Read the story of how the Canal & River Trust came to be
Work for us
We have vacancies across all of our waterways and in the offices, museums and attractions that support them. We're one of the UK's biggest charities and we take pride in everything we do
If you're thinking of getting in touch then please take a moment to look through these pages as we probably have the answer on our website
Planning & design
All you need to know about planning and design on our canals and rivers
Find a winter mooring
Find a cosy section of canal to hunker down in this winter
10 reasons to take up canoeing
It's a great way to get fit and explore our waterways at the same time
Share the Space
Take a look at our common sense guide to sharing the towpath
Find a place to fish
From reservoirs to club-managed canals and river stretches - find your nearest place to fish
Get your free guide
Download your free guide today and start exploring the waterway nature near you
Download your free guides
You've nine free days out guides to choose from - where will you go first?
Find a walk near you
Are you ready to ramble? Find a waterside stroll or a satisfying hike along our beautiful canals and rivers
Take a look at our upcoming events here.
Find your favourite waterway
With over 95 canals, rivers, reservoirs, docks and navigations, find out more about your favourite waterway
Something for everyone
Help us make a difference and have fun along the way. Find your perfect volunteer role today
Join our team
Could you join your local Towpath Taskforce team and help us to keep our canals looking lovely?
Desmond Family Canoe Trail
If you're aged 16-25 and would like to get involved with this exciting project, please get in touch
Could you be a volunteer lock keeper?
Find out what's involved with this popular volunteering opportunity
Why we think canals are better with Friends
Become a Friend of the Canal & River Trust today and you’ll open yourself up to new experiences and endless opportunities.
We love and care for your canals and rivers, because everyone deserves a place to escape.
There are plenty of reasons to visit the Lancaster Canal. The canal was only recently connected to the national waterway network via the Ribble Link in 2002. Spending the majority of its life in isolation, it has developed its own unique character.
29th Jan 2018 8:00am to 28th Feb 2018 6:00pm
Please be advised that Garstang Road footbridge is being refurbished by contractors from 2 January 2018 to 28 February 2018. To facility the finishing off works here, there will be a navigation and towpath...
15th Nov 2017 12:00am to 16th Mar 2018 11:59pm
Please be advised that dredging works will be taking place at various locations on the Lancaster Canal. Works commence on 15 November and include areas between bridges 131 and 94.
23rd Dec 2015 12:00am onwards
Stainton Aqueduct has sustained some damage in the recent poor weather. As a precautionary measure, we have closed off the towpath until further notice.
Hire Daisy, the charming little narrowboat. Ideal for couples or small families
Star Narrowboat Holidays, is an independent, narrowboat hire company owned and managed by Hester Cox at the Bridgewater Marina (also known as Boothstown Basin) we are independent of the marina and any...
Lancaster Canal Cruises operate a fleet of narrow boats and canal barges on the Lancaster Canal from a small village called Bilsborrow near Garstang.
Bridge 129b (Motorway culvert) to Bridge 138 Old Turnpike
Bridge 118 Hest Bank to Bridge 126 Barkers
Whole of Glasson Branch
Ashton Basin to Bridge 118 Hest Bank
Bridge 141 Saltermire to Bridge 172 Stainton Crossing
Bridge 126 to Bridge 129b motorway culvert
Bridge 138 to Bridge 141 Saltermire
Linking Preston to Kendal, the Lancaster Canal is one of the country’s few coastal canals. Built along the natural lie of the land it offers 41 miles of lock free cruising - the longest stretch in the country. As the canal is naturally level, it also lends itself to gentle walking and cycling as well as canoeing and other outdoor pursuits.
In addition to providing spectacular views of the Silverdale Coast, Forest of Bowland and Wyre countryside, the Lancaster Canal also features some of the most impressive canal architecture in the country. The Lune Aqueduct, which has recently benefited from a £2.4 million transformation, is one of John Rennie’s finest works and not to be missed.
Find stopages, restrictions and other navigational advice for this waterway.
Enjoy a family day out with fresh air, wildlife, heritage and boats, all absolutely free.
Download our free guides to Penny Street Basin and the awe-inspiring Lune Aqueduct.
Promoted by wealthy local merchants in the late 18th century, the Lancaster Canal was originally envisaged as a line from the Bridgewater Canal at Worsley through to Kendal. The plans were torn up and redrawn several times, and the final incarnation as seen today bears little resemblance to the original proposals.
Cargo - the Black and White Canal
The canal's principal purpose was to transport coal north from the Lancashire Coalfields, and limestone south from Cumbria. The nature of these cargoes gave the waterway its local nickname - the Black and White Canal. The Glasson branch (1820) allowed cargo transfer from sea going vessels that could not navigate the increasingly shallow Lune Estuary into Lancaster.
The canal was built in two sections, north and south of the River Ribble. John Rennie designed major two aqueducts, one over the Lune at Lancaster, and one over the Ribble at Preston. Due to problems with the foundations of the Lune Aqueduct, the company ran out of sufficient money to build the Ribble aqueduct to connect the two sections. Instead, a tramway was built from Walton Summit to Preston. This worked adequately, and so the two sections were never connected. Subsequently, in 1816 a branch was opened from the southern section to the Leeds & Liverpool Canal at Johnsons Hillock. The section south of Preston became part of the much-delayed Leeds & Liverpool, who leased it in 1863: and the tramway from Walton Summit to Preston eventually closed in the 1880s.
North of Preston, though, the waterway was fairly successful. Because of the lack of locks, the daily Packet Boat passenger service really was 'express' - Kendal could be reached from Preston in an unheard of 10 hours. In fact the service was so comfortable that passengers on the daily runs between Preston and Kendal remained loyal to the waterway for several years after the arrival of the trains.
Roads posed a more serious threat and after a general decline (the last cargo sailing in 1947) the construction of the M6 motorway through the line of the canal finally saw the 14 miles of the Northern Reaches isolated at Tewitfield Locks. The isolated, largely unnavigable section to the north is home to the only tunnel on the Lancaster Canal at Hincaster.
However, the modern age has benefited the Lancaster Canal in one way: the new Millennium Ribble Link. Opened in 2002 as the first new canal for 97 years, this connects the Lancaster to the national network via the River Ribble, the River Douglas and the Leeds & Liverpool Canal's Rufford Branch.
North West waterways
Read about the waterways within the North West region