Northern Reaches Restoration Group

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The starting point of the Northern Reaches; where the M6 motorway physically separates the canal from the rest of the UK waterway network.

The Northern Reaches Restoration Group is a waterway society in Lancashire and Cumbria, England, UK. The purpose of the NRRG is to campaign for the re-opening of the final 14-mile stretch of the Lancaster Canal between Tewitfield Locks and Kendal. The Northern Reaches, as they are so named, became isolated from the rest of the canal following the construction of the M6 motorway in the 1960s. The navigation authority for the waterway is the Canal & River Trust, formerly British Waterways.


By the 1940s large parts of the British canal network had begun to be abandoned as freight moved on to road transport. The northern part of the Lancaster Canal was no exception, with certain sections being filled in and other parts allowed to drain (dewater). While the canal between Preston and Tewitfield remained classed as a "cruising waterway", the Northern Reaches was deemed to be "remainder waterway" (i.e. obsolete) following a 1955 Act of Parliament. Despite some local opposition, highway engineers building the UK's new motorway system therefore had little interest in protecting the permanent way of the canal; construction of embankments and a culvert completely blocked the original route.


Lancaster Canal and M6 motorway, near Tewitfield. This scruffy photo shows the even more scruffy second termination of the open canal, which disappears into a culvert for 150 yard under the road.
Part of the Northern Reaches near Tewitfield.
Lancaster Canal Sellet Hall. The end of the open water on this stretch of the Canal.
Lancaster Canal Disused canal near Sellet Hall looking towards Stainton bridge where the canal is in water.
Various stretches of the Northern Reaches on the Lancaster Canal.

Since the 1960s, the Lancaster Canal Trust and the Inland Waterways Association recognised the value of preserving inland waterways. Both groups lobbied for the restoration of this northern stretch of canal to navigable standard. In the 1990s the NRRG was specifically formed to continue the campaign for the waterway's restoration.

These aims include increasing awareness and promoting interest amongst local communities and all potential users (boaters, walkers, cyclists, and anglers) of the historic waterway.

The NRRG is also committed to maintaining the surviving canal infrastructure found along the route of the Northern Reaches. As a result of its efforts, many of the original structures have been protected, further loss to cruising waterway has halted, and improvements have been made to the towpath by erecting interpretative panels at various sites along the disused canal.

Restoration partnership[edit]

The NRRG is part of the Lancaster Canal Restoration Partnership based at Levens Hall, Kendal. This is an umbrella organisation that brings together all organisations that support the canal's restoration. They are:

Additional support is provided by the Waterway Recovery Group.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]