Taking a canal boat holiday is such a quintessentially British thing to do that anybody considering the boating lifestyle ought to try it before taking the plunge. Many people fall in love with the steady pace of life, the closeness to nature, and the friendly community. For this excursion, we’re going to take a trip through the stunning Cheshire countryside right into the centre of Manchester.
Along the way, we’ll make a stop for a traditional afternoon tea at Richmond Tearooms, enjoy the kind of games you can find at Bovada slots games in a canal side casino, and take a trip on the famous Anderton boat lift. So, if you’re interested in what the British Waterways could have in store for you, join us on this canal boat adventure.
Hiring a Boat
There are plenty of options for boat hire in and around Manchester. Some offer you the chance to see the city as part of a guided boat tour, where you’ll be invited aboard with other members of the public and the boat will be skippered for you. These trips can be as short as an hour, or up to a full day of exploring. These tours are perfect if you’re pushed for time, have a smaller budget, or feel a little nervous about driving the boat yourself.
It’s also possible to get a self-hire boat, which is a great idea for those considering the lifestyle. These trips tend to cost more money, but they give you far greater freedom. You can choose the route that you’d like to take and learn how to drive a narrowboat at the same time. Self-hire boats can be chartered for as little as a day, but we’re going to take a long weekend for this adventure. Anderton Marina is a great place to start your journey as they’re a short distance from Manchester and situated right by the first stop of our tour.
The Anderton Boat Lift
The Anderton Boat Lift is one of the seven wonders of the British waterways and it’s just a five-minute cruise from Anderton Marina. The lift was built in 1875 and to this day it still enables boats to step up or down fifty feet, from the River Weaver onto the Trent and Mersey Canal and vice versa.
This incredible feat of engineering is well worth just watching if you’re feeling a little nervous about taking your hire boat in there and they’re very happy for you to watch as boats are scooped up and plonked back down. If you do want to go in yourself then you’ll need to explain that you’d like to go down and then come right back up again so that you can start the tour. They’re always happy to oblige unless it’s an incredibly busy day.
Into the Tunnels
Once you’ve enjoyed the history and the engineering behind the boat lift, it’s time to start the journey towards Manchester. This part of the canal goes through beautiful countryside with rolling hills, plenty of sheep and lots of birds who enjoy life by the canal.
Along the way, you’ll encounter three tunnels, so remember to turn your headlight on and drive slowly. Next, you’ll travel over an aqueduct, a section of canal that forms a bridge over a huge valley. As you travel over the aqueduct slow right down to enjoy views of the unspoiled countryside in the valley below. This part of the trip is the perfect spot for a picnic, as the towpath is nice and wide and you’re very rural, so certainly won’t be in anybody’s way.
Out Into Manchester
As you creep closer to Manchester you’ll notice the wide open green fields slowly turn into a more industrial picture. Manchester’s canals had a fascinating history as part of the industry of this town. Before the railways were built, almost everything was shipped via canals, including the one you’re boating on right now. There are nine locks along the route and plenty of places that you ought to make a stop.
The first of your stops should certainly be Canal Street. This street lies right in the centre of Manchester’s gay village, a sprawling pedestrianized area that’s perfect for exploring. The first place we’ll head to off Canal Street is the Napoleon’s Casino. This magnificent building has recently been renovated and reopened and is just as glamorous as ever. There are a huge range of slots to play, as well as table games that have been around since Manchester’s canals were working waterways, rather than leisure ones.
An afternoon tea is a British institution, so for the last stop on the tour of Manchester before turning around to head back to Anderton, it only makes sense to stop at the Richmond Tearooms. This kitsch cafe has been open for decades and prides itself on serving a traditional afternoon tea with all the trimmings. Tuck into a selection of cakes and scones, as well as delicate finger sandwiches and a pot of loose leaf tea. It’s a lovely way to spend an hour or so and make sure to ask for a window seat, as the views out onto the street are ever so pretty.