Boat Hire

The Cheshire Ring from Wrenbury Mill - 11-14 Days

Cruising Time Per Day 6hrs • Total Locks 137


This Ring takes in parts of the Llangollen Canal, Shropshire Union Canal, Trent & Mersey Canal, Bridgewater Canal, Rochdale Canal, Ashton Canal, Peak Forest Canal and all of the Macclesfield Canal. The route from Wrenbury Mill takes in several tunnels and aqueducts, countless lift bridges, swing bridges and snake bridges, and 118 locks - can be done in 11 to 14 days depending on experience.

A tranquil water road concealing some of the quietest treasures of the canals, as well as one of the greatest engineering marvels of Britain's canals - the world-famous Anderton Boat Lift. This gentle cruise clambers high and descends gracefully through idyllic countryside. Sweeping views fill your route as you follow historic salt and silk trails then, in contrast, visit the heart of cosmopolitan Manchester through its secret backdoor.

The base at Wrenbury Mill is just a short walk from thatched cottages and a church ranged around Wrenbury’s quintessentially English village green. The Llangollen Canal rolls onwards through lazy green scenery, passing under lift bridges synonymous with the Llangollen Canal, until you reach the locks at Hurleston Junction which lead down to the Shropshire Union Canal.

Heading northwards, turn onto the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal at Barbridge Junction. The peace and calm of the remote landscape follows you under bridges, over a short aqueduct and along a few country-miles until you reach the junction at Middlewich. This town has produced salt since Roman times and an interesting town trail explains more about the saltworks settlement dating back to 150-250 AD. Following the Trent & Mersey Canal northwards, the story of salt wraps the canal. Salt has always been vital for human survival, and even language has evolved from the importance of it – Roman workers' 'salary' was paid in salt, and the term 'worth one's salt' is still used today.

Northwich bears its motto 'Sal est vita' (salt is life), and the story of a town built on the site of brine springs is told in its Salt Museum. Just north of Northwich, you can visit Lion Salt Works, a partially restored industrial heritage site.

Anderton Boat Lift is a masterpiece of engineering and the world's oldest operational boat lift. It was built in 1875 to lift boats over the 50 foot cliff edge from the Trent & Mersey Canal to the River Weaver below. Although your route does not take you via the Lift, it’s worth allowing time to explore this unforgettable experience.

After the excitement of Anderton, prepare for the entertainment of three tunnels - Barnton (572yds/523m long), Saltersford (424yds/388m long) and Preston Brook (1239yds/1133m long) - and an aqueduct, travelling high with delicious views over the valley below. Signs at the end of Preston Brook Tunnel tell you the canal has now merged into the Bridgewater Canal. Cruising quietly eastwards along a lock-free stretch from Preston Brook, Dunham Massey Hall is a 250-acre deer park with Elizabethan mill and 30-room mansion. Your peaceful route soon ambles into the heart of Manchester city, giving you a chance to shop, eat, visit art galleries and museums, see the work of Lowry or take a peek at a certain famous football ground. And once you leave the sparkle of the city behind, the promise of Peak District views lies ahead.

Nine locks take the canal up through Manchester to its junction with the Rochdale and Ashton Canals. Travel along the now heavily locked Ashton Canal to Portland Basin and head southwards along the Peak Forest Canal until you reach glorious Marple Aqueduct. As the canal quietly saunters across the River Goyt from 100 feet above, a parallel viaduct huffs past with those fast trains that once stole trade from the canals. Marple Lock Flight is equally charming with its cluster of 16 beautiful locks built into a canalscape of local stonework. Near the top of the flight look out for the tiny cobblestone tunnel built on the towpath for horses that pulled canal boats over 200 years ago. Look harder and you'll discover a second, even tinier passage hiding by the lock side – this was for boatmen working the lock.

At Marple Junction you might choose a detour to continue along the Peak Forest Canal to visit Bugsworth Basin, once the largest and busiest inland port ever created in England's network of narrow canals. The site opened in 1796 and handled over 600 tons of limestone each day at its peak. Today it’s a tranquil basin surrounded by lungs-full of lush Peak Forest views. There is a fascinating trail to follow packed with information panels.

Then continue south from Marple Junction along the Macclesfield Canal. Greenery is magnificently in charge along this canal, with uninterrupted calm along its first 16 lock-free miles. The canal's unique snake bridges swirl with perfectly spiralled brickwork that once enabled boat horses to swap sides on the towpath without needing to be uncoupled from their narrowboats. As you near Bollington, don't miss Bollington Discovery Centre in the huge Clarence Mill, which was one of the finest cotton mills in Europe in the 1800s.

Macclesfield is the namesake of this canal. At the height of the silk industry, there were 120 mills and dye houses in Macclesfield which was the end of the amazing Silk Road. There are four fascinating Silk Museums to visit if time allows.

At bridge 86, it's worth visiting Little Moreton Hall, a National Trust timber-framed manor house dating back to the 1500s. It's a stunning building riddled with history. A short way beyond bridge 86, at Hardings Wood Junction, the Cheshire Ring turns back onto the Trent & Mersey Canal. Your journey heads northwards again towards Middlewich, then along the Middlewich Branch to retrace your route back to Wrenbury Mill.


The following are examples of the boats that you can hire from ABC Boat Hire at Wrenbury Mill:


Alvechurch Weaver - For a maximum of 4 people, 2+2 Berth, Length 49ft, Semi-traditional Stern

Alvechurch Weaver - For a maximum of 4 people, 2+2 Berth, Length 49ft, Semi-traditional Stern

Alvechurch Grebe - For a maximum of 4 people, 2+2 Berth, Length 49ft, Cruiser Stern

Viking Tyne Class - For a maximum of 4 people, 2+2 Berth, Length 48ft, Crusier Stern

Alvechurch Wren - For a maximum of 4 people, 2+2 Berth, Length 49ft, Semi-traditional Stern

Alvechurch Bunting - For a maximum of 5 people, 2+3 Berth, Length 47ft, Cruiser Stern

Alvechurch Heron - For a maximum of 5 people, 2+3 Berth, Length 58ft, Semi-traditional Stern

Alvechurch Heron - For a maximum of 5 people, 2+3 Berth, Length 58ft, Semi-traditional Stern

Alvechurch Thrush - For a maximum of 6 people, 4+2 Berth, Length 66ft, Semi-traditional Stern

Alvechurch Thrush - For a maximum of 6 people, 4+2 Berth, Length 66ft, Semi-traditional Stern

Alvechurch Thrush - For a maximum of 6 people, 4+2 Berth, Length 66ft, Semi-traditional Stern

Alvechurch Gull - For a maximum of 6 people, 4+2 Berth, Length 66ft, Cruiser Stern

Alvechurch Gull - For a maximum of 6 people, 4+2 Berth, Length 66ft, Cruiser Stern

Alvechurch Gull - For a maximum of 6 people, 4+2 Berth, Length 66ft, Cruiser Stern

Alvechurch Eagle (6 berth) - For a maximum of 6 people, 4+3 Berth, Length 66ft, Cruiser Stern

Alvechurch Eagle (6 berth) - For a maximum of 6 people, 4+3 Berth, Length 66ft, Cruiser Stern

Alvechurch Lark - For a maximum of 6 people, 4+2 Berth, Length 66ft, Semi-traditional Stern

Alvechurch Eagle (7 berth) - For a maximum of 7 people, 4+3 Berth, Length 66ft, Cruiser Stern

Alvechurch Eagle (7 berth) - For a maximum of 7 people, 4+3 Berth, Length 66ft, Cruiser Stern

Viking Wye Class - For a maximum of 8 people, 6+2 Berth, Length 68ft, Cruiser Stern

Alvechurch Woodpecker - For a maximum of 8 people, 4+4Berth, Length 60ft, Cruiser Stern

Alvechurch Goose - For a maximum of 8 people, 6+2 Berth, Length 69ft, Semi-traditional Stern

Alvechurch Goose - For a maximum of 8 people, 6+2 Berth, Length 69ft, Semi-traditional Stern

Alvechurch Owl - For a maximum of 10 people, 6+4 Berth, Length 70ft, Crusier Stern



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