Rowers conquer Lancaster Canal on British Rowing Tour
Seventy rowers took to the Lancaster Canal at the weekend, taking part in the 18th annual British Rowing Tour.
Organised by Weyfarers Rowing Club, in association with Lancaster John O’Gaunt RC, the three-day tour covered the entire navigable length of the canal from Preston to Tewitfield, Lancashire.
Setting off from the University of Central Lancashire Sports Arena in Preston on Friday, 15 crews from 27 rowing clubs went on to traverse the 41-mile waterway, finishing in Tewitfield on Sunday.
The majority of the boats were stable, coxed quads but there also were two Solent Galleys, a Dutch wherry and an Alden Double scull.
‘This was the first time that anyone has rowed this waterway in its entirety, and it was also the largest British Rowing Tour to date,’ said Tour organiser John Turnbull.
‘It went tremendously well – it’s an extremely scenic canal. At times there was a bit of wind, but everyone coped very well.’
The Canal boasts more than 130 bridges and eight aqueducts, and is also England’s longest stretch of canal with no locks.
The highlight is the 664 feet long Lune Aqueduct, whose graceful arches tower 60 feet over the river Lune. Further on there are stunning views over Morecambe Bay.
‘We were rowing and looking down into the valley below on our port side – a unique experience for most of us,’ said rower Steve Wragg.
‘The British Rowing Tour really shows the quality and variety of our waterways. We parted full of praise for the organisers, and with happy memories of a really delightful canal.
‘We were told the Lancaster Canal was going to be special, and it didn’t disappoint.’
Various challenges awaited the rowers across the three-day tour. To shoot the narrow bridges the oars had to be shipped at exactly the right time, and some narrow sections of the route needed to be negotiated with canoe paddles.
Richard Trevitt, Chairman of the Lancaster Canal Trust, presented each crew with a brass commemorative plaque at the end the tour lunch.’ We were delighted to see so many people enjoying our beautiful canal,’ he said.
The Trust is working towards reopening the remaining 14 miles of canal to Kendal which are currently unnavigable, and Mr Trevitt hoped the rowers would return to explore the Northern Reaches in the future.
The 2011 British Rowing Tour was supported by the Lancaster Canal Trust, and guided by Ian Taylor from Lancaster John O’Gaunt RC.