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 on narrowboat holidays in Cheshire, plus a host of major attractions to spot whilst cruising along in your holiday hire.
The Bridgewater Canal was the first canal to be built in England which didn’t follow an existing watercourse, so becoming a model for the man-made waterways that followed it. In this region, you can also cruise the Trent and Mersey Canal and the Macclesfield Canal on our Cheshire narrowboats holidays, which form part of the Cheshire Ring, all of which provide some fascinating insights into canal history.
Top Attractions in Cheshire
A boating holiday in Cheshire doesn’t mean you have to stay on board 24/7. Take some time out to visit some of the great attractions on or near the waterways and holiday routes. Remember to allow time into your itinerary if you plan to stop off, as you may need a holiday of a week or more rather than a shorter weekend break to fit it all in.
- The Anderton Lift – an awe-inspiring 50-foot vertical boat lift link between two navigable waterways: the River Weaver and the Trent and Mersey Canal. It offers an interesting visitor centre with a café and activities for the kids.
- Chester – a beautiful old Roman city that is great for a canal holiday. 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 on a canal boat holiday; it’s found at the northern end of the Shropshire Union Canal where it meets the Manchester Ship Canal.
- 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 the claustrophobic, with its 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. Definitely one to put on your itinerary for a family-friendly daytrip.
- 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 a 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).
Canals to cruise with narrow boat hire from the Acton Bridge, Cheshire
- Bridgewater Canal
- Macclesfield Canal
- Peak Forest Canal
- Shropshire Union Canal
- Trent & Mersey Canal
- Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal
Cheshire canal boat holidays are the perfect UK break. You can head to Chester’s medieval shops and Roman walls, cruise Llangollen canals and visit the nearby steam railway, quaint villages such as Preston Brook, Bollington or Brewood and canal-side attractions such as Chirk and Beeston Castles and the National Waterways Museum.
Travelling through five counties, the boat holidays available with Cheshire Ring narrowboat hire contrast to the highest waterways in England on the Macclesfield and Peak Forest canals, with the cityscape of Manchester and its historic canal engineering to the lower Cheshire Plains. This is a lovely part of northwest England to visit for friendly holidays onboard narrow boats and berth boats.
Cheshire Canal boat hire base
The Black Prince Cheshire canal boat hire base is at Acton Bridge, near Northwich. Hire a narrowboat from here and you can enjoy a boat holiday on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal or continue on the Cheshire ring cruising route via the Peak Forest and Macclesfield. From south of the narrowboat hire 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 or just make the most of narrowboat hire in Cheshire, including seeing sights such as the Anderton Lift and the old market town of Middlewich.
Our northern boat hire base in Cheshire offers pet-friendly holidays, please ensure that you read our booking conditions and ensure you book a pet-friendly boat.