Relaxed route: King’s Lock Middlewich and Return – 19 miles, 8 locks, 9.5 hours total
Head south down the Trent & Mersey Canal through what were once salt workings – you’ll notice wider areas of the canal here where this work once took place, don't be tempted to steer into them though as they’re rather shallow. At Marston you’ll find the Lion Salt Works and a local pub, then at Northwich you’ll pass some old Chemical Works – cruising under its many pipe-bridges and metal structures. At Rudheath, next to bridge 184, there is a popular canalside pub with moorings. The canal then meanders through fields and woodland before passing over a short aqueduct at Croxton. Four wide locks follow, as you approach the centre of Middlewich, with pubs and shops within walking distance. Bypassing Middlewich Junction there is just one more lock, called King’s Lock, to do before mooring up for the evening. Turn around just after King’s Lock and return to Anderton.
Relaxed route: Lymm and Return - 35 miles, 2 locks, 13 hours total
Cruise past the Anderton Boat Lift (café and activity centre) overlooking the River Weaver in its winding valley below to Lymm, an attractive village located in the heart of Cheshire. A great route for beginners, as there is only one lock each way, with a selection of eateries - all with the brilliant backdrop of the Pennines in the distance. The streets of Lymm meet the canal just before a winding hole, where you are within a short walk to a selection of restaurants and pretty village walks. Lymm is an ideal mooring location for an evening, before making your return journey to the marina.
Intermediate route: River Weaver via the Anderton Boat Lift - 30 miles, 10 locks, 15 hours total
A stunning feat of 19th Century engineering, the Anderton Boat Lift carries two boats at a time hydraulically, one up and one down to the valley of the River Weaver. At the centre of the Cheshire salt-making region, the River Weaver is steeped in industrial history, yet bristling with wildlife and beautiful scenery.
Active route: Castle Quay Manchester and Return - 62 miles, 2 locks, 21 hours total
Suitable for a midweek break. Head north past the Anderton Boat Lift, an amazing feat of Victorian engineering where there’s a café and activity centre. Shortly afterwards you’ll approach the 572 yard Barnton Tunnel, followed by the crooked 424 yard Saltersford Tunnel; both have strict timings for tunnel entry as they are only wide enough for one boat (no passing). The route then meanders through countryside until you reach bridge 209, where you can moor up and walk to the local pub. Next day, continue north through ‘Dutton Stop Lock’ and then Preston Brook Tunnel (1239 yards) joining the lock-free Bridgewater Canal shortly afterwards. This is an attractive route with views of the Pennines. Cruise to the pretty village of Lymm, where you can moor up and eat out at one of seven pubs that are situated near the canal, then pass through Stockton Heath and Sale where countryside views disappear and life on the canal becomes more suburban as you approach central Manchester. The Bridgewater Canal then passes Manchester United football ground, Salford Quays and the Old Trafford Cricket Ground. Just after Merchants Footbridge (No. 100 B) look for suitable moorings at Castle Quay, to your right. Nearby you can sample some of the nightlife, galleries, museums, shops and many restaurants available to you. Turn around and return to Anderton.
Active route: Nantwich and Return - 46 miles, 16 locks, 21 hours total
Suitable for a midweek break. This route leads you to encounter the Anderton Boat Lift, a masterpiece of engineering and the world's oldest operational boat lift. After leaving Anderton Marina, follow the Trent & Mersey Canal southwards. At Middlewich, turn west onto the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal (the shortest canal in the country!) over a small aqueduct, under bridges, through a couple of locks and along a few country-miles until you reach the junction at Barbridge, where you'll meet the Shropshire Union Canal main line. Heading south, you soon pass Hurleston Junction, where the Llangollen Canal meets the Shropshire Union. The canal crosses a stunning cast-iron aqueduct, designed by Thomas Telford in 1826, just outside Nantwich. Take time to moor up and explore this historic market town - a short walk to the east of the aqueduct. Once you have soaked up the delights of Nantwich, it’s time to turn and retrace your steps, back to Anderton.
Intermediate: Burscough & Return – 115 miles, 18 locks, 44 hours total
Head north past the Anderton Boat Lift, an amazing feat of Victorian engineering where there's a café and activity centre. Soon you'll approach the 572 yard Barnton Tunnel, followed by the crooked 424 yard Saltersford Tunnel; both have strict timings for tunnel entry as they are only wide enough for one boat (no passing). The route then meanders through countryside until you reach bridge 209, where you can moor up and walk to the local pub. Next day, continue north through ‘Dutton Stop Lock' and then Preston Brook Tunnel (1239 yards) joining the lock-free Bridgewater Canal shortly afterwards. Stop at the pretty village of Lymm, where you can moor up to look around or eat out at one of seven pubs that are situated near the canal. Pass through Stockton Heath and Sale where countryside views begin to disappear and life on the canal becomes more suburban approaching Stretford and central Manchester. Stay left at Waters Meeting Junction, heading across Barton Swing Aqueduct (which takes you over Manchester Ship Canal) and on to the Leigh Branch. Cruising north-west there is a mixture of lovely countryside, traditional villages and larger industrial towns - places of interest include Worsley, Astley Green and Leigh. At Wigan Junction take a left, cruising west past Wallgate, Crooke, Appley Bridge and Parbold. Quite soon you'll arrive at Burscourgh which has plenty of shops and pubs, plus two train stations (quite surprising for such a small town). Turn around before Great Score Swing Bridge and return to Anderton.
Intermediate route: Marple Aqueduct and Return - 91 miles, 56 locks, 44 hours total
Travel north up the Bridgewater Canal passing Lymm, with great views of the Pennines and easy access to a couple of pubs, fish & chips and stores. The scenery is ever changing as you follow the canal to Manchester; passing fields, Victorian factories and the valley of the River Bollin. Stop off at Altrincham to take a walk round the market square with its black & white timber buildings. The surroundings start to show signs of suburban life, passing very close to Old Trafford and leading into central Manchester where you can moor at Castle Quays. Continue past Ashton-under-Lyne and cruise onto the Peak Forest Canal over the Marple Aqueduct, a stone three-arched aqueduct towering almost 100ft above the River Goyt. You can turn around at the winding hole after the aqueduct, or if you have time, go through the 16 Marple Locks and turn around after that.
Active route: The Cheshire Ring - 96 miles, 92 locks, 55 hours total
An active weekly route ideal for experienced boaters. The Cheshire Ring takes you past the Anderton Boat Lift, through 4 tunnels and over 2 aqueducts. Experience Manchester by boat, or take a detour to explore attractions such as Old Trafford, Legoland Discovery Centre or Dunham Massey Hall. This ring takes you through a variety of scenery, cruising the whole of the Macclesfield Canal, parts of the Trent & Mersey, Bridgewater, Rochdale, Ashton and Peak Forest Canals. It is definitely a route for those who enjoy working locks as there is a mixture of broad and narrow locks, also flights such as Heartbreak Hill which has 26 locks!