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A waterside hike along six historic canals — Cheshire Ring

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A waterside hike along six historic canals — Cheshire Ring

Hiking Collection by Dan Hobson

7

Tours

45:10 h

109 mi

2,450 ft

The Cheshire Ring is a long-distance walk along the towpaths of six historic canals which explores the diverse and spellbinding scenery of Cheshire.

Winding through peaceful countryside, wildlife-rich nature reserves, stately country estates, quiet villages, bustling towns, and even the vast urban landscape of Manchester, this waterside hike is packed with interest and is a wonderful introduction to the Cheshire Plain.

Starting and finishing from Marple Locks, the 109 mile (175 km) circuit takes you along the Macclesfield Canal, the Trent and Mersey Canal, the Bridgewater Canal, the Rochdale Canal, the Ashton Canal, and the Peak Forest Canal.

As the route follows canal towpaths for the most part, the walking is level and leisurely throughout and follows well-maintained trails. As such, it is suitable for all abilities. Whilst there are a few detours included which do involve a little climbing, there is nothing too demanding.

Highlights along the route include: Marple Locks, a flight of 16 locks that was completed in 1804 and is one of the steepest in Britain; Macclesfield, a vibrant town that was once famous for silk; Gawsworth Hall, a timber-framed 14th-century house with Shakespearean connections; Dane-in-Shaw Pasture, a beautiful nature reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI); Little Moreton Hall, a stunning Tudor house; the Anderton Boat Lift, a tremendous feat of engineering that was built in 1875; Walton Hall and Dunham Massey country house estates; and the bright lights of Manchester.

As the terrain is easygoing, I have split the route into an ambitious seven stages: 13.8 miles (22.2 km), 14 miles (22.5 km), 16.7 miles (26.9 km), 17.4 miles (28 km), 17.1 miles (27.5 km), 13.8 miles (22.2 km), and 16.5 miles (26.6 km), respectively.

On all of the stages that exceed 15 miles (24 km), I have given some advice on how to split the stage. Of course, you can divide the Collection into as many days as you are comfortable with or walk any single stage. As it is a loop, you can start anywhere you like and walk in either direction.

You are well-served by accommodation on this route and there are plenty of places for food and drink. Public transport links are excellent, too. Getting to the start/finish of this route is really easy as Marple has a train station.

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Cheshire Ring

96.9 mi

1,700 ft

1,700 ft

Last updated: November 15, 2021

Tours & Highlights

  • Difficult
    05:48
    13.8 mi
    2.4 mph
    550 ft
    625 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The first stage takes from the historic Marple Locks to the pretty town of Macclesfield, via a curious landmark with stunning views.

    

    With 13.8 miles (22.2 km) of distance, 550 feet (168 m) of uphill and 625 feet (191 m) of downhill, this hike is a great introduction to the overall challenge.

    

    You begin

    by Dan Hobson

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  • Difficult
    05:49
    14.0 mi
    2.4 mph
    375 ft
    425 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Grade I-listed buildings and wildlife-rich natural landscapes combine on this stunning stage.

    

    Ahead of some long stages, this hike is an intermediate 14 miles (22.5 km) with 375 feet (114 m) of uphill and 425 feet (130 m) of downhill.

    

    You leave Macclesfield to the east, rejoin the canal towpath and wind

    by Dan Hobson

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  • Difficult
    06:51
    16.7 mi
    2.4 mph
    100 ft
    425 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    You cross over an unusual twisted bridge and visit a wonderful example of a Tudor stately home on this stage.

    

    With 16.7 miles (26.9 km) of distance, this is a challenging stage. However, as the hike follows a downwards trajectory and has no hills of any note, the miles might not seem as tough as they

    by Dan Hobson

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  • Difficult
    07:10
    17.4 mi
    2.4 mph
    350 ft
    300 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This stage winds through towns and patchwork countryside dotted with pretty lakes caused by mining subsidence.

    

    The longest stage of the Collection, this hike is a challenging 17.4 miles (28 km) long with 350 feet (107 m) of uphill and 300 feet (91 m) of downhill. (For a suggestion on how to split the

    by Dan Hobson

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  • Difficult
    07:00
    17.1 mi
    2.4 mph
    200 ft
    250 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This stage visits two glorious county houses and takes you to a village known for its historic terracotta buildings.

    

    Another challenging hike, Stage 5 is 17.1 miles (27.5 km) long with 200 feet (61 m) of uphill and 250 feet (76 m) of downhill. (For a suggestion on how to split the hike, read on).

    

    You leave

    by Dan Hobson

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  • Difficult
    05:40
    13.8 mi
    2.4 mph
    225 ft
    150 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The character changes considerably on this stage, which explores the urban landscapes of Sale, Stretford and Manchester.

    

    After some lengthy recent stages, this hike is a manageable 13.8 miles (22.2 km) long with 225 feet (69 m) of uphill and 150 feet (46 m) of downhill.

    

    To begin, you follow the Bridgewater

    by Dan Hobson

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  • Difficult
    06:52
    16.5 mi
    2.4 mph
    650 ft
    250 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The final stage winds through Manchester and finishes along one of the steepest flights of locks in Britain.

    

    With 16.5 miles (26.6 km) of distance, 650 feet (198 m) of uphill and 250 feet (76 m) of downhill, this is a challenging conclusion to the Cheshire Ring. (For a suggestion on how to split the

    by Dan Hobson

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    7
  • Distance
    109 mi
  • Duration
    45:10 h
  • Elevation
    2,450 ft

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A waterside hike along six historic canals — Cheshire Ring

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