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Any recommendations for 3-4 night canal trip in England?

West Coast NZ
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Any recommendations for 3-4 night canal trip in England?

We are looking for a 'short-break' canal boat experience, and find there are so many different options!

Will be travelling down from Scotland after touring there and will probably leave rental car in Edinburgh meaning we will need to use public transport (train?) to canal start, then travel on to London.

Not worried what area, just want more 'country' than 'town'! Rural countryside with some small towns or villages, pubs and some interesting spots to see along the way. (And not too many locks!)

I notice most short breaks involve a certain distance travelling then a return trip. Does it seem a bit 'the same' travelling back when going so slow?

Many thanks to anyone who can share experiences or offer any recommendations. I have visited the canal websites.

Destination Expert
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11. Re: Any recommendations for 3-4 night canal trip in England?

Can I say as a canal enthusiast and narrow boat owner for more than 20 years that it is a delight to see and read of visitors to Britain who have discovered the attraction of the canals.

Mjolinar as I said in my first post in this thread if you want delightful scenery plus history you cannot beat the northern Trent and Mersey and the River Weaver. Or alternatively part of the Shropshire Union and or Llangollen. In 2 weeks you could manage both the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and a visit to Chester

Edited: 24 January 2012, 13:16
Congleton, United...
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12. Re: Any recommendations for 3-4 night canal trip in England?

My knowledge of the canals is limited to the Midands area. When I owned a n'boat I was working, & the max. time I could use it for one holiday was about 3 weeks.

You need longer than that to go further afield.

You are from Seattle, so I'm sure you are familiar with 'The Milepost', covering Alaska, Yukon & B.C. mile by mile.

The canal equivalent is called 'Nicholson Waterways Guides'. It is divided into areas, & the area I am talking about is nearly all covered by Vol. 4 'Four Counties & the Welsh Canals'. Look on amazon.co.uk or possibly amazon.com for a description.

These books are the bible for most narrowboat- owners & I think a lot of hire companies sell or lend them as well.

A lot of hirers are recommended to do what is called 'The 4-counties ring' & they do it in 2 weeks.

If you take Stoke as a start, you travel N on the Trent & Mersey to Middlewich (about 12miles & 32 locks (if you do that in 1 day as many do, you will feel shattered & probably get tennis-elbow!!!); then W on the Middlewich Arm to Barbridge (which is a village about 10 miles S of Chester);

then S on the Shropshire Union to just NW of Wolverhampton;

then NE on the Staffs & Worcester to Great Haywood (near Stafford) (I think this is the best stretch;

then N thru Stone (known as the canal-town)to Stoke on the Trent & Mersey.

It is certainly possible in 2 weeks - personally I would take 3.

I think Stone is the best starting point (nice town centre, canal-side, pubs & restaurants + a couple of hire companies (try canal cruising.co.uk who have a good local reputation - I used to dry-dock my boat with them)

A shorter trip (say a week) is Middlewich (where you can hire) to Barbridge to Chester & return. Most visitors like Chester & would probably want to stay there 2 or 3 nights. You can moor up quite close to the town centre.

Another shorter trip is Great Haywood (where you can hire, & where Shugborough Hall, ancestral home of Lord Lichfield is located) to Stourport on the Staffs & Worcester & return. Personally I like The Staffs & Worcs.. It is very pretty & runs thru pretty countryside & has some nice pubs.

Probably the most popular with hirers is the Llangollen (you can hire at Nantwich). This is partly because of the famous Pontcysyltte Aqueduct which is quite an experience to cross.

The Llangollen has everything a hirer would want to experience - lift-bridges, swing-bridges, tunnel & aqueduct - but it can get very busy, by canal standards, in the summer. (reckon on 2 weeks for this).

Finally, on the N-side of Stoke, N of the famous Harecastle Tunnel (about 1.5 miles long), the Macclesfield Canal starts. It in turn joins the Peak Forest Canal which ends at Whaley Bridge. These are quite nice canals running thru the small towns of Congleton & Macclesfield. I would allow about 10 days for this. You could hire from either end of this route.

Enjoy the planning. That rule-of-thumb of 14 lock-miles per day (2 locks = 1 mile) I think you should bear in mind. I certainly did my best to keep under 20 per day. Anymore than that & you'll probably be on the move until about 8 or 9pm. It doesn't sound much in theory, but you don't tend to average the max. 4 mph that everybody quotes - it's more like 2.5 to 3 mph when you take into account shallow lengths where the going is slow & delays caused by queueing at some locks.

Hope this helps.

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13. Re: Any recommendations for 3-4 night canal trip in England?

Very full and useful information from NedBrit though I would suggest the Pearson Canal Companions rather than the Nicholson guides which we never find very clear. Look up the Pearson books on Amazon.uk. They are done according to popular canal routes eg. The 4 Counties Ring or Welsh Waters (which covers the Llangollen and much of the Shropshire Union) whereas Nicholson does geographical areas.

Lakebay, Washington
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14. Re: Any recommendations for 3-4 night canal trip in England?

Thanks Ned Brit: your summary will come in useful not just for me but for others investigating this for the first time.

By the way, on our trip in September we did rent from Canal Cruising in Stone and we agree it is a perfect town to start from and the operation and docks there are very nice.

15. Re: Any recommendations for 3-4 night canal trip in England?

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