Coolcanals: Waterways Directory & Information Guide. Waterside Walks & Cycling, Boating & Holidays in the Waterways Outdoors

[main pic - Neptune's Staircase, Caledonian Canal]
 

 
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Canal attractions

 
Britain's manmade waterways defied the rules of nature, taking water up over mountains and down into sea coves - carrying canal boats in suspended flight in aqueducts over vast valleys, and blasting through mountains in tunnels. Lock flights, swing bridges and all manner of ingeniously simple engineering feats allowed a water road to carve Britain. Great engineers such as Brindley, Telford, Jessop, Dadford... were (and still are!) responsible for the success of innovative canal structures. Their determination, bravery and staggering Victorian arrogance has left an engineering legacy that is amongst the very best of British heritage.
 

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

Showpiece of Britain's canals & a World Heritage Site
 
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
Eighteen pillars stretch to the heavens to suspend a great bathtub of water in the sky, making sane people swear that narrowboats can fly - the ultimate must-see event of Britain's canals.
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Anderton Boat Lift

The 'Cathedral of the Canals'
 
Anderton Boat Lift This iron beauty, a staggering monument of maths and art, is one of the wonders of the canals. The amazing Anderton Boat Lift is the world's oldest boat lift - and is miraculously still open for business today, attracting over 110,000 visitors every year by boat and on foot for the ride of their lives. It's affectionately known as the 'Cathedral of the Canals' and the visitor needs no explanation.
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Falkirk Wheel

The 8th wonder of the waterways
 
Falkirk Wheel Falkirk did the impossible when it grabbed an old cliché and really did 'reinvent the wheel'. This unassuming patch in Scotland gave the globe a wheel of monumental structure - a masterpiece to commemorate the modernity of Britain's canals in this Millennium. The world's first rotating Boat Lift.
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Standedge Tunnel

Burrowing through the Pennines
 
Standedge Tunnel The Pennines hug the sky with an obstinacy that forbids anyone except the hardiest scrambler to pass - and when the first canal builders arrived, the obstacle loomed down with cold screams of an impossible route. But the bulldog jaws of Canal Mania weren't going to let man, nor beast, stand in the way - so navvies, armed with shovels, knuckled onwards, gobbling straight through the backbone of Britain. Standedge Tunnel has become one of Britain's best treasures to marvel over, one of the wonders of the waterways. The longest, highest and deepest tunnel on Britain's inland waterways, charging 3¾miles (5,029m) from one side of the Pennines at Marsden to Diggle at the other.
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Arkwright's Mill

The first 'factory'
 
Arkwright's Mill
A tingle asks to be treasured as you stand on the spot where the Industrial Revolution was conceived. Cromford Mill, built by Richard Arkwright in 1771, was the world's first water-powered cotton spinning mill. A mill of monumental importance in the story of the world.
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Neptune's Staircase

A journey of gods
Neptune's Staircase
The Roman god of the sea bellows over the Caledonian Canal from Neptune's Staircase - Scotland's spectacular staircase flight of 8 locks. Built to allow ocean-going vessels to take giant steps, up a rise of 64ft, from the west side of Scotland, and to be carried inland by canal, leaving the sea behind. Neptune's Staircase presents itself with sensory overload - it's not just the longest staircase flight in Britain, it's a flamboyant feat of engineering swept into a panoramic melodrama by Highland mists and the moods of Ben Nevis peering straight down over the flight.
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Purton Hulks

A whispering graveyard of boats
Purton Hulks The Gloucester & Sharpness Canal sidles alongside the Severn estuary, with its tame waters following the moody route of a river. A fateful high tide in 1909 coincided with a savage storm, and wild waves reared to breach the banks, draining water from the canal. Drastic action was needed, and an unexpected solution gave the canals something that has become one of its most dramatic wonders - Purton Hulks. Now officially recognised as the largest cluster of historic maritime boats in Britain.
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Red House Glass Cone

Living beauty in rugged industrial history
Red House Glass Cone
Stourbridge doesn't pretend to be a tourist beauty spot, but its skyline peaks with pride over the Red House Glass Cone, and tourists come in their hoards. Stourbridge was once world renowned for its glassmaking, and the Red House Glass Cone pierces the sky with the audacity of a cathedral of the glass industry. There are only four glass cones left standing in Britain, and Stourbridge can claim the best preserved across Europe. The Cone is a tourist attraction that is a deep-reaching experience.
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Salt's Mill

A living village of World Heritage
Salt's Mill Fire-spitting chimneys once choked the landscape across the north of England, and the area still harbours secrets from the heyday of those dark Satanic Mills. Preserved buildings can hold an aura of iconic loneliness in the memory of textile workers who endured poverty, disease and overcrowded housing. But Sir Titus Salt's mill is a breath of fresh air, standing boldly by the Leeds & Liverpool Canal and the River Aire. His mill's redundant chimney looms down from the sky like a public monument with a silent story that wants to be heard. Sir Titus Salt (1803-1876) built an entire village for his mill workers (now a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site). The village of Saltaire is a testament to the philanthropic ideals Salt, and some of the most successful entrepreneurs of the canal era, passionately adhered to.
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