Lancaster Canal – Garstang to Catterall

My Monday walk this week is the on-foot version of a cycle ride I did ten years ago. Back then I was camping at Bridge House Marina by the canal on the far side of Garstang so my cycle ride had started from there, however this time my walk was starting from Garstang itself, at Bridge No.62 near Th’Owd Tithe Barn pub/restaurant.
Set back off the canal and next to the restaurant was The Moorings Basin with several colourful narrowboats moored up, then a couple of hundred yards away was the Wyre Aqueduct designed by John Rennie and built in 1797; at 110ft long it carries the canal 34ft above the River Wyre. At the far side of the aqueduct a set of steep wooden steps led down to the riverside where I was able to photograph the structure from down below.
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Back up on the canal I passed a long stretch of modern houses and went under three bridges before I left civilisation behind, and apart from the sound of birds in the trees and an occasional passing boat it was very quiet and peaceful. Round a wide bend I could see the old Garstang castle, or what remains of it, standing on high ground in the distance at the far side of the canal; photographing it from nearby is something else on my ever-lengthening ‘to do’ list.
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Greenhalgh Castle was built in 1490 by Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby, and the land on which it was built was said to be a gift to Stanley from his stepson Henry Tudor for his assistance in defeating Richard lll at the Battle of Bosworth. Constructed of rubble and sandstone it stood on a small area of raised ground and was rectangular with towers 24 yards square at each corner.
During the English Civil War the castle was garrisoned by James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby, in support of Charles l and it was one of the last two Royalist strongholds in Lancashire to succumb following a siege by Cromwell’s forces in 1644/45. The garrison eventually surrendered in 1645 on provision that the men were allowed to return to their homes unharmed, then demolition teams partially destroyed the castle to make sure it couldn’t be used again for military purposes.
After the castle’s destruction many of the local farmhouses, including the nearby Castle Farm, incorporated some of the stones into their buildings; following its continued deterioration over the centuries the only remaining part is the lower section of one of the four original towers and as it stands on private land it’s inaccessible to the public although it can be seen fairly close up from a nearby lane.
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Approaching the next bridge I was quite surprised to see a couple of cows across the other side of the canal, standing well over knee deep in the water and slurping copious amounts from between the weeds and water lilies. Eventually I came to a marker post telling me it was 16 miles to Preston – I didn’t think it was as far as that but if it was then I was glad I wasn’t going there.
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My goal on this walk was the Calder Aqueduct, again designed by John Rennie and built in 1797 but shorter than the Wyre Aqueduct. Carrying the canal over the River Calder in the Catterall area the aqueduct has an adjoining weir on the upstream side, built to lower the bed of the river under the canal with the river itself being channelled beneath the canal through a single elliptical arch. The riverbank on the downstream side was wide and grassy with a steep path down from the canal and ten years ago I’d stopped there for a picnic before cycling back to the camp site.
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Heading back to Garstang I spotted something up ahead on the far side of the canal and getting closer I found it was a heron. It hadn’t been there earlier so I watched for several minutes, and unlike the statue-like one I’d seen on another stretch of the canal back in June this one did actually move. Eventually I came to the marker post which told me it was a mile back to Garstang although to get to there from the town earlier on had seemed to be more than a mile.
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Approaching civilisation there was a small inset on the far side of the canal with three colourful narrowboats moored up and it wasn’t long before I began to see boats moored on my side. I’ve often wondered where some canal boats get their quirky names from and I couldn’t resist snapping a couple of them. One of the last in the row had some small brightly decorated barrels fastened to its roof and they looked so pretty I thought they deserved to be photographed.
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Back across the Wyre Aqueduct, past the Moorings Basin and Th’Owd Tithe Barn and I was back at my starting point, Bridge No. 62 where my van was waiting for me just a few yards down the road. The walk was one I’d been wanting to do for a while, I’d really enjoyed revisiting a part of the canal I first went to ten years ago and it was another completed section to tick off my list.

22 thoughts on “Lancaster Canal – Garstang to Catterall

  1. Great photos Eunice, particularly the heron.

    I love canals and even though it is over 20 years since we sold our tiny boat on the Kennet & Avon canal, I still miss both it and the peace & quiet and the stillness of the water. Canals are a very different environment and vastly underrated.


    1. Glad you like the photos Jayne. To be honest I could quite happily live the rest of my life on a boat on a canal – the peace and tranquility are a world away from anything else. When I was with my ex we bought a small canal cruiser to refurbish and sail on the Lancaster (quite coincidentally it came from close to where I started this walk) but sadly it wasn’t to be 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never seen cows wading in water like that. Oh yes, there’s some great names if you look out for them, I do wonder where they come up with them from. A lovely walk.


    1. I saw some cows in the water on another section of the canal back in June but they weren’t paddling as deep as these two were. I like looking at boat names and I’ve often seen some very quirky and amusing ones πŸ™‚


  3. What a lovely walk. I love to see canal boats, so colourful and I can imagine living onboard is a wonderful way of life. Those painted barrels are fabulous. I can well imagine your to do list is a very long one πŸ™‚


  4. As far as walks and photography are concerned I don’t think my ‘to do’ list will ever be completed as I keep adding to it! πŸ™‚ This was a lovely walk, the paddling cows and the heron were a nice surprise and the painted barrels were so pretty. Weather-wise it’s a glorious morning here so I’ll be off out again soon, with Poppie tagging along as usual πŸ™‚


  5. That’s a great photograph of the heron.
    It’s lovely to spend time by a canal, either walking alongside or on a boat. Both are relaxing. The painted narrowboats are so pretty. X


  6. Another lovely walk with some great info & photos. The bridge structures are beautiful & the scenery is always lovely along stretches of canals out in the countryside. The folk art on those barrels is “gorgeous” & I wish I could paint or even draw as it would definitely wile away the hours in this weird year. We’ve walked quite a few stretches of the Leeds/Liverpool Canal when we’ve been in UK & I love it. Thank you, take care, stay safe & huggles.


    1. Glad to have you along on the walk Susan. The barrels are very pretty aren’t they, I wish I could draw or paint but I’ve always been useless at it. I’ve done some stretches of the Leeds/Liverpool myself but so far I prefer the Lancaster, it’s much more rural. I hope you’re doing okay over there – stay safe πŸ™‚


  7. I was never into Pink Floyd, I presume Comfortably Numb was the title of an album? When I saw the cows so far in the water I just hoped they could swim if they got out of their depth – apparently cows can, and I’ve just watched a video of a herd swimming across a loch in Northern Ireland πŸ™‚


  8. Beautiful photos Eunice. How funny to see those cows in the water like that. Always love looking at canal boats names when I pass by them. Poxy cat is an odd nameπŸ˜…


  9. Thanks Jo. It did cloud over a bit about halfway through the walk but up to then it had been a beautiful day, very warm too. The heron was in quite a pretty spot for the photos, it seemed to be quite settled just there πŸ™‚


  10. The heron was just in the right place for a few nice shots and at least it did move, not like the last one I photographed πŸ™‚ I’ve often wondered why barge art always features castles and roses and though it’s all very nice it does tend to look a bit ‘samey’, but I thought these barrels were very pretty πŸ™‚


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