Head to Cheshire to discover where it all started – the Bridgewater Canal – which takes you lock-free to Manchester. In this northwest corner of England there’s plenty of canal history to be explored, plus a host of major attractions to spot whilst cruising.
You can head to Chester’s medieval shops and Roman walls, Llangollen with its steam railway, quaint villages such as Bollington or Brewood and canal side attractions such as Chirk and Beeston Castles.
Travelling through five counties, the Cheshire Ring contrasts the highest waterways in England on the Macclesfield and Peak Forest canals with the cityscape of Manchester and its historic canal engineering.
Cheshire Canal boat hire base
The Black Prince Cheshire canal boat hire base is at Acton Bridge, near Northwich.From there you can travel to the Leeds-Liverpool Canal or continue on the Cheshire ring via the Peak Forest and Macclesfield. From south of the base you can travel on the Four Counties Ring, or meander up to Chester and beyond to the Ellesmere Port Boat Museum.
You can enjoy some interesting canal boat short breaks from this base, including seeing sights such as the Anderton Lift and the old market town of Middlewich.
The Anderton Lift – an awe-inspiring 50-foot vertical link between two navigable waterways: the River Weaver and the Trent and Mersey Canal. It offers an interesting visitor center with café and activities for the kids.
Chester – a beautiful old Roman city.Take a stroll along the Roman walls, take photos of the stunning Tudor centre, and shop and eat to your heart’s content.
The National Waterways Museum in Ellesmere Port – well worth a visit; it’s found at the northern end of the Shropshire Union Canal where it meets the Manchester Ship Canal. https://youtu.be/AoCtb5E3lxk
Little Moreton Hall – a moated half-timbered manor house 4 miles southwest of Congleton.The tours are recommended and the whole feel is a bit Harry Potter-esque.
Harecastle Tunnel – a remarkable feat of engineering by Thomas Telford and James Brindley.Not for claustrophobic, with it’s low roof and long period of darkness!
Chester Zoo is great for a day out with the kids as it’s one of the largest and most diverse zoos in the country and also famous for conservation projects.
On the Shropshire Union Canal you’ll see the imposing sight of Beeston Castle, a former royal castle dating back to 1220 that is perched on a rocky sandstone crag 350 feet above the Cheshire Plain.There is a visitor centre with museum and refreshments and 40 acres of woodland walks.
If you want to immerse yourself in history then head to the lived-in home of Gawsworth Hall near Macclesfield. Built in 1480, the Tudor manor house features fine paintings, furniture, sculpture and an ancient pleasure garden.(Just open to the public during July & August).
Chester is home to the largest Roman amphitheatre in Britain, used for entertainment and military training by the 20th Legion, based at the fortress of ‘Deva’ (Chester).
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