Canals Shropshire Union Canal, Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal,
Trent & Mersey Canal
Length 110 miles
Time to cruise about 50 to 55 hours
Junctions Shropshire Union/Trent & Mersey at Middlewich, Staffs & Worcs at Great Haywood, Shropshire Union at Autherley, Middlewich Arm at Barbridge.
The Four Counties Ring makes a great canal boat holiday hire route for more experienced or energetic boaters. You don't need to retrace your steps, you see somewhere new each day, but you do have to be able to plan your time and keep to that deadline of getting the boat back on time! Some people prefer out and back routes because all you have to do is turn around when you are half way through the holiday! The Four Counties Ring, so called because it passes through Cheshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire and West Midlands, is one of the most popular canal boat holiday hire routes.
The Four Counties Ring can be cruised from our Swanley base in a fairly busy week cruising for about eight hours each day, or in two weeks if you prefer to take your time and explore. Two weeks is also required if you are starting from from our Kings Bromley Marina base. You can travel in either direction around the ring, we describe the clockwise journey.
From our Swanley base you travel off the Llangollen Canal down Hurleston Locks and then up the Shropshire Union Canal for a short distance to Barbridge, where you turn right to Middlewich. On the Trent and Mersey Canal you have plenty of locks to climb from the Cheshire plain to reach the summit level and the iron red waters of Harecastle Tunnel. The canal falls southwards past the Pottery works and Wedgewood factory with its visitor centre down through the pretty canal town of Stone to the junction at Great Heywood where you meet the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal.
The Staffs and Worcester Canal meanders across picturesque and peaceful countryside over Cannock Chase and climbs 12 locks to the junction with the Shropshire Union at Autherley on the outskirts of Wolverhampton.
The “Shroppie “ with it’s impressive architecture, banks and cuttings, and very pretty flights of locks carries you northwards through villages and open country, to Hurleston Junction where you rejoin the Llangollen Canal.