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4 Counties ring Plus


pomkitanner

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Our intended trip next year ( hopefully ) has been extended to a 2 week hire . As yet we don't have a date but will choose a hire company on the 4 counties ring . Our options, additional to the ring are to also do a side trip on the Caldon canal / a cruise up the Macclesfield, to the Peak Forest / or a visit to Chester city. Undecided which,  has anyone any thoughts ? I believe the Macclesfield option may be ambitious, but the other 2 choices easily achieved ?  Thanks

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The Caldon is a favourite of mine, so I'd tend to gravitate towards that.  Chester is also a good place to visit (in fact you can go right along to the Museum at Ellesmere Port if you have time).

 

A lot depends on where you're starting.  I'd prefer to do the extra bit towards the end of the trip, so you know you've definitely got enough time.  Having said that, some hirers manage to get round the four counties in a week...

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Depending where you start from and the time of year you could get the trip up to Chester and the Caldon in. If I was choosing one over the other I would do the Caldon. With long days the four counties is easily achieved in a week's hire especially if you start from a location on the ring.

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I would do either the Caldon or Chester (or even both if you want to put in some long days boating), and leave the Macclesfield to include in the Cheshire Ring on a future trip. Another option is to combine both rings for a very active and interesting fortnight. There's no bad option, it just depends how much boating you want to do whilst avoiding any stoppages.

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Nearly 40 years ago me and my wife did the four counties ring in a week at Easter. We went clockwise from Stone and were able to enter the Harecastle tunnel immediatey on arrival with no time lost waiting. There wasn't time to explore any of the branches, and on one heaviy-locked section we were extremely fortunate to meet a group of boats coming the other way, so were able to go straight into prepared locks. 

Edited by Ronaldo47
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4 counties plus the caldon would be a lovely countryside route. 

 

Macclesfield Canal is gorgeous but plagued with stoppages due to water shortages because of reservoir issues. 

 

If of interest we are based at Middlewich, feel free to ask us any questions www.floating-holidays.co.uk 

 

Whoever you go with you'll have a great time I'm sure! 

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3 hours ago, pomkitanner said:

Thanks . If I choose the Caldon, is it best to head to Froghall or Leek . which is the more scenic ?

Alternatively , if I decide on Chester, where is best to moor up that is central to the old town ?

Thanks for your responses .

The trip to Froghall is much longer, and the moorings before the Black Lion really feel remote.  The narrow bit past the railway station is well worth doing.  You are unlikely to get through the tunnel, so don't miss the winding hole before it.  The moorings there are nothing special at all.  If the steam train is running, it's a nice trip.

 

The Leek Arm is from memory only an hour or so each way, so while you're there you might as well go and have a look down there too.  There's a nice mooring in the pool before the tunnel.  The tunnel is also worth a trip through, and you can moor at the end and walk into Leek.

 

In Chester, there are moorings close to the city above the staircase locks, or you can go down and there are moorings below which are less built up.

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If you find that your running behind your planned timetable and still wish to visit Chester (Wellworth a visit). A must do is walk round the City walls and the Rows.

 

You can get a (84) bus to Chester from either Nantwiich embankment, the stop is by the boatyard gate. Or from Barbridge Junction, stop by the Jolly Tar pub.

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5 hours ago, nbfiresprite said:

If you find that your running behind your planned timetable and still wish to visit Chester (Wellworth a visit). A must do is walk round the City walls and the Rows.

 

You can get a (84) bus to Chester from either Nantwiich embankment, the stop is by the boatyard gate. Or from Barbridge Junction, stop by the Jolly Tar pub.

Thanks,  that's a great option that I have not considered and will cut 2 days cruising from my itinerary . Have never been to Chester and really want to spend at least a day exploring. Is it safe to moor up, and lock the boat for the day ?

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2 hours ago, pomkitanner said:

Thanks,  that's a great option that I have not considered and will cut 2 days cruising from my itinerary . Have never been to Chester and really want to spend at least a day exploring. Is it safe to moor up, and lock the boat for the day ?

There are plenty of mooring rings at Nantwich and Barbridge although the Nantwich moorings tend to get busy.

 

Both areas should be safe.

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Both the Caldon and Chester are great diversions and there are some beautiful stretches of canal.

On a two week hire doing both should be possible, depending on how many hours a day you wish to cruise.

You can (if needed) moor short of Chester in Christleton and walk or bus in, but the canal through Chester and the Northgate Locks is a real highlight of the network (in my opinion) and it would be shame to miss it.

The Chester - Ellesmere Port stretch is surprisingly rural for most of its length - heavily weeded this summer though. 

 

Moorings in Chester east of Cow Lane Bridge, or west of it right under the City Wall - or in Tower Basin below the Northgate Locks (the latter would be my pick, although finding a spot might be tricky in season).  All are very central.  There is a Tesco by Cow Lane Bridge.

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We (my much better half and I) are planning on doing the Four Counties ring out of Chirk in June 2021. It was supposed to have been this June 2020, but....

 

We're planning on doing it over three weeks, so we can take our time...

(Incidently, we spent a couple weeks on the North Island in March 2019. Loved every minute of it)

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I'd do Chester, go on a bit to the zoo and, if you've time, up to Ellesmere Port - for the museum, not for the town!  In Chester you can moor right by the walls and have a short walk along the top of it to the centre. Don't moor there on a weekend though, or you'll discover why they've had to paint those historic wall with a coating which splashes back! In fact, I'd give weekend Chester a miss, because drunken scousers certainly don't! ;)

 

We did the Caldon this summer and I'm sad to say it's very neglected.  The vegetation is seriously overgrown making vision very difficult at the many tight turns and spotting the hard parts in narrows is very difficult. Someone ought to be ashamed.

 

There are some lovely bits, but convenient useable moorings were quite hard to come by even when it was pretty quiet. I still  enjoyed it, and I can see why folk (used to?) love it, but the long-haired Admiral doesn't want to go again. :(

 

 

 

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Chester it will be then . Vaccinations permitting ! Its been a long winter , I need a fix ! Thanks  

22 hours ago, cp140405 said:

We (my much better half and I) are planning on doing the Four Counties ring out of Chirk in June 2021. It was supposed to have been this June 2020, but....

 

We're planning on doing it over three weeks, so we can take our time...

(Incidently, we spent a couple weeks on the North Island in March 2019. Loved every minute of it)

I shall only manage 2 weeks on the 4 counties, but I am told it should still be a leisurely time.  Clockwise or not ? which has advantages ?

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Chester is a great place to stop and a lovely city. We usually have a night up near the Steam mill, and then run out to the zoo the next day. After the zoo visit we then come back to the moorings at the bottom of the staircase and have another night out in Chester, it is only about an hour and a half from the zoo back to Chester.

 

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3 hours ago, pomkitanner said:

Chester it will be then . Vaccinations permitting ! Its been a long winter , I need a fix ! Thanks  

I shall only manage 2 weeks on the 4 counties, but I am told it should still be a leisurely time.  Clockwise or not ? which has advantages ?

Clockwise to get Harecastle tunnel out of the way.

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if going anti clockwise you can stop at either Etrutia or Westport, so long as you have booked in for the 11:00 tunnel in advance you can be out and down at Wheelock for tea time. Going clockwise book the 10:00 and you can stop the night before at Red Bull get going in the morning and up the three locks in plenty of time. It is one of the advantages of having to book the tunnel that you can work out your timings without having to allow up to 2 hours waiting time at the tunnel

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Going clockwise means you go up Cheshire locks which can be a bit vicious so people tend to be a bit cautious opening the paddles, and has you going down Audlem which can be easier if the by washes are running fast.

 

Personally I'd rather go down Cheshire locks which are easy to work and therefore a fast flight.

 

The Middlewich branch can take a while with long queues at the locks so its not the one to be doing at the end of a holiday if you need to get back to Middlewich to hand the boat back.

 

If you need to you can get from Barbridge to Chester in a day but it's far better to take two and stop off at the Shady Oak and have a walk up to Beeston Castle

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We looked at both CW and CCW options...based on our anticipated start date we would collide with a festival near Middlewich if we went round CCW.

Based on that, we want to get through MIddlewich and onto another section... so that means CW for us.

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On 04/12/2020 at 08:40, cuthound said:

Chester is a lovely compact town and the approach by canal is the nearest you are likely to get to boating in the moat of a castle as you pass by the city walls. ?

 

Springs Branch at Skipton.  You are directly below the castle walls, so it's a shame they've closed it to navigation since the cliff fell in nearly 5 years ago!!

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8 hours ago, TheBiscuits said:

 

Springs Branch at Skipton.  You are directly below the castle walls, so it's a shame they've closed it to navigation since the cliff fell in nearly 5 years ago!!

 

Yes, I was lucky enough  to visit it in the 1990's before the landslip.

 

Mind you on the castle tour they show you the original castle toilets which jut out from the castle wall and empty directly below... 

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