Canals of North West England

canals of northern EnglandThe canals of the North West of England offer a mix of rural and urban boating, including the south end of the Pennines and the Cheshire plains.

To the west of Manchester, the crew can put their feet up on a 30-mile stretch with only one lock.

Really relaxing and totally rural canals in this region include the Caldon and Macclesfield canals. Highlights close to these canals are the National Trust’s Little Moreton Hall, the Macclesfield Silk Museum and the enchanting Churnet Valley.

To the west of the area, the Shropshire Union Canal runs up to the Roman city of Chester, with its Roman walls and award-winning zoo.

Top 5 canal boat holidays in the North West

1. Boat to the ancient City of Chester

On a short break from Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal near Tarporley in Cheshire you can cruise to the ancient City of Chester and back.  The journey there and back travels 24 miles, passes through 18 locks (nine each way) and takes around 14 hours.  You’ll travel through the Cheshire countryside, passing Beeston Castle and the village of Christleton along the way. Once in Chester, you can moor up to explore some of this ancient city’s best loved attractions, including Britain’s most complete Roman and medieval walls and the Tudor open-air galleries.

2. Cruise to Castle Quay in Manchester

On a week’s break from Acton Bridge you can cruise to Manchester and back, enjoying time in the countryside as well as well as the city.  The return route travels 54 miles, two locks (one each way) and takes around 18 hours.  First you’ll travel along a section of the Trent & Mersey Canal and through the Preston Brook Tunnel.  Next you’ll join the lock-free Bridgewater Canal, cruising through the Cheshire countryside.  You’ll go through the historic village of Lymm with a great choice of pubs, Stockton Heath and Sale, where the route becomes more suburban.  You’ll pass the Manchester United football ground Salford Quays and the Old Trafford Cricket Groun. In Manchester you can moor up at Castlefield Basin, within easy reach of City Centre attractions.

3. Navigate to King’s Lock in Middlewich

On a short break from Anderton you can cruise to the ancient town of Middlewich, where salt was first traded in Roman times.  The journey there travels 19 miles, passes through eight locks (four each way) and takes around nine and a half hours.  You’ll begin the journey heading south along the Trent & Mersey Canal. At Marston you’ll find the Lion Salt Works and Salt Barge pub. Next you’ll reach the Lamb’s Wharf canalside pub at Bridge 189 in Northwich and the Old Broken Cross pub at Bridge 184 in Rudheath. There’s choice of places to eat, drink and shop in Middlewich, including the popular canalside King’s Lock Inn.

4. Boat through the Cheshire and Staffordshire countryside to Brewood

On a week’s break from Nantwich on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire you can cruise to the ancient village of Brewood and back.  The journey travels 70 miles, passes through 56 locks (28 each way) and takes around 36 hours.  Cruising south down the Shropshire Union Canal you’ll pass the Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker museum, close to Hack Green locks. You’ll go through the Audlem Flight of 15 locks and pass the Shroppie Fly pub.  Cruise on through the Cheshire countryside to the historic market town of Market Drayton, home of the gingerbread man. Continue on through the wooded Woodeaves Cutting where you feel like you have stepped back in time.  Then you’ll pass the Wharf Tavern at Goldstone Common, the Junction Inn at Norbury and The Boat and Navigation pubs at Gnosall Heath.  You’ll find the Hartley Arms and Mottey Meadows Nature Reserve at Wheaton Ashton.  At Brewood there’s a choice of pubs, including the Swan Hotel and the Coven Heath Nature Reserve to explore.

5. Complete the epic Cheshire Ring

On a two-week holiday from Bunbury, you can complete the epic Cheshire Ring circuit.  They journey travels 122 miles, passes through 104 locks and takes around 65 hours. You’ll travel sections of the Shropshire Union, Trent & Mersey, Macclesfield, Peak Forest, Ashton and Bridgewater canals. Highlights include: dramatic views of the Cheshire Plains; cruising through central Manchester; Red Bull Aqueduct on the Macclesfield Canal; the 16 locks and Aqueduct at Marple; views of the Peak District on the Peak Forest Canal; passing Old Trafford on the Ashton Canal, views of the Pennines on the Bridgewater Canal and the Anderton Boat Lift.

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