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Lancaster Canal

The Lancaster Canal was originally built from Wigan to Canal Head in Kendal. The southern section later became part of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal from Wigan to Johnson’s Hillock. The canal ends in Kendal but it is only navigable to Tewitfield.

Things to do nearby

Glasson Basin, Lancaster Canal
Steamship Danny, moored by the Pumphouse at the Albert Docks in Liverpool
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Facts & stats

57 miles

(91.8km)

The length of the Lancaster Canal that is navigable.

8 locks

+ Glasson locks

There are a further 6 locks on the Glasson branch (2.9 miles/ 4.4km) plus a tidal sea lock.

14.6 miles

(23.4km)

The Northern Reaches of the Lancaster Canal are derelict and still to be restored, including a further 8 locks.

Ashton Basin to Tewitfield

The canal was built to link Manchester, Preston and Lancaster but the short stretch connecting Preston and Chorley was never finished.

The Lancaster Canal remained separated from the main network until Britain’s newest waterway, the Millennium Ribble Link, was opened in 2002.

At present, the northern reaches of the canal from Tewitfield to Kendal are derelict with restoration proposed, and a short section of the canal in Preston is also derelict.

There is a branch to Glasson plus a tidal sea lock, and the Ribble Link joins the main line 1.5 miles (2.4km) out of Preston.

Lancaster Canal – Northern Reaches Restoration

The long-term aim is to reopen the abandoned ‘northern reaches’ from the limit of navigation below Tewitfield Locks to Kendal.

The Lancaster Canal Trust’s ‘First Furlong’ project aims to re-water one furlong (220 yards, about 200 metres) of the dry section of the canal which extends for five miles from Stainton to the original terminus in Kendal.

The long-term aim is to reopen the abandoned ‘northern reaches’ from the limit of navigation below Tewitfield Locks to Kendal. However the southern part of this section is beset by main road blockages (particularly the M6), while proposals to reinstate the Kendal terminus have struggled with planning issues.

The First Furlong aims to ensure that there is visible physical progress, and to extend the current tripboat operation once the nearby Stainton Aqueduct (damaged in the winter 2015-16 floods) is repaired.

Waterway notes

Maximum boat sizes

  • Length: 77′ 11″ (23.75 metres) – Lock 2 Glasson Branch (no structural length restrictions on the navigable main line). Tewitfield Locks (under restoration) are 72′ 0″ (21.9 metres) long.
  • Beam: 16′ 0″ (4.88 metres) – Bridge 79 (Cockerham Road Bridge)
  • Height: 8′ 2″ (2.50 metres) – bridge at Lock 2 Glasson Branch
  • Draught: 4′ 6″ (1.37 metres) – cill at Lock 2 Glasson Branch

Useful info

The Sea Lock at Glasson is operated by Lancaster Ports Commission.

Navigation authority

Canal & River Trust

Restoration group

Waterways heritage

Our waterways heritage is what makes Britain’s canals and rivers special and it must be actively protected – through the local planning system and sufficient funding – for the future.

Waterway underfunding

Hundreds of miles of waterways – along with their unique heritage and habitats – are currently starved of funding and rely on constant lobbying by us to safeguard their future.

New waterways add value

The advantages of the proposed waterways far exceed leisure boating alone. They incorporate a nature reserve, footpaths and cycle ways, the potential to improve flora and fauna and will contribute to the health and wellbeing of locals and visitors.

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