Running from the edge of Derby to the River Mersey, the 93-mile Trent & Mersey Canal takes in the best of what the North Midlands has to offer, with stunning views over the Cheshire Plains. And though it’s those with narrow boaters that are best known for reaping the benefits, enjoying the tranquil waterway and wildlife, it’s a great place for cycling the towpath as well. Fortunately for landlubbers, the best-loved marina along the route has now set aside a space for camping too. And what a campsite it is.
Oakwood Marina boasts nearly a mile of canal frontage and space for up to 90 narrow boats, while the campsite, a vast green space with views of the marina, occupies nearly 30 acres of imperceptibly sloping land along the water's edge. The Wilder family, who own the place, have an attitude to the campsite that befits their surname. Grazed by cows in some parts and cut just once or twice a year for hay, the meadows are otherwise left long and wild in summer. A few footpaths have been conscientiously mown in between pitches to help guide you around the fields and over to another lake attached to the canal that’s a wildlife hotspot and a good place to watch for herons.
Toilet and shower facilities are available in the main marina building, where there’s also a small shop and a tearooms with picnic tables outside. But there are also additional toilets directly beside the camping area, along with washing up stations and additional drinking water taps. There are pre-pitched bell tents for glampers and campfires are very much allowed, with Dutch ovens available for hire and barbecue hampers you can purchase if you want to test your campfire cooking skills.
Walkers, cyclists and birders are perhaps most at home here. There are a couple of fantastic circular walks directly from the marina and a bike-friendly B road leads into Davenham and Northwich. It’s a 15-minute drive to the most famous landmark along the canal, an enormous boat lift known as ‘the Cathedral of the Canals’ that lifts narrow boats some 50-feet into the air. It’s 15 minutes, too, to the beautiful picnic spot at Pickmere, the woods of Delamere Forest and the stately grounds of Tatton Park.
Please note The tea room is closed on a Tuesday and wednesday and The pizza hut and bar are closed on a Monday and a Tuesday. This will mean there is no food facility on site during Tuesdays.