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The Lancaster Canal walk is 57 miles (91.8 km) long and runs from Preston to Kendal. At present the northern reaches of the canal, Tewitfield to Kendal 14.6 miles (23.4km), are derelict. The footpath does continue all the way but doesn’t always stay by the canal. It has to leave it through fields and joins minor roads over the M6. However, it does take you all the way to Kendal. 

The Lancaster Canal walk was a peaceful, enjoyable walk and I was able to camp wild every night.

I walked this as part of my 1,200 mile Lands End to John O’Groats and 3 Peaks walk.

Recommended reading: Cicerone’s Lancaster Canal and Lancaster Canals Walk.

Day 1 (35): Saturday 23rd March 2019

The start of the Lancaster Canal in Preston
The start of the Lancaster Canal in Preston.

On arrival in Preston I found a supermarket to restock my food. Then I had to use my trusty GPS to find the start of the Lancaster Canal, which is hidden away just north west of the city centre. It’s worth finding because it’s a nice way to walk out of the city and soon leaves the houses and noise behind. I walked about four miles along the canal before finding a suitable camp spot for the night.

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Looking for a camp spot for the night and watching the sun set.

Day 2 (36): Sunday 24th March

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I’d found a good camping spot last night, but I did wake up cold a couple of times in the night and ended up putting my down jacket on.

At 5am I woke to find my tent completely frozen – the forecast had been a minimum of 4 degrees. It was a beautiful clear morning as I made my coffee, thankful I’d bought some yesterday.

The canal path was grassy and often muddy on this stretch, and there were very few people or boats.

It was 10.30 and I’d walked nearly 8 miles when I came across a lovely old pub, Owd Nell’s Tavern, and it was open.

I was hugely glad to find the pub, a gorgeous thatched building and already busy. My feet had been hurting for a while, even though I had stopped and sat down to rest them earlier in the morning. The pint, cooked breakfast and rest was much appreciated.

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10.30am pint, how lucky am I

After my stop here, I walked another load of miles to arrive at Garstang at 1.30pm. I needed to stop here as there wasn’t much ahead for the rest of the day. The walk along the canal was easy going but not especially interesting, so I had my head down and iPod on for most of the way.

Once in Garstang, I headed straight for the pub for a meal and a pint. The food was delicious and I ended up having another pint while my phone charged.

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My left foot continued to hurt in the afternoon, so I stopped at 5pm and put the tent up to dry. I sat on a nearby bench to sort all my stuff out. I felt really smug about my decision to stop as when I got into the tent at 6pm to sort out my sore feet, it started to rain – a very lucky move. My left toe is now really blistered and swollen, and most toes look quite red and sore underneath.

Day 3 (37): Monday 25th March 2019

It was quite a windy night so I expected a dry tent when I woke in the morning, but no. It was dead still and everything was covered with frost, so the tent was soaked with condensation inside.

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Nice view from here…

Still, it was a lovely start to the day with sunshine to accompany me along the Lancaster Canal. I had taped my little toe which helped with the pain, and the going was easy. 

It was a good walk, often in trees, and mostly very quiet and peaceful. The wind started to get up about 10am, and it was a head wind too, which has been rare on this walk. Usually it has been on my back, helping me along!

Walking the Lancaster Canal has been a good decision. I’m enjoying the regular pubs and shops, which means I haven’t had to carry much food – just the 2 litres (2kg) of water as there aren’t many places to filter it here.

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I reached Lancaster and needed to stock up on meths, so called in to B&Q and realised just how overpriced it is was.

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Be warned – Meths at B&Q £4.37, Toolstation £3, Llanberis Outdoor Shop £2.50. 2019 prices.

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Bring on the unlimited coffee

This overpayment, I made up for by having an impressive Wetherspoon’s breakfast which included all the coffee I could drink… I love a challenge. I had actually broken my rule by stopping here as they had socket covers on all the plugs, but I couldn’t refuse £6.50 for a large breakfast. At 3 coffees and counting I was wondering what the record was, and if they would actually throw me out…

It was an easy walk though Lancaster on cycle route 6 towards Kendal.

At Tewitfield, the navigable part of the canal ended, cut off by a road across it.

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However, the path and canal carried on the other side and this section was very quiet. It did cross the motorway a few times, though, and I struggled to find a camping spot at the right time. I should have stopped sooner but I ran out of daylight. I ended up camping right on the towpath which I don’t like doing. As soon as I’d got my tent up, three people came past – even though I hadn’t seen anyone for hours!

Day 4 (38): Tuesday 26th March 2019

I woke this morning to an overcast day and was off by 6am as usual. I followed the canal to Sellet Hall, and they are currently working on the canal to extend it further past this point.

Just as the sun came out, I found a bench where I could air my gear and have a coffee and a nibble.

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Airing sleeping bag and clothes near the end of the Lancaster Canal
The restoration of the Lancaster Canal.

That’s the end of the Lancaster Canal and it’s nice paths through fields to Kendal. Which is probably the best place to finish and get transport home. I’ve enjoyed walking this canal, it’s been quieter than all the others I’ve walked. I’m now heading into the Lake District and Scafell Pike.

Further reading

Striding Edge Narrow Boat

Cicerone Lancaster Canal and Lancaster Canals Walk

Gear List.

Wey Navigation and Thames Path

The Grand Union Canal Path

The Oxford and Coventry Canals

Lands End to John O’Groats and 3 Peaks walk

How I plan a successful long distance walk

My 11 wild camping rules.

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2 Replies to “Lancaster Canal walk”

  1. Hi It’s been very interesting reading your walk on the Lancaster canal. I am doing a charity walk in May walking the Cheshire Ring.
    I have been training walking on the Macclesfield Canal,the PeakForest Canal and Huddersfield Canal.
    I notice that you have camped so no problem with b and b ,which I am finding very difficult, so having people picking me up each day.
    Good luck with your future walks, any advice would be very welcome.

    1. Hello David

      Good luck with your walk. I’ve done the Cheshire Ring by narrow boat and appreciate the difficulty with accommodation, I wouldn’t want to camp all the way on that one. It’s a long way through urban Manchester, but very interesting. Good tow path all the way from memory and a varied and interesting walk all the way around.
      Sorry I cannot help much except I’d set off slow and not push high mileage first day.
      Thanks for your message.

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