Canal boat holidays—Trent & Mersey Canal

Published: Wednesday, 19 January 2011

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Haywood Junction to Preston Brook
THE Western part of the Trent & Mersey Canal, which for this guide starts at Haywood Junction (pictured) is entirely different from its Eastern part, and though more heavily locked, being narrow with the exception of one broad lock, it seems better maintained thus the locks are fairly easy to operate, and an ideal holiday hire.

The section from Haywood Junction to Middlewich is part of the Four Counties Ring, and can be fairly busy, though nowhere near as busy as the Eastern section.

However something of a problem for beginners is the 29 locks Heartbreak Hill that drops the waterway from Harecastle Tunnel to Middlewich. It gleaned its name as many of the locks are awkwardly spaced — not close enough for a short walk to the next but not far enough apart to be able to settle down or perhaps make a hot drink. The locks however are fairly easy to operate, with some twinned, making progress easier.

There is plenty of interest on the waterway, with the one and a half miles long Harecastle Tunnel and its ochre water that comes out of its Western portal. Then the very attractive flashes beyond Middlewich.

Stoke-on-Trent, alas no longer the producer of so much pottery as in the past, still has a number of factory shops, with a few  by the waterside, with Middleport factory shop having its own moorings.

A great attraction for boaters and visitors is the famous Anderton Boat Lift, that moves boats between the Trent & Mersey and the Weaver, with an interesting visitors centre. Boaters are able to book to have their boats transported on the lift down to the Weaver for a cruise, or those not having the time can take the trip boat down the lift for a short trip on the river then back up again. The picture shows the reopening of the lift after its restoration.