Perfect for a weekend break in the countryside to Middlewich or a midweek break to Barbridge.
Departing south from our base, you pass through the Preston Brook Tunnel [1239 yds] and Dutton stop lock. The tunnel marks the boundary between the Bridgewater and Trent & Mersey Canals. Just beyond the tunnel there is a stop lock which is only a few inches deep. A dry dock was built beside the lock to maintain the tunnel tugs that pulled the horse drawn boats through.
The canal passes through Dutton Woods, with it’s smells of wild garlic, to emerge on a hillside overlooking the valley of the River Weaver. At Acton Bridge there are pubs that serve meals lunchtime and evening and after further wooded areas the canal reaches two tunnels at Saltisford and Barnton, with a beautiful pool between them that overlooks Saltisford Locks on the River Weaver.
At Anderton the boat lift (restored in 2002) carries boats from the Weaver up 50ft to the canal level. There are nice overnight moorings, a local pub serving meals and a local shop. The lift has a visitor centre and trips can be taken on a passenger boat passing up or down the lift. The canal now swings away from the river passing to the east of Northwich before reaching open country again. There are several “flashes” which are lakes formed when the land subsided due to salt extraction. Resist the temptation to drive your boat out into the flashes as they are very shallow and you will get stuck. There are tranquil moorings here.
On reaching Middlewich the first lock is a wide one that two narrowboats can share side by side. The route was partly built for wide boats and old wharves (that are now good overnight moorings) line the canal through this attractive small town. Three narrow locks now take us up to a junction with “the shortest canal in the country” – the Wardle Canal which runs from the junction to the first lock in a few yards. Turning right onto this canal we join the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union climbing through 4 locks in 10 miles of countryside to reach Barbridge. There are fine views on either side in this stretch which is totally rural.
Above the lock a short distance along there is a water point. At Barbridge junction turn left where there are two fine pubs serving meals and plenty of visitor moorings. Water and services are also available and a short distance further a turning point.