Canal Walk – Ellesmere Port to Chester

Shropshire Union Canal bridge (Stoke Bridge, I think)Today’s walk was a local wander through some industrial history as I followed the Shropshire Union canal from Ellesmere Port to Chester.  The walk is waymarked as a Canalside Trail, but once you’ve found the first waymarker – indicating 8 and a quarter miles to Chester – it’s just a case of keeping the canal on your right hand side until you reach the city.

Ellesmere Port is not the prettiest town on the Wirral Peninsula, due to its main industries of oil refining, chemicals, the motor works and the port itself, so I wasn’t surprised that the first mile of the walk was a little grotty.  The canal passes under the M53 motorway twice, so there are some huge concrete bridges as well as the pretty brick ones.

These two photos were taken from the same spot.

Motorway bridge over the Shropshire Union canal






The changing shape of the built environment, over time, is understandable and to be expected as we’ve moved our bulk transport away from the waterways and onto the roads.  What I can’t understand is why there was so much rubbish in and along the canal?  Is it really too much trouble for someone to take away the empty beer cans that they carried in full?

A typical patch of canalside rubbishMore rubbish in the water






Once I’d walked beyond the reach of the litter-chucking town-dwellers, the canal was cleaner and the surroundings less industrial – although the M56 could be seen and heard in the distance.

Flat Cheshire with the M56 in the middle groundSome wildlifeA swan

Long-tailed tit


I knew I was approaching Chester when I saw my first Roman.

NCN 45 route marker - A Roman soldier

Tower Wharf at Chester

Dry dock at Taylor's boatyard, Tower WharfI’ve always been impressed by canal locks.  The combination of a very simple, well engineered idea and the power of thousands of gallons of water is quite amazing.  I finished my canal walk at Northgate Lock which is a staircase of 3 locks with a rise of 33 feet (if Google is to be believed, but that sounds about right).

Sign explaining how to use Northgate LockLooking down Northgate Lock staircaseThe canal walk was around 8 miles and I did another couple of miles to and from the station.  Ascent …. very, very little apart from the 33′ at the end!

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17 Responses to Canal Walk – Ellesmere Port to Chester

  1. Phil says:

    “Ascent very, very little apart from the 33′ at the end”
    Sounds like my sort of walk – happy New Year for 2012 🙂


  2. Louise says:

    Hi Judith. Perhaps our paths will cross in May and all the best for 2012!


    • Judith says:

      Hi Louise. Well, my route is almost finished – apart from the fact I completely rewrote it a few days ago and keep changing my mind. I’ll see you in Montrose, if not before!


  3. Laura says:

    Looks great – I love canals!


    • Judith says:

      Yes, I like them too. Obviously it’s completely different to a “proper” walk in the mountains, but I like the history and the semi-urban wildlife. I’m now thinking about a longer walk, maybe along the entire Shropshire Union canal. That can go on my list of “walks that I must get round to doing one day”.


  4. Christina says:

    Did the walk today (April 2013) and the canal is pretty much litter free from the start, trees and bushes either side looked well looked after, amazed to find this beautiful walk on my doorstep and will deffo do again


  5. Vanessa says:

    Thanks for this. Will be doing this walk ( the opposite way) next weekend.


  6. Me says:

    Sounds a good walk for those who love the countryside. Giving it a go tomorrow.


  7. john says:

    think i could do this in one go. but if not is there any where to b&b along the way.


    • Judith says:

      I don’t know, sorry. There are plenty of places to stay in the Chester area. I think the whole walk was only 8 or 9 miles so you’d never be that far from somewhere to stay or somewhere you could catch a bus or taxi.


  8. Debbie Withers says:

    Hi, can you tell me where you start walking the canal from Ellesmere Port, didnt look like i could start it from the boat museum?


    • Judith says:

      Sorry, but I can’t remember. Looking back at my photos I can see that it only took me 4 minutes to walk from the large green metal sculpture on the roundabout to the first waymark (Chester 8 1/4 miles) which is a large sculpted black metal sign. The OS 1:25K Explorer map has the route marked on it. You can view that map for free online on Bing Maps.
      Bit vague, I know!


      • Debbie Withers says:

        Thank you, I was by the boat museum today but couldnt see how it could start from there 🙂


      • John says:

        There is a big hotel at the near the boat museum (whose name i can’t remember sorry). U walk up from there to the canal bank and follow the the canal bank, u don’t have to go through the boat museum.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Debbie Withers says:

        Thanks John, I”ll take a look when I”m next there 🙂


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