Canal boat holidays—Shropshire Union Canal

Published: Wednesday, 19 January 2011

THE Shropshire Union Canal is particularly popular with those canal boat hirers and get-away holiday boaters not wanting too active a cruise, as it has miles without locks, and others in easy flights, and is mainly a narrow canal.

It comprises long straight stretches, being one of the later waterways built by Telford, so it has most impressive cuttings and embankments, as he cut the waterway through hills and over valleys through the undulating countryside.

Cheshire plain

The waterway, though interesting in itself, passes through the Cheshire Plain,  that holds little interest.

It is part of the Four Counties Ring, and though popular from its junction with the Staffs & Worcs Canal to its Middlewich Branch, after that it has less traffic, and even less after Chester to its end at Ellesmere Port, which boasts one of the major waterway museums in the country, and is very well worth a visit.

Shopping facilities on the waterway are rather scarce, with the exception of the towns of Market Drayton with its supermarket, and Nantwich, and to a lesser degree villages such as Audlem which offer some facilities.


Chester of course offers everything in the way of shopping, being famous for its two tier shops. The ancient city is very much a tourist attraction with its Roman walls and King Charles' Tower overlooking the canal, and provides a great deal that is of interest to its visitors. Moorings are provided, and the waterway passes right through the city, so everything is handy.

Though rural, there is still much of interest along this waterway, with the ruins of the 13th century Beeston Castle, that can be seen for miles from the waterway, which boasts of being able to see eight counties from its highest point—if you can manage the climb after the long walk from the canal. The nearest point of access is from just above Wharton's Lock.

On the waterway itself, towards Chester is the unusual iron lock, that was so constructed as it was built on sand, thus allowing the whole lock to move.

The many cuttings mean that there are a large number of attractive and unusual bridges over them, and there are different  broad locks into Chester.