SCULPTURE trails, festivals, events and circular walks are among ideas for enhancing a towpath trail along the Lancaster Canal, according to new research.

The Lancaster Canal Regeneration Partnership (LCRP) set students the task of exploring what locals and potential visitors want from the new 27-mile pathway between Kendal and Lancaster.

Six marketing students from Lancaster University did face-to-face interviews and an online survey with more than 350 people. Their findings confirmed there is "a huge appetite for a long-distance waterway path, linking communities along the route of the Lancaster Canal", said the LCRP.

People were "particularly keen" to see an all-weather surface with well-maintained

vegetation. The students also made the case for increased use of digital and social media to spread the word about the towpath.

The LCRP is made up of the Canal and River Trust, Cumbria County Council, Inland Waterways Association, Kendal Town Council, Lancashire County Council, Lancaster Canal Trust, Lancaster City Council and South Lakeland District Council. Its overall aim is "celebrating, promoting and delivering the regeneration of the Lancaster Canal and its communities".

The partnership's chair, Audrey Smith, said: “The Lancaster University students have done a great job in identifying what people want and how to make that happen. The major driving force energising our partnership is the Lancaster Canal’s potential to create new opportunities for leisure, tourism and economic development in South Cumbria and Lancashire."

Trail would be "an ideal way" to help people stay active and healthy, she said, adding: "Full restoration of the Northern Reaches of the canal beyond the current terminus at Tewitfield may be some years away. However, the towpath trail is eminently achievable and will bring enormous benefits for local residents and businesses.”

Phase one of the LCRP's towpath trail project - a four-mile stretch from Kendal to Natland - is being developed with better path surfaces, accessible gates and reduced slopes, funded by SLDC. As reported by the Gazette, negotiations with landowners over the designation of land have caused delays in progress.

For more on the project, visit