Best Canal Walks in the North & Scotland

Tuesday 01st August 2023

The best canal walks across our network

Summer is the perfect time to get out and stetch your legs. Whether you’re getting your steps in or planning a relaxing walk with the family, there are plenty of beautiful canal-side paths to enjoy across the North of England and Scotland.

Here are some of our favourites. Get your walking boots on and enjoy the gentle sounds of water, beautiful countryside or dramatic cityscapes along the way.

Best canal walks near Huddersfield

The Huddersfield Narrow Canal stretches for around 20 miles from the town centre to Ashton-under-Lyne on the outskirts of Manchester.

From Huddersfield, you can pick up an 8-mile walk along the canal to the Standedge Tunnel – the longest, highest and deepest canal tunnel in the UK. Along the way, you’ll pass the famous Castle Hill, crumbling historic mills, leafy woodland and the beautiful Colne Valley. The villages of Milnsbridge, Slaithwaite and Marsden make for great places to stop too. On the way home, you can jump on the train from Marsden to Huddersfield if you don’t fancy walking the 8 miles back.

For a shorter walk, you can head along the canal from Slaithwaite and finish at Zapato Brewing for a cold drink and some street food. The setting is beautiful and you can relax on the picnic benches before strolling back.

Best canal walks near Manchester

Manchester is famed for its canals, with the likes of the Manchester Ship Canal, Bridgewater Canal, Ashton Canal, Rochdale Canal and more.

Which means there are plenty of great canal side-walks in the city. The Castlefield canal walk is an easy city centre route. It starts at the Wharf Pub in Castlefield and loops back round taking in plenty of sights along the way, including Beetham Tower. The 1.9-mile walk will take around 35 minutes and is a great one to do in the late afternoon or early evening. You can enjoy a nice cold drink at the end too - Castlefield has plenty of bars and restaurants.

If you’re arriving into Manchester Piccadilly, the Rochdale Canal is close by. Simply walk from the station to nearby Ducie Street and head right along the canal. The towpath will take you 32 miles to Rochdale, but you don’t have to go that far. It’s a great option for a slow leisurely walk in the city centre, meaning you can go as far as you want.

Other options include the 5-mile walk from Salford Quays along the Manchester Ship Canal to Warburton or a stroll along the Ashton Canal from Paradise Wharf.

Best canal walks near Edinburgh

The Union Canal stretches from the centre of Edinburgh to Falkirk. Here it joins with the Forth and Clyde Canal which runs into Glasgow, meaning Scotland’s biggest two cities are connected by an inland waterway.

A popular walk along the Union Canal towpath begins in Fountainbridge Square and stretches for 5.7 miles to Redhill Park. It’s a fantastic retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city, and there are plenty of pubs and cafes to enjoy on route. Before you set out on your walk, you can explore Edinburgh Quay at the terminus of the canal. You’ll be spoilt for choice for places to enjoy an al fresco lunch on the waterside.

Best canal walks near Lancaster

The Lancaster Canal offers loads of options for great canal-side walks in the Lancashire countryside, stretching 57 miles from Preston to Kendal. In days gone by it was referred to as the ‘Black and White Canal’ as barges on it used to carry coal and limestone.

Today, you can pick it up in Lancaster for a lovely stroll to take in some of the historical sites of the city. Beginning in the centre of Lancaster, you’ll pass Lancaster Cathedral and walk for 2 miles north along the canal until you reach the Lune Aqueduct. The stunning Grade I aqueduct has been called ‘One of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways’. The masterpiece of engineering carries the canal 16 metres above the River Lune and is a spectacular site to visit.

If you fancy stretching your legs further, you can continue along the canal path all the way to Morecambe Bay.

Best canal walks near Glasgow

Opening in 1790, the Forth and Clyde Canal was the first canal built in Scotland.

For lovely walk along the Forth and Clyde, you can join the canal path in the centre of the city at Port Dundas. Then follow the canal northwest passing Firhill Park and Ruchill Park, turn west at Maryhill to reach the Kelvin Aqueduct. The walk then takes you through Blairdardie, Old Drumchapel and Linnvale before coming to Clydebank. Here you can enjoy views of the Clyde River and rest your legs. It’s a 9-mile walk, so you might need it! You can then simply hop on the train at Clydebank for a 20-minute ride back into Glasgow.

Best canal walks near Liverpool

The Leeds and Liverpool Canal is the longest canal in the north at 127 miles long. It’s possible to walk the entire length between the two cities, but it will take you around 12 days so it’s definitely one to save for a walking holiday.

For a slightly more leisurely canal-side walk in Liverpool, head to the terminus of the canal at Canning Dock. It’s just down from the famous Royal Albert Dock, so you can enjoy some art at Tate Liverpool and local history at the Beatles Story before you hit the canal. As you walk along the canal, you’ll pass the Museum of Liverpool and the Mersey Ferry Terminal before continuing into Princes Dock with its famous gates. You’ll then head through Waterloo Dock, Salisbury Dock (opposite the Victoria Clock Tower) and Stanley Dock before making your way to the Eldonian Basin to finish your walk.

If you fancy visiting one of these cities on the train to enjoy a lovely canal-side walk, you can book your tickets in advance on our website or on the TPExpress app.

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