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10-day and two week canal boat holidays from Bunbury

Anderton Boat Lift in Cheshire
The Four Counties Ring (115 miles, 98 locks, 63 hours)

This popular circuit takes you on an unforgettable canal boating journey through the counties of Staffordshire, the West Midlands, Cheshire and Shropshire.  Highlights include: the 2,670-metre long Harecastle Tunnel, the flight of 15 locks at Audlem, views of the Cheshire Plains and the Roman town of Middlewich.

Head south along the Shropshire Union Canal passing Barbridge Junction, with its Olde Barbridge Inn.  Continue south along the Shropshire Union Canal and you’ll pass over the Nantwich Aqueduct on the outskirts of Nantwich. Two rural miles later, there are two locks at Hack Green, close to the Secret Hack Green Nuclear Bunker, once one of the nation’s most secret defence sites, and now a fascinating museum. Three miles on at Audlem, you’ll pass the Shroppie Fly pub and Audlem Mill, selling canal gifts, crafts and the locally made Snugbury’s Jersey Ice Cream. Then the Audlem flight of 15 locks takes the canal 93ft downhill to a lock-free mile, before another flight of five locks at Adderley. Next you’ll travel through Betton Cutting, past Brownhills Wood before reaching the historic market town of Market Drayton, home of the gingerbread man.  Then there are five locks at Tyrley. After that, the canal is lock free for 17 miles, passing through a series of cuttings, embankments and villages with excellent pubs.  Places to stop along this 17-mile stretch include: Goldstone Wharf with its Wharf Tavern pub; Staffordshire Wildlife Trust’s Loynton Moss Nature Reserve at Grub Street; the Old Wharf Tearoom at Norbury Junction; the Royal Oak at Gnosnall; and the Hartley Arms and Mottey Meadows Nature Reserve at Wheaton Ashton.

There’s just one lock at Wheaton, then the route is lock-free again for eight miles, passing the Bridge pub at Brewood.  Then you’ll go under the M54 motorway and pass close to Pendeford Mill Nature Reserve, before meeting Autherley Junction Stop Lock and the southern end of ‘The Shroppie’. You’ll transfer onto the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal, passing through Gailey, and then Penkridge, where there are several shops and pubs, including the Star Inn and the canalside Boat Inn. Cruise on through the Staffordshire countryside, passing the canalside Catch Corner pub at bridge 98.  Then you’ll reach Tixall Wide, a beautiful stretch of water where the canal widens before reaching Great Haywood junction. Head north along the Trent & Mersey Canal to the old market town of Stone, travelling for five hours and passing through four locks. Along the way, the route passes the village of Weston, with The Woolpack and Saracen’s Head pubs. Next, canal boat holiday-makers can enjoy views of the imposing Sandon Hall, its 400 acres of rolling parkland, and Grade II* listed Pitt’s Column, erected in 1806 by the first Earl of Harrowby in memory of the great Prime Minister Pitt the Younger.

The canal then passes along the outskirts of Burston, where the family-run micro-brewery Greyhound pub is well worth the short walk to. On arriving in Stone, there are visitor moorings at Westbridge Park, opposite the Swan pub, and a little further along past the Star pub on the left. Stone is considered to be the food and drink capital of Staffordshire, with regular markets, a diverse choice of cuisine and annual Stone Food & Drink Festival.  Continue north from Stone along the Trent & Mersey Canal to Stoke-on-Trent, first travelling through Meaford Locks, and past Neil Morrissey’s canalside Plume of Feathers pub at Barlaston. Just before Trentham Lock, you can stop to explore the World of Wedgwood, with a factory tour, afternoon tea in the Wedgewood tea room, woodland walks and award winning museum housing a UNESCO protected collection. Just under five miles later, after travelling through the Stoke flights of five locks, the canal reaches its junction with the Caldon Canal at Etruria, in Stoke-on-Trent. Here you can stop to visit the Etruria Industrial Museum, Spode Visitor Centre and the Waterworld indoor aqua park.  Continuing north along the Trent & Mersey Canal, you’ll pass through the mighty one-and-three-quarter-mile long  Harecastle Tunnel, re-emerging at Kidsgrove, and Harding’s Wood Junction, where the Macclesfield Canal meets the Trent & Mersey. Here you’ll meet the summit of ‘Heartbreak Hill’ – the series of 31 locks between Middlewich and Kidsgrove, that raise the canal 280ft up from the Cheshire Plains.

The next village is Rode Heath with its Royal Oak pub and Rode Hall, one of Cheshire’s most exquisite country houses. The South Cheshire Way crosses the canal at Lower Thurlwood Lock, one of a flight of three, then it’s the two Pierpoint Locks, and then there are two more at Hassall Green, just before the canal passes beneath the M6 motorway.

At Wheelock, where there’s a choice of pubs, including the canalside Cheshire Cheese, and eight more locks to negotiate. From Wheelock it’s a mile-long walk into the historic town of Sandbach, with regular markets, a Waitrose supermarket and plenty of places to eat and drink. Next there’s a three-mile break from locks as the canal winds round Ettiley Heath and the Sandbach Flashes, a group of 14 wetlands designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Four miles and another four locks on, the canal reaches the historic market town Middlewich, famous for its salt industry which dates back to medieval times. Here the Four Counties Ring route leaves the Trent & Mersey Canal, heading to Barbridge along the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal.  This quiet waterway travels peacefully through the Cheshire countryside, with just four locks along its 10-mile length. Along the way, the Badger Inn at Church Minshull is a short walk from the canal.

After travelling for a further two miles to Barbridge Junction, with its Olde Barbridge Inn. Head south down the Shropshire Union Canal. The route passes over the Nantwich Aqueduct on the outskirts of Nantwich. Two rural miles later, there are two locks at Hack Green, close to the Secret Hack Green Nuclear Bunker, once one of the nation’s most secret defence sites, and now a fascinating museum. Three miles on at Audlem, you’ll pass the Shroppie Fly pub and Audlem Mill, selling canal gifts, crafts and the locally made Snugbury’s Jersey Ice Cream. Then the Audlem flight of 15 locks takes the canal 93ft downhill to a lock-free mile, before another flight of five locks at Adderley. Next you’ll travel through Betton Cutting, past Brownhills Wood before reaching the historic market town of Market Drayton, home of the gingerbread man.  Then there are five locks at Tyrley. After that, the canal is lock free for 17 miles, passing through a series of cuttings, embankments and villages with excellent pubs.  Places to stop along this 17-mile stretch include: Goldstone Wharf with its Wharf Tavern pub; Staffordshire Wildlife Trust’s Loynton Moss Nature Reserve at Grub Street; the Old Wharf Tearoom at Norbury Junction; the Royal Oak at Gnosnall; and the Hartley Arms and Mottey Meadows Nature Reserve at Wheaton Ashton.

There’s just one lock at Wheaton, then the route is lock-free again for eight miles, passing the Bridge pub at Brewood.  Then you’ll go under the M54 motorway and pass close to Pendeford Mill Nature Reserve, before meeting Autherley Junction Stop Lock and the southern end of ‘The Shroppie’. You’ll then travel north up the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal back to Great Haywood.

The Cheshire Ring (122 miles, 104 locks, 65 hours)

This epic journey will take you right through the heart of Manchester and into the Peak District via the Ashton, Macclesfield, Peak Forest, Rochdale, Trent & Mersey and Bridgewater canals.  Highlights along the way include: the incredible Anderton Boat Lift; stunning views of the Peak District; and Manchester’s China Town.

Head south down the Shropshire Union Canal, through the Bunbury Locks and onto the Middlewich Branch via Barbridge Junction, with its Olde Barbridge Inn. Cruise to Middlewich Junction, passing close to the village of Church Minshall and The Badger Inn.  Transfer onto the Trent & Mersey Canal and head south through the Cheshire Locks, to Harding’s Wood Junction, home of the Broughton Arms.  Travel across the Pool Aqueduct onto the Macclesfield Canal and then shortly afterwards cross the Red Bull Aqueduct. Cruise on through the countryside and woodland, past numerous canalside towns and villages, including Congleton.

Go through the 12 locks at Bosley and continue on through Macclesfield to Marple Junction and the Ring O’Bells pub. Next join the Peak Forest Canal and go through the 16 locks at Marple, experiencing amazing views of the surrounding countryside.  Next you’ll cross Marple Aqueduct, carrying the canal across the River Goyt. The scenery starts to become more industrial as you approach Manchester. Join the Ashton Canal at Dunkenfield Junction.  You’ll cruise through central Manchester, through Picadilly and then past Canal Street, close to Chinatown.  There are lots of places to eat near the canal, including The Wharf pub in Castlefield.  At Castlefield Junction, you’ll join the Bridgewater Canal and start heading away from the city.

Travel south to Lymm, with great views of the Pennines.  There are lots of places to eat in Lymm, including Eighteen The Cross and the canalside Golden Fleece.  Join the Trent & Mersey Canal once again, going through the 1,239 yard long Preston Brook Tunnel.  There are two more tunnels to go through before you reach the Anderton Boat Lift, one of the Severn Wonders of the Waterways and also known as The Cathedral of the Canals.  Pass by the lift and cruise on 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 check availability and book click here or call us on 0117 463 3419.

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