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Chester Canal: A Journey Through Time and Beauty

Chester Canal

Chester Canal

Sailing through the serene waters of the Chester Canal is an experience that leaves one with a sense of tranquillity and fascination.

All a little bit confusing if you are not a local which canal is which? 


The Shropshire Union network of canals largely ceased operations in 1944. Despite this, the sections that were initially part of the Chester Canal, the Ellesmere Canal's northern portion, the Birmingham and Liverpool Junction Canal, and the Middlewich Branch remained operational, maintaining their profitability. 


This article aims to provide you with an explorative guide to the Chester Canal's offerings in 2024, highlighting its unique features, memorable attractions, and available services like boat hire and canal-side dining.

by Nigel Clarkson 16th Jan 2024

Setting the Scene: Chester Canal


The Chester Canal, a tranquil waterway flowing through the heart of the historic city of Chester, has much to offer its visitors.


With a rich history dating back to the Roman and Medieval times, it serves as a testament to Chester's thriving port activity on the River Dee.

Location and Accessibility


Nestled within the Chester city centre, the canal is easily accessible for locals and tourists alike. The city itself offers ample parking, and the Chester Train Station is conveniently located within a short walking distance to the canal's nearest towpath.


From there, a leisurely 10-minute stroll along the towpath leads you to the canal basin, where the Shropshire Union Canal and the River Dee meet.

Setting the scene

Chester Canal Boat Hire


For those looking to fully immerse themselves in the canal's charm, Chester Canal boat hire services provide an ideal solution. Whether you're seeking a peaceful day trip or a longer excursion, a variety of boat hire options cater to different needs and preferences.

Andersen Boats


Offering a unique and restful cruise experience, Andersen Boats allows you to navigate the quiet waters of the Chester Canal at your leisure. These trips provide a fantastic opportunity to explore the city's beautiful surroundings, with the option of mooring within earshot of the cathedral, free from the hustle and bustle of the city traffic.

Chester Canal Boat Hire

Exploring the Canal: Key Attractions


As you journey along the Chester Canal (Shropshire Union), you'll encounter a variety of sights that stir a sense of awe and curiosity.

Beeston Castle


One of the first landmarks you'll spot is the majestic Beeston Castle. Perched atop a high sandstone crag, the castle offers panoramic views of the Cheshire Plain. Considered a treasure trove of history, it's certainly worth a visit.



Further down the canal, you'll reach Christleton, a village boasting a Grade II listed mill building. Once steam-powered, this structure has a unique architectural design, with bays in the right gable from which boats were loaded.

Key Attractions
Quarry Bridge Christleton

The Canal Route: Chester to Nantwich


The Chester Canal (Shropshire Union Canal) route, stretching approximately 20 miles from Chester to Nantwich, is a sight to behold. As you traverse the canal, you'll pass through picturesque villages, encounter historic mills, and enjoy views of the Cheshire countryside.

Bunbury Staircase Locks


A notable highlight along the route is the Bunbury Staircase Locks, an impressive feat of engineering. Here, you'll also find Hurleston Reservoir, a serene body of water that adds to the area's natural beauty. This reservoir tops up the Shropshire Union Canal. It's a favourite with fishermen as the fish are plenty!

Canal Route

Chester Canal Restaurants


When it comes to canal-side dining, Chester Canal offers an array of options.

The Cheshire Cat

Restaurants - Chester Canal
the cheshire cat

Located in Christleton, The Cheshire Cat bar is a dog-friendly inn that dates back to 1801. Offering high-quality food in a cosy, canal-side setting, it's an ideal place to unwind after a day of exploration. If you intend to take an overnight stay, pets are not allowed in the accommodation.

The Waterside Cafe


Situated at the Nantwich Canal Center, The Waterside Cafe offers a splendid view of the canal. Enjoy a leisurely lunch while watching the boats glide by, or browse through the centre's facilities, which include a lovely canal basin, wooden sculptures, a cafe, toilets, and a shop.

Dog Friendly pubs in Chester

Dog Walking Along the Canal


For dog owners, the Chester Canal towpath provides an excellent walking route. With the Waterside Cafe welcoming four-legged patrons, it's a perfect day out for you and your furry friend.

Dog Walking

The Canal's Surrounding Countryside


The Chester Canal is not only about the waterway itself but also the stunning countryside that surrounds it.

Sandstone Trail


For those seeking a change of pace, a short detour from the canal leads to the Sandstone Trail. Here, you can explore Beeston Castle's 13th-century ruins and enjoy breathtaking views over the Cheshire Plain.

The Chester Canal Walk


For those who prefer to explore on foot, the Chester Canal Walk offers a memorable experience. This route guides you along the canal's path, allowing you to fully appreciate its beauty and tranquillity.

Ordinance Map and Open Street Map


To aid your journey, both the Ordinance Survey Map and the Open Street Map provide detailed visuals of the canal walk, available for viewing and printing. Mobile GPS maps with location tracking are also available for easy navigation.

Sandstone Trail
Chester Canal Walk

The Canal's Terminus: Ellesmere Port


The Chester Canal extends beyond Chester, leading to Ellesmere Port on the banks of the mighty Mersey. Home to The National Waterways Museum, this is an ideal destination for those interested in preserved canal craft.

Nantwich: The Final Stop


The canal route concludes at the market town of Nantwich. Here, you'll find the Nantwich Aqueduct, a pretty marina, and Dorfold Hall—a Grade I-listed mansion built in 1616.


In conclusion, the Chester Canal offers a rich tapestry of experiences, from leisurely boat rides to historical landmarks, scenic walks, and canal-side dining. Its serene waters and picturesque surroundings invite a sense of peace and awe, making it a must-visit destination in 2024.

Ellesmere Port
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