See historic towns
Kennet Avon Canal
Take a canal boat
Take canal locks
up and down hills
Stop at peaceful
pubs and villages
Four Counties Ring
Base 15 is south of Manchester. It is owned by one of the UK's leading boat operators. It is close to rail and motorway links and not far from Manchester Airport.
Situated near Northwich, base 15 is a good starting point for a number of routes. Travelling 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. This is a beautiful route with constantly changing scenery. South of the base you can travel the Four Counties Ring, or meander up to Chester and beyond to the Ellesmere Port boat museum.
Short breaks can take you towards Manchester, or south to Middlewich and beyond. One week takes you to Chester or Wigan, or the Cheshire Ring itself.
Manchester and back: 48 miles 2 locks 18 hours
Many miles of lock-free cruising through Preston Brook tunnel along the Bridgwater Canal to Lymm and perhaps to Stretford.
Middlewich and back: 30 miles 8 locks 12 hours
Travel south past the restored Anderton Boat Lift connecting the canal with the River Weaver to the old salt centre of Middlewich, and perhaps further to Nantwich or Beeston.
Wigan and return: 83 miles, 6 locks, 28 hours
A very pleasant and easy run with many miles of lock-free cruising. Leaving the base you travel onto 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 later Barton Swing Bridge over the Manchester Ship At Wigan the Pier Museum, and the Trencherfield Mill Steam Engine (the world's largest), are well worth a visit.
Chester and return:
98 miles, 52 locks, 35 hours
A slightly more vigorous 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.
The trip up 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.
97 miles, 92 locks, 56 hours
More strenuous route at around eight hours a day, the Cheshire Ring is one of contrasts. travelling northwards over the Bridgewater Canal, lock-free to Manchester.Moor at Castlefields to explore the city, its shops, museums, theatres and sporting venues. After this into the Peak District on the Macclesfield Canal, with the small towns built of stone. Just north of Stoke you meet the Trent and Mersey, and travel through the many locks to Middlewich and its history of salt, and home.
Four Counties Ring:
140 miles, 102 locks, 5 hours cruising per day
A relaxing fortnight, you travel southwards to Stoke-on-Trent via Middlewich. Passing through the red-watered Harecastle Tunnel (the result of local iron workings), and continuing down past the Wedgwood factory to Stone and Great Haywood, you join the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal. Just north of Wolverhampton, you meet the Shropshire Union with its extravagant cuttings and embankments, which carries you up to Barbridge and the Middlewich arm. If time permits a diversion along the Caldon is well worthwhile.
Please note that we have been advised that there is damage to the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal, so it is not possible to access the Four Counties Ring from the North West, or access the Llangollen Canal at present.