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.
The Grand Union Canal links London to Birmingham, passing through rolling countryside, industrial towns and peaceful villages. It is our longest canal, the ‘trunk route’ of the system. Yet competition from the railways and the narrow size of its locks meant that this mammoth waterway had to fight hard to survive in the early 20th Century.
30th March 2018 10:00am to 2nd April 2018 5:00pm
Iron Bridge Lock & Cassiobury Park Locks
21st April 2018 10:00am to 22nd April 2018 4:00pm
19th May 2018 12:00am to 20th May 2018 11:59pm
26th May 2018 12:00am to 28th May 2018 11:59pm
2nd June 2018 10:00am to 2nd June 2018 6:00pm
16th June 2018 12:00am to 17th June 2018 11:59pm
8th September 2018 12:00am to 9th September 2018 11:59pm
5th Mar 2018 12:00am to 2nd Apr 2018 11:59pm
Milton Keynes Council (MKC) contractors (Ringway) will be carrying out Towpath upgrade works along the Canal Towpath between bridge 94 and bridge 95A. The Towpath along the location will be closed with...
3rd Apr 2018 8:00am to 11th May 2018 6:00pm
A & H Construction will be repairing/replacingthe canal wall copings at this location. The works will be undertaken utilisinga pontoon.
50 Berth Marina located on a beef and sheep farm in rural Warwickshire. Truly unique and tranquil.
Union Canal Carriers are a family run hire boat company celebrating 50 years in business. The fleet of 17 hire boats are built by us and are all individual as we believe our customers are. Our staff are...
Countryside canal basin moorings for up to 12 Narrowboats. Permanent and short term moorings including overnight.
Visitor information about Braunston; its organisations, businesses (e.g. eating places and canal services), local walks, history, news and events.
Escape to a slower pace of life...
We provide a UK street address for boaters who are on the waterways and can either scan mail received or forward at a time and to a place to suit
Small friendly marina on the Grand Union Canal midway between Stoke Bruerne and Buckby. 15 miles of lock- free crusing with pub and village shop nearby. Affordable rates with no hidden extras. Bugbrooke...
Consulting Marine Engineers and Small Ship Surveyors based in West London and covering U/K and Europe.
Wet and dry dock facilities.
Self drive narrowboats on the Grand Union Canal.
Willow Wren Training is an RYA and MCA recognised training centre based at Nelson's Wharf on the Grand Union Canal close to Stockton, Warwickshire. WWT has been providing training for leisure and professional...
We offer long term moorings to 8 boats in the semi tidal waters between Thames Lock (101) and Brentford Gauging Locks (100) on the southern end of the Grand Union Canal. Brentford. We rarely have vacancies...
Calcutt Boats is a family run business based on the junction of the Grand Union and Oxford canals near Napton. Established over 35 years ago Calcutt has developed into a full service boatyard providing...
Diesel, coal, logs, kindling, gas and Elsan blue from narrow boat Towcester operating between Braunstonand Hemel on the Grand Union Canal.
We carry out all aspects of boat repairs and refurbishment.
Narrowboat surveys for Pre-purchase, Insurance and Condition. Boat Safety Scheme examinations. Engine servicing. Gas Safe Registered.
Inland Waterway Consultants.
Workshops in aromatherapy and natural skincare
The Skinny Boat Photography Company supplies unique handmade greetings cards and framed pictures. All of the images have been captured by us so you will not see them for sale anywhere else. We capture...
Operating from on board Narrowboat 'Drifter', Nancy May Crochet supplies beautiful handmade crocheted items for baby, toddler and adult. We also accept commissions for one off items.
We are Roving Traders travelling the inland waterways on our narrow-boat Islonian trading as Flavoursfloat.
Boatfaeries are always busy on NB Sense of Freedom and have a selection of Arts and Handcrafted Gifts on a canal near you.
We sell a wide selection of interesting antique and collectible items with an emphasis on nautical, wooden and canal bygones. We always have a selection of Meashamware teapots available!
LNBP at Braunston, formerly known as London Narrow Boat Project, is a Registered Charity, a non-profit making voluntary organisation and a Company limited by Guarantee.
We operate the only passenger boats on the southern Grand Union Canal which are both wide-beam and purpose-built to provide access and comfort for people with mobility or other difficulties.
Arthur Daily Trips (Canal Cruises)
Try Hertfordshire's No.1 cycling experience and visit historical places and beautiful countryside on a guided electric bike tour.
Choose to take your canal boat holiday from a choice of nine holiday centres, from the Peak District to the Midlands, Cheshire, Cambridge, Oxford, Wiltshire, Scotland, Wales and London, each with their...
Luxury Canal Boat Holidays based out of Milton Keynes Marina on the Grand Union Canal.
Our Charity: The Floating Classroom.
We are a group of volunteers based in Braunston on the Grand Union Canal. We started a year ago, now have over 50 members and have just officially adopted a stretch of the GU from Braunston Tunnel up to...
Bridge 73 Waterfields Hampton Lane to M42 Motorway Bridge
Grand Union Canal Birmingham
Leicester LineNorth portal of Husbands Bosworth Tunnel to Bridge 51
Grand Union Canal South East
From a point 68 metres south of Welton Hythe Marina to Aqueduct 2
Bridge 62 Church to Bridge 67 Lapworth Turnover
Lock 3 Calcutt Bottom to Lock 11 Stockton bottom
City Road Basin
Grand Union Canal London
Bridge 70 Kings Arms to Bridge 72 Kixley Lane
Lock 83 Springwell to Lock 81 Batchworth
Lock 87 Denham to Lock 83 Springwell
Lock 11 Stockton bottom to Bridge 51 Birmingham Road
Leicester LineNorth portal Saddington Tunnel to Bridge 84 Tythorne
Bridge 67 Lapworth Turnover to Bridge 70 Kings Arms
Tring Reservoirs - Startopsend, Marsworth and Wilstone
Thorpe Lea Fishery
Grand Union London
Bridge 64 Castlethorpe Wharf to Bridge 62 Yardley Gobion
Bridge 89 Golden Hillock Road to Camphill Bottom Lock
Northampton ArmGayton Junction to Lock 17 plus section of River Nene at Cotton End
MARKET HARBOROUGH ARMSign far end of Union Basin to Foxton Locks
Leicester LineBottom of Foxton Locks to southern portal of Saddington Tunnel
Leicester LineBridge 13 Lodge to Bridge 28 Elkington Road
Leicester LineBridge 84 Tythorne Bridge to Lock 42 North Lock
Bridge 72 Kixley Lane to Bridge 73 Waterfield Hampton Lane
M42 Motorway Bridge to Bridge 79, Solihull Gas Footbridge
Bridge 51 Birmingham Road to Bridge 52
Bridge 126 Cooks to Bridge 102 Stoke Hammond
Leicester LineBridge 51 to Bridge 60 Gumley Road
Weston Turville Reservoir
Bridge 135 Tring to Bridge 126 Cooks
WENDOVER ARMJunction with main line to Tringford Pumping Station
Aylesbury ArmJunction with main line to Red House Lock near Aston Clinton
Bridge 62 Haines (Yardley Gobion) to Bridge 22 Watling Street A5
Lock 21 Cosgrove to Bridge 64 Castlethorpe
Bridge 68 Old Wolverton to Great Ouse Aqueduct
Bridge 102 Stoke Hammond to Bridge 81
Bridge 76 Black Horse to 68 Old Wolverton
River Great Ouse at Cosgrove
Lock 81 to 80
Lock 72 Hunton Bridge to Bridge 135 Tring
Bridge 166 Cassiobury Park to Lock 72 Hunton Bridge
From the railway bridge south of Lot Mead Lock 80 to Bridge 166 Cassiobury ParkRiver Gade adjacent to Lot Mead Lock 80
Sabeys Pool and River Chess from swing bridge to lock
SLOUGH ARMWhole of Arm from junction with main line at Cowley to Slough
Bridge 200 Hayes to Bridge 191 West Drayton
Aylesbury ArmLock 13 Red House near Aston Clinton to Bridge 19 footbridge upstream of Aylesbury Basin
Bridge 86a Yardley Tunnel to Bridge 88b Tysley Waste
From a point 157 metres downstream of Bridge 183b Sandersons Sewer to Lock 87 Denham
Napton Junction to Lock 3 Calcutt bottom
Bridge 88b Tysley Waste to Bridge 89 Golden Hillock Road
Bridge 78 Hampton Lane to Bridge 86a Yardley Tunnel
Broad Water Reservoir
Bridge 18 Muscott Mill to Braunston Junction Bridge 93/94
Norton Junction to a point 68 metres south of Welton Hythe Marina
Bridge 36 Downtown to Bridge 38 Sybold Spinney
Culvert 3, 174 metres north of Welton Haven Marina. to Bridge 13 Lodge
Bridge 28 Elkington Road to Bridge 36 Downtown
Bridge 191 West Drayton to a point 153 metres upstream of Lock 88 Uxbridge
PADDINGTON ARMBulls Bridge Junction to Bridge 5a Gasworks dock 1
Maida Vale tunnel to Lock 12 Commercial Road Lock
Road bridge 209 High Street (below Brentford Lock) to Lock 101Thames and from a point 200 metres north of Brentford Lock to Bridge 200 Hayes
WELFORD ARMWhole of arm
Bridge 38 Sybold Spinney to south portal of Husbands Bosworth Tunnel
Bridge 52 Hatton to Bridge 62 Church
Bridge 97 Roving, Bordsley Junction to Junction with the Digbeth Branch
There's plenty to see along the Grand Union Canal. From the vibrant heart of London, it leads you out into the rolling Chiltern Hills, through rural Northamptonshire and Warwickshire and into the Birmingham suburbs.
The canal’s striking historic features include the dramatic span of the Iron Trunk Aqueduct and the steeply climbing Hatton Lock Flight, set in charming Warwickshire countryside. Take a walk and marvel at the engineering. The Canal Museum at Stoke Bruerne gives a fascinating glimpse into this waterway’s past.
Find stoppages, restrictions and other navigational advice for this waterway.
The Grand Union Canal is bursting with bustling locks, peaceful walks, areas of living history and wildlife. We've put together some free guides to the best family days out in your area.
What's happening near you?
Look at our Local to You pages to find all the latest in your local area, including news, events, stories and details of how you can get involved with our work
The word Union offers a clue to the heritage of this canal. The Grand Union Canal was never constructed as an entity, but is the result of amalgamations between 1894 and 1929 of several independent waterways — the oldest being the navigations around the River Soar in Leicestershire, the longest the Grand Junction Canal from Braunston to the River Thames.
The term ‘Grand Union’ is now generally taken to mean the canal from the Thames at Brentford to the junction with the Digbeth Branch in Birmingham.
Grand Junction Canal
The Grand Junction Canal was built to improve the communications between Birmingham and the Midlands and London. It received its Act in 1793 and was fully opened in 1805. Its major engineering works were the two long tunnels at Blisworth and Braunston, and the long and deep cutting at Tring summit.
Branches were added: to Paddington (opened 1801), Buckingham (1801), Northampton (1815) and Aylesbury (1815. The canal to Newport Pagnell (opened 1817) was built by a separate company. The Slough Branch was one of the last canals to be built (1882).
Although the Grand Junction was built as a broad canal and could take boats 14ft wide, at its northern end it joined the narrow Oxford Canal and the canals which continued the line to Birmingham were also narrow. In practice, therefore, it was generally used only by narrow boats, except at the London end.
The canal had water supply problems, especially for the summit between Marsworth and Tring. A navigable feeder was made to Wendover (1797) and several reservoirs with pumping engines built near the junction. Over the years, back-pumping was introduced at many of the locks.
The advent of the railways forced the waterways to adapt in order to survive. The duplication of locks at Stoke Bruerne and the ascent of the northern slope of the Chilterns is an early example of attempts to speed up traffic on the Grand Junction. Despite reductions in tolls because of railway competition, the canal stayed profitable.
North of Napton Junction
This section was built by two separate companies, the Warwick & Napton Canal and the Warwick & Birmingham Canal. Both were designed for narrow boats and were completed in 1800.
They shared many committee members and worked closely together, enjoying a profit until railway competition arrived in 1838. The weight of freight carried dropped by nearly a third in a few years, then stayed reasonably steady for several decades. However, tolls were greatly reduced, and receipts in the 1860s were less than a third of what they had been in the 1830s.
In 1894 the Grand Junction bought the canals which now comprise the ‘Leicester Line’, then in 1929 the Regent’s, Grand Junction and the two Warwick Canals merged and were renamed as the ‘Grand Union Canal’.
The new company embarked on a large-scale modernisation programme, largely financed by government loans, with the aim of enabling broad-beamed boats to work between London and Birmingham. Long lengths were dredged and strengthened with concrete bank protection. Bridges were widened or replaced, and the narrow locks between Braunston and Birmingham were replaced with broad locks (the remains of most of the old locks can be seen alongside their larger replacements). The canal company also embarked on an programme of building a large fleet of narrow boats but it struggled to find crews to man them.
The ambitious scheme was completed in 1937 but much of the canal remained too shallow for broad boats to pass each other, and of course broad boats could not pass in the tunnels. However, narrow boats could now easily and quickly work in pairs. Traffic increased in the short term, but after the war the long-term downwards trend was relentless as canalside factories ceased using coal as a fuel or obtained it from other sources.
The Grand Union today
Today, the Grand Union Canal is alive with pleasure boats, walkers, cyclists and day trippers. As well as the impressive mainline, many smaller branches make great diversions if you have time to explore. The longest of these is the Leicester Line. Others include the Aylesbury Arm, Market Harborough Arm and Northampton Arm.
The Paddington Arm runs through a lively and attractive area of West London, full of bars, restaurants, shops, Middle Eastern cafes, juice bars and a terraced canalside seating area at Sheldon Square.
The Slough Arm is an unexpectedly green and rural bit of canal, passing through the pretty town of Iver. It is a great place to escape the crowds on the nearby London waterways.
Check out their events and plans for the future.
South East Waterways
Find out more about the canals and rivers of the South East
West Midland Waterways
Discover what we're up to in the West Midlands