Most of Britain’s canals were created during the height of the Industrial Revolution, helping to transform Britain into a thriving industrial powerhouse. Today, these canals provide the perfect habitat for some of Britain’s wildlife - and make a beautiful location for a family day out.
Many of Britain’s canals are lined with pathways, creating a network of routes to explore across the country. A number of canal paths are easily accessible and free to roam, making them ideal for walking and cycling.
If you fancy taking to the water, the canals’ calm waters are perfect for kayaking, rowing boats, or taking a trip on a traditional barge.
Here at Parkdean Resorts, we’ve unearthed some of Britain’s best canals for you to discover on your next family day out.
Lancaster Canal, Lancashire
The Lancaster Canal is one of the country’s few coastal canals, linking Preston to Kendal. The canal was only recently connected to the national waterways, and the years it spent in isolation from Britain’s canal network gave this stretch of water its own unique and interesting history.
The canal is level, making it the perfect location for walking and cycling. Travelling through beautiful stretches of countryside and fascinating towns, there’s something different to enjoy along every stretch of the Lancaster Canal.
Just under 20 minutes away from Regent Bay Holiday Park, visit the part of the canal that passes through the city of Lancaster. At Waterwitch Basin, admire the colourful narrowboats that are moored there, or take a boat trip along the canal. Catch the waterbus which will take you to the magnificent Lune Aqueduct, one of the “Wonders of the Waterways”.
Here, you can admire the amazing architecture of the viaduct and enjoy the beautiful scenery that surrounds this section of the water. Look out for the local wildlife that can be spotted around the canal and the large variety of birds that live in the area, including herons, buzzards, kingfishers and Canada geese. Watch the birds passing over the aqueduct, or stroll down into the valley to enjoy the views from below.
Wander back down the towpath for around 40 minutes, back into the historic town of Lancaster. Created by the Romans, there’s lots to see here too. Visit the majestic Lancaster Castle, or learn more about the city’s relationship with the sea in the Maritime Museum.
Video sourced from sky cam video
Leeds Liverpool Canal, near Skipton
The Leeds Liverpool Canal is the longest canal in the North of England. Crossing over 120 miles through moorland, fields and pretty towns, the canal travels through some of Britain’s most picturesque countryside.
A beautiful stretch of this canal can be reached in 20 minutes when travelling from Todber Valley Holiday Park, close to the charming market town of Skipton. Of all the towns along this canal, Skipton makes the most of this stretch of water. The town boasts an award-winning high street, a historic market and a fascinating 12th century castle - which is one of the most complete and best-preserved medieval castles in England.
Relax with a picnic and see if you can spot swans, kingfishers and herons, who are regular visitors to the water’s edge. Watch the beautiful canal boats setting off from Skipton or climb on board yourself and enjoy a trip along the canal.
The town acts as the gateway to the beautiful countryside of the Yorkshire Dales, so you’re sure to find lots of amazing walking routes nearby. From Skipton, you can take a walk along the towpath to the beautiful village of Gargrave and enjoy the views along this picturesque section of the canal. The canal’s flat pathways are perfect for cycling, and there’s lots of routes you can take to explore the stunning surroundings.
Video sourced from Nigel Trafford
Grand Western Canal, Devon
Around 45 minutes from Torquay Holiday Park, the Grand Western Canal travels through the beautiful Devonshire countryside, passing through quiet villages between Tiverton and Lowdwells.
The canal was built in the early 19th century, and was part of an ambitious plan to link the Bristol Channel with the English Channel, although plans were later abandoned. The first section was opened in 1814 and the second section was finally completed in 1838. However, the construction of a railway took away most of its trade, and by 1920 it had become disused.
Today, the canal provides a peaceful and unique day out. Step back in time to the canal's heyday with a visit to Tiverton Canal Co. Here, you can enjoy a trip on the traditional horse-drawn barge which has transported passengers along the canal since 1974, and you can even meet the horses as they relax between trips.
The canal’s towpath provides a peaceful location for exploring, with charming views to enjoy along the way. For anglers, the canal is ideal for fishing - with lots of opportunities to find a quiet spot and enjoy the peaceful surroundings, just make sure you purchase a permit in advance. There’s also canoes and rowing boats available to hire, so you can have your own adventure along the canal’s waters.
The Grand Western Canal Country Park is home to a variety of wildlife, which resulted in it being declared a Local Nature Reserve in 2005. It’s home to countless species of birds and waterfowl, including mute swans, grey wagtails and snipes. Foxes, badgers and deer can also be spotted, and keep an eye out for otters who can sometimes be seen playing in the canal’s waters.
Video sourced from FILIPOFILIPINI
Llangollen Canal, Wales
The Llangollen Canal branches away from the Shropshire Union Canal in rural Cheshire and passes through the border into Wales. Cutting through the beautiful Welsh countryside, before running alongside the River Dee, most of this charming canal can be reached around an hour from Ty Mawr Holiday Park.
The Llangollen is over 40 miles long, and is often referred to as the most beautiful canal in Britain. There are various trips you can take along the Llangollen Canal. Hop on a canal boat and take a ride over the towering Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and enjoy the stunning views from this section of the canal, which was awarded World Heritage Site status in 2009. You can also take a trip on a horse drawn barge, and admire the beautiful scenery as you travel through the Welsh mountains.
The canal ends in the small town of Llangollen, which is steeped in history and is well worth a visit. The town is overlooked by the remains of the majestic Castell Dinas Bran (Crow Castle), which is thought to be the possible burial site of the Holy Grail from the legends of King Arthur. Set on a hill above the town, walk up to the castle where you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of Llangollen and across the Dee Valley.
Nearby, you’ll find The Panorama, which is said to be one of the best views in the whole of Wales - stretching right across into England. This viewpoint can be reached on several walking routes, and the surrounding countryside is dotted with trails and cycle routes making it the perfect place to explore the Llangollen Canal’s spectacular scenery.
Video sourced from Drone Recon
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