Llangollen & return
Guides: P3, N4, L8, G20
• From Whitchurch 7 nights, 4 hours per day, 4 locks
The Llangollen Canal is arguably the most beautiful canal on the whole system and combines the gentle countryside of Shropshire and the more dramatic landscape of the Welsh border.
It boasts one of the most striking features on the UK canals - the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct which can be reached from both Whitchurch and Wrenbury in a week or 4 night mid week break (you will not be able to cross over the aqueduct in a 3 night weekend break).
Unusually, this canal has a flow of 2mph as it feeds other canals, so the outbound journey will always be slower than on the way back. The last locks are at New Marton, half way between Ellesmere and Chirk. From there on, as it clings to the hillside contours, an enchanting blend of aqueducts and tunnels takes the canal, lock free, to Llangollen.
New visitor moorings in Llangollen are now available, but charges do apply (£5.00 per night per boat, need to arrive by 4.30pm).
Take a steam train ride www.llangollen-railway.co.uk from Llangollen up the Dee Valley or visit the ruins of Castell Dinas Bran.
Chester or Ellesmere Port & return
Guides: P3, N4, L8
Chester, 7 nights, 5 hours per day, 66 locks
For Ellesmere Port add 1.5 hours per day and 8 locks On this popular countryside route the locks are well spaced for easy cruising. You can choose to travel to Chester and then retrace your steps back to the marina or continue along the Shropshire Union main line to its historic terminal on the River Mersey at Ellesmere Port.
Mooring in Chester is within easy reach of the walled city centre with its medieval ‘rows’ where there are a variety of shops, galleries and the majestic cathedral. Chester TIC 01244 402111 www.chestertourism.com
Chester Zoo is just a short walk from the canal. 01244 380280 www.chesterzoo.org
The fascinating Boat Museum 0151 355 5017 www.boatmuseum.org.uk at Ellesmere Port is a few locks beyond Chester, near to the junction with the Manchester Ship Canal. The museum has an extensive collection of preserved inland waterway craft and display areas in many of the former warehouses.
The Cheshire Ring
Guides: P5, N5, L5
14 nights, 6 hours per day, 137 locks
A fascinating trip that takes you through the heart of Manchester and the Peak District with its distinctive stone architecture.
Moor at Castlefields to explore the city of Manchester, including Old Trafford, home of Manchester United F.C. 0870 4421994 www.manutd.co.uk, the huge Arndale shopping centre and the Science & Industry Museum. 0161 832 2244 www.msim.org.uk
The trip will let you enjoy glorious scenery as the Pennine Range overlooks the canal and, if time allows, detour along the Peak Forest canal to its terminus.
Enjoy the stunning views from Marple and at Anderton pause to visit the fabulously restored boat lift which now operates throughout the cruising season to link the canal with the River Weaver.
Four Counties Ring
Guides: P4, N4, L10
14 nights, 6 hours per day, 132 locks
This is a popular circular route that takes you on a fascinating journey through parts of Shropshire, Staffordshire, West Midlands and Cheshire.
This is an active trip, but well worth the extra effort. There is lots to see including Wedgwood Pottery factory 01782 204141 and the Wedgwood Museum at Barlaston 01782 282986 www.thewedgwoodstory.com, the
impressive 2926-yard long Harecastle Tunnel and Shugborough Hall 01889 881388 www.nationaltrust.org.uk at Great Haywood.
You will travel on the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal, the Trent and Mersey, Shropshire Union and Llangollen Canal depending on which base you start from, giving you a variety of scenery from the rolling Staffordshire countryside to the Cheshire Plains to extensive views of the beautiful Shropshire countryside.