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Lancaster Canal

The Lancaster Canal was originally built to connect the Leeds & Liverpool Canal to Preston, Lancaster and Kendal.  The southern section later became part of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal and a tramway connection over the Ribble valley was abandoned in 1864.  The northern reaches of the canal were closed when the M6 was built across the Canal in three places.  The canal now runs from Preston to Tewitfield.

Things to do nearby

Himalayan Balsam flower

Facts & stats



The length of the Lancaster Canal that is currently navigable.

8 locks

+ Glasson locks

The number of abandoned locks at Tewitfield awaiting restoration.  There are a further  six navigable locks on the Glasson branch (2.9 miles/ 4.4km) plus a tidal sea lock.


(22.5 km)

The length of the Northern Reaches of the Lancaster Canal, above Tewitfield, awaiting restoration.

Ashton Basin to Tewitfield

The canal was built to link Manchester, Preston, Lancaster and Kendal, but the short stretch across the Ribble valley was never finished, and the two sections of constructed canal were connected by a tramway until the latter was abandoned.

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.  About a miles of canal in Preston is also derelict and not proposed for restoration.

There is a branch to Glasson plus a tidal sea lock.  The Ribble Link joins the main line 1.5 miles (2.4km) out of Preston, and connects to the Ribble Estuary, and then to the connected national network via the river Douglas and Rufford Branch of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal.

Lancaster Canal – Northern Reaches Restoration

Lancaster Canal Trust aims 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 Lancaster Canal Trust’s current ‘First Furlong’ project aims to re-water one furlong (220 yards, about 200 metres) of the dry section of the canal.  This dry section extends for five miles from Stainton to the original terminus in Kendal.  This project provides some visible physical progress, and should enable the current trip boat operation to extend its cruising range.

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

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.

Local Events

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.

Sustainable Boating

We want boating on canals and rivers to be more sustainable and – even though the current overall contribution to UK carbon emissions is very small – we want to help reduce emissions on the waterways.

Waterways Heritage at Risk

Britain’s canals and rivers are a unique, living heritage. But that heritage is at risk – from urban development, lack of protection, loss of skills and knowledge and climate change.

You can help Save Waterways Heritage.

Waterway restoration

Restoring the UK’s blue infrastructure – our inherited network of navigable canals and rivers – is good for people and places.

Local activities