Lancaster Canal – Glasson Branch

The Glasson branch of the Lancaster Canal was built to connect the main canal at Galgate to the River Lune estuary at Glasson Dock, with construction starting in 1820 and the branch opening in 1826. Over its two-and-a-half mile length the branch dropped through 52ft, and while the main canal is lock-free for the whole of its 42 miles the Glasson branch was constructed with six locks between Galgate and the Glasson Basin.
I’d walked along a short section of the canal one day last summer but this time I intended to explore the whole two-and-a-half mile length, which I did just eight days ago. Starting from Glasson Basin it was only a short distance to the first bridge, which was technically the last one as the locks and bridges are numbered from the junction with the main canal. The footpath was wide and grassy, bordered by hedges on the left, open fields across the canal and with the Bowland Fells in the distance. At the far side of the hedge near the second bridge was Glasson Marina Holiday Park, a medium-sized static caravan site, and once I was past there I was away from any form of civilisation until I got past the third bridge.
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View from the first bridge – Bridge 8
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View from Bridge 7
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View from Bridge 6
A short distance past Bridge 6 was Lock 6 and The Mill at Conder Green, a canalside hotel, bar and restaurant, currently closed but under normal circumstances probably a popular place to stop off for a drink on a warm sunny day. Bypassing the far side of the lock was a canal overflow channel and standing as still as a statue in the bottom end was a heron; I watched it for several minutes but it never moved an inch.
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Lock 6 and The Mill at Conder Green
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Just past Lock 6 was a short mooring platform then the canal curved round to the right and in less than ten minutes I was at Lock 5. Nearby a mother swan and her two young ones glided silently through the water and the bottom of the hedgerows were interspersed with large patches of oxeye daisies growing just a few feet from the path.

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Lock 5

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A hundred yards or so past the lock and its mooring platform, and close to Bridge 5, was a gap in the hedge and a gate where I could see over the fields beyond. A herd of cows mooched peacefully about in the nearest field and a bit farther along the path was a second gate with a notice warning off anyone who might think of going in there for whatever reason. I’ve often wondered if such notices are just the farmers’ way of discouraging people from trespassing on their land but this time it was true – there was a bull in the field, a very handsome red beast, but he disappeared down a dip in the land before I could get a photo of him.
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Another few minutes walking got me to Bridge 4 and Lock 4 and beyond the lock itself the land really opened out. The nearby hedges were low enough to see over and there were great views across the fields on both sides of the canal. Cows grazed peacefully by the waterside, some actually standing in the water itself; the field of cows changed to a field of sheep which then became a field of both cows and sheep, and there was no sound at all other than the various little birds as they flew about from one hedge to another.
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Bridge 4
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Lock 4

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Tortoiseshell butterfly
At Lock 3 the landscape changed again with the far side of the canal now being shaded by more trees. Farther on a solitary cow paddled and grazed at the water’s edge and in a field on my side of the canal an old Massey Ferguson tractor trundled along, turning the previously mown grass with its motorised hay rake. With the wrong wheels and half its bonnet missing it looked a bit of a mess but it was certainly doing its job.
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View from Lock 3

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At Lock 2 the canal widened out a bit near its mooring platform then narrowed again as it got closer to Lock 1. About halfway between the two locks were a pair of swans with the female busy rearranging the nest, and on a wooden post closer to Lock 1 I photographed my second butterfly of the afternoon.
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View from Lock 2

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Red Admiral butterfly
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Lock 1, Bridge 1
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Bridge 1

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At Bridge 1 I was at the junction with the main canal and my turn around point, Galgate Marina, was less than a quarter of a mile to the north. I hadn’t gone far when I started to see boats moored alongside the far bank and in the marina itself, in front of a narrowboat, was a swan with nine young ones. I’d just taken a photo of them when a lady in one of the boats shouted across that they all belonged to that one swan and her mate, which quite surprised me as I’ve never before seen one swan with so many young ones.
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Leaving the swans behind I set off back to Glasson Basin; I hadn’t started my walk until gone 3pm and time was now getting on so I walked back without stopping, though I did pause briefly by The Mill at Conder Green. The stork was still in the canal overflow channel, in exactly the same place as two hours previously – it hadn’t moved, and I was just beginning to think that it was a lifelike replica left there for some reason when it suddenly turned and looked like it was about to take off. I was glad it moved when it did or I would have wondered for a long while if it was real.
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Just before I reached Glasson Basin I passed a shrub with some pretty pink blooms and with one final shot I returned to the van. Although the walk had only been a total of five miles it had somehow seemed longer so it was now time to head for home and chill out for the rest of the evening.


18 thoughts on “Lancaster Canal – Glasson Branch

  1. Glasson Dock is a nice little place with quite a bit of history to it. There’s another walk I want to do from there but I want the sunny weather to come back first 😉


  2. Under normal circumstances a boat or two would have added to the canal scenery but it was certainly peaceful and still pretty enough as it was 🙂


  3. That’s a lovely canal side walk. I’m always nervous of cows just across the water and would be very wary seeing a sign warning of bull in a field. How lovely to see the swan with so many cygnets, that’s quite a brood. Ha, the heron probably got fed up of waiting patiently for a meal to swim past. Lovely photos as always.


    1. I’m not sure if cows can actually swim – the ones I saw seemed to be quite content just paddling and grazing along the canal edge. The swan did well to raise so many young ones and I couldn’t believe that the heron could stay so still in one place for so long 🙂


  4. One of my favourites that walk. Liked your pictures.
    Love Glasson Dock with its hidden traditional pub, the Dalton Arms, and an excellent “cafe” in The Shop. Hope they both survive the lockdown.


    1. I like Glasson Dock, it’s a lovely little place – not much there but just very nice. I think the shop had been open that day, I know the burger bar caravan had been open but it was closed by the time I got back as it was gone 6pm. I had a cheese and ham toastie at the café when I was there last year and it was very nice too 🙂


  5. It was a lovely walk Jo, so quiet and peaceful, though the return walk from the marina seemed to take much longer than the walk to get there! 🙂


  6. There’s not really much at Glasson Dock, just a café, small shop, a pub, and a takeaway burger caravan, but the green is a lovely place to chill out and watch the world (what little there is just there) go by for a while, plus there’s the canal and a good walk by the Lune estuary along what was the old railway line 🙂


  7. Just on catchup & relised I’d missed this post. Another lovely walk Eunice & your photos definitely make it feel like I’ve been with you. Thanks for taking us along. Take care, stay safe & huggles.


  8. It was a really nice walk and the views are very pretty, especially from Bridge 8 up to Lock 3. I really enjoyed it and it’s one I may very well do again in the future 🙂


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