The Cheshire Ring offers a mix of urban and rural boating. From Congleton you can walk up to Mow Cop and The Cloud, two large outcrops at the southern end of the Pennines which give stunning views of the Cheshire Plains and distant Welsh mountains, before one of the most exciting parts of the route; down Marple locks, a contender for the most picturesque flight in the country. Beyond the bottom lock the high aqueduct, overlooked by an even higher railway viaduct, spans the River Goyt. To the west of Manchester the crew can put their feet up and relax, for here there is a 30 mile stretch of canal with only one lock.
North takes you through rolling countryside and past the 13th Century Beeston Castle on its rocky outcrop. Onwards to medieval Chester, the historic gem of the North West, with its unique double-tier shopping streets and ancient buildings.
A spectacular arrival in Wales, passing high above a river on the Chirk aqueduct, before a long tunnel beyond which lies the town of Chirk and its 600 year old castle. But the Chirk aqueduct is just the curtain-raiser for Pontcysylte, Telfords famous 1000 feet long iron aqueduct which carries the canal 127 feet above the river Dee. Afterwards, you head slowly towards its terminus, savouring the mountainous panorama of the Vale of Llangollen. The Llangollen canal has typical lifting bridges whose simple operation provides an enjoyable counter-point to lock working. All in all, a trip which fully deserves the fulsome praise it receives.
Not To Be Missed
Daresbury Parish Church; Alice In Wonderland stained glass windows commemorate the curacy of Lewis Carrolls father.
Little Moreton Hall, Staffordshire; a classic half timbered 15th century National Trust house with barely a right angle in sight.
Macclesfield Silk Museum; old silk mills re-opened as a visitor centre with working looms producing the designs of contemporary weavers.
Manchester; moor at Castlefields to visit the 1st century Roman fort of Mamucium, Museum of Science & Industry and Granada Studios with tours.
Pontcysylte Aqueduct; Telfords feat of engineering and one of the seven wonders of the canals.