The Llangollen Canal is arguably the most beautiful canal on the whole system and also boasts the striking Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.
• Unusually, this canal has a flow of 2mph, so the outbound journey will be slower than the return. • With time, detour along the Montgomery canal. • The last locks are at New Marton from where, as it clings to the hillside contours, an enchanting blend of aqueducts and tunnels takes the canal, lock free, to Llangollen. • Take a steam train ride from Llangollen up the Dee Valley or visit the ruins of Castell Dinas Bran.
For Ellesmere Port (7 night trip) add 1.5 hours per day and 8 locks
On this popular countryside route the locks are well spaced for easy cruising. You can choose to travel to Chester and then retrace your steps back to the marina or continue along the Shropshire Union main line to its historic terminal on the River Mersey at Ellesmere Port.
Mooring in Chester is within easy reach of the walled city centre with its medieval ‘rows’ where there are a variety of shops, galleries and the majestic cathedral. Chester TIC 01244 402111 www.chestertourism.com
The fascinating Boat Museum 0151 355 5017 www.boatmuseum.org.uk at Ellesmere Port is a few locks beyond Chester, near to the junction with the Manchester Ship Canal. The museum has an extensive collection of preserved inland waterway craft and display areas in many of the former warehouses.
A fascinating voyage of discovery and well worth the extra bit of effort!
The journey takes you along the wonderfully rural Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal to Great Haywood Junction where, passing under a distinctive roving bridge, you join the Trent and Mersey Canal heading north towards the Potteries and Peak District.
The rolling Staffordshire countryside leads you to Stoke-on-Trent, the Wedgewood Visitors Centre and the impressive 2926-yard long Harecastle Tunnel.
Beyond Harecastle the 13 miles to the salt town of Middlewich sees the canal descend 31 locks to the Cheshire Plains.
The short Middlewich arm links the Trent and Mersey Canal to the Shropshire Union Canal again through more glorious countryside.
The scenery on the climb up ‘Heartbreak Hill’ to the summit at Kidsgrove is fantastic. As well as sights of the potteries such as the Bottle Kilns at Etruria, the Wedgwood Pottery Centre at Barlaston is not to be missed. 01782 204218 www.thewedgwoodstory.com
The National Trust’s Shugborough Hall is a short walk from moorings at Great Haywood. 01889 881388 www.nationaltrust.org.uk
A fascinating trip that takes you through the heart of Manchester and the Peak District with its distinctive stone architecture.
Moor at Castlefields to explore the city of Manchester, including Old Trafford, home of Manchester United F.C. 0870 4421994www.manutd.co.uk, the huge Arndale shopping centre and the Science & Industry Museum. 0161 832 2244 www.msim.org.uk
The trip will let you enjoy glorious scenery as the Pennine Range overlooks the canal and, if time allows, detour along the Peak Forest canal to its terminus. Enjoy the stunning views from Marple and at Anderton pause to visit the fabulously restored boat lift which now operates throughout the cruising season to link the canal with the River Weaver
The short breaks from Wrenbury are superb, with plenty of glorious scenery.
3 nights, 10 hours, 20 locks (Whitchurch) Grindley Brook has six locks, three as a staircase with a lock-keeper in attendance.
With several good shops, Whitchurch is very good to either explore, or stock up on supplies.
3 nights, 17 hours, 20 locks (Ellesmere) The run into Ellesmere is through an area of outstanding beauty, with a series of Ice-Age lakes known as ‘meres’ very close to the canal.
4 nights, 26 hours, 24 locks (Chirk) Towards the Welsh border at Chirk, the country’s fine hills come into view and the scenery becomes altogether more dramatic.
Heading south from Hurleston on the Shropshire Union takes a route through open countryside. With just a few, evenly spaced locks until the foot of the Audlem
flight, this is an extremely relaxing cruise to an attractive village.