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 moor 1 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 16 ¼ 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 16 5¾ furlongs, 2 locks

Clayton Junction

Junction with the closed Stockport Branch
4½ furlongs, 6 locks
Clayton Bottom Lock No 8 Having passed through Clayton Locks 3½ 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 Locks ½ furlongs, 0 locks
Piccadilly Village ½ 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 Tunnel 7¼ 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 Tunnel 7¼ 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 Village 2¼ furlongs, 0 locks
Ancoats Bottom Lock No 1 ½ furlongs, 0 locks
Junction with Islington Branch (Closed) ½ furlongs, 1 lock
Ancoats Top Lock No 3 Having passed through Ancoats Locks ¾ 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 Locks 4½ 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 15 1 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 1 1½ 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 moor ¾ furlongs, 0 locks
Victoria Pit Marina 1 mile, 2 furlongs, 0 locks

Testimonials

What People are Saying

Wonderful weekend had on Gemini

Wonderful weekend had on Gemini. Paul was fab and gave full instructions and demonstration for handling the boat. Luckily we had great weather and sailed upto Whaley Bridge. This was our first overnight aboard a narrowboat and we definitely recommend!! The boat was well stocked with everything you will need. We will definitely be returning soon. Thanks Paul.

Danielle – Trip Advisor

“I recommend them very highly”

“We spent 4 days on one of Floating Holidays‘ boats in end May 2019. I recommend them very highly: they have an excellent mixture of friendliness, efficiency, pragmatism, politeness, service and helpfulness in the right amounts. The boat was clean, comfortable and well-provisioned. Their advice was useful, well-judged and required. The hand-overs were done well, and they responded quickly and efficiently to our text/phone questions.”

Hugh Everett – Google review

“Beautiful setting & steeped in history”

Really nice place in a beautiful setting & steeped in history. There’s a very good pub (the navigation arms..) at the top, there’s a little shop, toilets & the usual boaters facilities. Everyone seemed really friendly & helpful especially the basins warden. Great place to moor or just to start a stroll along the peak forest canal… well worth a visit.

Squirrelsdrey – Google review

“Great weekend… beautiful scenery”

Great weekend. A lot easier than you’d imagine. Beautiful scenery.. everyone is friendly and helpful. Highly recommend.

Joseph Grundy – Google review

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