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Cheshire Ring Boat Trip 2001

After a couple of years of friendly persuasion I finally agreed to go on the boat trip in 1999, due to circumstances beyond my control I was unable to go on the 2000 boat trip, but I have again been persuaded. In 2001 it was planned to do the Cheshire Ring during the week of June 30th to July 7th.

Once again we booked with Anglo-Welsh and the boat trip started and finished at their base in Bunbury near Chester

The Cheshire Ring

This circular route along six navigable canals owned by British Waterways. It is 97 miles long and has 92 locks. It covers the Macclesfield Canal, the Upper & Lower Peak Forest Canals, the Rochdale Canal, the Ashton Canal, the Bridgewater Canal, parts of the Trent & Mersey Canal, and a small part of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal as far as Wigan. The cruise takes in most of the county of Cheshire, (hence the name) as well as driving directly through Manchester city centre, and entering the Peak District National Park towards Whaley Bridge. These stark contrasts, no doubt, are essential factors in its popularity.

Manchester Web Site - The Cheshire Ring

Saturday 30 June 2001

Where is everyone?

Dave Green of Bradford 18 Plus Group again offered to give me a lift to the Marina, he called at my home on Saturday Morning, he arrived late as he'd called into work and things had taken longer than he had planned. Dave arrived at 12:15 and we set of for Bunbury where we were to meet up with the rest of the party.

On the way we managed to get lost, but still managed to arri:ve at The Dysart Arms, Bunbury at about 1:30. The meeting time was set for 12 noon to 1 p.m. but no-one else had arrived yet, so after a drink we drove to the Marina where we met Brian, we then went back to the pub where we met the others, who had now arrived, and had a meal.

Menu page one Menu page two


At The Marina, Canal Wharf, Bunbury we boarded "Lincoln" our home for the next week. A Boat Hand gave the grand tour with instructions including a demonstration of the oven - WOOF! he departed with burnt eyebrows as he'd left the gas on while talking.

The Cheshire Ring - Not!

We were told that a building had collapsed into the Aston canal, part of the Cheshire Ring, closing the canal at that point, thus breaking the ring. After some discussion it was decided to do the Four Counties Ring. I had to go back to the shop to exchange my Pearson Guide.

The Four Counties Ring

The four counties are Cheshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire and the West Midlands. The Potteries apart, the rest of the ring is thoroughly rural in character. The Four Counties Ring is a 109 mile, 94 lock circular canal route. It comprises three separate canals, each with their own unique character and charm. The Shropshire Union Canal visits a scattering of tiny canal-side towns and villages en route from Wolverhampton to Barbidge junction near the Cheshire town of Nantwich. The Middlewich branch then joins to the Trent and Mersey canal, taking us directly into the heart of the Potteries. This direct link to the Industrial Revolution is a fitting reminder of the canal's origin as a vital trade route for the area. The twists and turns of the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal completes the link in this aquatic 'roundabout', marking a return to the sweeping meadows of the 'Shroppie'.

Boat group
Photo by John A Smith

A night on the town

The afternoon was a short journey to Nantwich, where in the evening the party went on the town in Nantwich, visiting The Oddfellows for our evening meal, then going on to The Swan with Two Necks. Phil wanted to go night clubbing, as it was Saturday night. He managed to persuade half of the party to join him. The other half went back to boat for "Tiffin".

The Night Club party ended up at the doors to Gregory's Club, Dave was wearing his large brightly coloured shorts, Ian wore sandals and his dirtiest T shirt, (according to Brian), and Brian had his ruck sack. The door staff were asking to see I.D. so everyone swopped Library cards, bank cards and any other cards and the Bouncer said "Right lads, have you all swopped cards? then you can come in!"

On their return from Gregory's Night Club Phil and Dave shared a double bed, they were too drunk to notice. They only slept together!

Sunday 1 July 2001

In the morning Brian made breakfast of bacon sandwiches, after nwhich a party went into Nantwich where provissions were purchased from the town's super-market. After the provissions were loaded we set off at about 11:30.

Audlem "Thick"

Phil had a go at steering near Audlem and ran the boat aground, we quickly shoved off and shortly after stopped at The Shroppie Fly, Audlem for water. The hose was too short to reach the tap with the boat moored straight, so we pulled the boat back a little, partially blocking the lock, luckily no boats appeared until we had finished.

Ian went off to prepare three locks, he hadn`t realised that we`d stopped for water and a pint at The Shroppie Fly . When he returned he and John Crawshaw had a disagreement about a red bin! John bet Ian that the red bin was an ordinary bin, he lost, it was a "dog poo" bin.

Setting off from Audlem the canal heads up hill towards the Cheshire / Shropshire border the locks here are known to old boatmen as the Audlem "Thick". Ian had prepared the first three locks, then Brian was heard to complain; "we need to get co-ordinated!". Dave Green had a turn at steering and crashed the boat into a lock. Later Dave had another turn at steering and Phil exclaimed; "You`re not leaving that mad man in charge?!".

Adders' Lock

At Adderley Locks Adam had his photo taken exposing his gut, (sort of!).

Adders' Lock
Photo by John A Smith

Phol`s meal.

Phil offered to concoct a meal for everyone using un-used resources on board. It was remarkably good.

Ian & Dave
Photo from Brian Graham

We stopped the night at Market Drayton, calling at The Talbot where jokes were exchanged, anyone remember any?.

Monday 2 July 2001

Dave made his famour breakfast buffett to the usual acclaim.

Photo by Brian Graham

The five Tyrley Locks were the only locks of the morning, seventeen miles of plain sailing followed with a stop at Norbury Junction.

A quiet drink was partaken by most at The Junction, Norbury Junction wher we stopped to take on water, and to have the waste tank pumped out following the unfortunate accident.

The Junction, Norbury

While drinking at the Junction Inn Simon had been shopping and turned up at the pub with a bag which he offered to everyone for them to take a turn at pulling out a mystery gift which turned out to be a badge each.


Wheaton Aston Lock.

Lapley Wood cutting - Simon driving decided to knock Dave`s hat off with low branches, four casualties; Simon`s thumb, a mug handle, a T shirt (John Crawshaw`s), and spilt milk, ("No use crying over that!").

Brehwood - Phil and Brian returned from their cycling trip. Moored for night.

Pub crawl, meal at The Bridge Inn.

Brian and Gina decided to sleep on the roof, it was a warm night.

Tuesday 3 July 2001

In the morning we were again treated to Dave`s breakfast buffett.

Autherley Junction Lock, a couple of inches drop, (Pearson`s guide says six inches), it`s actually a stop lock designed to protect the two canal companies` (former owners), precious water supplies.

At Coven Heath Simon has a turn at driving, he heads towards the bank to moor the boat, but Ian and John (me) think he has run aground, so jump off to push the boat out into the middle again, just goes to show what people think of Simon's driving!

Gailey Wharfe. Gailey lock is right up agains the bridge carrying the A5 "Watling Street" so has very short angled lock gate

Did locks, five on foot, Gina helped.

Stropped for a drink at Penkridge, The Boat.

Adam and I went shopping in Penkridge, Adam wanted to but a pair of shoes, but theres were no shoe shops in the village. When Adam and I returned we saw John Crawshaw meeting up with a very attractive female old friend from College.

In the afternoon I had a break from opening locks and listened to Classic FM, I fell asleep.

Adam`s accident!

Baswich - Brian returned from his cycling trip.

Evening meal at The Radford, telephoned order, but we had to wait for an hour. The pub also had a shortage of glasses

Brian and Ian slept on the roof.

Wednesday 4 July 2001

Dave set the boat going at about 7:00 a.m. John K went for a walk to Stafford, he was a bit annoyed at the early start .

We stopped at Milford by a farm shop for breakfast, I went for a walk by myself, had a look at the village, and joined the canal further along. I headed back towards the boat and jumped abourd. Simon was driving and Ian was still asleep on the roof, it was about 10:00 a.m.

Simon tried to wake Ian by bumping the boat into the bank just before the aquaduct over the river Trent - Ian woke up slowly and looked around, still half asleep and inside his sleeping bag. He then emerged fully dressed from the day before and decided to sleep inside rather than be knocked into the Trent!

Ian still asleep
Setting off for the day, Ian still asleep on the roof.
Bumps into the banking by aquaduct over the river Trent.
Ian wakes with a start
Ian wakes with a start! Is that an aquaduct?
Ian decides to sleep below deck
That's a big drop! I'm not falling down there!
Ian decides to sleep below deck.
 Photos by Brian Graham 

At Haywood Junction we took on water.

Simon and Brian went cycling.

Stopped at Stone, met John K, Brian and Simon.

Adam and I went shopping again, Adam bought a peaked cap, but still there were no suitable shoes, I got some cash from a cash point.

Canal Rage at Star Lock

While Adam and I were in Stone the rest went for a drink at The Star, a 16th century Inn giving it's name to the lock adjacent. At the lock a fat man reged at a woman "You're trying to steal this lock too!", the woman retorted "F--- off!". The pub customers who were drinking outside watched on in silence.

Just after Meaford Locks Simon steered boat into trees on straight bit of canal.

Stopped at Hem Heath for the night - BBQ.

Photo from Brian Graham

Thursday 5 July 2001

Set off at about 7:00 again, got up bleary eyed, Simon came through boat asking for help with locks, put socks and shoes on and founf Brian and Dave, who was driving, opening lock, no sign of Simon `til later when he was sat on his backside - Git!

Passed through industrial Stoke.

"Romantic" memories of a previous boat trip for Simon, John and Ian.

Went for a walk by Westpark Lake, very picturesque, but forgot my camera.

When we arrived at Harecastle Tunnell we had to wait for boats coming the other way, we had breakfast and fed the swans.

Tunnell, OH NO! loudly.

Canal changed colour.

Stopped at Kidsgrove. A party went to Tesco for provissions.

Went for a walk, got a bit lost. While I was gone Simon departed for Ireland, or to avoid twenty five locks!

Re-joined party at Pool Lock Aquaduct where the Macclesfield Canal crosses the Trent and Mersey Canal.

Penelope Pitstop! between double locks 49 and 48.

Lock 51 - lemonade!

Simon's Text

As we were near Sandbach where Dave Orsler lives I thought it would be a good idea to give him a ring to see if he'd like to join us for the evening. I gave him the following directions; N.E. Hassel Green, The New Inn A533 and in due course he joined us, somehow he managed to end up sat next to the only famale in the party.

We decided to eat in the beer garden which was across the road from the pub, it was quite a busy road but we were served fantastic food by a fantastic looking waitress - Mandy. Everyone ogled, except Gina and Ian who looked to confirm that he didn't fancy her.

Phil's chat up line was "So Mandy, what amusing jokes have you been told about having to cross the road each time to serve people?", Mandy's reply, "None!". Here's our best effort; "Why did the chicken cross the road - because someone had ordered it on the other side".

Friday 6 July 2001

Wheelock Wharfe - took on water.

I read from the canal guide and said that the next section is known as "Heartbreak Hill". Ian said we did that yesterday!

Just before salt works - Brian's Bump!

Lunch stop at The Kings Lock, Middlewich.

Everyone went to The Jolly Tar for a very good evening meal. Afterwards Ian challenged Adam to slide head first down one of the playground slides. Adam picked the pink elephant, (it was a slide not a drunken illusion). John said that he had assessed the width of the slide and the width of Adam's gut, and they matched! It started to rain shortly after Adam had played on the slide so the party moved indoors.

Phil and towel dispensor.

Saturday 7 July 2001

Another good canal trip even though it turned out that the Cheshire Ring had been open.

JOURNALISTS - have you covered the following highlights???
  • Simon getting out for loo after half a minute in JC and JK's car on way to Bunbury
  • Fact that Cheshire ring WAS doable after all
  • The toilet floods
  • Getting into the nightclub in Nantwich
  • Adders' monopoly Marlborough Street experience
  • Brian and Simon getting minced by a farmer re: FMD
  • Dave getting minced just about everytime he took the steering
  • Glass shortage + meal shenanigans at the Radford(?) Arms
  • Ian getting nearly thrown off aquaduct after sleeping on roof
  • Ian's footballing skills
  • Jokes "Why did chicken cross the road - because someone ordered it on the other side" etc at New Inn pub
  • Ian wins pint off Brian for getting up early to do locks
  • Brian's nosebleed
  • Adders on the slide
Cheers, Ian Crawshaw-

Dave's Photos

On the roof
Photo from Brian Graham


There have been five boat trips prior to the 2001 boat trip chronicled here:

1996 - Stourbridge Ring
1997 - Four Counties Ring
1998 - Warwickshire Ring
1999 - Avon Ring
2000 - Llangollen Canal


British Waterways


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