The Shropshire Union Canal runs from the outskirts of Wolverhampton to Ellesmere Port, covering a distance of some 66 miles, and falling more than 300 feet, down 44 locks. The Shroppie, as it is affectionately known, is a union of three canals: the Birmingham & Liverpool Junction Canal, the Chester Canal and the Ellesmere Canal (Wirral line). The Birmingham & Liverpool Junction Canal (from Autherley Junction to Nantwich) was the last great narrow boat canal to be built and is a product of the later period of canal construction. As the working narrow boats slowly disappeared, a new form of waterway traffic emerged and the canal became a firm favourite with pleasure boaters. The main line was nationalized in 1947 and assured of a long term future (by its present owners British Waterways), when it was designated a 'Cruiseway' in 1968. It also offers a fascinating backdrop to a series of leisure walks along its length, particularly in its early stages which are the focus of this book.