Canal boat holidays—Trent & Mersey Canal

Published: Wednesday, 19 January 2011

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Between Middlewich and the Anderton Boat lift are the many flashes—wide expanses of water caused by the sinking of the ground after the removal of salt—thought by many boat owners and holiday makers  alike to be the most attractive part of the waterway.

Though rings  are not provided, it is possible to moor by the side of them all, with plenty of depth of water by the towpaths.

These moorings are very popular, so at weekends and at the height of the season, the best ones are soon taken up.

From the broad Big Lock situated at Middlewich, the waterway is lock-free until its end at the shallow stop lock onto the Bridgewater Canal. Along this long pound are three fairly short tunnels, with one having a bend in its middle, meaning you are unable to see if a boat has entered the other end. It is here the canal follows the Weaver, with views of the valley containing the river.

With salt extraction a major industry in the area, it is only natural that there is a salt museum, which is by the canal, and most interesting in its telling of the work and the importance of the product. At this time this museum is closed being affected by salt!

There are plenty of opportunities for mooring along the entire waterway, with Armco piling and occasional rings. There are boat yards and hire firms along the waterway, so  facilities for boaters are no problem.

There is a supermarket at Middlewich within walking distance and two in Stone with an exceptional main street of shops. The shopping centre and a supermarket at Stoke are distant from the waterway, meaning there is very little in the way of canalside shopping after Middlewich. However the towns have many pubs and eateries by the waterside, most with handy moorings.

Notwithstanding the strenuous Heartbreak Hill, the canal is recommended for both holiday hirers and for a get-away crew, who are prepared to work locks, as it has plenty of interest along its way, opportunities for shopping in its towns and a plethora of tunnels—the inside of Harecastle shown in the picture.

Boaters coming off the Middlewich Branch heading West would only have four locks then around 15 miles lock free.

This section from Haywood Junction is 54 miles long, has 55 locks and four tunnels including the impressive Harecastle Tunnel.

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The more stars the better.