This idyllic rural waterway was once derelict, and nearly became a dumping ground for industrial waste. It was saved by the work of energetic local volunteers and campaigners and is now one of the country’s best canals for nature, and home to three Sites of Special Scientific Interest
The restoration work by the Pocklington Canal Amenity Society has helped to restore the section from the River Derwent to the Melbourne Arm for navigation.
The upper reaches are not currently accessible by boat, but the towpath is open to walkers, and is a great place for spotting the wildlife and plants that thrive along the canal.
The canal architecture also adds interest to the scenery, with distinctive swing bridges, classic hump-backed bridges and restored and unrestored locks.
The canal was one of the last to be built, and was promoted by prosperous local farmers who sought more effective means of transporting their goods to the fast-growing towns of West Yorkshire. Its Act was passed in 1815, and it opened three years later.
The Pocklington is one of the few canals in Britain which were completed for less than the original estimated cost, costing only £32,695. Coal, lime, fertiliser and industrial goods were carried to Pocklington, and agricultural produce was sent out to the West Riding.
It was taken over by the York & North Midlands Railway in 1848, after just thirty years of operation. During the middle part of the last century the canal fell into disuse and became unnavigable. Despite plans in the 1950s to turn it into a dumping ground for chalk sludge, the canal survived, thanks to an active restoration group.