ALTON TOWERS FROM ANDERTON MARINA
You can do this route from :
The Caldon Canal is widely seen as one of them most interesting waterways in the country.
The canal was built to carry limestone for the iron industry and flints for the pottery industry. It is still steeped in history, with fascinating industrial buildings visible along the Stoke section. Further along, you may see a steam train chugging along where the Churnet Valley Railway passes close to the canal.
The outstanding scenery along the route means there is lots to see for boaters, walkers and cyclists. The unusually low Froghall Tunnel may be a challenge for boaters, but beyond it, you will be rewarded by arriving at the tranquil and secluded Froghall Wharf.
It is very much a canal of contrasts, beginning in the centre of the Potteries but also passing through remote countryside on the summit level and the Churnet Valley, often called 'Little Switzerland' because of the lovely unspoilt landscape.
Take a Steam train ride through the beautiful countryside on the Churnet Valley Railway.
Alton Towers is only 6 miles from Froghall Wharf at the end of the Caldon Canal.
Read our cruising notes to help you plan your canal boat holidayRead our cruising notes.
From Anderton marina you head south along the Trent & Mersey canal.
Away on your left you will see Marbury Country park which has woodlands carpeted with bluebells in the springtime, or relax under the shade of the lime avenues. Wander along the mere with splendid views over the water to the church at Great Budworth, or explore the arboretum and community orchard. Children will enjoy the play area, close to the picnic area.
There are attractive short stay moorings here if you have had a long trip and want to moor up somewhere local for the night.
Or head for Marston Bridge 193 which is 45 minutes from Anderton where there is a pub and late opening stores.
Alternatively cruise for a couple of hours to Northwich, the Old Broken Cross Pub is by Bridge 184 canalside and has moorings. There is a chemist, grocer & other shops ½ mile past the pub towards Northwich.
Cruising time to here just under 2 hours
As the canal heads towards Middlewich you move out into fine open country on a beautiful stretch of canal, often overhung by trees following the delightful valley of the River Dane.
There are pleasant moorings with picnic tables & BBQ just before Bridge 176. (just over 3 hours to here from Anderton marina)
The canalside area of Middlewich is a haven of peace below the busy streets. The town has been extracting salt since Roman times, and there is an interesting town trail north of Bridge 172. There are various pubs canalside along this stretch.
As you descend into Middlewich there are 3 locks to be negotiated before you reach a canal junction, and Kings Lock just after the junction.
Ignore the Middlewich branch canal to your right, and continue south down the Trent & Mersey Canal past several salt works, which shows this areas industrial heritage. The Rock salt mining that has gone on since Roman times has resulted in severe local subsidence, and the canal has had to be banked up in some stretches, which makes it much deeper than normal. There is a chinese takeaway west of bridge 166.
Occasional locks mark a quiet and unspoilt area, the town of Sandback is away to the left, as the canal reaches the village of Wheelock. This busy little village has a stores and fish & chip shop., and 3 pubs, 2 near bridge 154, and one Canalside- the Cheshire Cheese- with moorings outside.
Sandbach is 1 ½ miles north of Wheelock, and is an old market town that has retained its charm. In its old cobbled market place stand 2 superb Saxon crosses, there are 7 pubs to choose from around here.
After Wheelock the first of 26 locks called Heartbreak Hill will have to be negotiated before you get to Kidsgrove and the junction with the Macclesfield Canal,. First pass the village of Hassall Green, the village has a stores and a canal shop within the canal Centre, which also houses a cafe beside the canal, there is lockside seating.
Moor up here for the night is is 8.5 hours to here.
You then negotiate 5 locks and pass the village of Rode Heath to your left, there is a canalside pub here and it has a useful shopping area.
There are another 10 locks before you get to the junction with the Macclesfield canal, cruise straight on and then to the start of the 1.75 mile long Harecastle tunnel.
The Harecastle tunnel is only one boat wide, so you need to consult the friendly lock-keeper before you join the convoy of boats through the tunnel.
Once you reach daylight again you soon pass the Middleport Pottery on your left, with its attractive red brick & slate buildings. There are a few pubs just before at Bridge 126.
Signs of the pottery industry still survive as you pass the heart of Stoke on Trent, which was the centre of the potteries, the 30 foot high brick furnaces still stand, and although they are no longer used, they are being preserved.
At Etruria near the marina there is a useful Toby Inn with its lovely carvery on offer, and within a short walk is a retail shopping park, including Waterworld an indoor tropical aqua park, a cinema, & Ten pin bowling & many high street stores. Also Pizza Hut & other eateries.
Just past the British waterways Yard you turn left up the Caldon Canal.
At the Junction is Jesse Shirley's Etruscan Bone & Flint mill
It is open 11-4.30pm every day, and the beam engine and mill are in steam at various times during the day.
This is a Victorian steam powered millers works built in 1857 and which ground bone, flint and stone for the pottery industry, and there are plenty of moorings here.
Soon you cruise past a statue of James Brindley, the builder of the Trent & mersey canal. The first 2 locks you reach are combined to form a staircase. There are shops & pubs close to Planet Lock, and at Hanley park are good moorings.
Moor here it is 9 hours cruising to here.
There are a few lift bridges along this stretch so you will need your BW key., also be aware that some of the other bridges are very low, so if you have bikes on the top of your boat you may have to take them off.
Walk north from Bridge 8 along Lichfield street and you will find the Potteries Shopping Centre, with over 80 shops it is the premier shopping destination in the heart of Staffordshire.
To the left off Potteries Way you will find The Potteries Museum & Art gallery where the history of the area is brought to life. Just north of Bridge 8 is the Bridegwater factory shop.
Further on the village of Milton is on the side of a hill to your left, there are a couple of pubs here, & stores & take-aways.
The Fine Feathers farm shop near bridge 28 offers tea & coffee & some supplies, and the Spar mini supermarket here sells BW swipe cards which are needed for the Park lane bridge showers, pump out and laundrette.
5 locks at Stockton raise the level 484 ft above the sea.
The Five locks here have a charming position with views back down the headwaters of the River Trent. There is a splendid Victorian waterworks at the bottom of the flight, and pubs and shops near the middle.
The canal divides at Hazelhurst and the Leek branch goes first of all off to the right then crosses the Caldon canal on an aqueduct a bit further on. The Caldon canal falls through 3 locks just before the aqueduct.
Deep Hayes Country Park is off to your right, access from Bridge 39. It is a delightful mixture of woods and meadows, and was orignially an industrial area where coal and clay were extracted.
Another 2 locks bring you down to the village of Cheddleton and you can moor here for the night
To Cheddleton Flint Mill 6.5 hours cruising from Planet Lock
There is a charming flint mill by the canal, and you can watch 2 water wheels driving the flint grinding pans in a picturesque setting.
Ring 0161 408 5083 for a recorded message giving opening times.
The Red Lion pub is back at the locks by Bridge 43, The Boat Inn is canalside at bridge 44.
Churnet Valley railway is by bridge 44- a preserved standard guage railway running steam trains along the 10.5 mile of track .The Churnet Valley Railway takes you on a journey back to the classic days of railway travel on a rural line that passes through beautiful countryside known as Staffordshire's "Little Switzerland". It runs weekends and bank holidays, but look on their website for full details.
The canal continues its pretty journey and the canal shares the same course as the River Churnet for some distance.
At Consoll Forge by bridge 49 is a hand thrown pottery & craft centre & ceramics, especially tea pots.
The Black lion pub here is in a splendid setting with a fine garden.
Beyond Consall Forge the canal gets very narrow , so make sure nothing is coming from the other direction as you may have to reverse. The Canal is enclosed by steep and thickly wooded hills, almost untouched by mankind. You pass old limekilns on the way to Flint Lock, the last lock before the end of the canal. As you exit the tunnel there are plastic strips which mark as a gauge to let you know whether your boat will fit through Froghall tunnel or not.
The dimensions of the tunnel are only 4ft 4in high and 5ft 6 inches wide and the water levels can fluctuate so all of our boats should turn just before the tunnel and moor up and walk to the very pretty village of Froghall.
Froghall these days comprises almost entirely of factories and dwellings associated with Thomas Bolton's copper works.
The tea rooms at Kingsley & Froghall station are worth a visit.
Froghall basin just beyond the tunnel has a picnic area and shop and limekilns.
Once a hive of industrial activity, this old canal-side wharf is a lovely tranquil picnic spot alongside the terminus of the Caldon Canal and Uttoxeter Canal Basin. There are way-marked walks that lead from the site onto the rights of way network and canal towpath. This is a popular spot for walkers to begin exploring the Churnet Valley and there are grade 2 listed Lime Kilns on the site and other remnants of the industrial past can be found in the wooded valley beyond.
It is 6 miles from here to Alton Towers, see here for local taxis companies http://www.thomsonlocal.com/Taxis/in/Froghall-Staffordshire/
It is 3 hours from Cheddleton Flint Mill to here, and 28.5 hours back to Anderton marina so 5-6 hours cruising a day should give you a nice leisurely cruise back.
NB: This route has been provided as a guide only. Information may become inaccurate or out of date. You should always check with the marina that the route is possible within your time frame, current weather conditions and canal stoppages etc.
Maps and Guides
Sorry, we have no pub guide for this route currently.