Bridgewater Canal & the River Weaver Narrow Boat Holiday Hire with Chas. Hardern

The Bridgewater Canal and the River Weaver

Bridgewater Canal Routes to Lymm or Manchester

Packet House Worsley  – © Copyright David Dixon and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Packet House Worsley – © Copyright David Dixon and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

(To Lymm 42 miles & 14 locks each way)
From our boatyard your canal hire holiday begins with a cruise on the Shropshire Union main line to Barbridge Junction and turn left onto the Middlewich Branch. At Middlewich turn left again onto the Trent & Mersey canal which you follow to Preston Brook where it joins the Bridgewater Canal.
The countryside to Middlewich is quiet, undulating farm land and the canal follows the River Weaver valley with views of Winsford Flashes (salt mining subsidence lakes).

Middlewich (‘wich’ or ‘wych’ means salt) is a pleasant town with useful shops and boatyards. Middlewich Boat and Folk festival is usually held in June Once out of the town, the canal follows a tortuous course along the beautiful wooded valleys of the Rivers Dane and Weaver, skirting around Northwich (Lion Salt Works Marston Northwich) to arrive at Preston Brook and the Bridgewater Canal. On the way it passes the magnificent Anderton Boat Lift (now fully operational) and travels through 3 rather crooked tunnels.

The Duke of Bridgewater’s Canal was the first canal of ‘The Canal Age’. It is broad and deep and carries you to the charming town of Lymm with excellent shops and pubs.

Dunham Massey Hall is worth a visit during your holiday

  • Middlewich useful town (7hrs)
  • Anderton Lift (11 hrs)
  • Preston Brook Bridgewater Ca. (13 hrs)
  • Lymm pretty town (16 hrs)
  • Dunham Massey Hall (N.Trust) (17½hrs)


River Weaver via Anderton Boat Lift

Anderton Boat Lift  – © Copyright David Dixon and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Anderton Boat Lift – © Copyright David Dixon and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

From the Trent and Mersey Canal the Anderton Boat Lift gives access to the River Weaver. This marvel of Victorian engineering consists of 2 tanks, each capable of raising/lowering 2 x 70ft narrow boats or 1 x 14ft wide barge, through a height change of 50 ft between the two navigations. Having been un-usable for nearly 20 years, a major reconstruction has been carried out on the structure. Restoration is now completed and the lift was reopened for public use at Easter 2002.
The Weaver is a river of great contrasts. Originally only a very minor river, it has been enlarged several times over the last 300 years.

The salt and chemical industries that were once the lifeblood of the river are now only evident on 2 miles of the 20 miles Navigation. The remainder wanders through a tranquil and often beautiful vista of woods and fields. Banks are generally low, as on a narrow canal, giving good views of the surrounding countryside.


The 4 locks are only operated by resident keepers during normal working hours. Take note of the particularly impressive masonry on locks, navigation structures and high level railway bridges. All the swing bridges (for ships) have plenty of clearance for narrowboats.
Excellent shopping is available in Northwich, with good moorings, where the navigation passes right through the town centre. Winsford’s salt industry has mostly been landscaped into the Weaver Valley Park, but the only rock salt mine in the country may still be seen alongside the river. The main shopping centre is less than ½ mile from Winsford Bridge. The official Navigation ends at this bridge. The large Winsford Flash (lake caused by subsided ground) looks inviting, but is extremely shallow in parts. Boats should not attempt to cruise this water.

Please note that The Weaver is a river navigation, with much deeper water than narrow canals, and stronger water currents at times of heavy rain.
Advice on moorings downstream of Anderton should be sought from the Lock Keepers, who will know if any shipping is due.

Cruising times from Beeston:

  • Middlewich (7 hrs)
  • Anderton Lift (11 hrs)
  • Upstream to Winsford (+3 hrs)
  • OR downstream to Runcorn (+4 hrs)



Affordable Canal Boat Holiday Hire on the Shropshire Union Canal