Over 1,500 tonnes of silt are to be dredged from the northern reaches of the Lancaster Canal in advance of the national three day Trailboat Festival to be held from Saturday 30 May until Monday 1 June.
Dredging is a vital part of keeping the waterways clear for boaters, but also has a positive impact on the flora and fauna. The dredging of the northern reaches – the unrestored northern stretch of the Lancaster Canal, will also have the added benefit of improving the water supply to the remainder of the canal.
The work is being carried out to enable the Inland Waterways Association (IWA) Trailboat festival to take place alongside Countryfest - a celebration of food and the countryside on the Westmorland Show site at Crookland.
The canal landing stage at Crookland has been extensively restored by volunteers including the relaying of the original cobble sets and ‘layering’ of an overgrown hedge in preparation for the event and a new landing stage made at the Countryfest canal entrance (Bridge 167).
The IWA’s annual Trailboat Festival is held on isolated stretches of inland waterway, and aims to promote the restoration or development of local waterways and to promote an under used waterway.
Trail boats are smaller than traditional canal boats, and are designed to be transported by road between different waterways – which makes it possible for them to explore land-locked waterways.
The Trailboat Festival is being hosted by the Lancaster Canal Trust, which was set up to restore, and reopen to navigation, the length of the canal from Tewitfield, just north of Carnforth, to Kendal after the Lancaster Canal was cut in two by the construction of the M6 motorway.
Over 30 trail boats are expected to taken place at the festival which runs from 30 May – 1 June, all having to be delivered by trailer because the northern reaches of the canal are land-locked.
The highlight of the festival will be illuminated parade of boats that will take place on Sunday 31 May at 8.30pm from Millness to Wakefield’s wharf.
Chantelle Seaborn, waterways manager with the Canal & River Trust, said: “It is a great coup for the Lancaster Canal Trust to be able to host the Trailboat festival and the Canal & River Trust is delighted to be able to do what we can to help make this event a success.
“The festival is set to be an outstanding success and will help highlight the sterling work the Lancaster Canal Society, working with the Canal & River Trust, are doing to promote and northern reaches of the Lancaster Canal by increasing awareness and interest amongst all users of this historic and beautiful waterway, be they boaters, walkers, cyclists, or anglers.”
The dredging has been carefully planned to avoid what is believed to be a hospital barge used during the 1920 diphtheria epidemic and is now a submerged wreck at Field End Bridge. The Lancaster Canal Trust engaged divers who located the wreck and now the dredging has been planned to prevent it being disturbed.