The Cheshire Ring
Cheshire is the county of smirking felines, mass produced cheese and one of the best known circular canal routes. This route offers a perfect mix of urban and rural boating. To the west of Manchester you can sack the lock-wheelers of your party. For here there is a 30 mile stretch of canal with only 1 lock. However Dunham Massey and Lymm offer very attractive opportunities to break your journey, whilst the parish church at Daresbury has stained glass windows depicting scenes from ‘Alice in Wonderland’ in commemoration of the fact that Lewis Caroll’s father was curate here. Here you can take it easy. Moor up and walk through the fields to Little Moreton Hall, a half timbered 15th Century house with barely a right angle in sight. It belongs to the National Trust as do nearby Mow Cop and The Cloud, two outcrops at the southern end of the Pennines which can easily be climbed for stunning views of the Cheshire Plains and the distant mountains of Wales. Macclesfield's stock in trade was the making of silk; a museum is devoted to the history of this industry, and one of the old silk mills has been re-opened as a visitor centre. Its looms enjoy a fresh lease of life producing the designs of contemporary weavers. There follows perhaps the most exciting part of the route as the canal makes its way through Marple locks, a leading contender for the most picturesque flight in the country. Beyond the bottom lock the high aqueduct, overlooked by an even higher railway viaduct, spans the River Goyt. Through woodland and in and out of tunnels the canal steals back towards Manchester. Nowadays the best place to moor is the attractive, refurbished and redeveloped area of Castlefield, the city’s urban heritage area. This is a route for which you will need plenty of spools of film for you camera.