Locations - Blackwater Meadow.
Marina Name : Blackwater Meadow
Address : Birch Road, Ellesmere, Shropshire. SY12 9DD.
Map : Click Here
The Blackwater Meadow Marina is ideally situated at the middle of the 46 mile long Llangollen Canal (now in the top 100 holiday destinations worldwide!) a canal experience bettered nowhere with plenty of historic structures along your route.
The most spectacular is the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct built in 1805, which crosses over the River Dee some 130 feet below.
Other spectacles include the Chirk Aqueduct and Chirk Castle and walk on to the Horseshoe Waterfalls at the head of the canal at Llangollen or take a trip on the steam railway.
Beautiful scenery, picture postcard villages and plenty to do including the 21 locks and Blackwater Meadow make a centre for canal holidays difficult to better.
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Suggested route for a short break canalboat holiday.
Most people cruise westwards towards Llangollen, on the first day you probably will not get very far, so you can moor up on the Canal arm that leads to the town of Ellesmere- the Ellesmere Branch, and sample one of Ellesmere's delightful pubs or restaurants for the evening. Ellesmere is a busy 18th century market town.
This area is known as the mini Lake District, so it may be worth taking a look at Ellesmere's Meres (lakes). The next day head towards Chirk.
The beautiful countryside continues, this part of the Canal is very rural, you will presently pass the junction with the Montgomery Canal on your left, 7 miles of this is navigable, up to Maesbury, and if you want to cruise along here you have to book with the Lock keeper the day before. (Ask at Blackwater reception before you leave).
If you have made good headway, you may want to spend your 1st Night near the Maestermyn Marina at Whittington, there is a Pub here- The Narrow Boat Inn The marina is 2 cruising hours from Blackwater Meadow marina.
Shortly after Bridge 11, you will come to your only locks on this part of the Canal. There are 2 locks quite close to each other.
A bit further on, after Bridge 15, there are some very posh moorings outside the Lion Keys Pub &restaurant, just before you go under the A5 road. There are 20 moorings for customers.
(For those on a short break, spend the 2nd night near the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, and the 3rd night back at the Lion keys Pub.)
At Bridge 21 you can moor up and walk to the Bridge Inn, the last pub in England, before you cross the Chirk Aqueduct into Wales. The Aqueduct is 70 feet high and was built between 1796 and 1801 by Thomas Telford &William Jessop, it is a practice run before you get to the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, but it is very beautiful in itself, and crosses over the River Ceiriog. It is not as frightening as you would think, with spectacular views of the River cascading down the valley below, and the Chirk Viaduct above you. Soon you will come to the beginning of the Chirk Tunnel, which at over 400 metres is one of the longest tunnels on the waterways system to have a towpath running through it. After you have emerged from the tunnel you might want to moor up &take a look at Chirk, or get some supplies. The areas main visitor attraction is Chirk castle (NT), a magnificent 700 year old fortress built by Edward the 1st.
Once the canal turns away from the railway you will find the Offas Dyke path following the Canal. There is a very quaint lift bridge to negotiate at Froncysylite, you will have to lift it up using your windlass key.
If you want to build up your nerve before crossing the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, you can stop at Froncysyllte for the night, there are 2 pubs, the Britannia Inn and the Aqueduct Inn.
The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct was also built by Thomas Telford and is 130 feet high and 1000 feet across the Dee valley. It is an amazing and spectacular feat of engineering. The views are breathtaking, and there is a walkway on your right. The River Dee thunders away far beneath you.
You immediately come into Trevor Wharf, &you may want to use some of the facilities at Trevor Wharf, water, pump out, chandlery shop etc. before heading Llangollen.
Those on a 3 night short break should turn around here, those staying for longer can probably get as far as Llangollen, you should have found that it has taken about 8 hours to get here from Blackwater.
It takes about 3 hours to navigate to Llangollen, and is a lovely route, through the Welsh valleys.
You pass by another pub at bridge 41, the Sun Trevor, in case you are in need of some refreshment.
You will see the mysterious ruins of Dinas Bran castle on top of a very steep hill, and you know that you are not far away now. You eventually emerge into Llangollen and if the ticket office is open you can purchase a ticket for about £5 to moor overnight in the Canal basin, or there are some moorings on the left where you can tie up for a few hours.
Llangollen is very pretty, with the River Dee cascading through the town, with lots of white water crashing through the rocky river bed. If you are lucky you will see the steam engines as you walk into the town, at the Llangollen Steam railway, and it is well worth having a ride on one.
It will take you to Carrog & back, some 8 miles of some of the most stunning scenery in Britain. There are many craft & souvenir shops & even some selling gorgeous chocolate & fudge, plus cafes, bars, tearooms & restaurants. If you tire of Llangollen & want some exercise after being on a boat for a few days, take a walk to the beautiful Horseshoe falls, just a couple of miles along the towpath to the end of the canal.
On the way back stop off for a pub lunch at the Chainbridge Hotel, where you can enjoy spectacular views of the River Dee beside you. You can take a detour near here as just off the A542 is the ruins of the beautiful Valle Crucis Abbey, one of the most complete Cistercian abbeys in Wales.
Then getting back on the towpath again, you pass a very quaint Canal & motor Museum, which is worth a look. Back in Llangollen there is more to see &do, including Plas Newydd, an 18th century house open to the public, which now houses a museum. Of course every July the International Eisteddfod is held here, this world renowned International musical festival has some world class artists, in 2007 hosting concerts from Jose Carreras and Joan Baez. and 2008 Elaine Page opens the Eisteddfod.
Suggested route for a weeks canalboat holiday stay
If you are staying for a week, head back towards Ellesmere & explore the other end of the Llangollen Canal towards Nantwich.
After leaving Ellesmere, the canal runs between the waters of a mini lake district. These lakes or Meres, are very beautiful and Blakes Mere runs right alongside the towpath in a beautiful wooded section on the approach to the short Ellesmere tunnel. The canal runs through very quiet, green countryside, passing no villages for miles.
After a few hours you can meander half a mile down the Prees Branch to the Marina there, Bridge 1 on this arm is a Grade II listed Lift bridge , Bridge 2 is another lift bridge. Dobsons marina has moorings on the towpath, grocery and an off licence. The canal passes through Whixall Moss, an ancient peat bog which is now home to much wildlife. A solitary lift bridge interrupts the long straight. Another lift bridge is encountered at Bridge 42, and the Canal weaves its way through the quiet countryside until it reaches the town of Whitchurch, which is preceded by two lift bridges at 34 and 33. Another lift bridge marks the entrance to the Whitchurch Arm of the Canal, where you can moor to take the half a mile walk to visit the town centre.
It should have taken you about a days cruising to reach here from Ellesmere. Whitchurch is an old town dating from the Roman times and has some beautiful old houses of all periods in the town centre. There are lots of splendid pubs in the town, and shops & a swimming pool. Worth a visit is St Alkmunds Church, built in 1713 on a hill, it has a stunning interior and is on a grand scale. Leaving Whitchurch you travel up to the Grindley Brook Locks, these famous staircase locks have made this a canal monument. The 3 staircase locks are closely followed by 3 more locks, a friendly lock-keeper is on hand to help from April-Oct 8.30 am to 18.30. By the Locks is the Lockside Stores, selling local produce and with tea & coffee & snacks served in the adjacent cafe, which has internet access.
The Canal travels again through quiet countryside only interrupted by the occasional lock- the 2nd of which has a Pub called the Willeymoor Lock tavern, formally the Lock keepers cottage, it contains some fine Canal paintings. Half a mile south from Marbury Lock is the enchanting village of Marbury. The Swan pub is about half a mile walk but has excellent food.
Further on is the village on Wrenbury, access can be reached from Bridge 20 or 19, about a half a mile walk. There are some thatched magpie cottages around the village green. The Dusty Miller pub is by the Lift bridge and the Cotton Arms is just down the road from the Bridge. The Canal continues with 3 locks at Baddiley and 2 at Swanley, before finishing up with the 4 Hurleston locks before it meets the Shropshire Union Canal.
For those wanting to venture on to the Shropshire Union Canal, Nantwich is just to the south (turn right at the junction), Chester ( a Roman city) to the North. Nantwich is 12 cruising hours from Blackwater Marina, Chester is 20 hours, so can be reached in a weeks cruise if you miss out cruising westwards towards the Aqueducts.
If you want to spend a day or so at Ellesmere, there are some lovely castles & stately homes within a short drive: If you base yourself at Ellesmere on the first or last few days, Powis castle is only 25 miles away by car (30 minutes), this is the home to the Earls of Powis, and was built by the Welsh Princes in medieval times. Also only about 30 minutes away from Ellesmere is another National Trust property- an 18th century Regency mansion- Attingham Park.