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The charity making life better by water

Woman on a sunny canal towpath holding two plants in pots

About us

Founded in 2012, Canal & River Trust is the UK's largest canal charity, caring for a 2,000-mile network of stunning canals and navigable rivers.

Connecting many of the UK's urban and rural areas, we provide essential spaces for wildlife and people, helping us all feel happier and healthier.

The 250-year-old waterways in our care – the canals, embankments, culverts and reservoirs as well as the bridges, locks and towpaths – and their vital ecosystems are threatened by the growing impact of climate change and more extreme weather. They need constant upkeep and investment. Without it, they face decline and closure, and we risk losing the incredible benefits they bring.

Together, with your active support, we can keep canals alive. Join us and protect waterways for nature to thrive and everyone to enjoy. Today and in the future.

Our story

  • Read the video transcript

    More than 200 years ago, great engineers and thousands of navies made something truly spectacular.

    They achieved feats of industrial engineering never encountered before: taking water up hills; across valleys; powering the industrial age.

    When they were creating this 2,000-mile network - the finest example of industrial heritage in the world - they could never have predicted the role that canals would still be playing in our lives over two centuries later.

    Stretching from London to Lancaster, Brecon to Boston, the former motorways of the nation are continuing to shape the lives of millions of people today.

    But in new, completely different and exciting ways they're giving us somewhere we can live, relax, visit, get active, spend time together, get close to nature.

    Today there are more boats and people on the water than ever before. Our canals are not just about the past, they have the potential to help power our future too.

    They provide a vital source of water to help our crops grow. They're a source of renewable energy. They support a wide range of businesses and jobs.

    Using the energy stored in the water they're helping to keep our cities cool and our homes warm. Broadband cables, gas pipes, electricity lines tucked under tow paths and bridges traverse the country, bringing energy into our houses and businesses.

    And making this happen is one charity, a charity powered by millions of supporters - Canal and River Trust.

    We are the people making life better by water. We are the charity that provides much needed green and blue spaces in our most built up areas.

    We are the charity caring for these historic precious and fragile structures - out in the open, exposed to the very worst that our weather and climate can throw at them.

    We are the engineers, the lock keepers, the litter pickers, keeping these waterways open and bringing them to life for boaters, for local communities, for you.

    Our amazing charity cares for these wonderful waterways but more help is desperately needed - your donations, your time as well as the vital support from partners and government - if they are to survive and thrive so we all have a back garden to call our own, a special place on our doorstep to use and enjoy.

    Together we can make it happen. Together we are Canal and River Trust. Making life better by water.

photo of a location on the canals
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