If you’ve been inspired by the Olympics over the past few weeks and you want to become more active then get down to your local canal or river. Cycling, running and kayaking are just some of the ways you can enjoy our waterways and if you want to be the next Helen Reeves or Mo Farah then there’s no better place to start.
Hundreds of thousands of joggers already use our towpaths each year and if you’ve been motivated by our Olympic athletes to start running, then there’s no better place than alongside our canals and rivers.
Running next to water is not only great for your physical well-being, it’s also a great way to keep your mind healthy and all you need is a pair of trainers to get started. You can use our interactive maps to plan your route or simply take to your nearest towpath and start exploring.
The Canal & River Trust welcomes runners to the towpaths, although we don’t encourage speed events and if you’re a Usain Bolt wannabe then the towpath probably isn’t the place for you. However, if you’re looking to get fit and escape the pressures of everyday life (and the dangers of everyday traffic) then we’d love to see you by our waterways.
The British Success in the Tour de France followed by a flurry of cycling medals for Team GB has sparked the country’s enthusiasm for cycling.
Cycling is a great form of aerobic exercise, which burns lots of calories and strengthens all the major muscle groups. It is also low-impact, which means it doesn’t put a lot of strain on the joints. More importantly, it’s great fun and a great way to enjoy our canal network too!
Traffic free and predominantly flat, our towpaths are great for beginners, families and the rustier cyclists out there so if you’re looking to build your confidence on two wheels, make your way to the canal.
Please bear in mind that our towpaths are shared with other users, and are not suitable for high-speed cycling and time trials. Canal & River Trust towpaths are Greenways which mean they are shared space routes with pedestrian priority. Be considerate, and always follow the Greenways Code.
Britain’s canals and rivers have launched the careers of some of the greatest kayakers in the world. We haven’t made that statistic up. Helen Reeves, who won a gold medal in Athens in 2004 started out paddling on the Basinstoke Canal!
Canoeing or kayaking is a great all-over work out. If done correctly, one forward stroke uses all of the muscles from your toes to your arms. The repetition of this movement will also improve your core stability and balance.
However, you don’t need to be super-fit to get started at canoeing or kayaking, and it is suitable for people of all ages. Howard Blackman, head of participation at Canoe England, says: “Canoeing is for everyone. The beauty of the sport is that it has low impact on your joints and you can paddle with any fitness level and whatever your fitness level currently is, it will improve. The sport can be as gentle or demanding as you like.”
For more information about getting started and finding your local canoe club or centre visit our canoeing pages.