The Millennium Ribble Link is a Linear Water Park and new navigation which links the once-isolated Lancaster Canal in Lancashire, England to The River Ribble. It was opened in July 2002.
The Millennium Ribble Link includes what was Great Britain's first inland waterway to be constructed in nearly 100 years when it was opened in July 2002, and was the first to be built for leisure purposes only, not commercial use. It is a navigation - it is not a canal as boats can only travel in one direction on alternate days, The 4-mile (6.4 km) link connects the once-isolated Lancaster Canal to the River Ribble. From the Ribble it is possible to reach the main navigable system via the River Douglas and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal's Rufford Branch subject to tides and weather conditions.
From the north; the Northern end of the Millennium Ribble Link is a holding basin adjacent and connected to the Lancaster Canal. This is the start of the sculpture trail. This is followed by a 3 lock staircase and a 'turning circle' at the bottom, the Savick Brook enters from the east. To the south of this is the fine Victorian Haslam Park and well worth a visit if travelling by foot. A pedestrian footpath and cycle path is clearly marked. The link itself turns west following the line of the original Savick Brook.
Passing under Tom Benson Way, and immediately under the local railway line bridge the Ribble Link comes to Lock 4 with a weir. The sculpture 'Fire' by Thompson Dagnall is found here. From Lock 4 to Lock 5, complete with weir, to the north is a quiet public park, again worth visiting on foot or bicycle. Between Locks 4 and 5, to the south is the 'hay meadow' part of the Ribble Link Development, identified as 'national significance'. Public access is approved and welcomed.
Lock 5 is separated from the meander of the Savick Brook by an island created by the line of the new canal and the Savick Brook joins again just after leaving Lock 5. The sculpture 'Air' by Thompson Dagnall is found above and to the south of Lock 5.
Passing under Lea Road the Ribble Link enters the flood plain of semi urban area with agricultural fields on either side. This leads to Lock 6, with weir and then under Tudor Avenue bridge. On the left is the local city soccer team's training ground, Preston North End Football Club. On the right is Ashton and Lea Golf Club. Then passing under a footbridge, possibly of ancient origin, Lock 7 and weir appears. Again separated from the meander of the Savick Brook the Ribble Link passes through agricultural fields, under Goodier Bridge to the Holding Basin at Lock 8. Floating pontoons are available for mooring.
After Lock 8 the navigation becomes tidal. There is Savick Brook Pumping Station on the left followed by a copse of semi-ancient woodland and a Biological Heritage Site reedbed at Savick Bridge, which is the main A583 road. The sculpture 'Rook' by Thompson Dagnall can be seen perched on the north bank. It is also visible if travelling by car along the A583.
From the outset the project was to be far more than 'just a canal', it included the provision of a) community boat b) outdoor classroom c) visitor seating d) footbridge downstream of lock 7 & wetland scrape for birds e) public access and enjoyment f) natural habitat creation and enhancement and; Improve access to the canal and enhance the visitor experience and provide an increase in economic benefits to the local community. As a consequence the scheme includes a 'sculpture trail' along the length of the Millennium Ribble Link.
The Millennium Ribble Link is only open for approximately 90 days out of 365; approximately 200 boats a year have used the Ribble Link since its opening.