Holidays in the UK Masthead

Guide to the Four Counties Ring

This popular cruise through rural scenery and open countryside includes some small towns and an interesting section through the heart of the Potteries district.

A feature is the 3000 yard long Harecastle Tunnel, a wonder of the canals.

Distance, Time, and Locks

110 miles, about 55 hours cruising, 94 locks

Usually covered in a week, the Ring includes some energetic sections. Out-and-back trips and short breaks are available from all bases. For a leisurely week try the picturesque Caldon Canal from Stoke-on-Trent through the Churnet Valley towards the Peak District.

Cruising the Four Counties Ring

Beautiful countryside surrounds Hazelhurst locks

Starting at Stoke-on-Trent with its superb waterside leisure complex, travel past the Wedgwood Pottery Visitor Centre to Great Haywood junction and Shrugborough Hall.

Continue on the very rural canal to join the Shropshire Union Canal. One of the last canals to be built, better engineering techniques created deep cuttings and dramatic embankments, with few locks and splendid architecture.

The 'Shroppie' crosses rolling countryside, passing through delightful towns such as Market Drayton, Audlem and Nantwich, before turning east towards Middlewich, once famous for its salt workings.

This ornate footbridge takes you across the Birmingham & Fazeley canal to the amusements zoo at Drayton Manor ParkShortly after Middlewich the canal climbs 'Heartbreak Hill' to its summit at Kidsgrove. The canal water soon turns red, as a result of local iron workings before reaching the famous Harecastle tunnel. Boats go in one-way convoys through the almost 3000 yard long tunnel before reaching daylight and a short run to Stoke-on-Trent.

Possible Holidays on the Four Counties Ring

Click on a boat base below for more information and possible routes from that base.

Gailey Roundhouse - houses an excellent shop and chandlery
Holidays in the UK, Bowers Wharf, Skipton, BD23 2PD