A friend and I walked this recently. The Cheshire Ring (CR) is roughly a 100 mile walk on canal towpaths that starts, and finishes, in Manchester. Being based on towpaths, the walk is pretty level with minor ascents and descents. There is an excellent map of the route available from GEOprojects tel 0118 939 3567.
The canals were the transport infrastructure for the Industrial Revolution so anyone walking the CR will see any number of bits of fascinating industrial architecture and engineering including mills, aqueducts, locks, boat yards, etc dating from the mid-1700s and very often still working perfectly. However, the CR is not all about industry; there are lots of miles in open countryside to savour too. It has to be said that the route has a multitude of pubs, cafes and shops nearby so finding provisions is not a worry.
As regards accommodation there are only two campsites so B&B is the best option unless you want to wild camp. Near locks is a good place to pitch for the night as they are often unattended. Do not wild camp anywhere near Manchester- the area is densely populated and “urban” to put it politely. We decided to stay in B&B for the whole walk as my friend did not want to wild camp. It is difficult to find cheap accommodation in the Sandbach and Northwich areas so below are a list of places where we stayed plus a few comments about location, etc. All were clean and comfortable.
Audenshaw: Mount Guest House, Shepley Road Audenshaw, Manchester, M34 5DL (0161) 637 0245 Guide Bridge Railway Station – 1/4 mile. Audenshaw is pretty much a depressing area in every respect. Only real pub is the Pack Horse. In retrospect, I would move on to Hyde.
Bollington: The Church House Inn Church Street Bollington Macclesfield Cheshire SK10 5PY(0)1625 574014 Bollington is a nice little place to stop.
Congleton: Bulls Head Hotel 4 MILL STREET , CONGLETON, CW12 1AB Congleton has all amenities.
Sandbach The Wheatsheaf 1 Hightown, Sandbach Cheshire, CW11 1AG 01270 762013 Sandbach is quite genteel and lots of interesting things to look at.
Weaverham: Chapels Wine Bar And Bed & Breakfast, 15-17 High Street Weaverham 07548079016 No breakfast provided but very cheap to stay. Get breakfast from the local shops.
Warrington: Kings Head, 40 Winwick St, Warrington Has 24 hour security, looks rough but is actually a nice place to stay. Breakfast is essentially tea and toast.
Sale: Cornerstones Guesthouse 230, Washway Road Sale, Manchester 0161 283 6909 Near canal & Brooklands Metro station. A super B&B, pubs & restaurants a fair walk away and you feel like you are a cast member in Shameless when out and about.
I’d never walked a Canal Route before and I was very surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did. Lots to see, easy walking, no problems getting food and drink, nice countryside for the most part and real ale everywhere. Thoroughly enjoyable.