Built in 1875 to haul cargo boats from the River Weaver up to the much higher Trent and Mersey Canal, the 72-foot-high Anderton Boat Lift is a remarkable feat of Victorian engineering. Following a multi-million-pound restoration project, visitors can marvel at the machinery, take a ride up the lift and continue on a river trip through the beautiful Cheshire countryside.
The main entrance is in the modern, fully accessible visitor centre, where an interactive exhibition on the lift’s workings and history has plenty to captivate both adults and children. Once you’ve learned all about it, head over to the real thing for a fifty-foot vertical ride up the lift itself inside a glass-roofed boat, the Edwin Clark. This can be followed by a leisurely half-hour boat trip – or you can explore the site’s other attractions, which include a play area and a maze. There is a nature park too, home to a dragonfly pond and stunning wildflower displays in late spring and early summer. From here, paths strike out through the picturesque Northwich Woodlands (www.northwichwoodlands.org.uk) along the riverside, the canal and north to Marbury Country Park, whose magnificent arboretum and avenues of limes recall its days as a grand country estate. Check the website for special events such as Santa Specials in December or the interactive Circus Skills Days.
Blue Badge holders will find plenty of free, dedicated spaces in the site’s large, level car park, close to the two-level visitor centre, which is accessed via a slope and has a lift inside. The boats used for the Anderton Lift trips and river trips have mechanical transport on and off – you can stay in your wheelchair (two wheelchair spaces are available, and should be booked in advance) or transfer independently. The paths into the nature park and Northwich Woodlands are mostly level and hard-surfaced, allowing for easy progress, while clear maps make route-planning straightforward.
Food & drink: The family-friendly café in the visitor centre makes a convenient lunch stop, and there are some lovely picnic spots (with accessible tables) around the site and in the neighbouring woodlands. Nearby alternatives include the Moorings Restaurant (01606 79789), which you pass en route to the car park, and the excellent Stanley Arms pub (01606 75059), overlooking the boat lift.