Lancashire walk - Levens
- Credit: John Lenehan
John Lenehan describes a beautiful walk which follows a disused section of the Lancaster Canal
Mention Levens Bridge and immediately Levens Hall springs to mind as it is one of the most beautiful manor houses in the North West, but there are other things to do in this area. I noticed on the map when planning this walk that there is a section of the Lancaster Canal that although disused might be interesting to visit. The result was a really nice walk that takes in the beautiful River Kent, a deer park and the disused section of the Lancaster Canal.
1. Leave the layby and walk down to Levens Bridge and then cross the stile on the left as you reach the bridge. Keeping the river on the right, follow the path until it reaches a metal gate with a step stile next to it, cross the stile and turn right. With a wall on the right, follow the path to another step stile, cross this and bear slightly diagonally right towards some buildings. At the right hand corner of the field where the wall turns right, turn right and cross a stile into the tarmac road and go straight on passing Park Head House on the left.
2. The tarmac road ends and a track carries straight on with the river on the right. Follow the track and go down some steps then follow the concrete balcony that takes the footpath under the A591. Follow the path up hill then turn right and join the tarmac track and keep on with the river on the right. Join a main road and follow this straight on, do not turn right over the bridge.
Follow the road until a roundabout sign comes into view and just before this turn right. There is a sign saying Low Sizergh Barn on the corner of the road. Carry on along the road passing the end of Nannypie Lane and keep on until a suspension footbridge with lovely stone arches appears on the right, cross the bridge then turn left. With the river on the left follow the path to a gate in a copse of trees and go through this then at a point where the path forks, keep right. Come to a metal gate, go through the gate and bear diagonally right and head up to a canal bridge.
Note: The Lancaster Canal was completed in 1826 and originally ran from Preston to Kendal until the building of the M6 motorway and the A590 road to Kendal. The only navigable section is from Preston to near Tewitfield north of Carnforth. The M6 crosses it but there is no bridge so boats can't travel any further north. The next section north goes from this point before being split again by the M6 just north of Holme. Another section then goes north to Sellet Hall and from here to Kendal it is almost completely dry and disused. It is a pity the canal was split given the popularity of canal boating now as there was once an idea to link Kendal with Windermere by canal. Just think of the tourist boost as now there is the Ribble Link that allows boats to join the Ribble near Preston and cross to the Leeds Liverpool canal via the River Douglas at Tarleton. Windermere by canal boat from almost every canal in the country would have been fantastic.
3. It seems weird to see this canal bridge in a field with no canal. Do not cross the bridge but go to the right of it to a small stile in a wall, cross the stile and turn right and you are now on the old towpath of the canal with the disused canal on the left. Go through a stile and keep on the towpath. Cross a stile into an open field and keep straight on, going under another canal bridge then onto a stile.
Cross the stile and, with a hedgerow on the left, carry on to another stile in a wooden fence. Cross this and then go straight on to a metal gate stile and cross this and follow the path between a wire fence and a hedgerow. There are some particularly beautiful houses on the left on what was once the opposite side of the canal.
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Go through a metal gate stile with a no cycling sign on it and carry on. The old canal is more evident now and the path is on the old towpath, keep on as it crosses over Sedgwick Aqueduct.
Note: The aqueduct was built in 1818 and is classed as a listed building. To get a better view of it there are some steps leading down to the road that goes under it. It's worth taking time to do this.
4. Keep on the towpath and go under another canal bridge and through a metal gate stile into a field and keep straight on. A metal gate appears ahead and keep to the right of this and then keep the wire fence on the left and keep straight on. The path eventually goes downhill with some trees on the right to a stile, cross this into the main road and turn left. Follow the road as it crosses over the A591.
5. A track appears on the right just as the road bends left. Turn right down the track and go over a step stile by a gate then turn left.
Follow the track until it reaches some steps leading up to a stile, cross the stile and turn right and cross over Levens Bridge and back to the car.
Note: There is a very good chance of seeing deer on this stretch. We saw a group of six.
Start and finish: Layby just north of Levens Bridge on A6.
Distance: 5.2 miles/8.36km
Time: 3 hours
Terrain: Really easy walking on footpaths, track and a short road section. Walking shoes will be ideal.
Map: OS Explorer OL7 The English Lakes South Eastern Area.
Facilities: There are toilets at Levens Hall in the courtyard near the shop but ask permission to use them.
Watering hole: Levens Hall Kitchen. Excellent food with all the produce source