Arguably one of the most scenic canals in the country the Lancaster canal was built on the natural line of the land and offers 41 miles of lock free cruising with spectacular views of Morecambe Bay and the Lake District Fells.
Leaving Preston to south, the Lancaster canal travels west into open countryside consisting mainly of dairy farms and grassed fields. At Salwick Bridge can be found the hand and dagger pub and just beyond passing near to the village of Catforth is a boatyard and local supplies.
Heading north, you reach Billsborrow, a village with most necessities including two canalside pubs and canal and river trust services. Passing over a small aqueduct you will arrive at Garstang, A nice little market town with a cobbled marketplace, Numerous pubs and a marina.
Leaving Garstang the canal passes northwards through meadows and dairy farms but with very few villages and canalside settlements. A noteworthy detour, and a short walk, will take you to the excellent Bay Horse Inn, a few hundred yards East of bridge 81.
The one branch of the Lancaster canal towards Glasson Dock and the coast turns off left just after bridge 85. The branch has six locks descending to the River lune at the coast. Glasson Dock has a marina, pubs and the Lancaster smokehouse on West quay is well worth a visit.
Returning to the Lancaster canal the route continues northward passing through the town of Galgate before reaching the historic town of Lancaster. Here the canal passes through the main Town Centre with plentiful shops, pubs and restaurants with a visit to the historic Old Castle well worth a stop.
The route of the canal now sweeps westward and crosses over the River lune by way of an impressive aqueduct built of stone, a superb example of canal engineering. It carries the canal 60 feet above the river lune and is a grade 1listed edifice designed by the architect and engineer John Rennie/
Beyond Lancaster the canal passes once again through agricultural landscapes before reaching Hest Bank with the sea clearly visible to the east. The next settlement on the canalside is Bolton le Sands, which has some very pretty houses with gardens that stretch to the canal. It also has two pubs, one of these is called the packet boat which is a reminder of the fact that passengers travelling from Preston to Kendal on the fast fly or packet boat Service used to change boats here to give the horses a rest.
North of here the canal reaches the town of Carnforth, a typical leisure market town with great views over Morecambe Bay. It grew from a small village with the coming of the Canal and then the railway. The station visitor centre where the film Brief Encounter was filmed has a café and a small railway museum.
5 miles north of here the canal finishes suddenly at Borwick just before the Tewitfield locks. These were the only lots of any significance on the Lancaster canal and they fell into disrepair when the M6 motorway was built over them. There is currently a review afoot to restore these locks out to open navigation up right through to Kendal.