Canals around Greater Manchester: the Cheshire Ring Canal System

This circular route along 5 navigable canals owned by British Waterways, (and 1 other, the Bridgewater Canal, which is not a BW canal although it does allow free access to BW registered boats).

The Ring is 97 miles long, has 92 locks and takes about 50 hours cruising time. As a circular route, it is a favourite with hire boaters, as it brings them back to the base starting point, easily within a week.

It covers the Macclesfield Canal, the Upper & Lower Peak Forest Canals, the Rochdale Canal, the Ashton Canal, the Bridgewater Canal, and a part of the Trent & Mersey Canal. From Worsley, it also offers access to Leigh and Wigan via the Leeds & Liverpool Canal.

The cruise takes in most of the county of Cheshire, (hence the name) as well as driving directly through Manchester city centre, and entering the Peak District National Park towards Whaley Bridge. These stark contrasts, no doubt, are essential factors in its popularity.

Cheshire Ring Canal System

Map by John
Moss for Papillon Graphics © Copyright 2010AD


Waterways Offices

Head Office
& Customer Service Centre

64 Clarendon Road, Watford, Herts WD17 1DA.
Telephone: 01923 201120. Fax (customer services): 01923 201304


Craft Licensing
Licensing Team
PO Box 162, Leeds LS9 1AX. Telephone: 01923 201120. Fax: 0113
200 5756.


Customer Services team are available 8am-6pm Monday to Friday
and 9am-1pm Saturday.


Waterside House, Waterside Drive, Wigan WN3 5AZ. Tel: 01942 405700.
BW moorings: Rob Taylor 07789 278956
Licence enforcement: Keith Richards 07876 035146
Waterways: Lancaster Canal (including Glasson branch), St Helen’s
Canal, Ribble Link, Leeds & Liverpool Canal (including Leigh
and Rufford branches), Liverpool Canal Link and Liverpool Docks.

& Pennine Waterways

Red Bull Wharf, Congleton Road South, Church Lawton, Stoke-on-Trent
ST7 3AP.
Tel: 01782 785703. Email:
Waterways include: Trent & Mersey Canal (from south portal
of Harecastle Tunnel), Macclesfield Canal, Peak Forest Canal,
Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal, Rochdale Canal, Huddersfield
Narrow Canal, Ashton Canal,

Tunnel & Visitor Centre

Deatils of opening and passage by telephone: Mar – Oct 01484 844298;
Nov – Mar 01782 785 703
Email: Website: