Venetian – Chester (via Bunbury)
From Venetian Marina Nantiwch LTD head towards the Barbridge junction and take the right turn which is sign posted for Ellesmere Port. Just beyond the Barbridge junction the Crewe to Chester railway line swings in from the east and accompanies the main line of the Shropshire Union canal on its 15 miles and 14 lock journey to Chester. The canal passing through Calveley, where the tow path changes sides before reaching Bunbury Wharf, and its two wide beam staircase locks which require thought before action. Like all the locks between here and Chester they are 14ft wide and need a little more thought if you’re navigating through them for the first time. At Bunbury Wharf you'll find moorings, a boatyard and a nice group of old canal side buildings, including former stables and a warehouse, now utilised by a boat hire company.
If you have time it’s well worth making the few hundred mile walk towards the town to visit Bunbury Mill, a restored water mill which stands beside the River Gowy. Records show that there has been a mill at Bunbury since 1290 and it’s believed that the present building dates from around 1850. You can see the mill in action although times are restricted.
The canal winds its broad route through a well-wooden landscape to Tilstock Lock with it’s former water mill (1830) and then onto Beeston Locks. These are unusual in that the first one is constructed of stone while the other was rebuilt in 1828 using iron plates, made necessary due to the unstable nature of the underlying soil.
Onto Wharton Lock where the canal has left the wooded valley behind and you’ll see fantastic views to the south of Beeston Castle. The ruins of this medieval castle never fail to impress standing on a rocky summit 500ft above the Cheshire Plain. As you move towards the west the lovely turrets of neighbouring Peckforton Castle also come into view. From Wharton Lock you can also access the very popular Sandstone Trail which provides a long distance path to the ruins of Beeston Castle. Bate’s Mill Bridge is a short distance west of the lock, where you’ll find a lovely canal side pub to visit called the Shady Oak pub.
Still accompanied by the railway and River Gowy, the Shropshire Union canal main line travels the next 8 miles out into open pastureland and through the flat green landscape of the Cheshire Plain. Egg Bridge is the next location to offer a shop and to gather amentities if needed before you move on.
Nearby, Rowton Moor is the site of a major Civil War battle between Royalists and Parliamentarians in 1645. The picturesque and Britains Best Kept Village 2011, Christleton is a lovely place to visit before you descend the eleven locks to the ancient city of Chester where the canal runs straight through the middle. If you don’t want to cruise any further there is a bus service operating from Christleton which will take you into Chester.
The final three miles into the city takes the canal through five more locks until you reach Northgate Staircase Locks. These imposing three locks, dropping the canal a distance of 33ft, were excavated out of sandstone and take the Shropshire Union Canal into the heart of the historic city, Chester. Below the locks is Tower Wharf, formerly the headquarters of the old canal company, where there are moorings and a boat yard. Chester city centre is easily accessed from the canal at bridge 123E.
Chester is an amazing city to visit offering a wealth of things to see and do including dozens of restaurants, shops, clubs and supermarkets etc. One of the main features is the perfectly preserved city walls which you can walk around using the superb footpath, over the old city gates and past the defence turrets. Other features are the race course where Chester Races are held every year, 11th century cathedral, theatre, the Rows (unique double tier shopping streets) and several fascinating museums.
We hope you enjoy your crusie.