Thanks for all your replies. I spent yesterday afternoon with the maps and CanalPlan. I've convinced my husband to forget his Four Counties Ring idea because of the industrialized area around Stoke and the pressure to complete it. I wasn't too keen on the Hurlston tunnel either. We still have lots of time yet to change our mind, but we're going to go north from Norbury Wharf. Go on the Llangollen unless we find it's too crowded, head up to Chester and on to the Waterways Museum, go south again and if we have time keep going south past Norbury Junction as far as time allows. My husband said the Anderton Boat Lift didn't seem that exciting though the reason we went to Scotland was the Falkirk Wheel.
In response to some of your comments, we really are pretty leisurely. There is no chance we'll be traveling into the evening even if it's light. Four, maybe five hours, will be our limit. We like to stop by mid-afternoon and spend the afternoon reading. I like to walk - my husband not so much. So I'll have time for a stroll on the towpath.
We are pretty fit for folks our age, and my husband still works some as a Mr. Fix It person so he's staying fit that way. That said, we know the clock is ticking so that's why we decided to do a boat trip while we still can. We like messing around in boats but aren't keen anymore for the camping out that a long canoe trip would involve. We enjoy driving around in our camper but have done that for the past five or six years, including the year-long trip. I am tired of trying to figure out where we're going to spend each night so that issue will be much less of a problem on a canal. The reason we decided on England was that we've been streaming British TV nearly every night. It started with Downton Abbey on our big camper trip, but we've gone through lots more since then. It seemed fitting then to go to England. We'll spend the first three days in Manchester but we aren't up for traipsing about from castle to castle etc. That's why this trip is perfect for us.
As for island time, ha! It's true there are lots of inefficiencies here but we didn't fall into that trap. We've both lived here for many, many decades and just kept moving along. In fact, I worked until I was 70.
So, if anyone has anymore thoughts, keep them coming. Thanks again.