No boating experience is necessary, but you’re welcome to help out as much or as little as you like. Have a go at steering, help out with the locks, or simply relax and enjoy the scenery.
- 2-night private canal boat tour of Peak District National Park from Manchester
- Glide along the Peak Forrest and Macclesfield canals, with elevated vistas of Peak District National Park, Derbyshire villages, and beautiful Cheshire countryside.
- Glide along the Peak Forrest and Macclesfield canals, with elevated vistas of the Peak District National Park, Derbyshire villages, and the beautiful Cheshire countryside.
- Visit Lyme Park if you wish, and see where scenes from the TV production of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice were filmed
- Enjoy home-cooked meals on board your boat throughout the tour
What You Can Expect
A network of little-known canals run alongside the Peak District valleys, forming part of the Pennine Waterways; while they were once important trade routes, today they’re a hidden gem for visitors and locals alike, allowing you to see the Peak District from a totally different angle on your 2-night tour.
Leave Manchester and travel southeast by minibus to Bugsworth Basin on the edge of the Peak District. Board your narrowboat and cruise north back toward the pretty towns of New Mills or Disley, along a 15-mile (24-km) waterway called the Peak Forest Canal. Switch to the Macclesfield Canal, cutting along the foothills of the Pennines, and work your way southwest to the picturesque town of Congleton – roughly half an hour by train from central Manchester – where your tour ends.
Your narrowboat is driven by your hosts Mark and Ruth – a friendly couple who own the boat and have years of experience travelling the world and managing hostels. Throughout your tour an emphasis is put on ‘pitching in’– helping with anything from lifting moveable bridges to steering your boat through the locks. Meals consist of hearty ‘boat-cooked’ fare and are eaten on board. Evenings are spent socializing around the onboard ale pump or visiting local pubs close to where you dock. Nights are spent in the comfortable bunk beds back on the boat. Back to basics this may be, but as a fun and unique way to see the North West of England, it's sure not to disappoint!
Please note: If traveling on Friday October 18th 2013, the tour operates the schedule in reverse. On Day 1 the tour departs from Congleton train station, and finishes at Bugsworth Basin on Day 3. You will be required to make your own way to the start point of the tour, and at the end your hosts can direct you back to Congleton train station or help you to arrange a taxi (own expense).
Start your tour with a pickup from your centrally located Manchester hotel, and then travel southeast by comfortable minibus. Your destination – Bugsworth Basin – is just less than an hour away.
On arrival at the canalside, hop aboard your narrowboat and cruise for roughly two hours along an elevated section of the Upper Peak Forest Canal – perched halfway up the valley of the Pennines. After roughly two hours, you’ll stop at 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,’ it’s a network of mill ruins, weirs and cobbled footpaths, framed by lovely arched bridges. Explore at leisure, and then return to the dock for dinner with your hosts.
Overnight: Narrowboat moored near Disley or New Mills
Day 2: New Mills or Disley – Macclesfield or Sutton (B, L, D)
Enjoy breakfast, and then cruise north for roughly an hour, toward the village of Marple, passing three moveable bridges. From here turn on to Macclesfield Canal – a lovely long stretch of open countryside – perfect for relaxing with drinks, some music or simply a good book.
Cruise through to Poynton, and stop for lunch. After lunch get out and take a walk to Lyme Park – a glorious stately home and gardens on the edge of Peak District National Park. Entrance is at your own expense, but once inside you’ll be walking in the footsteps of Jane Austen’s Miss Bennett and Mr Darcy; this is one of the settings for the UK TV drama Pride and Prejudice.
Continue cruising through the so-called ‘Happy Valley’ of Bollington, and, if time permits, moor up for a walk to the top of White Nancy – a monument that commemorates the Battle of Waterloo in the Napoleonic Wars. From Bollington, cruise north to either Sutton or Macclesfield (the choice is yours) to dock for the night. Enjoy your evening meal with your hosts and then spend your evening at leisure in the town’s pubs, if you wish.
Overnight: Narrowboat moored in Macclesfield or Sutton
Day 3: Macclesfield or Sutton – Bosley Lock Flight – Congleton (B, L)
After breakfast, continue south towards Congleton, passing through the Bosley Lock Flight – a series of 12 canal locks and your help will be needed as you work your way along the canal!
Stop for a leisurely lunch in the Dane Valley – a lovely rural area that’s part of the Cheshire Peak District – and then enjoy a further two hours of cruising to Congleton. Your tour finishes in Congleton – next to the train station. Trains from Congleton to central Manchester depart regularly and the journey takes roughly 30 minutes (own expense).