Over the last couple of months me and my amazing wife have ran the non navigable sections of the Lancaster Canal, i.e. the part from Tewitfield up to Kendal (read about it here, here and here). Yesterday my plan was to put it all together and run from Kendal to Lancaster along the canal. It would have to be a team effort though, so Helen agreed to drop me off in Kendal and then meet me a various prearranged points to supply me with water and snacks, and to give me a lift home if I was too tired or had managed to injure myself. Each section would be approximately 6-8 miles. (I had my phone with me in case of emergencies, but for some reason I didn’t stop to take a single photo, so any photos in this blog were taken on previous runs.)
We parked up at the Kendal sports centre, which was looking very sad having not been open for three months. Nelly, our silly pointer, couldn’t understand why I was going off running without her or Helen. She is 9 and a half and the full run would have been too far for her. I waved goodbyes and a few minutes past 9am I set off along the footpath out of Kendal where the canal used to be. This first part is very strange. In places the route is through fields with no sign of an old canal, and then in other places there is an old bridge and a grassy dip. There is also a small section along the road where the main dual carriageway to Kendal was built, but after this point the canal looks more like a canal, albeit empty. I walked up and over the old tunnel, the only ‘hill’ on the route.
Me and Helen had arranged that she would park up and walk towards me with Nelly and then run back to the car, giving me a nice mental boost each time. Helen spotted me and pointed our silly pointer in my direction, who ran full pelt towards me, happy to have ‘found’ me. We then gently ran the last mile and a bit to Crooklands, the first meeting point. The first section had been 7.5 miles and had taken an hour and ten minutes. Probably too fast. I filled up with water and had a snack before waving goodbye again. The next meeting point was at Tewitfield locks.
This is the nicest section of the Lancaster canal, picturesque, quiet and with a little rain the path was nice and soft to run on. I’ve mentioned before about plans to re-open this section of the canal, although the M6 goes right over it. The idea is to move the last lock to the other side of the motorway, allowing boats passage under. I crossed over the motorway and immediately a silly pointer spotted me and nearly bowled me over in her excitement. Me and Helen then ran the last mile back to the meeting point. 14 miles done. The weather had warmed up a little, so I drank a whole load more water and scoffed a banana before setting off again, not feeling too bad at this point. Next meeting point was just south of Carnforth.
From here the canal started to get a bit busier with more dog walkers and runners. I need to mention about the number of abandoned full poo bags that I’d seen. If you’re on a secluded grassy section of the canal it is much better the leave the poo, as it will decompose naturally in 6-8 weeks, instead of putting it into a bag and leaving the bag. A poo bag will take many years to decompose. I’ve once walked four or five miles carrying a full poo bag until I found a bin. Rant over.
This section was also a bit shorter and it wasn’t long before the familiar hound was chasing towards me. So far it had taken me just over three hours, including stops, and had run just over 19 miles. By now my legs were feeling tired, but stopping wasn’t an option. I filled up once again with water and set off. Next stop home.
This last section seemed to go on forever as the canal winds it’s way around the landscape to avoid locks or tunnels. Nice views of the sea before heading back inland. I vowed that when I reached the aqueduct I would walk across it, drinking and eating, before the final push home. It was nice to see a whole family out running together as we seemed to leapfrog each other a couple of times.
I looked at my watch a few times to see what the distance would be, although I told myself that when I reached the steps off the canal I would stop my watch and walk the last few hundred metres home, no matter if I hadn’t quite managed a full marathon. I didn’t need to worry as my run was 42.35km or 26.3miles, just a smidgen over a marathon in a time of four hours and four minutes, with ten minutes stopping time.
A couple of Strava friends saw my run and are planning on doing the same route themselves sometime in the future. For me, I might look at running from Preston back to Lancaster, again along the canal, although this would be approximately 31 miles. It also made me realise how awesome Ross Malpass’ run last year was, when he did the full 57 miles from Kendal to Preston in just under ten hours.
Back home and both Helen and Nelly were pleased to see me. The rest of the day was mostly spent lying on the sofa reading, while Helen did amazing things in the garden. Another great day and a big thank you to Helen as I couldn’t have done it without her.