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, 7 miles and 18 locks.

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 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 & Peak Forest Canals

The Ashton-under-Lyne Canal leaves the Rochdale Canal beneath modern apartments and converted mills and climbs out of Manchester passing housing developments and the sports facilities built for the 2002 Commonwealth games.


Many of the locks were once double, some have double top gates. There is a suprising amount of greenery from Fairfield onwards, much enjoyed by locals. Approaching Ashton the statuesque Junction Mill Chimney comes into view, the mill itself now replaced by apartments. There are good overnight moorings at either end of the canal, don't moor in between.


Three canals were opened almost together, the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, the Peak Forest Canal and the Ashton Canal (1800). Trade was 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, with the canals falling into dereliction by the mid 20th century. The Ashton Under Lyne Canal was an early success for the canal restoration movement.


Portland Basin has a large canal warehouse, now housing a museum, opposite which the Peak Forest Canal heads south at a sharp right turn over Dukinfield Aqueduct, send someone ahead first to make sure there isn't a boat coming out!


The Peak Forest Canal quickly enters pleasant countryside with aqueducts, tunnels, lift bridges and Pennine views to lift spirits.


The towpath links with hundreds of miles of footpaths up the Goyt Valley, past reservoirs into the stunning scenery of the Peak National Park and the High Peak Trail. There are interesting mills on the way to Marple where 16 locks lift the canal 200 feet into the Pennines, Kinder Scout in the distance.


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. Closed in 1927 after a long decline losing traffic to the railways it was finally reopened after 30 years of hard volunteer labour.


Whaley Bridge has a stone built warehouse and wharf with three arches, two for rail wagons either side of a covered wharf. Close by is the first incline on the rail line to Cromford up which for over 125 years waggons were hauled on chains powered by a horse capstan at the top of the Whaley Rise.


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