Llangollen canal boat holiday
SUGGESTED DAILY ITINERARY:
This is a suggested itinerary, and you can adapt the timings on your holiday to suit you. At eight hours a day, this is a fairly busy cruise and if you want to take it a bit slower you can, and potentially take a taxi to visit Llangollen if you don’t have time to cruise all the way there. No matter how you choose to do it, a canal boat trip from Stoke on Trent to Llangollen is a great way to see some of the best of the English and Welsh countryside.
Day 1: Start your journey in Stoke-on-Trent and travel north along the Trent and Mersey Canal. Depending if you can go through the Harecastle Tunnel, you can moor and spend the night just before or just after the tunnel.
Day 2: Continue north to Middlewich. Visit the Middlewich Locks and learn about their history. Overnight in Middlewich.
Day 3: Travel from Middlewich to Wrenbury. Enjoy the scenery along the way and stop for lunch at one of the canalside pubs. Overnight in Wrenbury
Day 4: Continue to the Llangollen Canal to Ellesmere.
Day 5: Cruise from Ellesmere to Llangollen.
Day 6: Spend the day in Llangollen
Days 7 – 14: Start the return leg back to Stoke on Trent, following the same route. Please just note that you need to be through the Harecastle Tunnel on day 14.
Day 15: (after your 14th night on board the boat): Return the boat to base by 9.30am.
THE CRUISING ROUTE IN DETAIL
Starting at the Black Prince base at Festival Park Marina in Stoke on Trent, you’ll start by travelling northwest on the Trent and Mersey Canal (Main Line – Etruria to Hardings Wood). Keep your eye out for the living history of the canals, with old warehouses and pottery factories lining the side of the canal.
The industrial buildings soon make way to open countryside as you continue along the Trent and Mersey to Hardings Wood.
Just before Hardings Wood Junction, you’ll cruise through the Harecastle Tunnel, a 1.6-mile-long (2.6 km) canal tunnel on the Trent and Mersey Canal which was once one of the longest tunnels in the country and was built to transport coal to the kilns in the Staffordshire Potteries. The tunnel runs under Harecastle Hill, which is 640 feet (195 m) high and is located near Goldenhill, the highest district in Stoke-on-Trent.
This feat of engineering was designed by James Brindley and completed in 1777. It was a major project at the time and required the construction of 15 vertical shafts to ventilate the tunnel. The tunnel was initially used to transport coal from the mines in the north of Staffordshire to the potteries in the south. However, it also became an important transportation route for other goods, such as salt, lime, and bricks.
When you reach Hardings Wood, where the Macclesfield Canal joins the Trent and Mersey, you’ll continue northwest to Middlewich.
It’s worth mooring up at Middlewich and taking some time to discover this bustling little market town. Founded by the Romans in the 1st century AD, it was known as Salinae, meaning “salt works”. In the 18th century, Middlewich became a major centre for the Industrial Revolution, due to its location on the River Weaver and the canals that were built to connect it to other parts of the country. Now, the town centre is home to a variety of shops, restaurants, and pubs, as well as the Middlewich Heritage Centre, which tells the story of the town’s history.
From Middlewich you cruise back into scenic countryside on the Shropshire Union canal, and continue through Bargridge and Hurleston to Wrenbury.
WRENBURY – one of the UK’s best villages
The picturesque village of Wrenbury has been named as one of the UK’s best villages. An 18th century wooden drawbridge spans the Shropshire Union Canal on the road leading into the village, which winds past the Wrenbury Mill and marina, and into the village’s quaint centre. The village centre has many listed buildings dating back to the 16th century. It’s worth making the time to enjoy a stop here, walking around the village and enjoying a relaxing pub meal.
There are ten locks between Wrenbury and Whitchurch, and then it’s a relaxed 29 mile cruise from there on in to Llangollen, with just two locks and the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct to navigate. The impressive Pontcysyllte Aqueduct will be a high-light of your trip (pun fully intended!). UNESCO has described this world heritage site as ‘a masterpiece of creative genius’. This amazing bridge over the River Dee holds a cast iron trough filled with water that carries narrowboats over the Dee Valley. It forms part of the Canal and River Trust waterways and is the direct link to Llangollen, there are no extra fees to pay to cross over here.
Once you’ve crossed the aqueduct it’s a lock free gentle cruise into Llangollen. This small town on the banks of the River Dee offers a lively and bustling ambiance, with shops and restaurants set in the Welsh hillside.
You can moor just outside Llangollen our pay a small extra fee to moor in Llangollen basin marina. Enjoy a day here exploring together with an evening meal before making your return journey back to Stoke on Trent.
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