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The charity making life better by water

Aerial view of a narrowboat crossing a stone aqueduct over a river and fields in the shining sun.

Cultural and environmental assets

Our network includes globally renowned heritage, making it the third largest heritage estate, with open access in the UK.

Culture and environment

Caring for our heritage and environment

We're custodians of natural and historical spaces. We're conserving, promoting, and providing access to our network for people and wildlife.


of our network

is designated for wildlife


million pounds

invested in our reservoirs since 2020


volunteer hours

spent planting trees and learning conservation skills

As a result of climate change, the UK is experiencing more severe weather patterns – the greatest threat to the nation's heritage and biodiversity. The UK is already one of the world's most nature-depleted countries, with just 53% of its biodiversity remaining.

Our canals and rivers make up the UK's longest linear green-blue space and are a vital part of our nature recovery. This 2,000-mile-long wildlife corridor provides homes for iconic and protected species and everyday wildlife.

Our Heritage Estate & Stewardship

In the 18th and 19th centuries, our canals changed our nation's fortunes. Today, this network is recognised as one of the finest working examples of industrial heritage. As the custodian, the Trust conserves, promotes, and provides open access.

Historic England listed 125 waterway heritage assets as 'at risk' in 1998. Now, our work and your support means only one remains on the list – Hanwell Lock Flight.

However, changing weather patterns on a fragile and ageing infrastructure are making it increasingly challenging to keep our historic network open, safe, and resilient. As such, we must balance competing needs, adopt different ways of working, and embrace innovation.

Repair of Winterburn Reservoir in North Yorkshire

Winterburn Reservoir is the Trust’s highest dam. Completed in 1893, it is still used to supply water to the Leeds & Liverpool Canal and provides valuable open space for people and wildlife.

In 2023, as part of our legal obligations to ensure its continued safe use and to preserve the unique reservoir heritage for the future, we undertook essential repairs to the spillway.

Our impact on cultural and environmental assets

Kingfisher in flight with small fish in its beak

Support our work

We need your support to keep canals and rivers alive. Donate today to make a difference

Explore more about our work and impact

Last Edited: 01 March 2024

photo of a location on the canals
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