Short Break Route Suggestions (3 & 4 nights):
Relaxed route: Audlem (Moss Hall Bridge) and Return - 23 miles, 8 locks, 10 hours total
A great option for beginners, with a little bit of everything. Cruise south to Barbridge, stopping near the pub there overnight. Continue your route past Hurleston Junction and over Nantwich Aqueduct to the lovely town of Nantwich itself. Moor between Bridge 91 and Bridge 92 to walk into the town and enjoy the Tudor & Georgian architecture, the shops, restaurants and pubs (Nantwich has the highest concentration of listed buildings in England). Just after the two locks at Hack Green you can moor up and walk to a ‘secret' nuclear bunker which is now a museum and then there is a scenic lock-free stretch of canal all the way to Moss Hall Bridge. The village of Audlem is an 800m walk south along the towpath from Moss Hall Bridge. There are shops and pubs there including the iconic canalside inn ‘The Shroppie Fly'. Turn just before Moss Hall Bridge itself and return to Bunbury.
Relaxed route: Wrenbury Mill and Return - 20 miles, 22 locks, 12 hours total
Cruise south down Bunbury Staircase Locks and under Calverley Bridge. Pass Barbridge Junction to your left and moor up near the Olde Barbridge Inn for your first night (approx. 2hrs 40 mins). Turn right at Hurleston Junction and through the 4 locks there, continuing past Swanley Bridge Marina. The canal borders farmland and countryside as you pass through 2 locks at Swanley, followed by 3 locks at Baddiley, with Baddiley Hall in the distance. Shortly afterwards you arrive at Wrenbury Mill, which has two pubs within walking distance. Turn here and return to Bunbury.
Relaxed route: Chester and Return – 24 miles, 18 locks, 14 hours total
Start your journey from our base at Bunbury heading north-west on the pretty Shropshire Union Canal. Travel through beautiful unspoilt countryside to the village of Beeston, home to Beeston Castle - situated on top of a steep hill, the impressive ruins date back to the 14th Century. To visit the castle, moor up by bridge 107, where there are also a couple of pubs within walking distance. Continue from Beeston through the picturesque Cheshire Plains heading towards the village of Christleton, here you’ll get your first glimpse of Chester, where the towers and spires come into view. If you feel a little short on time, there are moorings at Christleton by Christleton Lock close to the park and ride service into Chester. Alternatively, continue cruising to Bridge 123D, mooring closeby for a short walk into Chester City centre. This Roman city has so much to explore, including its Roman walls, Chester Cathedral and Chester Zoo to name but a few. Use the winding hole just after the bridge to turn your boat, ready for your return journey to Bunbury.
Intermediate route: Anderton Boat Lift and Return – 46 miles, 20 locks, 19 hours total
Begin by heading south on the Shropshire Union from our base at Bunbury. Cruise through Bunbury Locks to Barbridge Junction where you'll meet the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union. Turn here, passing through quiet hilly farmland and skirting the village of Church Minshull, where there is an oak-beamed 18th Century Pub and a selection of local stores (20 minutes' walk from the canal). Continue to Middlewich Junction, where you turn left, heading north on the Trent & Mersey Canal. Travel through the Middlewich Locks, past canalside pubs and eateries, then over the Croxton Aqueduct which passes over the River Dane. Enjoy the peaceful, open countryside as you cruise towards the town of Northwich, where there is a selection of pubs, restaurants and shops. Continue on past the village of Marston and the Lion Salt Works Museum - there is an interesting contrast in scenery in this area - rural in parts and industrial in others (including the old ICI Works which dominate the canal near Northwich). There are visitor moorings on the approach to the Anderton Boat Lift, moor here to visit this Victorian marvel of engineering. There is an interesting visitor’s centre along with a cafe and gift shop, plus a nearby pub. Turn at the Boat Lift for your return journey to Bunbury.
Active route: Whitchurch and Return – 35 miles, 40 locks, 20 hours total
Depart the base at Bunbury cruising south through Bunbury Locks and past Barbridge Junction (with the Middlewich Branch). Continue to Hurleston Junction, where you travel through Hurleston Locks and on to the Llangollen Canal. The scenery is especially pretty along this canal, one of the numerous reasons that it's one of the most popular canals on the network. Cruise through the green countryside and farmland, stopping at bridge 12 for a walk into Ravensmoor if you wish to visit a pub. Climb through Baddiley Locks on the way to Wrenbury, which is a great place to stop - moor by bridge 19 for a short walk into the village where you will find a 14th Century church and a grocery store (there are 2 canalside pubs). Continue on past the village of Marbury, travelling through a series of isolated locks before you come to the Grindley Brook Locks. There is a canalside pub nearby and a café before you make your way through the flight. After the locks enjoy a quiet, uninterrupted cruise all the way to Whitchurch, mooring up along the Whitchurch Arm. Whitchurch is an interesting town, with narrow, windy streets and old houses from various historic periods (25 minutes' walk from the canal). Choose from one of several pubs in the town, before turning at the winding hole on the arm for your return journey to Bunbury.
Active route: Market Drayton and Return – 36 miles, 48 locks, 21 hours total
Head south past Barbridge Junction, stopping at the Olde Barbridge Inn on your first evening. Continue along the pretty Shropshire Union Canal past Hurleston Junction and over the Nantwich Aqueduct, mooring nearby to walk into Nantwich town which has numerous shops, pubs and restaurants. After 2 locks at Hack Green, stop near Bridge 85 to visit a ‘Secret Nuclear Bunker’. Next you come to Audlem where you’ll find a flight of 15 locks and the iconic Shroppie Fly Pub. At Adderley there are a further 5 further locks before arriving at the historic town of Market Drayton (20 mins walk to the Market Square). Turn before bridge 63 and return to Bunbury.
Weekly Route Suggestions:
Relaxed route: Norbury Junction and Return – 58 miles, 58 locks, 31 hours total
From Bunbury, start your journey by heading south on the Shropshire Union. Continue cruising past Barbridge Junction and Hurleston Junction, over a cast-iron aqueduct and into Nantwich. Moor at Nantwich to visit this interesting town, with its Tudor-style timber buildings, cafes and shops. Cruise on from Nantwich to the Audlem Lock Flight of 15, mooring up after the first few locks near bridge 78 to visit pubs and local stores. Continue cruising through farmland and woodland towards the village of Adderley, where you pass through five locks before reaching the historic town of Market Drayton - the home of gingerbread. Moor up for a pleasant walk into this attractive town, with its picturesque black and white timber-framed buildings and selection of quirky pubs. Continue south from Market Drayton, through the 5 Tyrley Locks and past waterside pubs, to Norbury Junction. Moor at the wharf or in the visitor moorings (nearby pub and café) before turning your boat and starting your return journey to Bunbury.
Intermediate route: Chester, Market Drayton and Return - 60 miles, 62 locks, 36 hours total
Start by heading north on the Shropshire Union Canal, travelling through beautiful unspoilt countryside to the village of Beeston, home to Beeston Castle - situated on top of a steep hill, the impressive ruins date back to the 14th Century. To visit the castle, moor up by bridge 107, where there are also a couple of pubs within walking distance. Cruise from Beeston through the picturesque Cheshire Plains heading towards the village of Christleton, here you’ll get your first glimpse of Chester, where towers and spires come into view. If you are short of time, there are moorings at Christleton close to the Park & Ride service into central Chester. Alternatively, continue cruising to Bridge 123D and moor close by for a short walk into Chester City. This Roman city has so much to explore, including the Roman Walls, Chester Cathedral and Chester Zoo. Use the winding hole just after the bridge to turn your boat, ready for your cruise south to Market Drayton. Heading back along the Shropshire Union, cruise past Barbridge Junction and Hurleston Junction, over a cast-iron aqueduct to Nantwich - worth a visit with its interesting array of antique and independent boutique shops. Cruise on from Nantwich to the Audlem Lock Flight of 15, mooring up after the first few locks near bridge 78 to visit the pubs and local stores. Continue cruising through farmland and woodland, passing through the five Adderley Locks before reaching the traditional Shropshire market town of Market Drayton - the home of gingerbread, which has been baked here for over 200 years. Moor here for a pleasant walk into this attractive, historic town, with its 17th Century black and white timber-framed buildings and good selection of pubs and shops. Turn at Market Drayton for your return journey to Bunbury.
Active route: Llangollen and Return – 97 miles, 46 locks, 47 hours total
A busy weekly route, best suited to the longer summer days and outside of any school holidays. Cruise south from our base at Bunbury through the Bunbury Locks, past Barbridge Junction to Hurleston Junction, where you turn right (west). Here you join the Llangollen Canal and travel through Hurleston Locks. Cruise on through countryside and woodland, climbing through the Baddiley locks to Wrenbury, which is a great place to stop. Moor by bridge 19 for a short walk into the village where you will find a 14th Century church and some shops (2 canalside pubs). Cruise through Grindley Brook Locks and on to Whitchurch; mooring up along the Whitchurch Arm to visit the town. Make your way to Ellesmere village then past Frankton Junction - the entrance to the Montgomery Canal. Cruise through the last two locks on the way to Llangollen at New Marton, passing a few canalside pubs on your way to Chirk. Cruise across the impressive Chirk Aqueduct and into the Chirk Tunnel (459yds), then through Whitehouse Tunnel (191yds) on the approach to the most highly anticipated feature of the Llangollen Canal - the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. One of the most famous attractions on the whole of the canal network, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct carries boaters 126ft above the River Dee and has now been named a World Heritage Site. Continue through the Vale of Llangollen until you reach the basin at Llangollen. Moor here to visit Llangollen's numerous attractions such as the Llangollen Steam Railway, the Horseshoe Falls or Dinas Bran Castle. Turn at the basin for your journey back to Bunbury.
Fortnight Route Suggestions:
Relaxed route: The Four Counties Ring - 115 miles, 98 locks, 63 hours total
The Four Counties Ring offers boaters an unforgettable journey through the counties Staffordshire, Cheshire, Shropshire and the West Midlands. From Bunbury, head south along the Shropshire Union, past Barbridge Junction to the town of Nantwich - an interesting place to visit with black & white timber buildings, cafes and independent boutiques. Continue from Nantwich to the 15-lock flight at Audlem. Cruise through picturesque Shropshire countryside, passing interesting villages and market towns such as Market Drayton - the home of gingerbread. At Autherley Junction turn left, heading east onto the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal. Pass through the locks at Gailey , heading to the village of Penkridge where there are plenty of pubs and stores. Continue through 'Tixall Wide' to Great Haywood Junction, where you join the Trent & Mersey Canal and head north towards Stoke-on-Trent, passing the market town of Stone en route. Travel through the centre of Stoke-on-Trent and into Harecastle Tunnel (2926 yds) remembering to book your passage first. Cruise past a couple of canalside pubs and the entrance to the Macclesfield Canal at Harding’s Wood Junction before navigating through the Cheshire Locks (Heartbreak Hill). At Middlewich turn left onto the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union and cruise across a small aqueduct over the River Weaver. Once at Barbridge Junction again, head north on the Shropshire Union Canal and back to Bunbury.
Intermediate route: The Cheshire Ring – 122 miles, 104 locks, 65 hours total
The Cheshire Ring provides boaters with the opportunity to experience some of the most incredible scenery on the UK canals, travelling through the Cheshire Plains, the city of Manchester, picturesque villages and canalside towns. Start by cruising south on the Shropshire Union Canal, through the Bunbury Locks and onto the Middlewich Branch via Barbridge Junction. Cruise to Middlewich Junction, heading south along the Trent & Mersey Canal and through the Cheshire Locks, to Harding’s Wood Junction where there are a couple of canalside pubs and eateries. Travel across the Pool Aqueduct onto the Macclesfield Canal and then shortly afterwards across the Red Bull Aqueduct. Cruise through beautiful open countryside and woodland, past numerous canalside towns and villages to the locks at Bosley. Complete the 12 locks then enjoy a lock-free stretch all the way through Macclesfield to Marple Junction where there is a canalside pub. Join onto the Peak Forest Canal and tackle the 16 Marple Locks before crossing the impressive Marple Aqueduct. The scenery starts to become more industrial as you leave the rural scenery behind on your approach to Manchester. At Dunkenfield Junction you join the Ashton Canal heading west, travelling through a rather built up area with 'Old Trafford' visible from the waterway, into central Manchester. The rural scenery soon resumes as you head away from the city and join the Bridgewater Canal. Travel south to Lymm, with great views of the Pennines and access to a couple of pubs, fish & chips and stores. Join the Trent & Mersey Canal once again, passing the Victorian Anderton Boat Lift - there are visitor moorings should you wish to stop and visit. Continue cruising to Middlewich, where you turn back onto the Middlewich Branch, heading to Barbridge Junction. Turn right at the junction onto the Shropshire Union Canal and back through the Bunbury Locks to the base.
Active Route: The Four Counties Ring and the Llangollen Canal - 212 miles, 144 locks, 110 hours total
An ideal cruise for more experienced boaters who like to keep busy! Head south along the Shropshire Union, past Barbridge Junction to Nantwich - an interesting place to visit with black & white timber buildings, cafes and independent boutiques. Continue on from Nantwich to the lock flight of 15 at Audlem and past Market Drayton. At Autherley Junction head east along the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal, passing through Gailey Locks to the village of Penkridge where there are plenty of pubs and stores. Continue past 'Tixall Wide' to Great Haywood Junction where you join the Trent & Mersey Canal and head north towards Stoke-on-Trent, passing the market town of Stone en route. Cruise through the centre of Stoke-on-Trent and into the Harecastle Tunnel (2926 yds) - remembering to book your passage. Cruise past the entrance to the Macclesfield Canal at Harding’s Wood Junction before navigating through the Cheshire Locks (Heartbreak Hill). Turn left onto the Middlewich Branch and cruise across a small aqueduct which crosses over the River Weaver. Once back at Barbridge Junction head south to Hurleston Junction - the entrance of the Llangollen Canal. Cruise the length of the Llangollen Canal, crossing over the UNESCO Pontcysyllte Aqueduct to the town of Llangollen, where you can turn at the basin and return to base.