Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Lancaster Canal, Northern Reaches.

When we arrived here at the Tewitfield terminus Meg and I took a walk up the flight of locks that lift the canal 75 feet before it heads for Kendal.

We’re moored with our stern almost against the first obstacle, the raised bank with a culvert through it which carried the old road before the motorway was built.

Dead End.

On the other side of the bank, which is high enough to put a short tunnel through, the bottom of the flight of 8 locks is reached within a few yards.

Other end of the Tewitfield Culvert

Tewitfield Bottom Lock, number 8.

The well constructed stone lock chambers are in remarkably good condition, considering they’ve been disused for nearly 70 years.

The gates have been removed on all the locks, but the ground paddle gear on one side still remains, presumably to drop excess water through the locks. The upper gates have been replaced with a concrete dam to keep the intermediate pounds in water.

Ground Paddle, Lock 7

A bit of vegi-management is needed at Lock 6, before the copings become damaged by roots.

Shifting stonework

The flight climbs alongside the motorway for ½ a mile, so the pounds are short. Above lock 6 the channel becomes narrow and weedy, but still viable.

Lock 2, and beyond, Lock 1

Above the top lock there’s about 500 yards of channel still navigable before the water appears out of the culvert underneath the M6.

Bridge 141, the last before the motorway.

Cinderbarrow Culvert

It’ll be good to see this from a boat…..

The photos show that there’s not enough headroom to drive a tunnel through the motorway embankment. So the plan is to re-site the top lock to the other side of the road, thereby lowering the canal at this point by around 9 feet. That will allow sufficient height for a tunnel.

Looking downhill from Br 141

To get the canal from the current head of navigation to Kendal will involve the construction of 6 short tunnels under roads, 1 aqueduct over the A590, 2 new bridges (one of them moveable) and a couple of lengths of completely new channel. Quite a challenge, but the trip would be fantastic. Although alongside the motorway, the locks are pretty, and above them the canal winds through beautiful countryside between the Dales fells and the south Cumbrian fells. Kendal is an attractive market town, well worth the journey.

There’s lots more info here.

Today is pretty miserable (that’s why I took the photos yesterday, I’d seen the forecast!), overcast and drizzly. I took Meg for a ramble across the fields, ending up at the village of Borwick, before returning along the canal.

Pastoral scenery

Borwick village green

Borwick Hall….

….with it’s impressive gatehouse.

The Hall was built in it’s present form around 1600, but various additions and alterations have occurred since. Originally it was owned by 3 generations of the Binloss family, each in turn called Robert, who were wealthy cloth merchants. The house then passed to the local Standish family through the 3rd Robert’s daughter Cecelia’s marriage. This was another union without a male heir, so the estate then passed to a member of the influential Sizergh family, Thomas Strickland. The hall then passed through several hands before being taken over by the MOD during WWII. After the war it had a brief spell as a resort (Middleton Towers Holiday Camp) before being bought by Lancashire Youth Clubs Association. It’s now owned by the Lancashire Education Authority and is run as an outdoor education and conference centre.

Borwick’s website is here.

Locks 0, miles 0 (by boat, anyway)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is about time this canal was fully restored!
It would bring work to the area during construction and tourists after completion.
Surely a win win situation.