We have already seen the oldest canals in the UK, but this list takes a look at the length of them. From the first lock to the last, some of them are extensive! We not only take a look at where they are in the UK, but we also find out how many locks are in each stretch…
The Top 10 Longest Canals in the UK and Where to Find Them
10 – Wilts and Berks Canal – 52.5 mi (84 km) – Number of Locks: 42
Wiki Info: The 52-mile (84 km) canal was opened in 1810, but abandoned in 1914 – a fate hastened by the collapse of Stanley aqueduct in 1901. Much of the canal subsequently became unnavigable: many of the structures were deliberately damaged by army demolition exercises; parts of the route were filled in and in some cases built over. In 1977 the Wilts & Berks Canal Amenity Group was formed with a view to full restoration of the canal. Several locks and bridges have since been restored, and over 8 miles (13 km) of the canal have been rewatered.
9 – Lancaster Canal – 60.9 mi (98 km) – Number of Locks: 14
Wiki Info: The Lancaster Canal is a canal in North West England, originally planned to run from Westhoughton in Lancashire to Kendal in south Cumbria (historically in Westmorland). The section around the crossing of the River Ribble was never completed, and much of the southern end leased to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, of which it is now generally considered part of the canal north of Preston, only the section from Preston to Tewitfield near Carnforth in Lancashire is currently open to navigation for 42 miles (67.6 km), with the canal north of Tewitfield having been severed in three places by the construction of the M6 motorway, and by the A590 road near Kendal.
8 – Shropshire Union Canal – 76.5 mi (123 km) – Number of Locks: 51
Wiki Info: The Shropshire Union Canal is a navigable canal in England. The Llangollen and Montgomery canals are the modern names of branches of the Shropshire Union (“SU”) system and lie partially in Wales. The canal lies in the counties of Staffordshire, Shropshire and Cheshire in the north-west Midlands of England. It links the canal system of the West Midlands, at Wolverhampton, with the River Mersey and Manchester Ship Canal at Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, 66 miles (106 km) distant.
7 – Oxford Canal – 78 mi (126 km) – Number of Locks: 43
Wiki Info: The Oxford Canal is a 78-mile-long (126 km) narrow canal in central England linking Oxford with Coventry via Banbury and Rugby. It connects with the River Thames at Oxford, to the Grand Union Canal at the villages of Braunston and Napton-on-the-Hill, and to the Coventry Canal at Hawkesbury Junction in Bedworth just north of Coventry. The canal was once an important artery of trade between the English Midlands and London and is now highly popular among pleasure boaters.
6 – Kennet and Avon Canal – 86.5 mi (139 km) – Number of Locks: 105
Wiki Info: The Kennet and Avon Canal is a waterway in southern England with an overall length of 87 miles (140 km), made up of two lengths of navigable river linked by a canal. The name is commonly used to refer to the entire length of the navigation rather than solely to the central canal section. From Bristol to Bath the waterway follows the natural course of the River Avon before the canal links it to the River Kennet at Newbury, and from there to Reading on the River Thames. In all, the waterway incorporates 105 locks.
5 – Middle Level Navigations – 90 mi (145 km) – Number of Locks: 7
Wiki Info: The Middle Level Navigations are a network of waterways in England, primarily used for land drainage, which lie in The Fens between the Rivers Nene and Great Ouse, and between the cities of Peterborough and Cambridge. Most of the area through which they run is at or below sea level, and attempts to protect it from inundation have been carried out since 1480. The Middle Level was given its name by the Dutch Engineer Cornelius Vermuyden in 1642, who subsequently constructed several drainage channels to make the area suitable for agriculture.
4 – Trent and Mersey Canal – Length: 93.4 mi (150 km) – Number of Locks: 76
Wiki Info: The Trent and Mersey Canal is a 93.5-mile long canal (150.5 km) in the East Midlands, West Midlands, and north-west of England. It is a “narrow canal” for the vast majority of its length, but at the extremities to the east of Burton upon Trent and west of Middlewich, it is a wide canal. The narrow locks and bridges are big enough for a single narrowboat 7 ft wide (2.1 m) × 72 ft long (22 m), while the wide locks can accommodate boats 14 ft wide (4.3 m), or two narrowboats next to each other.
3 – Grand Junction Canal – Length: 129.4 mi (208 km) – Number of Locks: 90
Wiki Info: The Grand Junction Canal is a canal in England from Braunston in Northamptonshire to the River Thames at Brentford, with a number of branches. The mainline was built between 1793 and 1805, to improve the route from the Midlands to London, by-passing the upper reaches of the River Thames near Oxford, thus shortening the journey. In 1927 the canal was bought by the Regent’s Canal Company and, since 1 January 1929, has formed the southern half of the Grand Union Main Line from London to Birmingham. The canal is now much used by leisure traffic.
2 – Leeds and Liverpool Canal – Length: 142.6 mi (229 km) – Number of Locks: 105
Wiki Info: The Leeds and Liverpool Canal is a canal in Northern England, linking the cities of Leeds and Liverpool. Over a distance of 127 miles (204 km), it crosses the Pennines and includes 91 locks on the main line. It has several small branches, and in the early 21st century a new link was constructed into the Liverpool docks system.
1 – Grand Union Canal – Length: 286.3 mi (461 km) – Number of Locks: 236
Wiki Info: The Grand Union Canal in England is part of the British canal system. Its main line starts in London and ends in Birmingham, stretching for 137 miles (220 km) with 166 locks. It has arms to places including Leicester, Slough, Aylesbury, Wendover and Northampton. The Grand Union Canal was also the original name for part of what is now part of the Leicester Line of the modern Grand Union: this latter is now generally referred to as the Old Grand Union Canal to avoid ambiguity.