A 70 year-old canoeist will step back in time when he makes a nostalgic stop off in Leigh on his waterway trek from Kendal to London.

Fifty three years ago Peter Woolsey kayaked from Kendal, via the Lancaster Canal, the River Ribble and Leeds & Liverpool canal, Bridgewater, Trent & Mersey, Coventry and Oxford canal arriving in London on the River Thames.

On Friday (May 27) he paddles off in his kayak from bridge 172 the most northerly point of the Lancaster canal and will head for the capital via Preston, to the River Ribble, hopefully do the tidal passage to the River Douglas, and then join the Rufford branch of the Leeds & Liverpool canal staying the Sunday night in Leigh at the Sporting Lodge, 27 miles into his journey of approximately 400 miles.

His aim is to continue via Manchester, Stoke, Coventry and Oxford to London, planning to arrive in the capital on June 12.

In doing so Peter hopes to spread the word that canoes and kayaks can open up an whole new world that is accessible to older people and those with disabilities.

He told the Journal: "If you can’t walk, try canoeing or kayaking. If you can still get into and out of a bath then you can get into and out of a kayak and it’s a very safe and gentle exercise, on a canal, or a lake.

"I’m being supported technically by the Inland Waterways and the British Canoe Union as well as by Age UK (formerly Age Concern).

"I still remember the night I spent as a 17 year-old in a pub at Burscough when I arrived exhausted, having had to land on the mud flats of the tidal river Ribble, then drag my kayak to the road and portage to the Leeds & Liverpool canal and canoe down to the pub at Burscough Bridge.

"The pub owner was great, he gave me a bath and a meal, then there was a great party with all the regulars. I’d made a short radio interview the two days earlier before starting so they knew I would be passing through. The landlord then let me sleep in my sleeping bag on a couch in the ‘events room’ that night and gave me a breakfast the following morning. I will never forget his kind welcome.

“I’m keen to use the trip to assist IWA and the British Canoe Union to promote the increased use of canals and navigable rivers.

"Canoeing is a sport for all. The attractive combination of getting close to nature, getting fresh air and keeping fit at the same time is difficult to ignore and it’s a great way to meet new people. Canoeing provides so many opportunities, whether it is fast flowing, white water, or flat recreational paddling or even a team activity like canoe polo, canoeing caters for all tastes and abilities and disabilities.”

The BCU hopes to encourage older people to consider canoeing and kayaking on inland waterways and to further their development of canoe trails.