TOTAL LOCKS: 2
CRUISING TIME PER DAY: 7 - 9 HOURS (14 HOURS IN TOTAL)
This short route is a leisurely cruise with tunnels, an aqueduct and views to slow down for. Expect surprising sightseeing - from the iron excitement of seeing the Anderton Boat lift, to a fantasy adventure in the birthplace of Alice in Wonderland.
Before heading off on your journey from Anderton Marina, it’s worth taking time to explore one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways. Anderton Boat Lift is a masterpiece of engineering and the world's oldest operational boat lift. It was built in 1875 to lift boats over the 50-foot cliff edge from the Trent & Mersey Canal to the River Weaver below. Over 110,000 visitors flock from across the world to see this canal marvel every year, and although your route does not take you via the Lift, you will want to allow enough time to explore this unforgettable experience before you set off.
It is then time to head northwards from the marina along the Trent & Mersey Canal. After the excitement of Anderton, prepare now for the entertainment of three consecutive tunnels - Barnton (572yds/523m long), Saltersford (424yds/388m long) and Preston Brook (1239yds/1133m long – NB please take note of restricted timings on the notice at the entrance to the tunnel) - and an aqueduct, travelling high with delicious views over the valley. Between Saltersford and Preston Brook tunnels, the canal travels on a steep hillside over the River Weaver, with wide-stretching views over the countryside and the River Weaver below.
The only lock on this journey, the Grade II-listed Dutton Stop Lock just before the entrance to Preston Brook Tunnel, has a drop of only six inches! It was built to overcome the slight difference in water levels between the Trent & Mersey Canal and the Bridgewater Canal. Signs at the end of the tunnel will tell you that the canal has now merged into the Bridgewater Canal. The peace and quiet of this rural canal is shattered briefly as the canal goes under the M56 and bears right towards Manchester.
The original main line used to run off to the left to meet the River Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal at Runcorn and, if your itinerary allows, it’s only a short diversion of a few miles down to the end and back.
A short distance to the south of Kickbridge Bridge (no. 5) is the village of Daresbury, birthplace of Lewis Carroll, and the village is a mecca for his fans. His real name was Revd Charles Lutwidge Dodgson and he lived here for the first 11 years of his life, from 1832 to 1843. His father, also Revd Charles Dodgson, was the vicar at All Saint’s Church here from 1827 to 1843. The church is now nationally and internationally known for its Lewis Carroll stained glass window which incorporates many of his much loved characters from Alice in Wonderland, including the Mad Hatter and the Cheshire Cat. The Lewis Carroll Centre is a newly completed addition to the church with graphic displays detailing his life and works, and featuring audio readings from his books. And over the door hangs the mission bell that used to call the canal people to Revd Dodgson’s floating chapel at Preston Brook. His original birthplace has been demolished but the location is now cared for by the National Trust, and the Woodland Trust planted a Lewis Carroll Centenary Wood in 2000.
After this interlude into childhood stories and fantasy, the canal continues northeast through Stockton Heath, where the original terminus of the canal at Stockton Quay (now London Road Bridge no.15) was an important location for the transhipment of goods from one canal to another. After passing under the M6, the canal now reaches the pretty town of Lymm whose focal point is the beautiful Grade I-listed Lymm Cross, at the top of ancient sandstone steps. The current cross dates from Victorian times, commemorating Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 18797, but the original was built in the 17th century and its history potentially goes back to Saxon or Roman times.
If time allows, a couple of miles beyond Lymm lies Dunham Massey Hall, a 250-acre deer park with an Elizabethan mill and 30-room mansion, now cared for by the National Trust. Then as you retrace your cruise back to Anderton Marina, the route comes to life again with a surprisingly different viewpoint.
Max: 5 People
Max: 5 People
Max: 7 People
Max: 6 People
Max: 6 People
Length: 66ft (63ft from Falkirk)
Max: 6 People
Max: 8 People
Max: 10 People
Max: 12 People