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Lancashire walk - Garstang, the River Wyre and the Lancaster Canal

PUBLISHED: 00:00 05 December 2018

Walks beside the Lancaster Canal

Walks beside the Lancaster Canal

john Lenehan

Garstang is a lovely old market town and the perfect place to walk off the Christmas dinner. John Lenehan reports

A big hand for John LenehanA big hand for John Lenehan

Garstang is a lovely little market town on the banks of the River Wyre and nestles roughly half way between one of Lancashire’s oldest cities, Lancaster, and its newest, Preston. The two cities are linked by road, the A6 and M6, rail being the West Coast main line, and the Lancaster canal and at Garstang all of the four routes run parallel.

I thought it might be nice to design a circular walk that crosses all of these and takes in a riverside section to lead out along the Wyre and a Lancaster canal section to lead back. The walk can be done any time of year of course but being the Christmas edition of Lancashire Life. I thought readers might like to do the walk on the 10th or 11th of December as that is when the town holds its evening Victorian Christmas Festival. A nice way to enjoy an afternoon walk and an evening of merriment.

1. Walk down the car park to the river then turn left and follow the riverside path with the river on the right to reach an impressive flood control weir. Do not be tempted to follow the path left but climb the steps in front that lead past a green building over a banking then the go down the steps on the opposite side and carry on following the river. Go through a stile by a gate and then keep right and follow the path that after a short while goes away from the river towards and past a wooden gate leading into a lane. To the left of the gate on your right is a gate stile leading into the lane. Cross the stile and turn right and follow the lane down to the river and join a footpath between two footpath signs, one saying Garstang, the other saying Scorton. Follow Scorton and cross the footbridge over the river and turn left.

The marina has 270 moorings and berths for canal boats and crusiersThe marina has 270 moorings and berths for canal boats and crusiers

Note: There is a rather impressive white concrete aqueduct over the river on the left, this carries water from Barnacre Reservoir in Grizedale to Blackpool.

Follow the path to a stile, cross this and follow the path right as it goes uphill with a wire fence on the left to another stile, cross this and keep straight on. The path then bears right and a stream that flows into the river is now on the left. Follow the stream then the path bears right away from the stream towards some buildings and a green railway footbridge in the distance. The path reaches a stile leading into a road.

Note: The weir is controllable and is raised by hydraulic rams when heavy rain causes the Wyre water level to reach flooding danger levels. This allows the basin behind the weir to safely flood and thus reduce the flow of the river over the weir. This in turn then protects villages further downstream like St Michaels on Wyre from flooding.

The busy canal basin at GarstangThe busy canal basin at Garstang

2. Cross the stile (there is a signpost saying Tithebarn Way, River Grizedale and Higher Lane) and enter the road and turn right then keep left into what looks like a works yard and keep left then cross the railway footbridge. Once over the bridge, keep on the track that leads towards the motorway then turns left uphill then cross a stile then turn right and cross the bridge over the M6 motorway. Once over the bridge the track forks, take the left fork going downhill.

3. On the left is a small concrete ladder stile by a steel gate. Cross the stile and turn left, heading back towards the M6 then turn right and cross a footbridge and another concrete ladder stile then head directly across the field bearing slightly diagonally right away from the M6 to a gate leading into Woodacre Great Wood. Just before the gate there is a stile on the right, cross this and turn left and follow the path into and through the woods. The path enters a clearing and forks, take the right fork that follows a wire fence on the right to a stile in the fence, cross this and a small footbridge and turn left then follow the wire fence and a ditch now on the left onto a metal gate stile. Cross the stile and go straight across the field to another metal gate stile with a big yellow footpath sign next to it and cross the stile. Carry straight on with a wire fence and hedgerow on your right passing between two prominent trees to a wooden post with a footpath arrow pointing straight on and pass a beautiful house on the right with its wire fence on your right and when this turns right go straight across the field to a metal gate stile and cross this into Tithe Barn Lane and turn left. Follow the lane that goes under the M6 until it meets a tee junction at the Garstang Scorton road and turn right and follow the road to Scorton.

4. As the road reaches the village, pass the gates of a house called Springfield on the left and almost immediately take the stile on the left leading into the drive of Springfield then keeping to the right of the drive go through a gap to the right of a wooden fence with a No Parking sign on it and with a wire fence on the left, carry on to a metal gate stile and cross this into a field and head directly towards a bridge under the railway and cross a stile and go under the bridge and cross another stile at the opposite side and turn right. With the railway on the right keep on to a stile by a metal gate, cross this and turn left and keeping the wire fence on the left carry on to and cross a footbridge over the river Wyre. Once over the footbridge turn right and then climb some steps on the left leading up to Stepping Stone Bar and Restaurant.

Note: As a very young boy I stayed at 6 Arches Caravan site just outside Garstang with my grandmother and I can still remember the Flying Scotsman on this railway line at night with the glow from the engine driver’s cab and the lights of the carriages as it flashed by.

5. Keep the building on the right then turn right with the building still on the right and enter a yard and cross this then join the lane ahead and follow this to the A6 main road and cross this and a wooden gate stile on the opposite side that leads into Green Lane basically a track between two hedgerows and follow this to a stile by a metal gate that leads into the tarmac road of Cabus Nook Lane. Cross the stile and turn left and follow the road.

6. The road reaches a junction with Fowler Hill Lane on the left and a track with a cattle grid on the right, take the track and follow it down and cross the canal bridge and immediately over cross a stile on the right and go down the steps to the canal and turn right under the bridge and follow the towpath back to Garstang. Note: Garstang is mentioned in the Domesday Book and is the world’s first Fairtrade Town in the year 2000.

7. Follow the canal into Garstang and leave the towpath at bridge number 62A and cross the green footbridge then pass the Farmers Arms on the left then cross the road at the roundabout and go up Church Street/High Street and turn left at the Royal Oak and follow High Street back to the car park.

Compass points

Start/finish: High Street car park near the River Wyre

Distance: 7.75 miles/12.47kms

Terrain: Easy walking though could be a bit muddy on footpaths crossing open fields. Good boots will be fine

Time: 3.5-4 hours

Parking: There’s a large public carpark

Refreshment: Large number of cafes and several pubs

Map: OS Map OL41 Forest of Bowland and Ribblesdale

Facilities: Public toilets on car park and also at Scorton

Watering Hole: The Royal Oak Garstang

This 17th century coaching inn is a impressive building standing in the centre of Garstang. It has been run by the same family since the 1980s and I can vouch for the quality of the food. It was my turn to drive so I enviously watched my pal drink a pint of real ale. Tel: 01995 603318.

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