Ashton Under Lyne Canal &  Peak Forest Canal Huddersfield Narrow Canal Macclesfield Canal

Ashton Under Lyne Canal - Opened: 1796
Engineer: Brown Dukinfield Junction with the Peak Forest Canal to Ducie Junction with the Rochdale Canal.

Peak Forest Canal - Opened: 1800-1964, 1974
Engineers: Brown (surveyor), Outram (engineer) Dukinfield Junction to Bugsworth Interchange 14½ miles, 16 narrow locks at Marple 3½ mile branch to Whaley Bridge Interchange.

The 'Cheshire Ring' links to the Trent & Mersey Canal, Bridgewater Canal and Macclesfield Canal.

  • The Navigation pub at Bugsworth Basin is well worth a visit. Interesting interior, dogs welcome, good food and beer! - P.D, Cardiff

  • The Portland Basin Museum at the junction with the H N C has lots to interest all the family & easy mooring. - D.N, York

  • The Dog & Partridge, High Lane has friendly atmosphere, old world charm, good food. Well worth a visit for lunch. - D.S.

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Ashton Under Lyne Canal & Peak Forest Canal

The Ashton Under Lyne Canal was an early success for the canal restoration movement. This thoroughly urban canal climbs west-east to Ashton-under-Lyne on the edge of the Manchester conurbation.


The free labour of gangs of canal enthusiasts in 1968 (600 volunteers) and 1972 (1000 volunteers) kick started the remedial works. Much redevelopment has taken place along the canal in East Manchester, partly as a result of the 2002 Commonwealth Games.


Twenty five years after the Bridgewater Canal was opened to Castlefield, two canals were promoted eastwards to the industries of Huddersfield and the limestone quarries of Peak Forest. Typical of the fragmented processes of the Canal Mania years, there was a separate Act (1792) for the 6 miles of the Manchester and Ashton-under-Lyne Canal and its 11 miles of now derelict branches.


The Huddersfield Narrow and the Peak Forest Canals link with the end of the Ashton around the Portland Basin and all three were finally opened at practically the same time (1800). Trade was further boosted when the Cromford and High Peak Railway and Macclesfield Canal funnelled extra trade into the Peak Forest Canal (1831). However, the coming of the railways reduced trade and the canal sold out to the competition (1848).


The Peak Forest Canal runs south from Greater Manchester, the canal towpath linking with hundreds of miles of footpaths up the Goyt Valley, past reservoirs into the stunning scebery of the Peak National Park and along the High Peak Trail.


Bugsworth Basin is an unique canal/tramway interchange where lime, limestone and gritstone arriving on tramways from Derbyshire quarries was transhipped to narrowboats to feed the demands of the Industrial Revolution in the north west. Closed in 1927 after a long decline caused by losing traffic to the railways it was finally reopened after 30 years of hard work by volunteers in 2005 and is a Scheduled Ancient Monument.


Whaley Bridge, the branch terminus, has a stone built warehouse and wharf, now used as a base for restaurant/trip boat. Its two arches, formerly for rail wagons, sit either side of a covered wharf. Within a few yards is the start of the first incline on the rail line to Cromford. Waggons were hauled up by chains powered by a horse capstan at the top of the Whaley Rise for over 125 years.


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