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Routes

Ellesmere Port & return from Wrenbury Mill

7 Nights
TOTAL LOCKS: 48
CRUISING TIME PER DAY: 6.5 HOURS (31 HOURS IN TOTAL)

Depending on how many cruising hours you have you may need to eat on board your boat this evening as the first canalside pub is a good 4.5hrs away from the Marina.

There is a shop in Wrenbury but you may prefer to visit one of the large Supermarkets in Nantwich before arriving to collect your boat.

Day 1 - Wave Wrenbury goodbye as you turn right out of the Marina, through the push button lift bridge and head North on the Llangollen Canal. As you cruise through pretty countryside with delightful bridges, look out for Wrenbury Hall on the right, you may even spot a wedding in full swing!

After nearly 2 hours cruising you will reach Baddiley locks, you may choose to moor just before the locks for the evening or if you have more time continue through. At Greenfield Bridge there is a footpath into Ravenmoor Village, it will take around 40 minutes to walk into the centre but those feeling energetic will be rewarded with the Farmers Arms Pub!

After the flight of locks the view is of open farmland with the occasional house and pretty garden. After a further hours cruising and beyond Swanley locks, there is plenty of opportunity to moor up in a quiet location ready for a full days cruising tomorrow.

 

Day 2 - A short cruise before arriving at Hurleston Locks and the junction with the Shropshire Union Canal. Hurleston Reservoir is positioned to the left of the locks, its’ water supplied from the River Dee at Llantysilio and carried via The Llangollen Canal. Turning left at Hurleston Junction and navigation continues towards Barbridge Junction and your first opportunity to moor up and enjoy a canalside refreshment at The Barbridge Inn. Heading westwards the canal briefly runs alongside a busy road before arriving at Bunbury staircase locks. A staircase lock works differently to a usual lock as there isn’t a gap between the locks and you must ensure that the top lock is full before proceeding. The lock here is 14ft wide as are all subsequent locks as far as Chester. After all the excitement of the staircase lock and after about 2.5hrs cruising you may wish to moor up and take the mile long walk into Bunbury where there is a lovely 14th Century church, a fully restored watermill as well as a good choice of pubs.

Continuing on a lovely windy stretch, through Tilstone Lock and on to Beeston where the two locks differ greatly; one is made of stone and the other of cast iron flanged plates designed to overcome running sand below it.

A long stretch of cruising now with views of Beeston Castle to the left (the castle was built by the Earl of Chester in 1337 and the impressive ruins remain), Waverton Church and a brick Mill by Egg Bridge. Chrisleton Bridge is perhaps a good place to moor for the evening as you will have been cruising for around 4.5 hrs since the locks at Bunbury and the Cheshire Cat, a family pub is canalside. Christleton is a lovely village and just a short walk east of the canal.

Chester awaits tomorrow!

Day 3 - Today you may decide to spend some time in Chester, there is lots to do here or you may just want to go shopping! The city wall is surprisingly still intact, taking you over the old city gates, past turrets and King Charles’ Tower. If you don’t want to walk you can take advantage of the bus tour, seeing some of Chester’s historic buildings like the Castle or Cathedral in comfort. Children will love a visit to Grosvenor Park where there is a Miniature Railway which runs around the park, fantastic on a sunny day! The Grosvenor Museum and the Dewa Roman Experience are also well worth a visit or perhaps take a look around Chester’s Roman Amphitheatre - although it is an English Heritage site, entry is free!

Leaving Christleton Bridge and heading towards the centre of Chester there are 5 wide locks in quick succession to navigate. After Hoole Lane Lock you may want to look for a good place to moor or you can continue cruising until after the Northgate Staircase Locks where there are moorings at Tower Wharf and easy access into Chester.

After a busy day in Chester you may want to cruise to a quieter spot for the evening. Meandering north through open countryside and after around an hours’ cruising you will reach Caughall Bridge, there aren’t any facilities here but if you are considering visiting Chester Zoo the following day this is a good place to moor.

Day 4 - If you are visiting Chester Zoo, take the path above Caughall Bridge and after a 10 - 15 minute walk (you even get a sneaky peek at some of the zoo enclosures!) you will arrive at the entrance to the zoo. Booking online is advisable to benefit from discounted prices.

After a full day at the zoo there may only be time for a few hours cruising today. Continuing north on this lock free pound and after around 30 minutes cruising you will come to the village of Stoak. This is the first pub along this stretch since Chester. The Bunbury Arms is a country pub located on the outskirts of the village and a short walk from Stoak Bridge or Dension’s Bridge.

Day 5 - Ellesmere Port is less than an hour’s cruise away and it is here that the Shropshire Union meets the River Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal. The area around the port is steeped in history and the whole family can spend the day discovering what it was like to live and work on the canals over 200 years ago by visiting with The National Waterways Museum. Arriving at the Port and once through 2 of Whitby’s Locks you will find the Canal & River Trust visitor moorings in the upper basin, near the museum entrance. Mooring here is free unless you choose to stay overnight, then there is a small charge. The museum has a café or you can walk to the Galley Restaurant which is located in the port, overlooking the Manchester Ship Canal.

Turning your boat, back through the locks and leaving the port behind you look out for the attractive stone railway viaduct, carrying the Chester – Birkenhead line, a reminder of how busy this area would once have been.

After a short distance you will arrive at Stanney Mill Bridge, you can moor here and take a 15 minute walk to Cheshire Oaks retail outlet which has a large choice of shops, as well as restaurants such as Wagamama’s and TGI Fridays. Just outside of the retail park is The Blue Planet Aquarium, an all-weather attraction with lots to see and do, you can even take a dive with the sharks!

With so many places to visit you may not have cruised for many hours over the last two days so you will need to be mindful of running the engine for periods of time to keep the batteries charged.

Day 6 - A 3 hour cruise back through Stoak and into Chester, you may wish to moor up here and visit some more of the attractions the city has to offer or continue on for an additional 3.5 hours to Tarporley. Moor up near to Crow’s Nest Bridge where you can find The Shady Oak pub, newly refurbished and with outdoor seating. This is a lovely quiet spot to spend the evening or you can cruise for an additional 30minutes to Barbridge where you will find The Barbridge Inn.

Day 7 - Your last full day cruising and you are 8.5 hours away from Wrenbury. Cruising the last stretch of the Shropshire Union before arriving at Hurleston Junction, where you will need to turn right on to The Llangollen Canal and navigate back through the 4 locks here. You can moor up just after at Pipe Bridge and take a 10 minute walk South on the A51 to Snugbury’s Ice Cream Shop, there is a vast selection of flavours to try as well as some famous ones! Continuing on through Swanley and Baddiley Locks you are coming to the end of your last day aboard. You may wish to moor just outside of Wrenbury or return to the Marina.

Day 8 - After your amazing adventure it is time to return your boat and maybe spend the day exploring this beautiful area.

Main photo (not header) by David Merrett from Daventry, England - National Waterways Museum used under CC BY 2.0

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