- 4-day narrowboat adventure through Manchester and the Peak District
- Travel with like-minded adventurous souls and get involved with all the cruising action on board
- Pass through 43 locks in total and help work the locks and navigate the boat
- Explore the canals of Manchester and see the Manchester City Etihad Stadium as well as old industrial sites
- Travel high over the River Goyt on the 200 year-old Marple Aqueduct, and explore Bugsworth Basin on the edge of the Peak District
- Eat on board the boat and enjoy hearty dishes cooked by your hosts
What You Can Expect
The route on your adventure tour takes in 43 locks in total, each of which have three gates that individually weigh up to 4,410 lbs (2 tonnes) and require opening and closing by hand. It’s estimated that between 2 and 5 hours a day are spent working the locks, you can help with as many of the locks as you wish, so roll up your sleeves and get stuck in to the action!
Your 4-day tour takes in vibrant areas of Manchester such as Deansgate Locks and the Gay Village, while cutting under roads and even beneath a hotel; it’s a route that few visitors—and even locals—will not have experienced! Alongside the slicker city sights, the tour also takes in some of the unused industrial sights to remind you why the canals were built in the first place: for industry. See derelict mills and old factories, and experience some of the uglier sides of urban boating, such as fishing the odd shopping trolley out of the canals!
After exploring the city, head out along the Pennine Waterways towards the Peak District National Park, and spend your final two days enjoying some of England’s finest countryside. Your tour then finishes in Whaley Bridge (roughly 40-minutes from Manchester by train).
Head to Castlefield Basin in Manchester to board your narrowboat and meet your hosts and fellow boat mates. After settling in, start cruising through the center of the city, passing the converted canal warehouses and railway arch bars of Deansgate Locks, and seeing Hacienda, Manchester’s famous nightclub. Cruise through the canals that run through the Gay Village and clamber between pontoons and the boat, setting locks as the Canal Street revelers look on from the bridges.
Some two hours and nine locks after setting off, arrive in Piccadilly Basin, near Manchester’s Northern Quarter. Moor up in time for dinner, and then head out for drinks and live jazz in town (own expense).
Overnight: narrowboat moored at Piccadilly Basin, central Manchester
Day 2: Manchester (B, L, D)
After breakfast, cruise east out of the city center and through the 18 locks of Ashton Canal, the first of two canals that connect the city to the Peak District National Park. East Manchester has been an area of regeneration for more than a decade and, while it still has some gritty inner-city suburbs, the area now boasts attractions like Manchester Velodrome, Sport City and Manchester City Football Club’s Etihad Stadium.
Pass through the suburbs of Beswick, Clayton and Droylsden to the outskirts of Manchester, and moor at the start of the Lower Peak Forest Canal. If time permits, head out to Portland Basin Museum while dinner is prepared. Inside, you’ll find an array of artifacts that give insight into Greater Manchester’s history, including a replica of a 1920’s city street. Return to your boat for dinner with your hosts.
Overnight: narrowboat moored near Portland Basin
Day 3: Portland Basin – Marple (B, L, D)
Stretch your legs on a morning walk after breakfast, and amble through the woods to Chadkirk Chapel – a pretty place of worship that dates to the 14th century. Return to your boat and then cruise along the Lower Peak Forest Canal, passing through Hyde Bank Tunnel, the stretch of the waterways where boats were ‘legged through’ (pulled by workers rather than horses) in bygone days.
Pass along the 200-year-old Marple Aqueduct, a stunning bridge that carries you high above the River Goyt. Also known as the Grand Aqueduct in reference to its beauty, the bridge makes a stunning photo spot against the backdrop of the Goyt Valley's leafy green countryside. Immediately after the aqueduct is the Marple lock flight, a tough but picturesque series of 16 locks that elevates the canals some 213 feet (65 meters) and takes roughly 2.5 hours to complete. Moor near the village of Marple and enjoy a farewell dinner in a local pub with your fellow guests (own expense).
Overnight: narrowboat moored near Marple
Day 4: Marple – Whaley Bridge (B, L)
Cruise along the Upper Peak Forest Canal after breakfast, and admire some of the most breathtaking views in the Peak District, enjoying elevated views over the park’s gently rolling green hills. Stop after a few hours on the water to visit Torrs Riverside Park, an impressive, yet little known, natural feature that sits nearly 100 feet (31 meters) below the town of New Mills. Known as the ‘park under the town,’ the park comprises a network of mill ruins, weirs and cobbled footpaths, framed by lovely arched bridges. Explore at leisure, and then return to the boat to cruise to Bugsworth Basin, a place that was once one of the largest cargo ports in the country before cruising the final stretch to the Upper Peak Forest Canal, arriving in Whaley Bridge where you will say your goodbyes as you finish your cruise. The station is roughly a 5-minute walk from the finish point, and trains depart frequently from Whaley Bridge to central Manchester.