Please note that these route pages are a work in progress. The figures below indicate route length; however, not all locks and bridges are included currently, so the time required may be underestimated.
Cruising Hours: This route consists of 100.493 miles, 52 locks, 8 movable bridges and 6 tunnels. Which will take 6 days, 5 hours and 38 minutes when travelling for 7 hours per day at our default speeds.
One of the most popular routes, the journey from the hire base to Llangollen and back, could be done in one week. There are 26 locks each way, which makes this route perfect for everyone who would like to combine a tranquil holiday amongst picturesque countryside with just the right amount of locks. From the Beeston hire base, you immediately enter the first lock, the Beeston Iron Lock. This lock is a truly special one, as it’s made from cast iron instead of the usual brickwork. There are only a handful of locks to tackle, including one staircase lock before you reach Hurleston Junction. Once through Hurleston Locks, it’s absolutely beautiful countryside, which feels quite remote at times, only interrupted by the odd lock here and there. Highlights along the way are the Grindley Brook staircase locks at Whitchurch and Whixall Moss. The latter is a designated SSSI and provides several trails that cross this raised bog. Ellesmere, with its several meres, is soon reached. After passing Frankton Junction, there are only two more locks. From now on, it is lock-free cruising. After cutting through Rhoswiel, you’ll reach Chirk Bank via the Chirk Aqueduct. This is also the official English-Welsh border. Straight after you have crossed the aqueduct with its fantastic views, you’ll head into Chirk Tunnel. Once you have passed through the tunnel, it’s a very good time to stop for lunch and take a stroll to nearby Chirk Castle, owned by the National Trust. After passing through Whitehouse Tunnel, you’ll soon reach another highlight of your narrowboat holiday: the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. The aqueduct is truly one of a kind: 1001 ft long, 126 ft high, - no handrail on one site. At times, it feels like you are floating in the air. A great place to moor up is the Ruabon Arm in Trevor, straight after the Aqueduct. This is a great base for walks into the Ty Mawr Country Park. Once you've left Trevor, you’ll catch your first glimpse of the Welsh hills, a truly spectacular sight. Now you have time to take in the Welsh landscape and just enjoy your cruise until you reach Llangollen. The canal seems to cling to the rock face on the last stretch into town before you can either moor up on the towpath visitor moorings or at one of the pontoons in the basin. Don’t miss a trip on the steam train or the horse-drawn boats. Llangollen is also a great place for exploring the surrounding hills, including a hike up to the ruins of Dinas Bran. Now it’s time to retrace your steps all the way back to the hire base. There is also an option to combine this cruise with a visit to Chester and the National Boat Museum in Ellesmere Port.
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Related Nicholson Guide:
Four Counties & the Welsh Canals - Nicholson Guide No 4
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