Travel By Numbers: Canal holidays

As the Bridgewater Canal celebrates its 250th birthday, Laura Holt adds up the appeal of a European boating break

1761

The year the Bridgewater Canal opened in the North-west of England. Conceived by the Duke of Bridgewater as a means of transporting coal from his mines in Worsley to the factories of Manchester during the industrial revolution, it's affectionately known as the "Duke's Cut".

The 250th anniversary of this 41-mile, man-made waterway is marked this weekend with a flotilla of boats, music and guided walks along the towpath. Claymoore Canal Holidays offers a self-drive weekend cruise along the canal aboard a 50ft narrowboat with rental from £336 (sleeps two). claymoore.co.uk

58

The number of locks along Sweden's Gota Canal. Nicknamed the "divorce ditch" after the navigational difficulty it has caused some couples, it runs from the mouth of the River Gota near Gothenburg to Soderkoping on the Baltic coast. Allay marital acrimony by steering along on the MS Juno. The six-day cruise, operated by Gota Canal Steamship Company, travels from Stockholm to Gothenburg, taking in Lacko Castle and the island of Bjorko. It costs SEK12,620 (£1,208) per person, based on two sharing a double cabin, and includes full-board with excursions. Departs 10 and 23 August. Travel to Sweden excluded. gotacanal.se

30,528

The size, in square kilometres, of Belgium. Though tiny, the country boasts a wealth of waterways. A self-guided canal trip starting at the North Sea hub of Nieuwpoort with operator Le Boat offers the option to skim towards Bruges, pictured left, famed for its interlocking canals and medieval buildings, before cruising onwards to the Flemish city of Ghent. A week-long stay on the Caprice, fitted out with a kitchenette, costs £2,100, including full training. Flights, fuel and insurance are extra. leboat.co.uk

5

The number of collection points offered by Hoseasons boating holidays in the Netherlands, which has the densest network of inland waterways in Europe. One of the most popular starting points is Sneek, above, which is home to the Waterpoort bridge and gateway to the Friesland lakes. A self-drive Penichette boat sleeping two-five people costs from £1,355 for a week-long cruise in peak season. hoseasons.co.uk

1996

The year France's Canal du Midi gained Unesco World Heritage status. This 17th-century marvel links the Mediterranean with the Atlantic, snaking 360km through locks, aqueducts, bridges, tunnels and the idyllic French countryside. Orient-Express offers a luxury sojourn along the Béziers-Carcassonne stretch on the Alouette barge. Charter this vessel for six nights and all meals, drinks and sightseeing trips are included. The four-bed boat is fully crewed, with a chef, on-board bikes and a chauffeur-driven minivan. The barge costs £16,450, excluding transport to France. alouettebarge.com

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