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Chester Canal Boat Hire - Visit Chester by Boat

Arial view of chester city and the river dee

Historic Chester

The City of Chester combines its Roman heritage with exciting restaurants, shops and cafes like no other place. Where else can you find a thriving city centre with both high street and independent shops and a Roman amphitheatre within only a few minutes walking distance from each other? Sprawling Grosvenor Park provides a peaceful haven after exploring the ancient city walls, impressive Cathedral and the brand new Chester Market with its quaint shops and food outlets. “The Rows” are another highlight.

Why Chester is the perfect place to visit by canal boat.

The pedestrianised streets and world famous city walls make Chester the perfect place to explore when you arrive by canal boat. Some cities can be difficult to navigate on foot with Chester being the exception from the norm. It is just the right size to offer everything you would expect from a bustling city - restaurants, cafes, shops and sights - but all within walking distance from your holiday boat. The canal cuts straight through the heart of the city. Telford Basin is the perfect place to moor up and access the ancient city walls within a couple of minutes. From here, you can take a walk around the whole of the city centre - without any traffic interruptions but great views all around.

Things to do in Chester itself

There are too many attractions in Chester itself for us to list them all, and the ones you choose will likely to different for each hire boat party, but we’ve listed some of our favourites below.

Chester City Walls
Take a walk round the city walls

Take a stroll along the ancient city walls of Chester. Take in the views and visit the famous clock.

Chester Cathedral
Cathedral

Impressive Cathedral well worth a visit. Free entry (donations welcome). You can also take a paid tour and climb high on the Tower Tour and see Chester from a different perspective.

Queens Park Bridge, River Dee
River Dee

If you can't get enough of our waterways you can head down to the river dee near Queens Park Bridge. Buy an ice cream, take a stroll, visit a river-side pub such as "the boathouse" or hire a Paddle boat for a trip on the river.

Grosvenor Park
Grosvenor Park

Green flag award winning park dating back to 1867 covering 20 acres, located just outside the city walls and overlooking the River Dee. Home to the popular miniature railway and a great play area

Storyhouse, Chester
Storyhouse

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Pen-y-Fan in the brecon beacons
Chester Market

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Roman Amphitheatre
Roman Amphitheatre

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Chester Rows
The Rows

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Map of the Canals in and around Chester

A map of the Canal in and around chester

Our Routes Into Chester

Beeston To Chester Route Map

Beeston to Chester and return

Locks 9, Miles 11, Crusing Time 11 hours* (each way)

From the hire base in Beeston, the first lock is only a mile away. Beeston Castle is easily reached via the footpath that leads away from the lock. This impressive ruin can be seen from miles away and shouldn’t be missed on your trip to Chester. The journey continues lock-free through rich pastures and peaceful countryside until it reaches Chester. Here, the canal quickly descends through 4 locks into the city centre, through an impressive rock cutting, and eventually reaches the Northgate staircase locks and Telford Basin beyond. This is a great place to moor up. Highlights, which are easily reached on foot, are the Chester city walls, the Roman amphitheatre, and the tranquil River Dee. Now it’s time to retrace the journey back to the hire base.

Middlewich Branch to Chester and return

Locks 15, Miles 17, Crusing Time 9 hours* (each way)

From the hire base on the Middlewich Branch, it’s only one lock and a few miles to Barbridge Junction, where you turn right and cruise towards Chester. Soon, the surroundings become very tranquil and feel surprisingly remote. After the Beeston iron lock, Beeston Castle is easily reached via the footpath that leads away from the lock. This impressive ruin can be seen from miles away and shouldn’t be missed on your trip to Chester. The journey continues lock-free through rich pastures and peaceful countryside until it reaches Chester. Here, the canal quickly descends through 4 locks into the city centre, through an impressive rock cutting, and eventually reaches the Northgate staircase locks and Telford Basin beyond. This is a great place to moor up. Highlights, which are easily reached on foot, are the Chester city walls, the Roman amphitheatre, and the tranquil River Dee. Now it’s time to retrace the journey back to the hire base on the Middlewich Branch.

Middlewhich Branch To Chester Route Map

Highlights on route

Canal Infrastructure Highlights on route to Chester

Cheshire Northgate Staircase Locks

Chester Northgate Staircase Locks

Beeston Iron Lock

Beeston Iron Lock

Bunbury Staircase locks

Bunbury Staircase Locks

Deep Canal Cuttings

Deep Canal Cuttings

Attractions to stop at on route to Chester

Attractions to visit on land within walking distance of the canal

Beeston Castle
Beeston Castle

Visit the famous Cheshire Fortress, learn about medieval life and enjoy breathtaking views.

Girl at the ice cream farm eating icecream
Ice Cream Farm Tattenhall

The perfect family outing, let the kids go wild in the playground and soft play, search for treasure in Gemstone Cove and sample the delicious ice cream. Read about our own trip to the ice cream farm here

Bunbry Mill
Bunbury Mill

Restored as a working museum. Experience the whole journey from the grain arriving at the mill and the water driving the machinery to the flour pouring into the sacks.

The Crocky Trail
The Crocky Trail

Adventure trail, slides, rope swings, climbs, chain bridge, and more. One for the kids if you are on a family holiday. Best access by boat from bridge 118.

Route Continuation Options

Once you've reached chester itself, you can moor up and use it as a base for your exploration of Chester, if however you wish to continue your journey you can head towards the National Waterways Museum in Ellesmere Port. Our recommended mooring would be just before "pretty bridge" from here you can access Chester Zoo & Chester Zoo's nature reserve (which is free to enter and has a bird hide) should you wish to visit the waterways museum you can continue your journey or if you wish to skip this last "less scenic" chunk of the journey you can take the number 1 or X1 bus from Chester Zoo.

Canal side pubs and cafes on route to and in Chester

There are too many pubs and cafes in chester itself to list them all, however below are some canal side options for your consideration.

The Cheshire Cat Pub
The Cheshire Cat, Christleton

A dog friendly country pub & restaurant, located right by the Shropshire Union Canal:

Pen-y-Fan in the brecon beacons
Telford's Warehouse, Canal Basin, Chester

If you head down the staircase locks you'll likely moor up in the Canal Basin, stop by this independently run freehouse / bar / restaurant which is well know as a music and arts venue.

Lock Keeper Canal-Side Pub
The Lock Keeper, Canal Side, Frodsham Street Chester

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