I’ve wanted to go to The Anderton Boat Lift ever since reading Louise’s review in our very first edition. But believing that this trip was better suited to older children, I decided to wait a couple of years. My boys are now nine and seven – perfect ages to get the most out of a trip here. The Anderton Boat Lift is an incredible feat of Victorian engineering, and was built to allow boats to journey between the River Weaver and the Trent and Mersey Canal high above.
First stop is a good visitor centre, café and gift shop – with enough attractions to keep kids happy while they wait for the boat trip. The river cruise trip had left but we were able to book the last lift trip of the day. Boat times do vary throughout the year so check times before you leave home.
Outside there is a lovely picnic area, a small playground, a maze built out of the original cast iron counterweights and of course incredible views of the 60-foot iron boat lift. (You can access the visitor centre and outside area for free without doing the river or lift trip.)
Regular boaters will be well aware that nothing is done at speed on a canal! After boarding, we slowly motored into the lower cradle or ‘cassion’. We then had a fairly long wait, while they filled up the top cradle from the Trent and Mersey Canal with three pleasure boats that were on their way down to the River Weaver. The passionate and extremely knowledgable guide kept us entertained throughout, with stories of the river and the history of the boat lift.
Being glass-topped, the view from the boat of the surrounding iron structure is amazing. Despite the slow speed you seem to quickly pass the boats in the other cradle as the hydraulic weight pulls you up and the counter balance drops them down. The sight of the canal emerging before your eyes is lovely. It gives you a feel for how incredible it must have been for travellers 100 years ago raising 50ft between the two water levels.
The Anderton Boat Lift was right at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution, and is one of only two working boat lifts in the UK. It’s a great alternative day out, and fantastic that a structure with this heritage has been restored so brilliantly.
Entrance to the visitor centre, gift shop and café is free. Pay and display car park. Check website for up-to-date information on seasonal dates and opening times.
Lift trip: Adult £7.75, Child £5.75, Family £21.25, under 5s free. Combined lift & river trip: Adult £12, Child £9, Family £33, under 5s free.
Anderton Boat Lift, Lift Lane, Anderton, Northwich, Cheshire CW9 6FW
Tel: 01606 786777 andertonboatlift.co.uk