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 19 is south of Chester on the Llangollen Canal. It is run by one of the best boat operators in the UK, with a friendly, professional service.
The base occupies a delightful wharf on the outskirts of a quiet Cheshire village. It offers you access to the delights of the Llangollen canal, as well as an easy cruise to Chester. Also available is the Four Counties Ring taking in parts of the Trent & Mersey, Staffs & Worcester, Shropshire Union canals and the Wardle cut.
Base 19 offers many short break options and has a cruise to meet all requirements.
Whitchurch and Return: 20 locks 12 hours
Ellesmere and Return: 20 locks 17 hours
Chirk and Return: 24 locks 26 hours
Hurleston Junction and Return: 16 locks 16 hours
These follow sections of the Llangollen Canal described in the One Week routes
Llangollen and Return: 24 locks 36 hours
The little grey-slated Welsh town of Llangollen is the setting for the annual Eisteddfod, a feast of Welsh music and culture that attracts visitors from all over the world. It is amazing that a canal should have been built so far into the hills and mountains of Wales. Its soaring aqueducts and tunnels and the splendid scenery make for a memorable canal holiday.
Each day millions of gallons of water are taken from the River Dee, above Llangollen, and are run down the entire length of the canal to the reservoirs at Hurleston to be treated for drinking water. When cruising up this canal, if you think that your progress is slower than expected it is due to a 2mph current caused by the water being run down the canal.
Leaving Base 19 on your cruise to Llangollen, you only have three locks to negotiate before the six locks at Grindley Brook. The top three locks form a staircase, controlled by a lockkeeper, and can be a considerable bottleneck at busy times during the summer.
Soon after Grindley Brook, you pass Whitchurch and there are no more locks for many miles though there are a number of lift bridges to be raised and lowered with the same windlass that you use for operating the locks. The canal reaches Shropshire's 'Lake District', skirting several of the charming meres which were formed at the end of the Ice Age. A short tunnel then gives access to Ellesmere, a timeless old town with some particularly good shops specialising in local produce. At New Marton you pass through the last pair of locks on your way to Wales. A few miles further on you are confronted with an aqueduct and an even higher railway viaduct side by side crossing the valley of the River Ceirog at Chirk. As you cross the aqueduct you go from England to Wales and then immediately enter a tunnel. From the far end, it is only a short walk into the little town of Chirk with its shops and 14th century castle. With the Welsh mountains getting closer you arrive at that astonishing feat of canal engineering, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. You pass 120ft above the River Dee in a cast iron trough not much wider than your boat!
You could be forgiven for thinking that the last lap into Llangollen would be an anti-climax. It is nothing of the sort, as on a shelf above the Vale of Llangollen and surrounded by high limestone ridges, the canal makes for the terminal wharf. You should have plenty of time to explore some of Llangollen's well-known attractions. Take a ride further up the Dee valley on a steam train; visit Plas Newydd, where the ladies of Llangollen were the centre of gossip in the 18th century; climb up to the ruins of Castell Dinas Bran, over a thousand feet above sea level; visit the canal exhibition centre; take a stroll along the remaining unnavigable two miles of canal to the famous horseshoe falls, from where it derives its water supply; or just wander about the charming streets of the town and be grateful that you haven't got to find a parking space!
Chester and Return: 46 locks 22 hours
Ellesmere Port and Return: 46 locks 28 hours
At Hurleston Junction you join the Shropshire Union canal. Heading north past Barbridge junction the locks are now wide enough to take two boats, side by side. Suddenly you get your first glimpse of Beeston Castle soaring above the Cheshire Plain on its high sandstone crag. It is open to the public through English Heritage.
Arriving at Chester, four locks drop you into the heart of the city, where you can moor within earshot of the cathedral without a traffic warden in sight. Chester is one of the greatest treasure houses of Europe, and the best way to see it is to walk around its ancient walls. Explore the famous galleried 'Rows' of shops, perhaps visit the famous Zoo. Then you can decide where to eat, from the many restaurants, cafes and pubs.
It is well worth spending a few more hours cruising beyond Chester to Ellesmere Port and the splendid Boat Museum at the junction of the canal and the Manchester Ship Canal.