Tattenhall is an ideal starting point for lots of routes, which include the ancient city of Chester, the Four-Counties Ring, the Cheshire Ring, theLlangollen Canal and the Shropshire Union Canal. Under the shadow of Beeston Castle and only a five hour cruise from historic Chester city centre, the Marina is ideally located to explore a vast selection of the canal network. Continuing on into Chester, with fantastic views of the walled city, Chester Zoo makes a great stopover for children and then on to Ellesmere Port, which joins the Manchester Ship Canal and is the home of the Boat Museum. It’s well worth a visit.
The Shropshire Union Canal runs from the edge of urban Wolverhampton through some of the most underpopulated areas of England to the River Mersey at Ellesmere Port, about sixty miles in all and taking a fairly leisurely four days to cruise.
Along the Shroppie (as it is known by its many admirers) the scenery is often quite dramatic, with sweeping views across to the Welsh Marches and the strangely shaped ridge called “The Wrekin” from the long embankments and with the atmospheric heavily wooded deep cuttings, a number of which were reputed by the old boat people to be haunted. These days this is also UFO territory! Strange visions are also likely if you have had a few pints of “6X” in the Anchor Inn at High Offley, an old boatmans pub that has survived almost unchanged.
Market Drayton and Nantwich are medieval market towns which still have some of the old half-timbered black and white buildings. However the jewel in the Shropshire Union crown must be Chester, a Roman fortress and port which has many Roman ruins, as well as an almost complete set of medieval city walls which tower above the canal and the unique “rows”, shops on two levels overlooking the street which date back to the middle ages. Chester has many visitors year round, with museums, fine cathedral, good hotels, town-crier and street theatre, but it still manages to feel friendly and small scale. The northern end of the canal is at Ellesmere Port which was a transhipment port from canal to sea-going ships. The old docks now house The National Waterways Museum which has a unique collection of ex working boats and waterways exhibitions.