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The Peak District: Trent & Mersey, Caldon Canal
Boat Availability
Sat 2.30pm - Tues 9.30am | Tues 2.30pm - Sat 9.30am

Fri 2.30pm - Mon 9.30am | Mon 2.30pm - Fri 9.30am

A canal boat holiday in Staffordshire offers you a mix of stunning Peak District scenery, along with the contrast of the industrial workings of the Potteries, including famous industries such as Royal Doulton and Wedgwood.

There’s a wide choice of routes in this area, with the Cheshire Ring and the Four Counties being favourites for those looking for a longer holiday. You can also choose a short break canal boat holiday from this base. A trip down the Caldon Canal to Leek and Hazelhurst, arguably one of the prettiest routes on the waterways, would take about twenty-four hours journey time for a return trip – perfect for a three or four night short break.

Click here for Base Information

Suggested Routes From The Peak District
Route A  |  Route B  |  Route C  |  Route D


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1. CHESHIRE RING - ROUTE A
110 Miles, 92 Locks, 1 Week Cruise, 9 hours per day
The Cheshire Ring canal boat holiday from Stoke to Congleton, Macclesfield and Manchester lasts seven-nights. On this active route your narrowboat will first travel northwards through the Harecastle Tunnel, originally completed in 1827, and join the Manchester Canal via a fly-over. Congleton sits on the banks of the River Dane, and its main attraction is a distinctive hill known as The Cloud, which lies on the border of Cheshire and Staffordshire and overlooks the beautiful Cheshire Plain. The Cheshire Plain is a picturesque area with several walking routes, each of which offers a different perspective of the countryside.

Macclesfield features a Georgian town hall and the hilltop St Michael’s Church, a grade two listed building which has overlooked the market town since the 13th century, save for two reconstructions. The canals around the village of Marple once served as an important industrial hub, with the small town most famous for its series of canal locks. You can also take in the Roman Lakes leisure complex, an area very popular with walkers. If you are interested in ghouls, Marple Hall and Goyt Mill, a former cotton mill, are said to be two of the most haunted places in Cheshire.

You will travel lock-free to Manchester, where the canals are currently undergoing improvement work. Manchester itself offers a mixture of historical landarks, from the old cotton mills near the city centre to the Manchester Town Hall, one of the most prominent Victorian buildings in the country. The city is also surrounded by six local nature reserves. As well as cultural areas of interest, Manchester is the ideal location to spend an afternoon and evening, with a plethora of places to shop, eat, drink and relax as well as a range of activities for all of the family.

After spending some time in Manchester, you cruise into the Peak District on the Macclesfield Canal, with its pretty stone villages including Bollington, Adlington and Higher Poynton. Bollington is known locally as The Happy Valley, and its most famous landmark is the White Nancy, built in 1817 to commemorate the battle of Waterloo. You will then cruise through a lock-free section of the Bridgewater Canal. The Canal was constructed to transport the Duke of Bridgewater’s coal from his mine at Worsley, and in its heyday carried more than three million tonnes of traffic. This historic canal is now a popular leisure waterway. You will pass the Anderton Boat Lift, built in 1875 and one of only two working boat lifts in the United Kingdom. There is also a visitor centre and exhibition building, where you can learn about this feat of engineering.

Then cruise on to Middlewich, a market town founded by the Romans and once famous for salt production. It now boasts an annual boat festival, Roman and Norman festivals and regular farmer’s markets. After leaving Middlewich you will pass through a section with many locks, which will take you back to Stoke.


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2. FOUR COUNTIES RING - ROUTE B
111 Miles, 94 Locks, 1 Week Cruise, 9 hours per day

IMPORTANT NEWS: Canal Breach
23rd April, 2018

The Middlewich branch of the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire has breached (just south of the town of Middlewich) and is likely to be out of action for the forseeable future. At this point the Canal & River Trust are unable to give a timescale for the repairs, however, you can keep up to date with the stoppage by visiting their website here, and we will keep this page updated.

This will affect you if you were considering completing the Four Counties Ring or if you were planning to cruise to Chester from Acton Bridge, as this part of the route is impassable. There are, however, plenty of other routes to cruise in this area. You can still complete part of the Four Counties Ring or cruise other routes, such as the Cheshire Ring. You can visit Chester from our base at Chirk. Please contact us if you would like any route advice or further information.

The Four Counties canal boast holiday through Staffordshire, Worcestershire, Shropshire and Cheshire is a challenging one-week narrow boat hire through several lovely canal towns and villages. Start by travelling southwards from our base in Stoke past the Wedgwood Visitor Centre, where you can visit the museum of the pottery company founded in 1759 and go on a tour of its historic factory, or if you fancy a bit of pot decorating yourself, head to the Emma Bridgewater factory.

You then pass through the canal town of Stone, where you can visit Aston Marina, a new leisure development containing everything required for the modern boater, including shops, a butchery, deli and a waterside bistro serving local produce. At the Great Haywood village, you meet the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal. The canal is steeped in history, having been in use since 1772 when it was a vital commercial passage between the Potteries (the towns that now make up Stoke-on-Trent) and Gloucester. Travelling westwards, you join the Shropshire Union Canal at Autherley. The canal is one of the most important in the country and runs through the counties of Staffordshire, Shropshire and Cheshire.

The main line of the canal was the final civic engineering accomplishment of Thomas Telford, and was completed in 1835. The ‘Shroppie’ boasts impressive architecture, banks and cuttings and carries you northwards to the Middlewich Arm. On the Middlewich Arm you can find a pub and bistro with a canal boat theme, as well as some magnificent rural views. Barbridge is steeped in history. As part of a small hamlet, it was famously mentioned in the Itinerary of the famous historian John Leland. Occupied by royalist forces during the civil war before being populated by Quakers in the 18th century, Barbridge is a beautiful and historical rural parish.

The town of Middlewich is your next point of interest. Middlewich is historically famous for its production of salt, Cheshire cheese, silk and agriculture. Today, it is most popular for its canals, with three passing through the town. In recent years tourism to the town has increased with the advent of the annual folk and boat festival, Roman and Norman festivals, and the increasing presence of farmers’ markets. At Middlewich you rejoin the Trent & Mersey Canal, which carries you back to Stoke through a number of locks and the Harecastle Tunnel. The Harecastle Tunnel features The Telford Tunnel, the fourth-longest navigable canal tunnel in the UK.

If time permits a diversion along the Caldon is well worthwhile. The Caldon canal was originally built in 1776 to carry limestone to Stoke on Trent. It is considered one of the most interesting waterways in the United Kingdom because of its contrasts. It begins in the very centre of the Potteries (the towns surrounding Stoke on Trent) but also features a passage through a wealth of remote countryside. Caldon is a canal to stop and take in the lovely scenery.


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3. CALDON & LEEK CANALS - ROUTE C
42 Miles, 34 Locks, 1 Week Cruise, 4 hours per day
The canal boat holiday hire along the Caldon & Leek canals runs along one of the UK’s most beautiful and quiet canals, and give boaters the chance to see a contrasting marriage of industry and countryside. From the junction near the Black Prince Holidays narrowboat marina, you progress up the locks to the outskirts of Stoke via factories and parks. You can see the numerous potteries and bottle kilns around Hanley in an area of great history that is currently the subject of regeneration.

The countryside becomes more progressively picturesque as you enter the Churnet Valley. On the edge of the Staffordshire Peak District, the Valley is certainly a location to take your camera, and with a local partnership having been awarded a significant grant to further celebrate and enhance the area, it is sure to retain its beauty for the long-term.

If you are interested in taking an action-packed diversion, you can take in the largest theme park in the UK, Alton Towers, which is situated in the village of Alton, near the end of the Caldon Canal. Alton Towers features a busy theme park with everything from rollercoasters to cable car rides over the countryside. It provides a brilliant contrast of thrills and spills for all the family with a countryside landscapes set to the backdrop of a semi-ruined gothic country house. The park is also the home of a water park called Splash Landings.

If rides aren’t your thing, then continue on the route towards the Leek branch of the canal, which contains no locks from the junction. Although the branch ends a distance from Leek town centre, you could still take a trip to visit the town, where you can visit an antiques market on a Saturday and take a break in a range of restaurants and pubs. If time permits, a trip down the Trent & Mersey Canal to Stone is well worthwhile. Stone features Aston Marina, a leisure development for boaters that contains a waterside bistro which serves excellent local produce.


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4. WHALEY BRIDGE & RETURN - ROUTE D
82 Miles, 26 Locks, 1 Week Cruise, 6 hours per day
This is an easy and relaxed weeks narrowboat hire travelling into the Peak District and the Whaley Bridge with a canal boat holiday to the end of the Peak Forest Canal. You begin your journey at the Black Prince Peak District Base, situated on the re-developed National Garden Festival site. This location is one of our most popular starting points and is near to a host of attractions including Water World, a dry Ski-slope and a multi-screen cinema.

Once you get on the water, you begin by travelling north through the Harecastle Tunnel, the fourth largest canal tunnel in the UK, to join the Macclesfield Canal at Hardings Wood. This canal skirts the small towns of Congleton, Macclesfield and Marple. Congleton, situated on the banks of the River Dane, is renowned for The Cloud, a hill on the border of Cheshire and Staffordshire that allows excellent views of the stunning Cheshire Plain. The plain is a lovely area with several different walking routes, with each offering a new perspective of this vast area. Macclesfield is also strewn with historical attractions. St Michael’s Church has overlooked the town centre since the 13th century, and the Georgian town hall takes pride of place.

If you’re interested in a pleasant walk, head to the Roman Lakes leisure complex in Marple. The town will also be of interest for ghoul lovers, as it contains two of the most haunted places in Cheshire: Goyt Mill and Marple Hall. You then turn on to the Peak Forest Canal to Whaley Bridge. The Peak Forest canal links the Ashton Canal with the tramways famous for collecting limestone from local quarries, and contains Marple Aqueduct, which carries the canal around 100 feet above the river Goyt. Whaley Bridge is a small town situated on the river, with prehistoric attractions including preserved burial sites and the remains of an ancient stone circle.


The Peak District Base Information

Hotels / Guest Houses
Quality Hotel, City Centre, 66 Trinity Street, Hanley
Telephone: 01782 202361
Price Guide: Standard Double Room from £50 per night.
 

Best Western Moat House, Festival Park, Stoke on Trent, ST1 5BQ.
Telephone: 01782 609988
www.bw-stokeontrentmoathouse.co.uk

Price Guide: Double / Single rooms - from £109 Prices does not include breakfast.
Located approx. 300 yards from the marina and other site facilities.
 
North Stafford Hotel, Winton Square, Station Road, Stoke on Trent, ST4 2AE.
Telephone: 08712 220097

Price Guide: Standard Double room - £55 per night.
This hotel is directly opposite Stoke on Trent train station.


Public Transport
Nearest Railway Station: Stoke on Trent
www.nationalrail.co.uk Tel: 08457 484950
www.thetrainline.com Tel: 0871 244 1545

Nearest Airport: Manchester International Tel. 0161 489 3000
www.manchesterairport.co.uk
 

Taxi / Minicabs
Intercity Cabs: Telephone. 01782 855855 www.intercitycabs.co.uk
Z Cars: Telephone. 01782 593322

Example Prices:
Manchester International Airport to the base at Stoke on Trent would be approx. £45
Stanstead or Heathrow Airport to the base at Stoke on Trent would be approx. £160
(Prices courtesy of Intercity Cabs Subject to change)
 

Car Hire
Hertz Car Hire has depots throughout the UK (including main airports). We have an exclusive agreement with Hertz who will provide reduced rates for all Black Prince customers. Drop-offs, collections and oneways are all available, allowing you to pick up a car at your arrival point and request a car to be waiting at the end of your holiday for onward travel. To book your car visit www.hertz.co.uk or call 0870 844 4844 and quote CDP 69481
 

Flying into London
From Heathrow airport - get the london underground tube to Euston station.
From Gatwick airport - get the Gatwick Express to London Victoria station and then get a a London underground tube to Euston station.

From Stansted airport - get the London underground tube to Euston station.

From London Euston station - there is a train through to Stoke on Trent.

Visit www.tfl.gov.uk to plan your route on the London Underground.

Flying into Manchester
Manchester railway station is adjacent to Manchester Airport. From here there is a train to either Piccadilly
or Wilmslow station where you can change for a direct line through to Stoke on Trent.

Please check with British Rail before travelling. Prices will vary depending on the day you travel and if it is single or return etc.


How To Find Us (By Car)

M6: Exit at Junction 15 (from South) or Junction 16 (from North) and follow the A500 until you reach the A53. Turn towards Hanley and the city centre. Passing over the canal, you will see the marina on your left hand side – stay in the left hand lane (do not cross the flyover). At the roundabout, turn left. At the mini – roundabout turn left, and the marina entrance is on your left.

www.theaa.com/route-planner


Groceries
There is a large Morrison supermarket and a number of other shops at Festival Park, nearby to the base.
 
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