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Kendal's Missing Link  

Before the railway and M6 carved their way past Kendal the Lancaster Canal had been the town's vital trade artery.
Just eight years after the French Revolution investors had enabled the Lancaster Canal to sail over the River Lune and the canal reached as far North as Tewitfield. But it was not until 1819 that the funding and work was enabled to excavate the new canal right into the heart of Kendal. Read a short history here (
While the canal was soon overtaken by the railway as trading route, the saddest blow came in 1960 when the government was developing the M6 motorway. The government was parsimonious and refused to include a bridge over the canal, hence leaving 15 miles of the canal route as the "missing" and soon to be overgrown and forgotten section to Kendal.
But the route of the old canal towpath is still a delightful walk through farmland and deciduous woodland. A suggested afternoon ramble can start at Canal Head and pass Parkland before heading in the Natland direction. The path is well marked with gates and stiles as old canal route wends its way across open field heading south. Every now and then the beautifully vernacular limestone bridges can be seen in redundant but splendid isolation. After a couple of miles the old towpath enters woodland where nature has recolonised the old canal bed with trees. At Sedgewick the canal route crosses the sturdy aqueduct that is a miniature brother to the heritage listed Rennie's aqueduct further south over the Lune at Lancaster. The route eventually crosses the ever busy dual carriageway A591 before slipping unseen into the hamlet of Hincaster. Here the former canal tunneled through the limestone ridge.

Just to the right of the heavily overgrown tunnel entrance the bridleway that was used by the heavy haulage horses can be seen winding its way up and over the appropriately named Tunnel Hill. At this point one option for walkers is to take the minor road south and then west that eventually drop down the idyllic Haverflatts Lane to the old town of Milthorpe where frequent buses can be taken back to the Kendal start point. The alternative is to carry on south following the canal route to the Tewitfield risers of abandoned locks.

A Trust was formed in 1963 and has continued to fight to have the canal restored. The Trust has done sterling work restoring and attempting to preserve important features of the route in the hope that one day barges might once again sail through Hincaster tunnel and into Kendal town.

The Kendal canal

The old canal towpath footpath passing through woodland

Latest on restoration of canal to Kendal
Canals in Cumbria
/ Kendal Museum


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