and exciting waterside cities, canal boat holidays are often described as ‘the fastest way to slow down’", explains Tim Parker, chairman of Drifters Waterway Holidays. 

“Last year, over 1,000 people got afloat at our open day events held all over the country. We hope this year’s taster sessions will introduce many more people to the joys of a holiday afloat on Britain’s wonderful inland waterways.”

Mike Grimes, head of boating at the Canal & River Trust, adds: “For many people, a boating holiday is the start of a lifelong passion. These free taster sessions are a great way to test out whether this sort of holiday could be for you, before committing to a full weekend or week’s break.”

Full details of what each site is offering can be found at


Try canal boating for free
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