Distance: 5 km / 3 miles
Time: Allow 1½ – 2 hours
Start: St Anne’s car park, Nantwich
Map:OS Explorer 268
Terrain: Relatively flat paths
Barriers: Gates, but no stiles
Stretch your legs on this pleasant walk from the town centre, taking in the Riverside Park, the Shropshire Union Canal and the historic Welsh Row. Just follow the signs in either direction and enjoy getting to know the countryside and its history within such easy reach.
Location: Nantwich Riverside Park is located close to the town centre. Post code of St Anne’s carpark for satnav is CW5 5ED, OS grid reference SJ 648523.
Parking: Free car parking is available in St Anne’s car park off Welsh Row at and at the lake at the southern end of the park off the A530 Shrewbridge Road.
Public transport: Nantwich is well connected by bus and rail services, and has a number of bus routes within the town itself.
Refreshments and toilets: There are facilities along Welsh Row and in the town centre.
River Weaver and Nantwich Lake:
The area of the River Weaver in Nantwich has been modified over the centuries to serve a water mill, which was located at the western end of Mill Lane. The surviving remains of this mill date to the 18th century and probably occupy the site of a mill dating to the 14th century. The mill was used for the production of cotton and later as a corn mill before being destroyed by fire in 1970.
Nantwich Lake was created in the 1970s as a way of controlling the brine emanating from nearby springs and frequent flooding problems. The riverside area is the home to the saline spring which feeds the outdoor brine swimming pool.
Shropshire Union Canal:
The walk takes you along a short length of the Shropshire Union Canal, opened in 1835 and originally known as the Birmingham & Liverpool Junction Canal after the cities that it was designed to connect. Only a few years later, mergers and an Act of Parliament created the Shropshire Union Railways & Canal Company. The word “Railways” indicates the way in which transport methods were changing. The company’s engineer, W A Provis, realised that if railways were built along existing canal beds the construction costs would be halved. Happily for future generations few railways were built, and the Shropshire Union canal system remains largely intact.
Engineer Thomas Telford’s original plan had been to take the canal from Hack Green straight across Dorfold Park and into Nantwich Basin which was the terminus of the Chester canal. However the owner of Dorfold Park was not persuaded and Telford was obliged to build a long embankment around the edge of the park, incorporating an aqueduct over the road. This was a difficult and costly business as the embankment repeatedly collapsed during construction.
As you pass under the bridges look out for the grooves in the iron work which protected the brickwork from abrasion due to grit on the horse-drawn boat ropes. You’ll also pass a mile marker opposite the broad section of canal. This area is known as Marsh Lane Wide and is said to have been the source of sand and gravel extracted for use in the construction of the waterway.
At Marsh Lane Bridge note the stop-gates which are there to minimise loss of water in the event of a breach in the embankment and aqueduct. The cottage adjacent to Marsh Lane Bridge was once home to a lengthman who was employed by the canal company to look after a stretch of canal. His home was situated next to the stop-gate so that in the event of a crisis he could quickly close it.
Welsh Row was known as Frog Row in the medieval period. By the late 15th century the name of the street had changed to Welsh Row due to the presence of Welsh businessmen in town for the salt trade. Salt production has occurred in the area since Roman times and Nantwich continued to be significant in the trade until around the end of the 17th century; a recent archaeological investigation suggested that a wooden trackway discovered under Welsh Row was constructed in the 13th century. Artefacts from the salt trade are on display in the Nantwich Museum.
Full Address: St Anne’s car park , Off Welsh Row , Nantwich , Cheshire , CW5 5ED