Suggested Routes

SUGGESTED CRUISING ROUTES

Some suggested routes for your holiday.  Remember you can choose how much or how little you do – Narrowboats travel at approximately 3mph, and this is a holiday, not an endurance trial.

Relax and enjoy yourselves, choose a route to suit the amount of activity you want to do. You should consider this a leisure trip. The further you choose to cruise, the less time you will have to stop off and visit places of interest.

The Cross, Chester City Centre - Photo by Mathew Hartley
The Cross, Chester City Centre - Photo by Mathew Hartley

Chester and return


One week – relaxed / 23 hours 32 locks – Continue to Ellesmere Port and Boat Museum add 7 cruising hours.

Places of interest

  1. Nantwich – historic market town, fine church, shopping, banks, pubs and restaurants.
  2. Bunbury staircase locks (wide 2-lock staircase).
  3. Beeston Castle – English Heritage property, well worth the climb on a clear day. Admission charge.
  4. Historic City of Chester (easily accessed by bus from Christleton, or by boat into Tower Wharf basin).
  5. Chester City centre shopping and The Rows, Cathedral, city walls, Chester racecourse Chester staircase locks (3-lock wide staircase).
  6. Chester Zoo.
  7. Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet Village (Ellesmere Port).
  8. Blue Planet Aquarium (Ellesmere Port).
  9. Ellesmere Port Boat Museum.
Anderton BoatLift - Photo by Chris Price
Anderton BoatLift - Photo by Chris Price

Anderton and return


25 hours 20 locks One week – relaxed/moderately active – To continue to Preston Brook and return, add 6 cruising hours, 2 locks. Cruising on the River Weaver (Not recommended for beginners.) add at least 10 hours, depending on time spent on river. (Please advise us before setting out, as additional boat equipment is required.)

Places of interest

  1. Nantwich – historic market town, fine church, shopping, banks, pubs and restaurants.
  2. Middlewich – salt town since Roman times, shops, library, pubs.
  3. Billinge Green Flash – shallow lake remaining after salt extraction (not navigable) good spot for wildlife/bird watching.
  4. Lion Salt Works.
  5. Marbury Country Park – pleasant walks in nature reserve.
  6. Anderton Boat Lift – historic boat lift linking the Trent and Mersey Canal to the River Weaver.
  7. Barnton tunnel, Saltersford Tunnel, Preston Brook Tunnel  (All three tunnels are crooked, with limited visibility, Saltersford and Preston Brook operate a timed one-way system).
Montgomery Canal - Photo by Alex Liivet
Montgomery Canal - Photo by Alex Liivet

Frankton Junction and Montgomery


One Week Active or two weeks relaxed – 40 hours 58 locks

Places of interest

  1. Nantwich – historic market town, fine church, shopping, banks, pubs and restaurants.
  2. Wrenbury village, electric lift bridge, pubs.
  3. Grindley Brook Staircase locks. Internet cafe at locks Whitchurch – historic Shropshire market town Shropshire Meres.
  4. Ellesmere Town – Shopping, pubs, library, banks.
  5. Frankton staircase locks – advance booking essential 7 mile restored section of the Montgomery Canal, currently terminating at Maesbury Marsh.
  6. See the ongoing restoration works at Gronwen Bridge.
Cheshire Cat Silver Moon crossing the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
Cheshire Cat Silver Moon crossing the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

Llangollen and return


1 week active, 2 weeks relaxed 47 hours 46 locks

Places of interest

  1. Nantwich – historic market town, fine church, shopping, banks, pubs and restaurants.
  2. Wrenbury village, electric lift bridge, pubs.
  3. Grindley Brook Staircase locks. Internet cafe at locks.
  4. Whitchurch – historic Shropshire market town.
  5. Shropshire Meres.
  6. Ellesmere Town – Shopping, pubs, library, banks.
  7. Chirk Aqueduct and tunnel, Golf at Chirk Marina.
  8. The world-famous Pontcysyllte Aqueduct – over 1000 feet long, carries the canal 126 feet above the River Dee.
  9. Llangollen town – shopping, pubs, horse drawn boat trips, steam railway, International Eisteddfod (July).
  10. Valle Crucis Abbey (ruins of Cistercian abbey), Castell Dinas Bran (ruins of castle, 1100ft climb).
  11. Mooring charges apply in Llangollen.
Audlem - Photo by Audlem.org
Audlem - Photo by Audlem.org

Four Counties Ring


One week very active or two weeks moderately active – 50 cruising hours, 94 locks

Places of interest

  1. Audlem Locks (flight of 15) Market Drayton – shopping, pubs.
  2. Norbury Junction – historic maintenance yard, pub, boat services.
  3. Shebden embankment.
  4. Woodseaves cutting (said to be haunted).
  5. Gnosall – pretty canal side village.
  6. Autherley Junction – turn onto Staffs and Worcester Canal.
  7. Tixall Wide and Shugborough Hall.
  8. Great Haywood Junction.
  9. Stone – interesting canal town.
  10. Potteries and Stoke-on-Trent.
  11. Harecastle Tunnel (controlled by tunnel keepers, booking required at certain times of year).
  12. Heartbreak Hill paired locks Middlewich – salt town since Roman times, shopping, pubs, and library
    Wardle canal (Britain’s shortest!)
  13. Nantwich – historic market town, fine church, shopping, banks, pubs and restaurants.
  14. Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker.
Marple Lock - Photo by David Jones
Marple Lock - Photo by David Jones

Cheshire Ring


NB: The Cheshire Ring will be closed from Friday 24th June 2022 until further notice, due to water resource issues.

Two weeks active 64 cruising hours, 104 locks – Visit Peak Forest Canal and Bugsworth Basin, add 6 cruising hours – Visit Barton Swing Aqueduct and return, add 3 cruising hours

Places of interest

  1. Middlewich – salt town since Roman times, shopping, pubs, and library.
  2. Heartbreak Hill paired locks.
  3. Hardings Wood Junction.
  4. Mow Cop (well worth the climb on a clear day).
  5. Bosley Lock flight – look out for Snake bridges – allowed towpath to change sides without unhitching the horse.
  6. Macclesfield – centre of silk industry, many fine historic mills.
  7. Bollington – interesting town, fine mills.
  8. Marple – canal side town, shopping, pubs, historic junction, Marple locks, stunning views.
  9. Peak Forest Canal – Bugsworth Basin – restored historic canal transhipment basin.
  10. Portland Junction and Industrial Heritage Museum.
  11. Manchester Piccadilly, Trafford Centre, Old Trafford.
  12. Divert over Barton Swing Aqueduct, spectacular aqueduct over the Manchester Ship Canal.
  13. Little Bollington – Dunham Massey Hall (National Trust).
  14. Lymm – pretty canal side village.
  15. Preston Brook tunnel and Saltersford tunnel (crooked, timed one-way operation).
  16. Anderton Boat Lift – historic boat lift linking the Trent and Mersey Canal to the River Weaver.
  17. Lion Salt Works.
  18. Billinge Green Flash – shallow lake (not navigable) resulting from salt extraction.
  19. Excellent for wildlife and bird watching.
  20. Middlewich Wardle Canal – Britain’s shortest.
Stourport Old Basin - Photo by John Lord
Stourport Old Basin - Photo by John Lord

Stourport Basin and return


2 weeks moderately active – 59 hours, 116 locks

Places of interest

  1. Audlem village and lock flight.
  2. Market Drayton – interesting canal town.
  3. Norbury Junction – historic junction with Shrewsbury and Newport Canal (under restoration).
  4. Canalside pub, café.
  5. Shelmore Embankment – massive earthworks carrying the canal across the Shelmore valley.
  6. Gnosall and Brewood – pleasant canalside villages, good pubs.
  7. Autherley Junction – Staffs and Worcester Canal.
  8. The Bratch Flight –  3 lock flight (not a staircase) with side pounds – lock-keeper assisted.
  9. Kinver – canalside village, pub.
  10. Holy Austin rock dwellings Kidderminster – canal town, canalside supermarket, interesting converted warehouses and canal buildings.
  11. Stourport – gateway to the River Severn. Shopping, pubs, banks, newly restored historic canal basins, locks down to the river. If you are planning to cruise on the river, please advise us as additional equipment is required.

These are just suggestions of the many routes available. Combinations of routes and part routes are possible if you aren’t sure, just ask us – we have cruised them all ourselves!