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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
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Download your free guides
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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
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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.
The challenges of decorating a boat for Christmas
December already and it's not long before the big celebration. This year has disappeared so quickly, sadly most likely a symptom of my advancing years.
Christmas celebrations are a bright spot of colour and fun during the darkest part of the year. I just can’t wait for the dark to be over and like to brighten up the boat with festive decorations. In the confined space of a narrowboat cabin you can’t go too mad. A full-size Christmas tree, in my opinion, is rather over the top.
We’ve never had a tree whilst I’ve lived on a boat and I do hanker after one, haunted by childhood memories of pine scent, the hanging of sparkling glass baubles and twinkling fairy lights. Sadly, we don’t even have a spare shelf or table space for a mini tree so this year is going to be a compromise hanging up my sustainable willow and foraged foliage swags on the exterior of the boat from the rails. I am always somewhat envious of other boater’s trees, proudly displayed atop gas lockers, cratches and tug decks, some even with lights! Maybe one day I will win over my partner and we will have a tree too.
Decorating the interior of the boat is done with economy bearing in mind limited storage space. We run a long line of ribbon from the galley bulkhead to the bow doors on which to hang our Christmas cards. I embellish the line of cards with home-made cross stitch & felt decorations hanging below the cards which gives the boat a very festive feel. After the holidays are over the decorations are small enough to live in my sock drawer.
We’ve tried in the past using the traditional holly, ivy and mistletoe but found they made closing the curtains tricky and they didn’t last particularly well due to the heat from the solid fuel stove. This year I might try making garlands for the cabin by stringing up popcorn and cranberries for an extra festive look that’s easy to recycle. I also can’t resist fairy lights, the lighter the cabin is during December the better for me so I’m going to treat myself to some new LED lights that won’t eat too much power.
If you want to see lots of illuminated and decorated boats and have some fun with the family you’re in luck if you are within easy reach of Foxton. Otherwise there are many other festive events where you are likely to see decorated boats if that’s your thing. I will be seeking sparkling inspiration for next year to see me through the bleak mid-winter.
One of the garlands Debbi made to decorate her narrowboat.
Find out what the Canal & River Trust's boating team have been up to.