ONE of television's best-loved presenters has flown the flag for a wildlife haven in East Yorkshire by ranking it among his favourite British waterways.

John Craven hailed Pocklington Canal as the "best for wildlife" in his league of top ten spots, which is featured in the June issue of Countryfile Magazine.

The former Newsround host and presenter of BBC 1's Countryfile described the canal, which flows from Canal Head near Pocklington to the River Derwent at East Cottingwith, as "a little gem". Deeming it a top destination for wildlife spotters, he highlights that walkers can amble the length of its ten-mile towpath.

He also notes that only about half of the waterway is navigable as nature has taken over the unrestored section.

The canal was completed in 1818 at a cost of £32,695. A proposed extension never materialised. Coal and agricultural produce were transported along the canal, which was sold to the York and North Midland Railway in 1848. After that it gradually fell into disuse and disrepair.

David Tomlinson, vice-chairman of the Pocklington Canal Amenity Society which was formed in 1969, said: "We are very pleased. It is worthy recognition of an unknown gem."

He said: "British Waterways selected it as one of their best for wildlife and the whole of the canal is a Site of Scientific Importance." He said one of its highlights was the wildlife. "It is unspoilt. Industry just passed it by and, if you take away the telegraph poles, it is a landscape that's unchanged since it was built in 1818."

The Countryfile feature also highlights the rich variety of species of dragonflies and damselflies which can be spotted in summer including Britain's largest, the emperor.

"The canal was built to serve the local farming community, now it serves all nature lovers," writes Mr Craven, who started his professional life on the Harrogate Advertiser. He is vice-president of the Waterways Trust and patron of SPANA (Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad), and was awarded the OBE in 2000 for services to rural and children's broadcasting.