Thanks Biscuits, I'm currently watching various videos and reading forums on outdrives - as you say they seem to be a "grown-up" solution but come with very grown-up prices when something goes wrong.
Mr Alan de Enfield our expectations regading cruising areas have changed a bit recently.
Originally we were looking at steel 50 footers with a view to spending a couple of weeks at a time on them in the Pennines/West Yorks area but a recent change of circumstances means we're more likely now to be doing weekend trips only. At 74 miles to the nearest canal in Ripon we're most likely to be in the North Yorkshire to York/Selby area with perhaps an occasional extended trip towards other West- and South-Yorkshire canals.
We've switched attentions from a nice cosy (expensive, constantly trying to rust) 50 footer to a more justfiable (i.e. "less expensive") GRP cruiser and because of the likely cruising locations, we've dropped our original insistance on narrow-beam but do still need to be able to get under bridges and through tunnels so air-draft (cabin-height to me) might matter.
From my side, I'm looking more at Engines (current preference is diesel inboard), drives (I think I prefer shaft but depends on weed-hatches etc.), fresh water capacity, toilet type (can't go just dumping "stuff" into the canal), practicalities like keeping clean (i.e. shower/hot water) and keeping warm heating (links to preference for diesel).
SWMBO wants it to be something that is (or can be fairly easily made to be) clean, bright and "houseproud" and quite likes (but isn't restricted to) those with the aft cabins e.g. Normans, Vikings.
Examples we've seen with aft-cabins that might fit the bill regular Viking 26's and Norman 27's and less common Madeira 27, Seamaster 30, Stourport Classic 30 and a Sheerline 32 (oh yes and a Creighton) - all in the £9k to £15k range depending upon seller, condition etc. There are of course those without after cabins from Norman, Viking, Princess in a range of sizes, costs and conditions. I'm sure different folks have differing views on the various types and we're just crazy enough to have spent the last few nights search forums etc. to try to form our own ideas but f course we're happy to read some more if anyone has the inclination to add them.
One final point to the brokers/boat-search websites - could you please add a filter to stop me finding what look like "perfect" boats only to find they were sold last week or they have some stupid drive system that I didn't understand until two days ago - thanks.