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Top 7 Halloween destinations afloat

With spooky tunnels, dark cuttings, creepy locks, misty towpaths, plenty of bats, frogs and toads, and many a ghostly tale, Britain’s 200-year old canal network provides the perfect backdrop for a haunting Halloween.

From Roman centurions and drowned boatmen to eerie figures and shrieking boggarts, there are plenty of haunted destinations afloat to get your spine tingling. Here are our top seven:

  1. There’s something in the dark at Betton Cutting…Betton Cutting on the Shropshire Union Canal near Market Drayton has always had a dark reputation among boating people, with a shrieking spectre seen and heard there. And Tyrley middle lock, just beyond Market Drayton, is reported to have its own helpful resident ghost that at night will push the lock gates shut behind passing boats. ***Market Drayton is 19 hours and 19 locks away from our Great Haywood base on the Trent & Mersey canal in Staffordshire.

  2. Mind out for the Monkey Man at Norbury…look out for the hideous black, shagged coated being known as ‘The Monkey Man’ on the Shropshire Union Canal at Bridge 39 near Norbury. This fearful figure is believed to be the ghost of a boatman drowned there in the 19th century. ***Travel down the Staffs & Worcester Canal then north on the Shropshire Union Canal from our base at Great Haywood, a journey of 36 miles and 14 locks, which takes around 13 hours.

  3. Get the chills in Chester…at the City’s old Northgate, where the canal was dug into part of the town’s moat, the ghost of a Roman centurion has been sighted guarding the entrance to the City. ***Hire a canal boat from our base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire, reaching Chester in seven hours, passing through nine locks.

  4. Prepare to be spooked at Blisworth Tunnel…the 2.81km-long Blisworth Tunnel on the Grand Union Canal in Northamptonshire has spooked a number of boaters over the years. The tunnel’s construction began in 1793, with teams of navvies working with picks and shovels. After three years of toil they hit quicksand and the tunnel collapsed, killing 14 men. A new route was found and it eventually opened in 1805. But chillingly, over the years some boaters travelling through the tunnel have reported seeing eerie lights and a second route opening up. ***The Blisworth Tunnel is 26 miles and 16 locks from our Stockton base on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, a journey which takes around 10 hours.

  5. Look out for the ghost of Kit at Kidsgrove…a shrieking boggart, the ghost of Kit Crewbucket murdered there, is said to haunt Harecastle Tunnel on the Trent & Mersey Canal at Kidsgrove. ***Harecastle Tunnel is 22 miles and 18 locks from our Great Haywood base, a journey of around 10 hours.

  6. Watch out for an Aqueduct Apparition…the World Heritage status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct on the Llangollen Canal in Wrexham is said to be haunted by an eerie figure sometimes seen gliding along the towpath on moonlit nights. ***Boaters can reach the Aqueduct in 20 minutes from our Trevor base on the Llangollen Canal.

  7. Beware the ‘bloody steps’ at Brindley Bank…another eerie place on the Shropshire Union canal in Staffordshire is Brindley Bank. The site is said to be haunted by a woman – Christina Collins – murdered there in 1839 whose blood ran into the canal. The stain still reappears to this day. ***Brindley Bank is just three miles and two locks from our base at Great Haywood.