Before the turbulent year that was 2020, nobody could have imagined that an online tour of Bridgewater Canal would be as effective as the real thing – or even a possibility come to think of it.

However, in the space of just one hour, Elizabeth Charnley’s tour took us from Boothstown Marina, all the way to the Barton Swing aqueduct – detailing every point of interest and claim-to-fame along the way.

It was fascinating to learn about local historical figures such as Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy and about Queen Victoria’s visit to Worsley in 1871, as well as finally finding out the reason behind the canal’s orange hue.

All of this and not one blister in sight!

Photograph of Bridgewater Canal. Image Credit: Elizabeth Charnley.

The hour was filled with photographs, videos, and impressive little-known facts about the city many of us call home.

Perhaps the highlight was learning of Francis Egerton, Duke of Bridgewater – whose life quite frankly contains enough material to create our own rival to the likes of Bridgerton or Downton Abbey – as Elizabeth remarked at one point.

Elizabeth, who is a Green Badge tourist guide, described the canal in Salford as the “the best 5 miles of waterway”.

Elizabeth Charnley first qualified as a Green Badge Tourist Guide in April 2019. Image Credit: Elizabeth Charnley.

Prior to the event, which took place over Microsoft Teams, Elizabeth undertook training to allow her to present her tours virtually.

She said: “The training was put together by a group of London tour guides in response to there being requests for online tours in lockdown.

“People wanted to see places and learn new things but couldn’t travel.”

Although a small group of eight people, the intimate tour was well received by attendees – with some even tuning in from as far as the USA to witness what the event had to offer.

Elizabeth presents what could potentially be an overwhelming amount of fact and information with such warmth and humour – which makes for an engaging and interesting tour, even if history is not your thing.

Elizabeth handing out some of her championship Eccles cakes at Barton Aqueduct Pocket Park before the coronavirus restrictions. Image Credit:

While happy to do another tour online, Elizabeth and her team are looking forward to restarting their “Worsley Wonder” tours in person. They have been scheduled to take place on the first Saturday of every month from May 1. More information about this can be seen here.

A RHS member, Elizabeth recently attended an online talk by the designer of the new RHS Bridgewater, Tom Stuart Smith, and is looking forward to escorting visitors around the new gardens once they open in May.

As for what else is next, Elizabeth is looking into several new themes for her tours, including re-tracing Queen Victoria’s route to Worsley 170 years on, as well as tours for those with sensory disabilities, such as sight loss and mobility problems.

“I’m also working on various projects with partners to offer tours that were unable to go ahead last year, so there’s always something that’s keeping me occupied!”

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