Manchester City Centre

The restoration of Manchester’s canals to many people began with an advert for beer featuring the waterways of the city, where famously “Gladys Althorpe never buys her own [pint of] bitter!”  The canals of Manchester nowadays form part of the vibrant heart of the centre of the city. Passing through the Mills developed into high end apartments at Ancoats,  New Islington Marina, the always lively Gay Village by Canal Street, clubs at Deansgate Locks just around the corner from the Beetham Tower which dominates the sky line of the city. Then through to Castlefield Basin which, has several high end bars and restaurants. Not to mention that the canal passes by two minor provincial football clubs’ stadiums, known as Manchester United FC and Manchester City FC.  Manchester city centre is one of the UK’s liveliest and interesting citys to visit on your holiday, and you can do so by boat with us!

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Introduction

Manchester by water

Manchester is the home to many of the country’s best and brightest. From LS Lowry to Oasis, Premier League teams Manchester United and Manchester City. Amazing history and architecture including the old and new such as Manchester Cathedral, Manchester Central, The Canals themself and a myriad of Mills that have been converted into offices, hotels, apartments and leisure uses.

The city is vibrant and lively with venues such as the Etihad Stadium, Old Trafford Football Ground, Emirates Old Trafford Cricket Ground, Manchester Arena, O2 Apollo, Manchester Central, Castlefield Bowl & O2 Ritz.

Theatres including; Royal Exchange, Palace Theatre, Opera House, Bridgewater Hall, The Lowry, Home & Manchester Academy.

Museums in Manchester; Manchester Museum, People’s History Museum, National Football Museum, Museum of Science and Industry, Imperial War Museum.

Art Galleries such as; Manchester Art Gallery, Home , The Lowry, Whitworth Art Gallery, John Rylands Library, Castlefield Gallery, Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art.

As you can see above there is so much to see and do across the city that we haven’t been able to include everything!

More than 17 million people in Britain visited a canal last year. Walkers, boaters, joggers, anglers and cyclists are being attracted to the canals of Manchester.

Forget the image of old shopping trolleys, the canals have been reborn via a quiet revolution that has been spreading through the city.

Engineers, who only 20 years before had been filling in urban canals, like the Rochdale Canal, suddenly found themselves digging them out again.

Developers have also been quick to take advantage of the canal renaissance. Property by an attractive canal can add up to 20% in value. Two trans-Pennine canals, the Huddersfield Narrow and the Rochdale canals were restored to operation and in their wake have arrived some impressive urban villages like New Islington and Piccadilly Village.

Instead of turning their backs on our once maligned canals, bars and restaurants like Dukes 92, the Rain Bar and the Bridgewater Hall in central Manchester now embrace their waterside setting as an attractive selling point. Dukes 92, between the Rochdale Canal and Bridgewater Canal, in Castlefield, is one of many Manchester bars to make its canalside setting a selling point.

Route to Manchester City Centre

38 miles, 3¾ furlongs, 86 locks, 6 moveable bridges, 24 small aqueducts and 6 tunnels. Total cruising time approx 30 hours, 30 minutes.

From Higher Poynton head north towards Bridge 14 and in the direction of Marple. You will pass through some lovely countryside and the village of High Lane before making your way into Marple at the summit of the Marple Locks of which there are 16 in this flight and drop the canal down to the level of the Marple Aqueduct which is a truly impressive feet of engineering, having taken 7 years to complete and the lives of 7 men in the building of.

The Marple locks have undergone some heavy repairs in recent years with two locks being completely rebuilt due to structural movement taking around 18 months to complete with modern machinery. Truly gives you an appreciation for the ingenuity and determination that must have gone in to building all of the locks from scratch over 200 years ago with the limited machinery available at the time.

At the end of the Macclesfield canal the turning to the top lock is a short distance but a hard 90 degree left turn so approach this last bridge really slowly.

Ahead is the first flight of 16 locks that drop the canal around 214 feet to then cross the Marple Aqueduct above the River Goyt.  The Marple Aqueduct is a beautiful feat of engineering, once over this aqueduct you begin the approach to the Hyde Bank Tunnel (300 yards approx) and then you pass through the Woodley Tunnel (175 yards long).

The canal then continues through suburbs of outer Manchester for around 4 1/2 miles before arriving at Portland Basin, which is the junction to the Ashton Canal.  Turning left here you continue along the Ashton Canal, along which there are seventeen locks and four swing/lift bridges to tackle before joining the Rochdale Canal to journey into Manchester centre.  The end of the Ashton Canal brings you into Manchester centre by Ducie Street and Piccadilly Train Station joining the canal in Ancoats.  Turning along the Rochdale canal (left at junction) you have a handful of locks to complete before reaching Castlefield Basin. The two locations best advised to moor in the centre of the city are either around New Islington or Castlefield as in those two locations are some good moorings which have rings and are pleasant places to stay.

After you have explored Manchester City Centre, for however long you wish to stay it will be time to turn around and return to base, retracing your route back to home.

NAVIGATION NOTES

  • Chorlton Street Lock #86
    • There is no longer access to/from the towpath/Canal Street at this lock. Make sure you have your crew aboard after lock 85 or 87
  • Bridgewater Canal
    • The Bridgewater Canal is operated by Peel Holdings and NOT the Canal and River Trust who licence our vessels.
    • Canal and River Trust licenced vessels may only remain on the Bridgewater Canal for seven consecutive days and are subject to the terms and conditions of the Bridgewater Canal during their stay on their waters.
    • You maybe required to purchase a temporary licence for stays of over 7 days or where the vessel has been on the Bridgewater in the recent past. This will be the hirers responsiblity to pay, and the charge currently stands at £40 per seven days.

Detailed Route:​​

Macclesfield Canal
From Victoria Pit Marina to:
Junction with High Lane Branch A good place to moor1 mile, 2 furlongs, 0 locks

High Lane Bridge No 11

High Lane. Also known as High Lane
¾ furlongs, 0 locks

Marple Junction Water pointRubbish disposalChemical toilets can be emptied here

Junction of Macclesfield and Peak Forest Canals
2 miles, 2½ furlongs, 0 locks
Peak Forest Canal (Lower)
From Marple Junction Water pointRubbish disposalChemical toilets can be emptied here (Junction of Macclesfield and Peak Forest Canals) to:
Marple Top Lock No 16¼ furlongs, 0 locks
Marple Bottom Lock No 1 Having passed through Marple Locks (rise of 214 feet)7¾ furlongs, 15 locks

Marple Aqueduct

Over the River Goyt. Also known as River Goyt Aqueduct
1½ furlongs, 1 lock
Hyde Bank Tunnel (Southeast end)3¾ furlongs, 0 locks
Hyde Bank Tunnel (Northwest end) No 15 Having passed through Hyde Bank Tunnel (308 yards long)1½ furlongs, 0 locks
Woodley Tunnel (South end)1 mile, 5¾ furlongs, 0 locks
Woodley Tunnel (North end) Having passed through Woodley Tunnel (176 yards long)¾ furlongs, 0 locks

Dukinfield Junction

Junction of Ashton Canal with the Peak Forest Canal. Also known as Portland Basin
4 miles, 3½ furlongs, 0 locks
Ashton Canal
From Dukinfield Junction (Junction of Ashton Canal with the Peak Forest Canal. Also known as Portland Basin) to:

Fairfield Junction Water pointChemical toilets can be emptied here

Junction with the closed Hollinwood Branch. Access to Droylsden Marina.
2 miles, 4 furlongs, 0 locks
Clayton Top Lock No 165¾ furlongs, 2 locks

Clayton Junction

Junction with the closed Stockport Branch
4½ furlongs, 6 locks
Clayton Bottom Lock No 8 Having passed through Clayton Locks3½ furlongs, 2 locks
Ancoats Top Lock No 3 Having passed through Beswick Locks (rise of 38 feet and 7 inches)1 mile, 4½ furlongs, 5 locks
Junction with Islington Branch (Closed)¾ furlongs, 2 locks
Ancoats Bottom Lock No 1 Having passed through Ancoats Locks½ furlongs, 0 locks
Piccadilly Village½ furlongs, 1 lock

Ducie Street Junction Recycling facilities

Junction of Rochdale and Ashton Canals
2¼ furlongs, 0 locks
Rochdale Canal
From Ducie Street Junction Recycling facilities (Junction of Rochdale and Ashton Canals) to:
Dale Street Lock No 84 [see navigational note 1 below]½ furlongs, 0 locks
Chorlton Street Lock No 86 [see navigational note 2 below]1¾ furlongs, 2 locks
Castle Street Bridge No 101 [see navigational note 1 below] Having passed through Deansgate Tunnel7¼ furlongs, 7 locks

Castlefield Junction A good place to moor [see navigational note 3 below]

Junction of Bridgewater and Rochdale Canals
¼ furlongs, 0 locks
Turn round here
Castle Street Bridge No 101 [see navigational note 1 below]¼ furlongs, 0 locks
Chorlton Street Lock No 86 [see navigational note 2 below] Having passed through Deansgate Tunnel7¼ furlongs, 6 locks
Dale Street Lock No 84 [see navigational note 1 below]1¾ furlongs, 2 locks

Ducie Street Junction Recycling facilities

Junction of Rochdale and Ashton Canals
½ furlongs, 1 lock
Ashton Canal
From Ducie Street Junction Recycling facilities (Junction of Rochdale and Ashton Canals) to:
Piccadilly Village2¼ furlongs, 0 locks
Ancoats Bottom Lock No 1½ furlongs, 0 locks
Junction with Islington Branch (Closed)½ furlongs, 1 lock
Ancoats Top Lock No 3 Having passed through Ancoats Locks¾ furlongs, 1 lock
Clayton Bottom Lock No 8 Having passed through Beswick Locks (rise of 38 feet and 7 inches)1 mile, 4½ furlongs, 5 locks

Clayton Junction

Junction with the closed Stockport Branch
3½ furlongs, 3 locks
Clayton Top Lock No 16 Having passed through Clayton Locks4½ furlongs, 5 locks

Fairfield Junction Water pointChemical toilets can be emptied here

Junction with the closed Hollinwood Branch. Access to Droylsden Marina.
5¾ furlongs, 3 locks

Dukinfield Junction

Junction of Ashton Canal with the Peak Forest Canal. Also known as Portland Basin
2 miles, 4 furlongs, 0 locks
Peak Forest Canal (Lower)
From Dukinfield Junction (Junction of Ashton Canal with the Peak Forest Canal. Also known as Portland Basin) to:
Woodley Tunnel (North end)4 miles, 3½ furlongs, 0 locks
Woodley Tunnel (South end) Having passed through Woodley Tunnel (176 yards long)¾ furlongs, 0 locks
Hyde Bank Tunnel (Northwest end) No 151 mile, 5¾ furlongs, 0 locks
Hyde Bank Tunnel (Southeast end) Having passed through Hyde Bank Tunnel (308 yards long)1½ furlongs, 0 locks

Marple Aqueduct

Over the River Goyt. Also known as River Goyt Aqueduct
3¾ furlongs, 0 locks
Marple Bottom Lock No 11½ furlongs, 0 locks
Marple Top Lock No 16 Having passed through Marple Locks (rise of 214 feet)7¾ furlongs, 15 locks

Marple Junction Water pointRubbish disposalChemical toilets can be emptied here

Junction of Macclesfield and Peak Forest Canals
¼ furlongs, 1 lock
Macclesfield Canal
From Marple Junction Water pointRubbish disposalChemical toilets can be emptied here (Junction of Macclesfield and Peak Forest Canals) to:

High Lane Bridge No 11

High Lane. Also known as High Lane
2 miles, 2½ furlongs, 0 locks
Junction with High Lane Branch A good place to moor¾ furlongs, 0 locks
Victoria Pit Marina1 mile, 2 furlongs, 0 locks

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  • positive review We have just come home from a lovely canal boat holiday booked with Floating Holidays. Paul couldn’t have been... read more

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    5/04/2019

    5 star rating“A very sucessful week on Lady Sophia” We hired the Lady Sophia for a week because we are thinking of buying a narrowboat and wanted to see... read more

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    5/29/2019

    Booking the boat was made straightforward and easy, the boat itself was really nice and Paul was laid back and... read more

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    5 star rating“Brilliant Weekend by John Ford” Management brilliant. Nine adults had a great weekend on the canal as first time explorers. Boat clean and superb. Would... read more

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    5/12/2019
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    We had a lovely time on the boat and was pleased to say that we managed to do a couple... read more

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    5 star rating“Cosy narrowboat” We had a weekend on the Gemini III on a cold January weekend but still had a wonderful time! The... read more

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    4 star rating“Pet friendly, Good holiday” Paul was very helpful, although the Weather was not so good we will be prepared for rain next time! Boat... read more

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    5 star rating“Gemini weekend.” Wonderful weekend had on Gemini. Paul was fab and gave full instructions and demonstration for handling the boat. Luckily we... read more

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  • 5 star rating“Tranquil break” Had lovely experience boat lovely bed sooo comfortable Paul was a great host, narrowboat dog friendly ,had no issues but... read more

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    8/23/2019

    positive review This is our 2nd holiday with them. 2017 on Gemini III their 4 berth. 2018 on Rakiraki the 10 Berth.... read more

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    8/21/2018

    5 star rating“We did this trip about 10 years ago 2009” This was a hoot. My wife and I rented one of the Narrow Boats. It was 40' long and just... read more

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    5/25/2019
  • positive review Having fab short break on Gemini III - lovely n interesting trip up to Bugsworth Basin.

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    4/10/2019

    The boat was as advertised and Paul was a great host. We had a great time with lovely weather and... read more

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    6/24/2019

    Absolutely beautiful stretch of canal from Poynton to Whalley Bridge. Would definitely do it again. Although I was with a... read more

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    9/26/2019
  • 5 star rating“Relaxing weekend.” We booked this boat at very short notice due to cancellation of our booked holiday and we had a lovely... read more

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    Lovely boat, just the right size and with everything you need! We went in January but was warm and... read more

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    The boat was clean and the beds were really comfy. Thoroughly enjoyed our family of 4 trip over 7 days.... read more

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    9/29/2019
  • If you are a first timer on the canal then this is the ideal holiday for you. My wife... read more

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    5 star rating“Could not have found better for our purpose.” We are thinking of buying a narrowboat. We know what it is like when the weather is good and wanted... read more

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    This was a most enjoyable time aboard the Gemini III, made possible by Paul's efficient and personal handling of our... read more

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    5/02/2018
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    5 star rating“Great experience” Picked up the narrow boat at Poynton and motored through to Whaley Bridge on our 5 day rental. Bed was... read more

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    7/07/2019

    Enjoyed our break away last year so much we have re-booked - can’t wait.

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    5/09/2018
  • Paul’s narrow boat did everything it was supposed to do despite us being complete novices! Had a wonderful time chugging... read more

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    9/07/2018

    4 star rating“Cosy relaxing short break on Gemini III” Had a great short break on Gemini III (Mon-Fri). Paul was friendly and handover was quick and efficient. We cruised... read more

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    3/13/2019

    4 star rating“Brilliant weekend on Lady Sophia” We spent a weekend on Lady Sophia at the end of April 2019, for the wife’s birthday. Couldn’t be happier... read more

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    6/29/2019

    We spent 4 days on one of Floating Holidays' boats in end May 2019. I recommend them very highly: they... read more

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    Boat was clean and well equipped ready for use, easy to use and we had a really relaxed week sailing... read more

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    9/29/2019
  • 5 star rating“Great pet friendly narrowboat hire, lovely week :-)” The owner Paul was an excellent host, answering any queries before the booking and was very flexible in his approach... read more

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    3/05/2018

    I had a wonderful stay on Paul's narrow boat. It's a perfect, leisurely and relaxing way to spend a holiday... read more

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    9/20/2017

    Paul excellent on the getting started , best sleep in the beds they are so comfy ,no noise but the... read more

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    8/29/2019
  • 5 star rating“Lovely boat in wonderful scenery” Gerat tuition with a personal touch. Though at 69 feet not a short boat, it was easy to handle, a... read more

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