Canals have always been a doorway to exploring the countryside in Britain. Their uniquely tranquil atmosphere makes them perfect for those who are too busy with their lives.
Built-in the era when horse carriages were the thing, and the pounds, tunnels, locks, and aqueducts were measured for narrow and slow-moving boats.
The canals were used to transport materials and products between the country and town. These days, however, the canals are used for relaxing and are mostly visited by naturalists, out of the way cyclists, hikers, strollers, and boaters.
If you’re looking for a visit to a canal, we’ve put together a list where you can find one near you! Let’s take a look at that right away.
1. Ellesmere Port and The Waterways Museum, Cheshire
The main purpose of canals in earlier times was mainly for uniting the 4 major English estuarine rivers like the Severn, the Humber, Thames, and the Mersey.
Ellesmere Port and The Waterways Museum at Cheshire is one of those canals where narrowboats came to exchange cargoes with ships.
There are exhibits present on what canal culture was like during that period at the Canal and River Trust’s Waterways Museum. Displaying the working of locks, roses and castles’ paint works and to carrying traditional dresses worn by the boat families. The canals were very busy indeed.
If you’re looking to get a true feeling from your visit to this canal, what you can do is cycle the towpath to Chester and pass through its mix of industrial legacy and rural beauty. You’ll find yourself going through a deep canyon that will lead you into the city surrounded by the beautiful Medieval walls.
2. Llangollen Canal
Famed for its towering Pontcysyllte aqueduct, it is literally 125 feet of high water road through the sky. It’s recommended that you either cycle or walk the towpath downhill to Fenn’s. There is a natural reserve right on the Welsh-English border.
You can get to see and explore how canal environments provide shelter for the diverse range of flora and fauna. The raised bog is filled with the buzzing of dragonflies in the summer and this attracts Britain’s rarest falcon, the hobby. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of it soaring in the sky!
Here are some narrow boats for sale you can take a look at if you fancy going on relaxing boat rides along the canals.
3. Bridgewater Canal from Worsley to Manchester
The Bridgewater canal was known to be Britain’s first industrial canal. When it first opened in 1761, the canal ran from the coal mine at Worsley Delph to Manchester. This almost halved the prices of coal overnight!
The channels eventually became 30 miles of waterways, while the overground followed the land’s outline. This crosses the River Irwell on a tall aqueduct that was designed by James Brindley.
Did you know he carved the model of this project in cheese when he was presenting it to the officials? Well, now you do!
Following the towpath, which is roughly a seven-mile walk to Manchester’s centre, will lead you to the aqueduct Brindley made. However, there is now a more ingenious swing aqueduct that was built in 1894 to carry the older canal across the Manchester ship canal.
4. Grand Union Canal, Leicester Line, Northamptonshire
To get to the Grand Union Canal, you have to come to Leicester Line and follow the towpath from Crick to Foxton Locks. This stretches over 18 miles of rural tranquility.
The canal itself follows a twisting outline, which is leveled, to reach the ten locks. This is followed by two staircases of five which goes down to a basin at the bottom.
There is a waterside inn you can check in to, besides there are two nice and cozy cafes that will give you an excellent view of the boats that are either coming up or going downhill!
If you want to know more about the canal and its history, there is also a museum you can visit. You can find all sorts of information that you never knew and it makes for an interesting read indeed.
5. Liverpool Canal and Canoe Trail, Leeds
The Canoe Trail is Britain’s longest single canal. It runs 127 miles from the Mersey to Leeds and has been appointed the Desmond Family Canoe Trail.
The path takes you through some of Britain’s early industrial mill towns. This, of course, includes Balckburn, Wigan, and Burnley but you can also paddle through the relaxing countryside as well.
There are 91 locks in total carrying the boats up over the Pennines. Those who are into kayaking and canoeing can make their way through the mile-long Foulridge Tunnel.
You can also continue on to Calder and Aire Navigation to cross Britain from one coast to another. If you’re not into cycling, kayaking, or walking, then you can hire boats that will take you through them too!
6. Dudley Tunnels, Birmingham
The mines at the Dudley Tunnels are also known for their underground network of canals like the Bridgewater canal. Since then there have been many restorations done to it and now it includes a new tunnel. This new tunnel lets you visit the subterranean chambers, caverns, and channels on electric tour boats.
The early miners came across fossils dating back to the Silurian period. They even found particular trilobites that later became known as Dudley bugs. You can test out your singing in the echo chamber of the Singing Cavern or try your hand at legging.
Legging is basically you walking your legs along the tunnel walls while lying on top of the boat. This was done before engines were made to push the boat along in the tunnels. All in all, you’ll get a great experience out of it thanks to the history and its unique chambers.
In conclusion, we’d like to say that we hope our list of canals help you to find what you’re looking for. These canals have rich history in them and they are very interesting to visit. Not only for learning the history behind it, but also to take a break from your busy lives.
Visiting the countryside can refresh your mind and also help you relax and find new perspectives. So, grab your family or friends or both and head on down to the canal nearest you and make the most out of it!