Canal Boating Holidays - The Four Counties Ring
A brief description of the Four Counties Ring - The 4 Counties Holiday Cruising Ring
The Four Counties Ring is one of the most popular holiday cruising circular routes in the UK. The 4 Counties included are Cheshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire and West Midlands.
The Four Counties Cruising Ring is almost exactly 110 miles long with 94 locks. This equates to around 60 hours cruising, allowing 15 minutes per lock and an average speed of 3mph. Bearing in mind you won't be able to travel at the maximum 4mph when passing the many linear moorings around the ring and lock times will be greatly increased during peak cruising months, particularly over the school holidays and Bank Holiday weekends where waiting time to get into a lock may be up to half an hour or more!
Many if not all of the holiday boat hire companies that have the Four Counties Ring on their cruise list say that it can "usually be covered in a week" - this would mean your cruising day will be around 10 hours - every day! We would recommend that you allow two weeks to really enjoy this fantastic canal cruise.
If you do decide to do it in a week, start cruising early in the day, say 08.00, to avoid the bottlenecks.
The Four Counties Ring includes some quite energetic sections, including the Audlem Lock Flight of 15 Locks - 9 of which have no mooring between and must be completed in one fell swoop!
If you take the two week option you will be able to take time out to visit some of the visitor attractions, restaurants and public houses, plus actually rest and recuperate.
The canals incorporated into the Four Counties Holiday Cruising Ring are:
The Shropshire Union Canal Main Line in part between Autherley Junction near Wolverhampton in the West Midlands and Barbridge Junction in Cheshire - The Shropshire Union Canal was one of the last canals to be built, resulting from better engineering techniques creating deep cuttings and dramatically high embankments, with few locks and splendid architecture. The 'Shroppie' crosses rolling countryside, passing through delightful towns such as Market Drayton, Audlem and Nantwich, before you turn eastwards on the Middlewich Branch towards Middlewich, once famous for its salt workings.
The Shropshire Union Canal Middlewich Branch in total between Barbridge Junction and Middlewich, Cheshire at Wardle Junction with the T&M
The Trent and Mersey Canal (T&M) in part between Middlewich and Great Haywood Junction, at Great Haywood, Staffordshire
The Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal (Staffs & Worcs.) in part between Great Haywood Junction with the T&M and Autherley Junction and the Shropshire Union Canal Main Line
Canal & Rivers Boating UK
Canal & Rivers Boating