8 cosy pubs you have to visit on the Lancaster Canal
PUBLISHED: 11:12 14 October 2016
Having only been connected to the national waterway network less than 15 years ago and with no locks along its 40-mile route from Preston to Kendal, the Lancaster is a unique canal in the UK. Like all other waterways, however, there will always be a large choice of snug pubs to eat and drink in the coming colder weather. Here are some of the best…
1) Canal Turn, Carnforth
Originally the canal warden’s house, this rustic and recently refurbished pub sits right on the side of the Lancaster. While large windows and outdoor tables provide a pretty sight in summer, the Turn loses nothing of its warm atmosphere in the colder months, with two log fires blazing away.
The welcome extends to your four-legged friends – the owner’s pug-crosses and the pub’s ‘undoubted bosses’ are always scampering around – and to anyone looking for family-fun entertainment. Darts, bar skittles, foosball, an 80s arcade machine and a rare Victorian billiards table can sap away the hours in the games room.
The affordable menu of locally sourced food is best sampled at the Wednesday steak night, their traditional Sunday roast or by creating your own sandwich.
2) The Plough Inn, Galgate
Ask people on the way out of this lively country pub for their opinion of the food and the first comment will be on the size of the meals. The Plough prides itself on its generous portions – one review was headlined ‘Fish?! More like whale!’ – so patrons are advised to go hungry.
What people also remember about the Plough is the character, as it attracts all sorts, from the tired and muddy coming in from the sports pitches behind the pub to students from Lancaster University to, obviously, the boaters, who can moor at the nearby marina.
If the weather takes a turn for the worse as you’re passing through the village of Galgate, south of Lancaster, this 17th-century coaching inn is the place to get snug by a roaring fire.
3) Th’owd Tithe Barn, Garstang
The Tithe Barn is in a picturesque location, overlooking the canal basin in Garstang, but the pub itself is just as beautiful.
Creepers drape the stone walls outside while wooden beams, old farming equipment strewn about and a charming bar decorated with old cartwheels make the indoors a visual treat.
A fire will be burning on a cold day, which complements a hearty meal and a glass (or several) of one of their many fruit wines nicely.
4) Water Witch, Lancaster
With moorings right outside, the multi-award-winning Water Witch celebrates its connection to the canal – it got its name, after all, from the Lancaster’s most famous packet boat of yesteryear.
There is a sense of heritage and nostalgia once inside the renovated stable blocks, with wooden floors and stone walls, which make a homely setting to enjoy the rich selection of meals. Their fish and chips and ‘build your own deli board’ are particular favourites among the top-quality fare. Real ale drinkers are similarly spoiled for choice.
A short walk along the towpath from Lancaster town centre, the Water Witch is a popular for locals and tourists alike, so it gets busy. As the building is long and narrow though, there are plenty of seats available facing the water.
5) Royal Oak, Garstang
A short walk from the marina into the market town of Garstang and you’ll find this inviting bar, restaurant and hotel. Under the management of Lorraine and Michael Hewitson, the Royal Oak Hotel has a relaxed atmosphere.
On offer are ales from the excellent Robinsons Brewery, a vast selection of wines and a menu of traditional English fare. There are many pubs serving food in the town, but the Royal Oak ranks near the top.
The staff is friendly and helpful and Garstang is surrounded by temptations – the Forest of Bowland, Lancaster, Blackpool and sights of the Lake District – that you may end up spending the night, which means you get to taste their exquisite breakfast too.
6) Hand & Dagger, Preston
Welcoming staff, a beer garden for sunny weather and an open fire in winter, and perhaps the best food you’ll find on the Lancaster, this rural dog-friendly pub is a treasure.
The menu boasts Lytham shrimps, traditional Lancashire hot pot, real pies and award-winning steak. And if you’re there on a Wednesday, why not take part in the quiz and get a free supper?
Situated right next to the canal at Treales, near Kirkham, it is an ideal stopping point – especially if time warming up by the fire is needed – for boaters heading to, or coming from, the Ribble Link.
7) Owd Nells, Bilsborrow
Right next to the Lancaster in Bilsborrow, south of Garstang, is Guys Thatched Hamlet, a collection of attractive thatched buildings where visitors can eat, drink, sleep and be entertained.
At the heart of the complex is Owd Nells – a cosy yet lively tavern offering traditional grub and local brews. Its thick, whitewashed stone walls and low wooden beams on the ceilings take you back to the late 18th century, when the pub was built.
Guys also includes an Italian restaurant, a lodge with more than 60 rooms, ice cream parlour, bowling green and cricket ground, so there is much to enjoy.
As it has a modern, open-plan style, this isn’t your typical cosy pub, but the White Cross has a lot to offer passing boaters.
The renovated warehouse has large window looking out on the canal, which makes for quite stunning views when lit up in the evenings.
There is also a wide selection of locally sourced food – advertised as from the farm, sea and field – and ales from dozens of regular breweries.
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