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The Four Counties Ring canal route

The Four Counties Ring is a canal ring that links the English counties of Cheshire, Staffordshire, Shropshire and the West Midlands and is ideal for boaters with some experience. The ring traverses parts or all of five canals. These canals are listed below, in anti-clockwise order from Middlewich Junction.

What to see on the Four Counties Ring

The Four Counties Ring offers a wide variety from easy lock free days to the challenge of negotiating Harecastle tunnel (2670 metres long and said to be haunted), and the aptly named "Heartbreak Hill" flight of 26 locks from Wheelock to Hardingswood Junction. It takes in the traditional industry of the Potteries, the majestic Shugborough Estate at Great Haywood on the Trent and Mersey and the picturesque towns of Market Draytonand Nantwich.

A map of the Four Counties Ring

A map of the Four Counties Ring

Approximate Distances (anti-clockwise)

Wardle Canal, (part of Shropshire Union) from Middlewich Junction
100 yards, 1 lock

Shropshire Union Middlewich Branch, to Barbridge Junction
10 miles, 3 locks

Shropshire Union Canal from Barbridge Junction to Aldersley Junction
42 miles, 29 locks

Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal from Aldersley Junction to Great Haywood Junction
21 miles, 12 locks

Trent and Mersey Canal from Great Haywood Junction to Middlewich Junction
37 miles, 49 locks, 1 tunnel

How long does it take?

The route is some 110 miles long, including 89 locks and 2 tunnels. Allow two weeks cruising to complete the Avon Ring, although experienced boats cruising for 8 hour days could do it in one week.