Four Counties Ring

The Four Counties Ring links the four English Counties of Cheshire, Staffordshire, Shropshire and the West Midlands. The route includes the, Shropshire Union Canal, the Wardle Canal, the Trent & Mersey Canal and the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal.

From Whixall Marina cruising along the Llangollen canal to Hurleston Junction, around the four counties ring and back to Whixall Marina is a distance of 149 miles and passes through 132 locks. This trip is for those booking a two-week holiday and based on travelling 7 hours per day. This will take 12 days and 2 hours, allowing some time to explore some of the many towns and villages en route. The route passes the potteries of Middleport and Wedgwood (Josiah Wedgwood being one of the instigators for the building of the Trent and Mersey canal), and through the 2,675-metre-long Harecastle tunnel which is navigated in groups of boats, as passage is restricted to a group of up to 8 boats in each direction at a time. Whilst in the tunnel the doors close at the Southern end and extractor fans are switched on to evacuate fumes from the tunnel. Each end of the tunnel has good width and headroom while the centre of the tunnel has reduced width and headroom and takes approximately 45 minutes to navigate. Some of the locks around the ring are deep and some have paired narrow locks for faster working in both directions. The canal water north of the Harecastle tunnel is surprisingly orange and is caused by the iron ore in the local area.