adventures on the shropshire union canal

adventures on the shropshire union canal

Audlem lock flight painted by Dawn Smallwood

Audlem Lock Flight, Shropshire Union Canal, Cheshire. Acrylic painting by Dawn  Smallwood.

My father and I had a few days exploring and walking the Shropshire Union Canal. We walked a lot, especially so as we had to double back on ourselves because of logistics, particularly with the public transport.

The Shropshire Union Canal, known as the Shroppie, is a canal that runs through Cheshire, Shropshire and Staffordshire. The canal begins/ends at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire and runs to the outskirts of Wolverhampton in the West Midlands. The canal was completed in 1835 and is 66 miles (106 km) in length.

We had begun our walks from Nantwich and Audlem and did all walks from and back to both places. For our first walk, we parked our car in Nantwich and did a round walk via the Barbridge Junction. We saw the Hurleston junction where the Llangollen canal starts and finishes and the Middlewich Branch at Barbridge Junction where we walked part of the canal before being  diverted through the Cheshire fields until we rejoined the Shropshire Union Canal near Nantwich. It was an interesting walk, seeing where the two junctions meet the other canals and we loved the rolling rural scenery.

Nantwich is a pretty and interesting town which is renowned for its aqueduct, designed by Thomas Telford and constructed in 1826. The town has a lot of beautiful Tudor and Georgian historic buildings such as the Cheshire Cat (Hotel and Restaurant) which is housed in one of the town’s oldest buildings. The river Weaver runs through the town and the green space by the river makes riverside walking pleasant.

On our second walk, we walked in the opposite direction to Audlem via Hack Green. We stopped at Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker to visit the museum enroute. The Museum is understandably isolated in the countryside and it was interesting to learn more about The Cold War and see the display of relatable and military memorabilia. We enjoyed our visit there and then continued our walk towards Audlem.

We enjoyed our visit for refreshments and rest at Audlem’s Shroppie Fly*, a canalside pub, and then walked along the infamous Audlem flight of locks. What draws attention to the village is the flight of 15 locks which ascend or descend to 93ft over a mile and half. Engineered by Telford, the flight of locks is worth an exploration of its engineering feat.

Shropshire Union Canal, Audlem, Cheshire painting by Dawn Smallwod

Shropshire Union Canal, Audlem, Cheshire. Acrylic painting by Dawn Smallwood

Our third walk was from Audlem to the outskirts of Market Drayton where we were in the heart of rural Cheshire and the Shropshire Plains. The walk was uneventful though rurally pretty and with some notable canal cuttings.

My father since has walked the remainder of the canal down from Market Drayton to Atherley Junction. At the time, we drove down and stopped at Atherley Junction to see where the Shropshire Union Canal and the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal meet.

The featured artwork illustrates Audlem and the village’s flight of locks. I painted them on paper using acrylics. You can check out my art and creations on Facebook and Instagram.

Our canal walking adventures to continue…where? We’ll see!

*At the time of writing this the pub is temporarily closed


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About Dawn Smallwood

Dawn Smallwood offers us a personal look at canals through a series of walks. She includes some local history, comments on social and industrial landscapes, and gives recommendations for local attractions and places to eat or drink. She also raises a great deal of money for charity.