Grab your pirate hat, binoculars, wellies and a picnic and head for the top heritage gems along the country’s beautiful waterways this summer.

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Rich in history, with colourful canal boats and wonderful watery wildlife – the Canal & River Trust has over 2,000 miles of canals and rivers throughout England and Wales to explore. Whether you want to spot a family of ducks or the flash of a kingfisher, watch boats travel across soaring aqueducts or through a flight of lock gates, try a fishing taster course or simply enjoy spending time together - the whole family can enjoy an adventure for free at one of the Canal & River Trust’s historical treasures.


To help you choose which of the country’s miles and miles of canals and rivers to visit the Trust has put together a collection of local maps and activity sheets downloadable from Simply choose your destination and have a fun family day out.


New for family festival goers:

Across the country the summer waterway scene attracts hundreds of floating markets, fayres and music festivals – this year the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is set to host a major new waterway festival - the East London Waterway Festival on Monday 28th August 2017. 

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Celebrating London’s local rivers and canals the festival marks the completion of Carpenters Road Lock that will allow boats to travel from the Old River Lea to Waterworks River for the first time in 40 years.


The celebration will include a boat flotilla, dragon boat racing, canoeing, stand up paddle boarding, rowing, pedalos and free boat trips. There will also be live music and dance performances, children’s activities, heritage walks, food stalls, craft beer and more. In the evening Nomad Cinema will be hosting a screening in the lock, of the film ‘How we used to Live’, introduced by the writer Travis Elborough. Directions: Easy to access by train, tube or bus. From central London take either the Jubilee or Central Line to Stratford. Take the escalators up to ‘the Street’ and follow pedestrian signs. Carpenters’ Lock, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London E20 2ST.


For fishing fun:

Let’s Fish! Join the Canal & River Trust for free fishing taster sessions during the summer holidays. Gather your family and friends and head to your local waterway to experience the joy of catching big and little fish. Learn how to identify the variety of fish you find and enjoy the fun to be had counting your catch. Across the country the Canal & River Trust will be holding Let’s Fish events – with professional fishing coaches to introduce you to the joy of fishing.

To find your nearest event and to book your free place

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For wildlife lovers:

Built through a gap in the Chilterns near Tring, the Grand Union Canal changed this area forever with the building of four reservoirs to provide water – Tring Reservoirs. Today the reservoirs create a 263 acre Site of Special Scientific Interest and is one of the best birdwatching spots in southern England. In the summer watch swifts and common terns swooping over the water and in the evening spot pipistrelle bats hunting for insects. Directions: Tring Reservoirs, Startop’s End Reservoir car park, Marsworth, Buckinghamshire HP23 4LJ.


For coracle and canoe paddlers:

Cheer for your favourite coracle racing team or enjoy a free canoeing taster session as part of the Welshpool Canal & Food Festival that helps to celebrate the Montgomery Canal Restoration project. Activities run throughout the day, including food and craft stalls, try fishing sessions, free narrow boat trips and musical performances. Taking place on 22nd July 2017, 10am to 4pm the event and many of its activities are free to attend. For further information visit Directions: Town Wharf, Welshpool, Powys, Wales, SY21 7DD.


For tranquillity:

One of the most beautiful and peaceful waterways, the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal, follows the line of the wooded Usk Valley. The navigable section of the canal runs for 35 miles from Brecon to the Pontymoile basin. In addition to being able to enjoy Brecon Beacon’s international designation as a Dark Skies Reserve by boat, it’s also a haven for wildlife and a favourite with walkers and cyclists. There are lime kilns and old workings from our industrial heritage all along its length and it’s a great place to spot buzzards, red kites, herons, dragonflies and, if you’re lucky, otters. Directions: Brecon Basin, Powys, LD3 7EW.


For film fanatics:

Follow the Regent’s Canal from Little Venice to Camden and you’ll be following in the footsteps of unlikely duo Paddington Bear and James Bond. The traffic-free towpath allows you to enjoy a few hours away from busy London life and discover a slower pace and an oasis of calm minutes away from central London. Little Venice’s lake-like vista and island is the location for Paddington’s heroic attempts at saving the day in the Paddington movie and, soon to be released, Paddington 2 movie. Continue to follow the Regent’s Canal towards Camden Lock and Dead Dog Basin and you’ll find the location for the underground entrance to Q’s workshop in Bond’s Spectre movie. 

Directions: Take the underground to Paddington and turn left along the canal for a 5-10 minute walk to Little Venice. Limited street parking only. W9 2PF.


For cycling adventures:

Cycle with your family to the majestic Pontcysyllte Aqueduct along the Llangollen Canal.

This journey is 4 miles long and runs from the quaint town of Llangollen to the world famous Pontcysyllte aqueduct, which has UNESCO World Heritage status. Built in 1805 by Thomas Telford the aqueduct measures 1,007ft long and 126ft high. The canal roughly follows the course of the River Dee and on reaching the canal basin there is a café, shop and pub for refreshments. Cyclists will need to dismount as you cross the aqueduct but it’s worth it to take in those views. 

Directions: Main Car Park, Market Street, Llangollen, LL20 8TA.


For history enthusiasts:

The World Heritage Site of Saltaire on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, West Yorkshire, is a textile village named after Victorian industrialist Sir Titus Salt. Salts Mill now houses the largest collection of work by David Hockney. Visit this model village, mill and the beautiful formality of Roberts Park where village and factory workers enjoyed their leisure and where today you can visit the playground, watch cricket and walk alongside the river and canal. Directions: Saltaire Railway Station on Victoria Road takes you into the heart of Saltaire and Salt’s Mill. Paid for parking is available. Alternately walks from the nearby Bingley Five Rise locks are a fantastic way to see this canal at its best. BD98 8AA.


Go ‘gongoozling’:

Gongoozling is the traditional name for watching boats go by, find a flight or staircase of locks and you’ll see plenty of boats navigate their way up and down hills through the power of water. Try the 30 locks at Tardebigge in Worcestershire or the staircase locks at Bingley Five Rise, in West Yorkshire. These flights are awesome examples of canal engineering and with nearby picnic spots they make a great beauty spot for all the family. Directions: Tardebigge, Alcester Road, Tardebigge, Worcester B60 1NF. Bingley Five Rise, Beck Lane, Bingley, West Yorkshire BD16 4DS.


For full details of all the destinations, events or for downloadable trails and maps visit


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