Running Kendal to Lancaster

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Running Along the Lancaster Canal – Part III

In the last month, me and my lovely wife along with our silly pointer have driven out to various points along the Lancaster Canal for a run. First off we started from Tewitfield (read about it here) and then the following week we started from Holme (read about it here). Today we started from near the village of Stainton, as close as we could park to where we had reached the previous outing, and once again headed north.

Less than a mile into the run and we came to the Hincaster tunnel and horse path, opened in 1819. The boats would be hauled through by hand, as the plaque states, with the horses going over the top, which is what we did.

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There was a neat little viewing platform that extended over the canal so that you could have a look all the way through the tunnel without climbing down onto the old canal bed.

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There were also a couple of small tunnel like features for Nelly to rush through, avoiding any trolls that might lurk there.

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It isn’t always easy to capture Nelly in full flight, as she runs like a crazy, but happy pointer. Not far after the tunnel we had to take a detour along a road, crossing the dual carriageway to Kendal, before rejoining the footpath. There is very little left of the canal this far north, with a few bridges standing in the middle of fields.

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We continued past the beautiful village of Sedgwick and across more fields, some with very placid cows and others full of sheep. Having been chased by cows last year we are wary of them, especially as a man was killed by cows near Ingleton the other week.

Before long we had reached the outskirts of Kendal where we decided to turn around and head back, instead of running into the centre. Disaster almost struck as first Helen fell over, grazing her knee and straining her wrist, and then Nelly started to limp. They are both tough northern girls, so we pushed on at a nice gentle pace, walking past the cows before stopping to take a couple of photos at the other side of the Hincaster tunnel. As you can see the canal is very overgrown.

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Back through the little tunnels and to the car, where Nelly could have a long drink. I was carrying plenty of water so during the run the three of us were OK but I had left extra in the car. Nine miles of running, slightly less than the previous time, but we were all feeling tired; it must have been all the styles we had to climb over, or the up-and-over section at the tunnel. Whatever, it was another great little run. As Helen said, she couldn’t believe that she would ever say nine miles was a ‘little’ run.

Driving back into Lancaster we were amazed at the length of the queue stretching along Caton Road for the McDonalds drive-thru. The easing of the lockdown means different things for different people. We weren’t tempted.

Once home we inspected the damage. Helen’s knee was a bit swollen and neither of us could see anything in Nelly’s paw. I’m sure that everyone will be absolutely fine by tomorrow morning.

Now that we have run the whole length of the disused section of the Lancaster Canal, what’s next? We might look at leaving a bicycle locked up at Tewitfield, driving to Kendal and then running all the way back to Tewitfield. There is a nice cafe at the Greenlands Farm Village where Helen and Nelly could rest while I cycled back to get the car. Alternatively, Helen could drop me off at Kendal and I could run all the way back to Lancaster (probably just over a marathon distance), meeting me at various points to make sure that I’m OK.

Running along the Lancaster Canal – Part II

The other week the three of us (me, my amazing wife and our silly old pointer) went for a run along the Lancaster canal (read about it here). Last Sunday we decided to run a bit more of the canal, starting just north of Holme at the exact spot where we finished our previous run.

Heading north again, with Nelly rushing on ahead, we took it nice and steady. Less than a mile the canal goes under the M6, so the path takes a small detour through a large field, which Nelly had to explore all of, before there is a short section on the road. We rejoined the canal path, letting Nelly off the lead once again, and continued north, enjoying the peace and quiet, and the scenery. Off to the right was the hefty fell of Farleton, towering  over the motorway (took a photo of Helen and Nelly instead of the fell).

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This whole section of canal is very well looked after, with signs and benches, along with a restored small old building which would have been used to monitor the barges and possibly to collect tolls. There is a great deal of work required if this section is to be opened for leisure boating, but it isn’t until you are almost at the village of Stainton that the canal no longer contains any water.

We continued to gently plod along, occasionally stopping to say hello to any horses. Apparently I have agreed to go pony trekking near here. The last time (only time) that I was on a horse was almost 30 years ago in Monument Valley with Navajo Native Americans. It was so long ago that they were still referred to as Indians.

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We ran a pleasant five miles out, and then ran the same route back, with Nelly being a little monkey for the short road sections where she  grumbled about being back on the lead. Once again she explored the whole field as we jogged the last mile back to the car. I am always amazed at how fit she is, considering she is 9 and a half, and all the scrapes she had when she was younger. Barbed wire fences are her bete noire.

Another great little run with my amazing family. 10 miles, nice and steady, although Nelly must have done 15. Back home and she went straight to bed, only surfacing at tea-time. There is a small car park near to where we turned around, so at some point soon we will definitely look at running the last section into Kendal. The last part is a little more tricky as the canal has mostly been completely filled in and covered over, so we will be relying on signposts and a map. Shouldn’t be too difficult.

Running along the Lancaster Canal

The Government’s recent advice is that we can all drive as far as we want if we want some exercise. However, we showed some restraint and drove less than 10 miles to the Longlands Pub carpark at Tewitfield. I expect that the Lake District was packed with visitors, despite nothing being open and the local police and authority asking people to stay away.

Our plan was to run an out and back route along the Lancaster Canal, heading north. This is a section of the canal that neither of us have ever run along before, although we’ve cycled alongside it in places many times. Bonus is that it’s fairly flat and it’s safe for Nelly to be off the lead. This is also the end of the navigable part of the Lancaster Canal. Setting off and immediately we came across the Tewitfield set of 8 locks, the only locks on the whole 57 miles of Lancaster canal.

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There are plans for this section of the canal to be re-opened, and although the canal used to go all the way to Kendal, at Stainton it has been completely filled in. A pair of locks have been kept as a feature next to the canal.

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A bit further on and the canal ducks under the M6 and enters Cumbria.

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We continued north, occasionally meeting people out for a walk, mostly with dogs. We all kept our distance, except for the three male runners, running together in a pack. The weather was nice and warm, without being too hot, almost perfect for running, although the lack of rain in the last month meant that the towpath was very hard under foot. Towards the village of Holme there was a book box for people to help themselves, as well as a sunflower box. We thought about taking a bag, but it might not have survived the run back to the car. There are a lot of great people out there.

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Just north of Holme we decided to stop, having done about four and a half miles. Good spot for a selfie and a quick drink before retracing our footsteps.

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Nelly was on the whole very good, returning when we called her and not deviating off the towpath, although she did have a good look at some chickens on the other side of the canal,  and she was most interested in the family sat on a bench eating sausage butties. She can be a devil for food. As we continued, Helen picked up the pace a bit, and when we reached the locks again, I stopped to take a few photos and never manage to catch up with her. My amazing wife is a very fit runner, even if she insists that she isn’t. You can make out Nelly in full flight also trying to catch up.

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Back at the car, and we’d done 9 miles in a moving time of one hour and 20 minutes. A very nice relaxed pace, and an amazing route. There are so many brilliant places to run without going all the way to the Lakes, the Dales or even the Howgills. We’ll be staying local for the next couple of months at least.

Bonus; when we were home we tucked into some homemade sourdough bread. Helen had been up at 5:20 am making it. Best bread ever, followed by a quick game of Azul which Helen won by a long way. Currently sat on the sofa with a beer. Helen has a glass of wine and Nelly is curled up in her bed. 8 tired legs between us. Another great little adventure.