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Canal Holidays Guide to the Cheshire Ring

Please be aware that from 24th June 2022 onwards, passage through the Bosley Locks (Macclesfield Canal) and the Marple Locks (Peak Forest Canal) will be closed. The stoppage means that it will not be possible to complete the Cheshire Ring until further notice.

Travelling through five counties, the Cheshire Ring contrasts the highest waterways in England on the Macclesfield and Peak Forest canals with the cityscape of Manchester and its historic canal engineering.

Cruising the Ring

From our bases in the Northwich area pass the Anderton BoatLift, cruise along the hillside above the River Weaver and onto the Bridgewater canal. The first British canal, it is wide, deep and lock-free for the run to Manchester.

A mooring at Castlefields will allow you to explore the city, its shops, museums and art galleries.

The following canalside environment under and through inner-city Manchester is not to everyone's taste, and is often tackled early in the day.

Leave Manchester behind, climbing the Ashton canal to its highest point at Marple with its picturesque flight of locks and character cottages. Join the Macclesfield Canal for a scenic 26 mile lock-free section skirting the edge of the Peak District through small stone built towns.

The 12 Bosley locks then lower the canal 118 feet to the Cheshire Plains.

In the distance can be seen the half-timbered Little Moreton Hall before the canal joins the Trent and Mersey Canal at Kidsgrove. Travel down the locks of 'Heartbreak Hill' to reach Middlewich and its old salt mines.

Routes in a Google Map
Cheshire Ring Location

Distance, Time, and Locks

about 55
  • Usually covered in a week, the Ring includes some energetic sections.
  • Out-and-back trips and short breaks are available from all bases.
  • Relaxed routes for new canal boaters

Anderton Boat Lift

Places of Interest

Anderton Lift: built 1875 to lower boats between the canal and the river below

Manchester: shops, industrial heritage, arts, music, media, Museum of Science and Industry, Old Trafford, Granada Studios

Marple: scenic lock flight and high aqueduct over the River Goyt Macclesfield Silk Museum

Little Moreton Hall: 15th century timber framed and moated manor house

Middlewich: Lion Salt Works

Possible Holidays

One Week

The Cheshire Ring makes a realistic one week holiday, although strenuous at times. Alternatively, an out-and-back holiday can be taken from any of the bases. Options include a return trip to historic Chester, or a leisurely trip to Wigan Pier.

Short Breaks

Mid-week and weekend breaks are available from all Canal Holidays bases on the Cheshire Ring. Historic Chester may be reached on a short break from Base 18.

Longer Holidays

In a two week trip the Cheshire Ring can be combined with the Llangollen Canal or adjacent Rings, or can be extended with a visit to Chester, famous for its city walls and historic Rows.

Imperial War Museum
Bosley Locks

Customer Comments

Read what some of our previous clients say about the Cheshire Ring.

"As novices with a canal boat and only having a week we restricted ourselves to the short route Acton to Chester and return. We found this well within our capabilities(average age of crew was 72) with pleasant rural scenery, and interesting small towns. At the time - May - the route was quiet with little traffic so that waiting time at locks or tunnels was minimal. Can be recommended as a short, pleasant, undemanding route."
DB, Canada

"We enjoyed it so much we are contemplating doing another trip next year, with some friends. Also, I was very impressed when I was booking the holiday by the fact that the bookings people suggested alternative dates when my original dates (and boat) were not available. It had to be the least stressful way I've booked a holiday in a long time."

I would recomend this route to any newcomer to canal boating. The holiday was thoroughly enjoyed by everybody in our party including the kids. We hope to do another canal trip later in the year with my parents to introduce them to the pleasures of canal boating.

"We met up with friends and had a very enjoyable week-end. We found the boat very cosy and everything seemed well-arranged. We found being able to arrange things via email/using web-sites etc. Very much less hassle than mail and phone calls and would certainly do it again.

"The service was excellent. The boat was ready to go when we arrived and once the boat had been tied up at the end of the trip, there was no leftover paperwork to be completed. We literally got straight out of the boat into the car for the journey home. Very impressive."