A UK Canal Boating Article

Category : General


Walking is one of the best ways to explore our beautiful canals and rivers.

When you take a walk along the towpaths you will be able to enjoy traffic-free relaxing views of the countryside.

Canals meander through unspoilt countryside and pass through towns and cities making a walk along them diverse and interesting. Towpaths run alongside the canals and aside from lock flights they are flat making them ideal for walkers of all ages and abilities.

Canals are a haven for wildlife and you will have the chance to spot everything from kingfishers to water voles. In fact your very own Nature Watch will reveal it's self to you on a towpath walk.

Walking is an activity which the whole family can enjoy together.

Walking is fun, healthy and completely free.

Walking on a canal boating holidayMake sure your walking boots, shoes or trainers fit properly, that they are comfortable and provide adequate support otherwise you may get a blister.
Wear loose-fitting clothing that allows you to move freely, layers are best rather as you can peel off if you get warm and pop on a fleece if you get cold.
A waterproof is a good idea.

For longer walks, you may want to take some water, an energy snack, sunscreen, a basic first aid kit and a sunhat all of which can all be packed in a small backpack.

The extras

The serious walker may want to invest a pedometer which is a device that counts your steps and or mileage. They come with a variety of features and in a wide range of prices, the cheapest which count your steps or miles can be purchased for just a few pounds.

A personal stereo or MP3 player can be a great walking companion as music can motivate you but you do not want to miss any of the sounds around you such as the birds singing and the fish jumping.

There is plenty of advice for walkers on the internet checkout The Ramblers website at http://www.ramblers.org.uk/ who offer comprehensive information on walking safely.

Read the Countryside Code which tells you all you need to know to know about walking in the country.

Remember that you do not have to have a car and will have to get back to your canal boat so know your limitations, it's no fun struggling back when you are tired.
Remember that winter daylight is shorter so allow for this when planning your route, you don't want to be walking along the towpath in the dark.

Towards the end of your walk, gradually slow down your pace to cool down. Finish off with a few gentle stretches, which will help improve your flexibility.

Taking a walk along a canal is something that should be enjoyed by as many people as possible. While not all routes are suitable for people with disabilities, towpaths can often be flatter and more accessible than other footpaths.

Remember that any form of motorised vehicles are prohibited on the towpaths.

Many local councils provide information about accessible walks in their areas.

The Walks with Wheelchairs website, http://www.walkswithwheelchairs.com/, features an accessible walk near Devizes on the Kennet and Avon Canal.
The Canal & River Trust provide an audio trail for the blind and visually impaired at Hatton Locks on The Grand Union Canal.

Walking with young families
Walking is a great activity to do as a family no matter what the ages your children.

To avoid the younger members of your family from over-tiring go at their pace and keep walks short and interesting. Games such as I-spy, collecting objects or nature spotting can help liven up walks for flagging children. You could also consider incorporating local attractions or adding a picnic to your walk so they have something to look forward to.

Make sure they are wearing the right clothing and footwear so they don’t get to cold, wet or to hot. In summer hats and sun cream are essential as the sun reflects off the water. A basic first kit is a good idea containing something for bites and stings.

Don't let your children walk to close to the side on the tow path as the banks can be slippery and steep. They should never run near to the locks or play or interfere with the lock mechanism.

Dogs love towpath walking and with miles and miles of traffic free routes it's not surprising.

It is very important to be a considerate dog owner when walking along side the waterways and vital that you keep your dog under control at all times. A lot of wildlife make their homes on the canal banks and on many parts of the waterways the towpath will back onto farm land.

Your dog may love to swim but the canals can be a dangerous place for your pet so keep you dog out of the water. Try not to let your dog from drink from the river or the canal, make sure clean drinking water is available.

Always clear up after your dog as the tow paths are used by fishermen, walkers, cyclists and families.

If you do take a walk off the towpath across a path field make sure that you close the gates and never let your dog run loose as there may be livestock close by.

Make sure you dog is wearing a collar and has some form of ID including your mobile number, don't forget you are away from home so your land line number will be no good
Canal side pubs

During your walk along the towpaths you will encounter a lot of canal side pubs. The canal side pub is a sociable place for canal boats users but it's a watering hole for cyclists and walkers too.

Most canal side pubs welcome dirty boots, families and dogs and what better way to enjoy the end of a walk with a nice pint and a bit to eat.

Foxton locks - a popular walking area
Fradley Junction, Staffordshire
Fradley Junction is where the Trent & Mersey Canal meets the Coventry Canal and there are a number of routes around the site. The information boards give an insight into the canal’s history.

Foxton Locks, Leicestershire
This famous flight of ten locks on the Grand Union Canal Leicester Line is the centre of a popular site for walkers. Spend time spotting wildlife around the side ponds that supply the locks with water. Both the pubs and the café on site have dog-friendly areas.

Bingley Five Rise Locks, Yorkshire
This Grade I listed structure dates back to the 18th century and is the steepest flight of locks in the UK. Watch the canal boats as they pass through the locks, a very impressive sight which often draws a crowd of walkers.

The Regent's Canal, London
The canal runs for eight and half miles from Little Venice to Limehouse, providing a wonderful way of escaping the city's streets and exploring a hidden side of the capital. London. In fact there are 100 miles of canals in London and they are free for everyone to use and a haven for wildlife.

Droitwich Canals, Worcestershire
A rewarding and varied walking route follows one of Britain's oldest canals, the Droitwich Barge Canal, and the mighty River Severn on its way into Worcester.

Hatton Lock Flight, Warwickshire
On the Grand Union Canal offers stunning views across to Warwick Cathedral, is the focal point of several easy circular walks.

Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal, Powys
One of the most beautiful canals in Britain, it winds through 35 miles of peaceful countryside mainly through the glorious Brecon Beacons. The towpath offers hikers a gentle walking experience through some very pretty countryside. The Canal and River Trust has produced a booklet containing information on walks along the canal towpath which highlight some of the points of interest along the way.

Kennet and Avon Canal, Wiltshire
The flight of 16 locks at Devizes are perhaps the most impressive anywhere in Britain and provide a popular starting point for exploring The Kennet and Avon Canal.

Marple Locks and Aqueduct, Cheshire
A charming waterside community at the junction of the Macclesfield Canal and the Peak Forest Canals. Its lock flight is one of Britain's steepest and, together with the nearby aqueduct, was hailed in 1800 as an engineering feat second only to China's Grand Canal



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