04 August 2021

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The Canal de Castilla

The Canal de Castilla is a waterway that crosses the province of Palencia, passing through the province of Burgos and reaching the city of Valladolid with one of its branches. It was born as a means of transport between the interior of the plateau and the north of Spain, since the railroad did not exist yet, but with the arrival of this one, it became obsolete.


Today the Canal de Castilla is a natural environment that runs through our land, giving life and irrigation to the fields of Castilla and offering its path and history to tourists who come to visit it.



History of the Canal de Castilla


The first plans to create this navigation network in Castile began in the 16th century, but it was in 1751 when Ferdinand VI, at the request of the Marquis de la Ensenada, took the initiative. Antonio de Ulloa, drafted the "Proyecto General de Navegación y Riego para los Reinos de Castilla y León" in 1953, designing a set of four canals, of which only three were executed.


In 1792, when the works on the three branches had not yet been completed, commercial navigation on the Canal began. Economic activity on the Canal de Castilla reached its peak in the decade between 1850 and 1860, with some 400 barges along the entire length of the canal. All the barges were dedicated to the transport of goods (wheat, flour and wood), except for four daily stagecoaches in charge of carrying passengers from Valladolid to Palencia.


The work came too late, since the railroad was built, which turned out to be a more efficient means of transportation, and therefore the use of the canal in this sense was abandoned. From that time on, its function became solely for irrigation and leisure and tourism activities.





What is the Canal de Castilla


The Canal is a waterway that runs through part of the provinces of Burgos, Palencia and Valladolid. The longest route crosses the province of Palencia practically from north to south, creating a path that passes through villages and rural landscapes with lots of charm.


Some of the constructions you can see along the way are the locks, used so that barges could "ascend" or "descend" when they encountered changes in canal level. You can also see the docks, inland ports used for loading and unloading goods.


Other elements are the buildings constructed around the canal: the dwellings of the lock keepers, warehouses, mills, flour factories; and components such as bridges, aqueducts, dams to regulate the canal bed, chests to take water for the irrigation ditches, etc.


What to do in the Canal de Castilla


From the Eco Hotel Doña Mayor we suggest you to discover its path and history. We suggest that you approach the Frómista locks and stroll upstream, crossing paths with pilgrims who walk this stretch that coincides with the Camino de Santiago and paying attention to the birds that fly around this natural environment.


You have many options to enjoy it depending on your tastes and the time of the year:

  • A walk along the canal is a good idea at any time of the year, starting at the Frómista locks.
  • Navigate in the Juan de Homar boat through the fields, to learn about the history and feel like a boatman from centuries ago. In summer we recommend that you choose the early morning or late afternoon trips. You have to book in advance.
  • The bicycle is always a good option, because although the weather in summer is hot, if you take advantage of the first hours of the day and bring enough water, you will not have any difficulty. Here we tell you more For more details, you can rent our bikes or ride the entire Canal with Sendalibre Cycling Tours.
  • Especially during the hottest months, but also during the rest of the year, you can enter the waters of the canal with a canoe canoe and travel through its calm waters.