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Life in the slow lane. Hire a narrowboat and see the British countryside from a different perspective.

Did you know that, of the 6,400 kilometres of inland waterways in Britain, 3,200 are historic canals? The first, the Fossdyke, connected Lincoln with the River Trent and is thought to have been built by the Romans, but it was during the 18th century Industrial Revolution that a system of canals grew up for transportation. More than two hundred years on, many of these original structures are still in use thanks to volunteers. Although few commercial goods are carried these days, the canals are busy with enthusiasts enjoying narrowboat cruises.

And what a way to go! You can glide through beautiful lowlands at 4km per hour, pull into a mooring at one of the many waterside pubs for lunch or approach a town through the ‘back door’, sailing easily under a bridge weighed down with rush hour traffic. It’s one of the most relaxing holidays you could hope for.

Boats come with living and dining area, fully equipped kitchen, bathroom and comfortable beds. No special skills or experience are required, the boats being simple to control, and it’s impossible to get lost! Visit www.drifters.co.uk, a consortium of award-winning holiday boat companies with bases throughout the U.K. Hire costs vary according to the season, but a six berth narrowboat costs between £550 and £1400 per week.

Try navigating the Oxford Canal, which links the famous university town to Coventry, passing through Rugby (which gave the famous sport its name) or The Kennet and Avon Canal which links the Thames and Severn through picture postcard countryside. Don’t expect to travel very far but you'll have a great time!

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