Acton Bridge Base
Based near Northwich, Acton Bridge is a great place for exploring a number of routes. Traveling north, you meet the canal where it all started – the Bridgewater Canal, which takes you lock-free to Manchester. From there you can travel to the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, or continue on the Cheshire Ring via the Peak Forest and Macclesfield.
Suggested Routes From Acton Bridge:
84 Miles, 6 Locks, 1 Week Cruise, 5 hours per day (ROUTE A)
A very pleasant and easy run with many miles of lock-free cruising. Leaving the base you travel on the first British canal built by the Duke of Bridgewater to transport coal to Manchester. On this you can see the mine entrances, together with the Barton Swing Bridge over the Manchester Ship Canal, where the canal is swung to let large ships through. At Wigan, the Pier Museum and Trencherfield Mill Steam Engine (the world’s largest), are well worth a visit.
84 Miles, 44 Locks, 1 Week Cruise, 6 hours per day(ROUTE B)
A slightly more active route, but still easily manageable at about five hours per day, this trip includes varying canals and countryside. Travelling southwards past the old salt mines to Middlewich, you turn onto the Middlewich arm to join up with the Shropshire Union Canal. The trip to the medieval city of Chester is particularly pleasant with the canal built next to the old city walls. You should also have time to visit the boat museum at Ellesmere Port.
98 Miles, 92 Locks, 1 Week Cruise, 8 hours per day (ROUTE C)
An active route at around eight hours per day, the Cheshire Ring is one of contrasts. Travelling northwards over the Bridgewater Canal and lock-free to Manchester, where the city’s canals are currently being improved. After this, into the Peak District on the Macclesfield Canal, with its pretty stone villages. Just north of The Peak District, you meet the Trent & Mersey Canal travelling through the many locks to Middlewich and its history of salt, then home.
141 Miles, 102 Locks, 2 Week Cruise, 4 hours per day (ROUTE D)
A relaxing fortnight, travelling southwards to The Peak District via Middlewich. Passing through the red-watered Harecastle Tunnel (the result of local iron workings) and continuing past the Wedgwood factory to Stone and Great Haywood, joining the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal. Just north of Wolverhampton, you meet the Shropshire Union Canal with its extravagant cuttings and embankments, carrying you up to Barbridge and the Middlewich arm. If time permits a diversion along the Caldon is well worthwhile.