BICENTENARY celebrations for the Lancaster Canal have begun, 200 years after the waterway was opened to Kendal in 1819.

Waterwitch, the 28-foot narrowboat based at Crooklands Bridge, took to the waters of the canal's Northern Reaches for her first cruise of the year.

Newly painted for the occasion, the traditional 12-passenger vessel was crewed by volunteers from the Lancaster Canal Trust.

They welcomed aboard parish councillors and figures from the Canal and River Trust, the Inland Waterways Association and Lancaster Canal Regeneration Partnership.

"Everyone had a wonderful time and agreed how special the Lancaster Canal is," said Wendy Humphreys, of the Lancaster Canal Trust.

Guests had chance to see restoration work being carried out to a dry stretch of the canal known as the First Furlong, from Stainton Crossing to Sellet Hall.

Trust volunteers are devoting countless hours to lining the canal bed with waterproof membrane and concrete blocks, so it can be re-watered.

They also glimpsed the Grade II-listed Stainton Aqueduct, near Sedgwick village, where repairs costing £2 million are being carried out after storm damage cracked the elegant limestone structure in December 2015.

Meanwhile, to help celebrate the Lancaster Canal's 200th birthday, a new project officer has been appointed to promote the waterway.

Carrie House has joined the Canal and River Trust charity and the Lancaster Canal Regeneration Partnership for two years and will be organising nature and wellbeing walks, history, heritage and wildlife events; helping to improve the Lancaster Canal Towpath Trail and recruiting volunteers to learn new skills in dry stone walling and oral history recording.

"I would love to hear from people who would like to volunteer and get involved in discovering and preserving this incredibly important waterway. The canal is a fantastic place to enjoy the big outdoors," said Carrie.

“Some stretches are in water, some aren’t, but this intriguing combination provides for a diverse towpath walking trail along the old historic canal route, peppered with stunning structures like Hincaster Tunnel and Stainton Aqueduct.”

To find out more, see

Trips on Waterwitch take place on Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays until September, and Saturdays in August.

The boat runs from Crooklands Wharf, signposted from the Crooklands Hotel, from 11am to 4pm and costs £3 for adults, £1 for children. Dogs are welcome.

The trips are run entirely by Lancaster Canal Trust volunteers and all proceeds go towards the restoration of the canal.

For more details, see