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Top 10 scenic canal spots from Rate this Scene 2022

With nearly one million votes cast by you in our citizen science study, we can now reveal the top ten images across our waterways with the highest scenic rating.

Sun sets over a canal and reflects in the canal

Built over 200 years ago, today's canals have gone from dereliction and decline to being reinvented as places for leisure and wellbeing.

After the success of Rate this Scene last year, we brought it back for 2022 and encouraged you to once again vote for what canal imagery you found most beautiful, so we can continue to make our waterways as wonderful as possible for us all to enjoy.

Working in partnership with the Data Science Lab at the University of Warwick, this largest ever citizen science study of its kind has now seen over 1.6 million votes cast and more than 15,000 photos uploaded.

The outcomes from all of your votes will, over time, help us to protect what's important to you and improve our canals and rivers in areas where its most needed.

For now, why not take a look at the ten highest rated scenic pictures from 2022.

1. Grand Union Canal

Taking the number one spot in this year's study was a picture taken at Grand Union Canal in Wistow, Leicestershire, which plots a meandering course through rolling hills and unspoilt countryside.

The image features an early summer evening, with a setting sun that casts a warm orange glow between a ceiling of scattered clouds and tree lined fields beneath, all of which is captured in reflections along the canal itself, with reeds framing the canal's banks and a narrowboat moored on the bend.

The Grand Union Canal links London to Birmingham. It is our longest canal, the ‘trunk route' of the system, and helps thousands of people to live healthier, happier lives.

Photo credit: Alex Hannam

Sun sets over a canal and reflects in the canal

2. Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal

The second highest rated image was a gorgeously green snap of the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal, approaching Whittington Horsebridge.

The 'Staffs & Worcs' runs through softly undulating West Midlands countryside. It skirts around the edges of Birmingham without ever becoming truly urban.

Photo credit: Maggie Thompson

Approaching Whittington Horsebridge along Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal

3. Lancaster Canal

This serene image encapsulates the beginnings of autumn in all its golden glory as the leaves start to change on the abundance of trees lining the bank.

Linking Preston to Kendal, the Lancaster Canal is one of the country's few coastal canals. Built along the natural lie of the land it offers 41 miles of lock free cruising - the longest stretch in the country.

As the canal is naturally level, it also lends itself to gentle walking and cycling, as well as canoeing and other outdoor activities.

Photo credit: Vincent Spratling

Autumn on the Lancaster Canal

4. Shropshire Union Canal

With the sky and trees mirrored perfectly in the water's reflection, this image of the Shropshire Union Canal came out as a top ten favourite.

The Shropshire Union is a charmingly rural and isolated waterway for much of its length, and a great place to take time out.

Photo credit: Paul Buckingham

Shropshire Union Canal, near Wheaton Aston

5. Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal

It wouldn't be a top ten gallery without the picturesque Mon & Brec canal featuring at some point. A quiet haven surrounded by lush greenery, this waterway makes for wonderful walks in gorgeous dappled sunlight.

Meandering through the Welsh countryside, the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal is one of our most beautiful and peaceful waterways following the line of the Usk Valley through the Brecon Beacons National Park.

Photo credit: Alan Jones

Sun shines through trees lining the canal

6. Kennet & Avon Canal

This stunning image of a misty morning features a boat moored on the K&A at the bottom of the iconic Caen Hill Locks, and a beautiful blazing sunrise.

The Kennet & Avon Canal, at 87 miles long, links London with the Bristol Channel, and passes through some spectacular landscapes including Wiltshire and the rolling Cotswolds. This beautiful waterway is a favourite family weekend escape for locals and a pleasure to discover on a day out for visitors.

Photo credit: Kristian Price

Sunrise at Caen Hill on the Kennet & Avon

7. River Don

Dawn over the Old River Don at Barnby Dun certainly makes for a wonderful picture, with striking reflections across the water's surface.

Part of the Sheffield & South Yorkshire navigation, which stretches from the regenerated heart of urban Sheffield to the lush green of the Don valley, this waterway offers a fascinating perspective on a former industrial area.

Season of mist and mellow fruitfulness in South Yorkshire

8. Tame Valley Canal

This satisfyingly symmetrical image of lush greenery along the Tame Valley Canal oozes calm and serenity.

The Tame Valley Canal is a secret, secluded world, largely hidden from its built-up surroundings by high embankments and deep cuttings. Stretching 8.5 miles, the towpaths are open to walkers, cyclists and anglers, making it the perfect urban escape.

Photo credit: Christine Johnstone

Wooded cutting on the Tame Valley canal

9. Stratford-upon-Avon Canal

Is this sunrise, or sunset? Either way, the reflections on the stillness of the water are beautiful.

The Stratford-upon-Avon Canal runs from Birmingham's suburbia to Shakespeare's Stratford in 25 picturesque miles. The charming conservation area of Wootton Wawen, where this image was taken, has many ancient timber-frames houses.

Photo credit: Matthew Smith

Stratford-upon-Avon canal, near Wootton Wawen

10. Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal

Sneaking in with a second spot in the top ten is the Mon & Brec. Bursting with greenery, this canal is a haven for wildlife and a favourite with nature-lovers, walkers and cyclists.

Photo credit: Philip Halling

Trees reflected in the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal

Last Edited: 09 December 2022

photo of a location on the canals
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