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
We love and care for your canals and rivers, because everyone deserves a place to escape.
We want to provide a towpath that’s safe for all users and enhance biodiversity wherever we can. By getting our grass cutting schedule right we can create towpaths that give you a great place to spot wildlife along with towpaths you can comfortable walk, cycle and spend time on.
Every year we cut 24 million square metres of grass. That’s the equivalent of mowing the Principality of Monaco 12 times. It costs us £2.1 million.
The way that mowing is managed depends on the type of towpath. We look at the waterway character, surface type, structure, width, type of edging, location and level of use when we set our mowing schedule.
We look after 2,000 miles of canals and rivers and there’s no such thing as a standard towpath. Ultimately, the decision on how a towpath is managed is a local one, based on good knowledge of the towpath types and uses, safety issues and any areas of biodiversity value.
Thoughtful vegetation management can reduce risk to visitors. Cutting vegetation can expose risks such as steep banks and trip hazards, alternatively tall vegetation can be used as a natural barrier.
In areas used by higher numbers of visitors such as at formal moorings and around benches, we’ll focus on nettles, thistles and brambles. Extra mowing is undertaken where there is a need to maintain sight lines - particularly on bends, at approaches to locks, bridges and narrows.
Areas around locks, moorings and access points need more intensive management.
Cutting through the vegetation to the water’s edge at key points can allow anglers safe access. Where tall waterside towpath vegetation can be an issue, cutting to the water’s edge will allow boaters safe, informal moorings, where they can embark and disembark safely. We will only do this where it’s suitable to moor.
While the safety of our users comes first, we’re always looking to take advantage of opportunities to enhance the wildlife habitat of the waterway corridor. Our towpaths provide a continuous corridor to move along, unlike many other habitats in Britain, which are being increasingly dissected and fragmented.
We maintain the aquatic margin except at key points such as moorings or when woody vegetation is an issue. Good hedgerow management can allow grassy margins to extend while creating a more effective boundary of high wildlife value.
Within SSSIs we discuss and agree the mowing regime with the relevant statutory nature conservation organisation. Local contact is arranged through our heritage and environment teams. Mowing regimes may also need to be modified where protected or rare species, such as water voles, are present.
We undertake an environmental assessment for all waterway lengths annually.
Typically urban areas, all moorings and lock sides
Cut full width to 50mm high typically every 2-3 weeks throughout the season.
Cut full width to 100mm high at least once every year
Typically urban / rural fringe with a hard edge
Cut to 50mm high from water's edge, extending to 0.5m to the rear of the towpath, typically every 3-4 weeks throughout the season, retaining rear verge. Cut around bench to 100 mm high. Cut full width to 100mm high at least once every year
Typically urban /rural fringe with soft bank
Cut 0.5m either side of the towpath for typically every four to six weeks throughout the season. Cut around bench to 100 mm high. Cut full width to 100mm high at least once every year.
Typically rural locations with soft bank
Cut to 100mm high, trodden towpath and 0.5m either side of the towpath, typically every 6-12 weeks. Cut full width to 100mm high at least once every year
Grass cutting FAQs
Everything you've ever wanted to know about our grass cutting regimes
Last date edited: 19 April 2016