PRUNELLA Scales, the actress forever known as Sybil from Fawlty Towers, is to navigate the Lancaster Canal later this year with husband Timothy West.

The acting couple have earned an affectionate following for Great Canal Journeys, their gently paced exploration of waterways in Britain and overseas, for Channel 4.

Prunella has been been diagnosed with dementia, and the pair's devotion to each other - as well as their love of narrowboats - has touched a chord with many viewers.

Robin Yates, chairman of the Lancaster Canal Trust, told the Gazette the pair were expected to explore the canal's full length.

"Jointly with the Lancaster Canal Regeneration Partnership we have put together a sequence of suggested sites and we will be walking the producer and crew through them when they visit later this month," he said.

The filming is likely to tie in with the forthcoming £2 million restoration of the storm-damaged Stainton Aqueduct, near Sedgwick.

Mr Yates said the Great Canal Journeys team were also interested in the Hincaster Tunnel and the potential for putting a boardwalk through it for walkers and cyclists as part of the Kendal-to-Lancaster Towpath Trail project.

The 41-mile Lancaster Canal between Kendal and Preston was promoted by wealthy merchants and was known as the Black and White Canal for its cargoes of coal and limestone. The 14 miles of the Northern Reaches were isolated at Tewitfield when the M6 motorway was built in the 1960s.

Volunteers and enthusiasts are seeking to restore this largely unnavigable stretch of the canal. Efforts continue to line and re-water the First Furlong, 255 metres of canal near Stainton.

In its recent newsletter, the Lancaster Canal Trust says the work will use at least 21,000 concrete blocks, and it is urging members and supporters to buy as many blocks as they would like, at £1 each. To help, visit or the Facebook page.