Use our interactive UK waterways map

Waterways Map

Macclesfield Canal

Macclesfield Canal - Moorings, Canalside Pubs, Barge Hire and Canal Holidays. 

The tabs above will give you information you need for the planning of your Macclesfield Canal narrowboat holiday, cycle route, towpath walk or favourite fishing spots with the canal guide being printable to use while on your canal adventure. Using information through our Macclesfield Canal guide, Macclesfield Canal map and photo galleries we can help you find narrowboat hire bases, mooring spots, places to eat at canalside pubs and restaurants, towns, villages and landmarks of interest. Information of all kinds is added all the time so if you can’t find some information at this time be assured that we are working hard to get it on the site as soon as we can.

The Macclesfield Canal offers long periods of remote lock free cruising through wooded hilly countryside on the western side of the Pennines. There are two imposingly large flights of locks at Bosley and Marple that free up the rest of the waterway from any major exertion. Entrance to the Macclesfield Canal is either through the Trent and Mersey or the Peak Forest Canal near Marple. The canal has plenty to offer boaters cyclists and walkers alike with stunning views with interesting pubs, shops and sights along the way making it well worth a visit.

Waterways Leisure is a valuable resource for information on canal pubs, moorings, barge hire and places to eat and drink. 

Canals and rivers with links to the Macclesfield Canal:

Trent and Mersey Canal, Peak Forest Canal

Read More

Print this page

With narrowboat hire bases spread along the Trent and Mersey and Macclesfield Canal there is a good choice as to where to start your narrowboat holiday from.

The Following Macclesfield Canal Guide is not only a guide for people on narrowboat holidays but is written to be just as handy for activities along the towpath and for people lucky enough to be boat owners with information of attractions, highlights, land marks, mooring spots, marina’s, food shops, canalside pubs and other places to eat in the settlements along the Macclesfield Canal. Both the canal map and canal guide can be printed off by clicking the icon on the right to be taken with you as you enjoy your time on the Macclesfield Canal.

The Macclesfield Canal offers long periods of remote lock free cruising through wooded hilly countryside on the western side of the Pennines. There are two imposingly large flights of locks at Bosley and Marple that free up the rest of the waterway from any major exertion. Entrance to the Macclesfield Canal is either through the Trent and Mersey or the Peak Forest Canal near Marple.

From the Trent and Mersey access to the Macclesfield is gained via the Hardingswood Junction in Kidsgrove, the first aqueduct is navigated soon thereafter on the large blue brick construction of the Red Bull Aqueduct taking the canal high over the busy A50 road. The canal heads northward away from Kidsgrove towards the single lock at Hall Green. There are moorings on offer in the quiet setting surrounding Hall Green Lock or equally, if provisions are required and a choice of places to eat and drink, then the plentiful choice of Kidsgrove moorings are convenient. The thatched building of The Bleeding Wolf lies just fifty metres or so from the canal in Scholar Green a very short distance up the canal from Kidsgrove, boaters can moor up between Bridge 92 and 93 and be in the pub in less than a minute.

The canal is soon dishing up rolling wooded and arable farmland scenery and the relaxed environment that is indicative of the whole stretch, at Scholar Green the canal and A34 part ways and apart from the occasional train passing on the nearby line the peace is rarely broken. The canal passes under several old brick single span bridges that look as robust as the day they were made on the gentle cruise to Congleton. Perched atop the large hillside to the right is the folly of Mow Cop which stands imperiously looking over the valley drawing attention to its apparent ancient structure for many miles up the valley, it was in fact built in the mid 18th century as a novel picnic spot by a nearby wealthy landowner.

The area around Newbold Astbury offers much, the village itself lies away to the west of the canal but a walk or cycle ride there is well rewarded as the village is very pleasant and the nearby Astbury Mere Country Park that borders Congleton offers nice nature trails and surroundings. The canal also passes through Astbury golf course in this area, keep an eye out for stray golf balls as you watch people enjoy the great game.

The canal misses the centre of Congleton, passing by on its eastern edge, there are moorings with shopping and pub facilities near to the canal for those who choose not to visit the centre of Congleton. The Queens Head Hotel lies on the canalside at this point, it is clearly marked from the canal and is over the road from Congleton Railwat station, it offers a mind boggling array of real ale. I would recommend re-stocking provisions in Congleton if needed as the shopping opportunities are almost nonexistant before reaching Macclesfield. On the way past Congleton the canals two aqueducts, the Watery Lane Aqueduct and Dog Lane Aqueduct are relatively close together, neither are particularly large but are no less striking in their design nonetheless. It is worth taking it steady here as just upstream the mighty flight of locks at Bosley awaits ready to take boaters up to the highest point on the British navigable waterways network.

The Bosley Locks consist of 12 locks over a mile that raise the height of the canal by 36 meters, they are unique on the British waterways by having double gates at both the top and bottom ends of each lock, not only that but well maintained side ponds adjacent to each lock chamber, reed lined banks, a grassy towpath and bridges crossing the flight overlooked by many contented sheep add to the appeal. The views from Bosley Locks back over the rolling wooded countryside are to be savoured and once underway again the views continue to impress, improved by the thought that it is now some time before any more locks have to be navigated. The first pub to be found after the Bosley Flight is The Fools Nook, located on the right hand side after a mile or so, you will find good food and good ale in here and it is a most welcome respite after the arduous climb up Bosley Flight.

The pound in to Macclesfield is as peaceful and idyllic as can be found, there is a swing bridge half way between Bosley Locks and Macclesfield shortly followed by some visitor moorings to enjoy the rural peace of this area. The tranquil village of Sutton lies on the outskirts of Macclesfield, Ye Olde Kings Head is down to the left as you cross the large impressive aqueduct in the village, good beer, food and occasional live bands can be found here. The canal skirts the east edge of town as it does in Congleton, it crosses over the Gurnett Aqueduct and past old mills that on the whole have been nicely restored and converted into luxury accommodation with a nice golf course to the east.

The centre of Macclesfield lies a short walk away from the public moorings but is well worth a visit, not just to re-stock on probably much needed provisions but there is also a good choice of options for dining out which is a rarity on such a rurally based canal. There are museums relating to the old silk industry based here and in general the centre of Macclesfield is pleasant and not overly busy and congested.

The smaller and quieter large village of Bollington is a few miles further upstream which offers a couple of choices for moorings, the second being closer to the centre, there is a little choice here for where to eat out and the leafy streets, well kept houses and public open spaces are inviting. From here it is only 8 miles or so to Marple and the other giant flight of locks waiting there, as with a majority of the this cruise the Pennines rear up to the east forming a wonderful backdrop and after Bollington the canal enters an area of particular natural beauty punctuated by stone arched bridges and the occasional sign of human habitation such as the village and adjoining marina at Wood Lanes. There are a couple of mooring spots spaced along this stretch such as near the village of High Poynton, a short stay in these rural surroundings is very much recommended, the only downside is that many people have the same idea and it can become quite busy in peak season.

Before long the canal winds through the woodland surrounding Marple, past public open spaces and towards the centre which offers moorings before joining The Peak Forest and navigating the flight of locks. The town offers a fair choice of dining options and a chance to re-stock before continuing on to the Peak Forest Canal and possibly the rest of the 97 mile long Cheshire Ring. There is a fantastically well restored old canal basin in Marple and the Goyt Mill is definitely worth checking out. The 12 locks of the Marple Flight need to be negotiated on to the Peak Forest Canal but after mastering the flight as at Bosley this shouldn’t be a problem, should it?

Waterways Leisure is a valuable resource for information on canal pubs, barge hire and places to eat and drink. In addition we also offer a range of country clothing and country wear and clothing which is suitable to be embroidered with our top embroidery service.