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.
This summer, let’s help keep our canals flowing by being careful not to waste water whilst boating.
Competing demands for water or a lack of water have dogged the canals from the very beginning of the canal age.
“Most canals are distressed for want of water, because either they are above the springs, or they are not permitted to derive a supply from mill streams.” Wrote an early canal commentator.*
Whether it was millers arguing with the proprietors of the canals over routes and water back in the 18th and 19th Centuries, to the lawyers who drafted the Canal Bylaws regarding the operation of locks, to the engineers who developed ingenious water saving side-ponds, everyone associated with the canal and river network has been concerned to avoid a lack of water in the cut.
From the earliest days of “Canal Mania”, the number of boats using the canal increased beyond what had initially been envisaged by many of the canal’s engineers, requiring improvements to be made to cope with demand until commercial traffic reached its terminal decline after the Second World War. Examples of water supply improvements include the building of more reservoirs to cope with traffic over the Tring Summit on the Grand Union Canal and the installation of back-pumping at lock flights during the drought of 1934.
The long-range forecast for the next couple of months looks dry so if we want to be boating all summer long, as ever we’d better look after the water. With more boats on the network than during the height of the industrial revolution, all boaters need to work together to save water. If you’ve been on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal recently you will be aware of the THRIFT code which sets out some simple steps that boaters should follow for everyone’s benefit.
Although we’ve only issued the THRIFT code on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal it’s also worth remembering as good boating practice wherever you are on the network.
Let’s keep our canals flowing this summer for everyone to enjoy. To find out more about how we manage our water and the status of our reservoirs visit our dedicated water management pages.
'Most canals are distressed for want of water, because either they are above the springs, or they are not permitted to derive a supply from mill streams.'
William Smith; On the Utility, Structure and Management of Canals; by Joseph Townsend: published in "The Universal Magazine of Knowledge and Pleasure, Vol. XX, July-Dec 1813" and referenced from this wonderful canal history website if you fancy a more indepth read.
Find out what the Canal & River Trust's boating team have been up to.