Lancaster Canal

When I feel like a dose of fresh air and tranquility I head for the Lancaster Canal, a few minutes from home. The canal meanders for 56 miles through the countryside between Preston in Lancashire and Kendal in Cumbria. At one time I’d potter up and down the canal on Minnie, the day sailor that I converted for the purpose, but these days I tend to just hike a few miles on the towpath.

The section of canal between Garstang and Galgate is my favourite; it has the most attractive rural vistas and provides a flourishing wildlife corridor through the surrounding farms and villages. The banks in summer are alive with wild flowers – sweetflag and bulrush, water lilies and meadow sweet.

Yellow hammers and bull finches flit around the hedges and you might be lucky enough to see an electric blue kingfisher, as was I this weekend, flashing up the canal. Moorhens, coots and mallards abound and there are always swans.

Every now and again a brightly painted narrowboat heaves into view and gurgles past, or a canal cruiser with a skirt of dangling fenders potters by.

Sanity restored, I head back to my office to carry on with the task of flogging nautical paraphernalia