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.
There are two main types of boat used on the UK's inland waterways to consider: narrowboats and wide beam boats.
Our canals and rivers have evolved over the past 200 years and not all locks and bridges are the same size. You'll need to ensure your boat is the right size for the places you want to go.
A steel narrowboat can cruise almost any waterway, though they are not so well suited for tidal rivers. They are 6ft 10in (2.1m) wide and up to 70ft long. The canals and rivers of Yorkshire have shorter locks, so if you want to explore this area, your boat should be no longer than 56ft.
A fibreglass cruiser or a wide beam boat can cruise rivers and wider canals such as the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. The canals of the Midlands are generally off-limits, unless your cruiser is under 7ft wide. River locks and bridges often get smaller the further you cruise inland.
A trailable boat, built of fibreglass or aluminium, can be towed behind your car and launched in any navigation around Britain.
Most of these boats are built to order. Many builders are recognised for a particular type of boat: some build very traditionally, others may use unusual materials or craft techniques. There is a wide range of fit-outs, enough to suit every budget.
Almost all such boats are hand-crafted, and take many weeks to complete. You'll have a choice of layout, colour scheme, fixtures and fittings. By specifying every detail, you can get the boat of your dreams.
You should inspect several builders' work before making your decision, perhaps by visiting a boat show. Discuss your requirements in detail with your chosen builder, and agree a delivery date and price. Be prepared to visit the builder at regular intervals during the work.
Some boat-builders are now offering 'standard models' that you can buy from stock. These are often good-value craft, without all the refinements of the most expensive bespoke boats, but sure to stand you in good stead for many years' boating. You can always add more luxurious features later. Boat shows such as the London Boat Show and the Crick Boat Show are good places to see examples of these craft.
Modern narrowboats are generally made of steel, though some are aluminium, and many older craft are wooden. There are many design options to choose from, but the most important decision is the stern (the back of the boat).There are three main types:
Wide beam boats are wide steel craft. They provide more spacious accommodation than a narrowboat, but cannot navigate smaller canals. They often have enclosed wheelhouses, for maximum comfort while underway.
River cruisers are usually made from 'GRP' fibreglass moulds, and available in standard configurations - just like a car. You could be afloat within days of buying your new boat.
You will often have a choice of engine type and accessories. Many builders offer a 'family' of cruisers in different sizes, so you can choose one that fits your budget and your family.
Not everyone wants to buy a ready-to-use boat. If you are a DIY enthusiast, you might prefer to buy a partly-built narrowboat which you complete and fit out yourself.
You can buy a narrowboat shell, comprising the steelwork and nothing more. It will generally be painted in primer, with bearers (supports) fitted for the chosen engine. The stern tube, propeller and window openings will be in place. 'Sailaway' boats are similar, but with the engine already fitted.
Last date edited: 12 January 2017