Exploring in autumn
Our canals and rivers are glorious all year round. In spring the wildlife wakes up from its winter slumber, in summer our canals are thriving with holiday makers and throughout the winter the waterways offer restful solitude.
For many people autumn is the finest season on the canal. The kids are back at school, making the canals calmer than the summer months. You can still venture out without three jumpers and thermal socks and, after the events and celebrations of the summer months, the canals return to their serene state.
A visit to our canals and rivers in autumn will reward you with the sight of migratory birds making their way to their winter quarters, the crunch of golden-brown leaves under your feet on the towpaths and the promise of a cosy pub and the end of the day.
We’ve picked out our favourite canals for autumn exploring but of course there are many more which are worthy of a visit this season. Why not browse through our canals and rivers and find your perfect autumn escape?
The Llangollen Canal is one of our busiest waterways, and with good reason. Playing host to a World Heritage Site the canal attracts vast numbers of visitors during the summer months who gather to marvel at the magnificent Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Horseshoe Falls.
These attractions along with the lesser-known Chirk Aqueduct are undoubtedly the most impressive feats of engineering along this stretch of water and great to visit in autumn when there are fewer people around.
However, there’s far more to the canal than its engineering prowess and a trip during the autumn months allows you to take your time exploring the colourful rural countryside, including the market towns of Whitchurch and Ellesmere.
Find out more about the Llangollen Canal
The Caldon Canal is breathtakingly beautiful during the autumn months. It simply gets more and more attractive as you travel from Stoke-on-Trent through the Churnett Valley towards the Peak District with only a preserved steam railway to disturb the peace.
Many holiday boaters return year after year to experience its unique features, which include an island, staircase lock and challenging tunnels. Why not visit yourself and see what all the fuss is about?
Find out more about the Caldon Canal
The River Lee is a bird spotter’s paradise in the autumn as the The Lee Valley Park, which runs alongside the river for much of its way, is an enduringly popular winter home for many migratory birds.
Cutting through rural Hertfordshire on its way into London and a visit to the River in autumn is a hugely rewarding experience. You’ll feel like you’re a million miles away from London as you pass by the nature reserve with its golden brown trees and nature-rich reed beds.
It’s a great time of year to spot the elusive bittern and common terns are a common sight! Redwings, fieldfares and a variety of exotic, brightly coloured ducks are also prevalent on the River Lee at this time of year.
Find out more about the River Lee
Visiting the River Witham’s peaceful flat surroundings is a pleasing way to spend an autumn day. Flowing for 36 miles through pastoral Lincolnshire you’ll see the surrounding landscape change colour as the local farmers harvest their fields and the countryside switches from deep green to golden brown.
Passing by Fiskerton Fen Nature Reserve you’ll get the chance to see wintering birds including marsh harriers and, if you’re really lucky, a bittern.
Find out more about the River Witham
Trent & Mersey Canal
If you’re after far reaching views of the British countryside and fancy getting closer to our waterway wildlife wildlife then the Trent & Mersey Canal is the place to visit this autumn. From the nature reserve at Fradley Junction to the sweeping scenes of the Cheshire plain there are plenty of reasons to make the most of autumn along this waterway.
When you’re done watching the autumn wildlife preparing for its winter hibernation and spotting the many migratory birds who make their home on the canal for the winter, you’re spoilt for choice with welcoming canalside pubs complete with roaring fires.
Find out more about the Trent & Mersey Canal