Read the story of how the Canal & River Trust came to be
Work for us
We have vacancies across all of our waterways and in the offices, museums and attractions that support them. We're one of the UK's biggest charities and we take pride in everything we do
If you're thinking of getting in touch then please take a moment to look through these pages as we probably have the answer on our website
Planning & design
All you need to know about planning and design on our canals and rivers
Find a winter mooring
Find a cosy section of canal to hunker down in this winter
10 reasons to take up canoeing
It's a great way to get fit and explore our waterways at the same time
Share the Space
Take a look at our common sense guide to sharing the towpath
Find a place to fish
From reservoirs to club-managed canals and river stretches - find your nearest place to fish
Get your free guide
Download your free guide today and start exploring the waterway nature near you
Download your free guides
You've nine free days out guides to choose from - where will you go first?
Find a walk near you
Are you ready to ramble? Find a waterside stroll or a satisfying hike along our beautiful canals and rivers
Take a look at our upcoming events here.
Find your favourite waterway
With over 95 canals, rivers, reservoirs, docks and navigations, find out more about your favourite waterway
Something for everyone
Help us make a difference and have fun along the way. Find your perfect volunteer role today
Join our team
Could you join your local Towpath Taskforce team and help us to keep our canals looking lovely?
Desmond Family Canoe Trail
If you're aged 16-25 and would like to get involved with this exciting project, please get in touch
Could you be a volunteer lock keeper?
Find out what's involved with this popular volunteering opportunity
Why we think canals are better with Friends
Become a Friend of the Canal & River Trust today and you’ll open yourself up to new experiences and endless opportunities.
We love and care for your canals and rivers, because everyone deserves a place to escape.
Our Heritage Manager, Nigel Crowe, talks about how canals were built by moving earth efficiently.
Constructing canals was all about moving earth as efficiently as possible. Earth removed from the channel was used to raise the towpath, while that cut from the lower end of a lock approach was transferred to its top end. Ideally, a cutting had an embankment at one or both ends, formed from its excavated material.
Early canals were generally low-level constructions and followed the winding contours of the land. Later canals were more daring and examples like the Grand Union, Shropshire Union, Tame Valley and Birmingham New Main Line have impressive cuttings and embankments.
Thomas Telford was the great earth-mover, his Smethwick Cutting, completed in 1829 is 22 metres deep in places. His masterpiece was the Shropshire Union Canal, which features a stupendous deep cutting at Tyrley, famed for its steep sides and crossed by high level bridges. The canal has huge embankments too, like those at Shebdon and Shelmore, with tunnels carrying roads through them.
The great earthworks of the Canal Age were constructed by sheer manpower and the use of barrow runs, trams and temporary iron railways. But geotechnical engineering was still in its infancy and problems encountered during construction (soil slippage, water seepage) persist in some places to this day. Burrowing animals were also a concern; in the 1820s the Glamorganshire Canal Company employed a full-time Molecatcher. Today, we inspect and monitor earthworks on a regular basis, but we rarely need to chase moles away.
The work carried out by the heritage team is extremely varied, covering all sorts of structures and a wide variety of projects. Not one week is the same and we keep learning all the time, meeting some fascinating people and visiting stunning places along the way. We are hoping that through our blogs we can share some of our passion for the amazing industrial heritage of the inland waterways.