FOR THE BRAVE OF HEART ...
THE LLANGOLLEN CANAL
Perhaps I should clarify... The Llangollen Canal is considered to be one of the most beautful canals in Britain. This canal takes you through ancient peat mosses to the foothills of Snowdonia and finally to the wonderful town of Llangollen itself. However, to complete this journey you will find yourself faced with the 190 year old Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, renouned as being one of the canal wonders of the world. This amazing feat of engineering by Thomas Telford, is now a World Heritage Site as it towers 126ft above the River Dee. On crossing, you will find yourself with no more than a 'lip' of a few inches between your boat and the sheer drop beside you - so for the 'faint of heart', there is a canal path too, with a guard rail - but remember, one of you has to steer! So, as I said, for the brave of heart there are treasures to be found. But if you don't have a full seven days to spare, you can always moor up at Ellesmere, considered to be the Lake District of Shropshire with its' numerous 'Meres', this is a trip that can be done as a four day round trip with ease. A lovely little town, with plenty of good watering holes and eateries. And a rather lovely delicatessen if you fancied dinner on board!
Once you arrive at Llangollen you'll find a new marina built at the end of a navigable section, here you'll be able to moor overnight. The town of Llangollen is a wonder in it's own right, set either side of the fast flowing River Dee, with no shortage of interesting and quirky shops, not forgetting some fabulous places to get a bite to eat, or a refreshing drink. Whilst you are there it would be a crime not to take advantage of the Steam Railway too and jump on board one of the old Steam Trains to experience the 7.5 mile trip back through time.
It is also worth bearing in mind that this canal is unusual amongst Britain’s artificial waterways, in that it has a strong (up to 2 miles per hour) flow. This will obviously effect your outward and return journey times.
THE FOUR COUNTIES RING
If you find yourself with a fortnights worth of holiday time, then this could be the route for you! Taking in five canals and offering a huge diversity of scenery along the way! The Four Counties Ring takes you through vast swathes of rural scenery and open countryside, for the nature lover, but this is balanced by some fascinating industrial areas too, such as the famous Potteries in Staffordshire, where the colour of the canal has been blamed on years of iron ore seeping into the water. Or perhaps when you reach Middlewich you may like to take a short diversion and take in the awe-inspiring Anderton Boat Lift! This extraordinary construction dates back to 1875, when it was first used to lift cargo barges up from the River Weaver to the Trent and Mersey Canal so they could continue their journey delivering their cargos. There is a resident boat there for those wanting to experience the ride!
You will also pass through the Harecastle Tunnel, all one and a half miles of it, don't worry though this is a manned tunnel - that doesn't take away from the fact you'll either love this subterranean experience or you'll be wishing to be coming out the other end. But as this route is a ring you will only need to do it once!
This trip can be completed in less than two weeks, but to really take everything in and give yourself time to explore I'd advise the two weeks.
THE CHESHIRE RING
This is is another cruise that would take between 10 to 14 days to complete, but one full of diversity. From peacefully drifting along at the edge of the Peak District National Park, to the hustle and bustle of Manchester, where you can moor up and take in all the city has to offer. Not forgetting a complete contrast to Manchester as you reach Macclesfield, the home of the Silk Museum. Here you can find out exactly why this town is now considered the end of the 'Silk Road'!
This route also takes you over an aquaduct - The Marple Aquaduct, not quite as daunting as the Pontcysyllte Aquaduct, but still an impressive piece of architecture. And if you do want to see the Anderton Boat Lift, it is actually on your route, so no diverting necessary!
Being based at Grindley Brook Wharf there are a huge variety of routes you can take. I have simply noted a few of the longer cruises you could do. Maybe you fancy a short three night trip, this opens up a whole host of options. Audlem can be reached in no more than ten hours cruising, giving you plenty of time to moor up along the canal and just kick back. Or maybe you fancy exploring the Roman city of Chester, and with it being a mere 20 hours return cruising, you could take the opportunity to sample what this magnificent city has to offer. One of the closest towns to Swanley Bridge is Nantwich, a picturesque old market town full of character and black and white architecture. My advice would be; decide how long you want to be aboard, what you'd like to see and experience on this cruise. Explore the possibilites and if you have a basic idea, why not let me help you plan your very own tailor made break! It couldn't be more simple!