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A beautiful canal of two halves, the Pocklington Canal lies in the rural landscape of East Yorkshire, just west of the rolling Yorkshire Wolds. This canal is one of the UK’s best for wildlife and its habitats are protected as Sites of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI). The canal has some of the finest examples of Georgian canal architecture, which are also protected as Grade II Listed structures.
Built to connect Pocklington to the River Derwent and beyond, the Pocklington Canal never actually reached its namesake town. Instead this canal starts 1 mile outside the market town, today alongside the A1079 York – Hull road.
Visit Canal Head to enjoy a stroll along the towpath, listening out for the cuckoos that call in spring. This section of the 9.5-mile canal has not been restored after the canal fell into dereliction, so the towpath takes you along a quiet stretch lined with trees. It’s a lovely place to
stretch your legs along the level towpath, or take the dog for a walk! Canal Head has picnic benches so you can relax by the water, and a small information centre which is opened on summer Sunday afternoons by volunteers from the Pocklington Canal Amenity Society (PCAS).
Visit Melbourne Arm Moorings, located roughly halfway along the canal in the village of the same name, for a chance to get on a narrowboat and cruise along the peaceful waters of the affectionately named ‘Pock’. PCAS run short trips aboard their narrowboat on summer Sunday afternoons, simply turn up at the moorings and wait for a place on their first-come-first-served trips. These are free, but donations are welcome towards the future restoration of the canal. If you don’t fancy a boat trip, enjoy a walk along the towpath in either direction, passing under the beautiful humpbacked Church Bridge.
Pocklington Canal fell into a period of decline once the railways took trade away from the waterways back in the 1830’s. This canal was nearly lost forever when proposals to infill were raised in 1959. Thankfully, after strong local opposition to these plans the Pocklington Canal Amenity Society was formed in 1969 and their volunteers began restoring the canal. Today around ¾ of the canal is navigable by boaters who arrive at the entrance to the canal in East Cottingwith having travelled up the River Derwent.
Pocklington Canal is special for its wildlife, including otters, water voles, kingfishers, barn owls, dragonflies and a wide variety of plant species. The canal is protected by three separate Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and the eastern end lies within the internationally protected Lower Derwent Valley National Nature Reserve.