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 Locks110 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
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.
Shortly 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.