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 picturesque Oxford Canal meanders slowly through the countryside, free from large-scale development. Most of the settlements along its length are pretty villages such as Thrupp, Cropredy and Aynho - all popular mooring spots for narrowboats.
2nd Oct 2017 12:00am to 1st Sep 2018 11:59pm
A Third Party Works contractor will be completely closing the towpath to facilitate the installation of a new road bridge and associated works. Due to the severe safety risk to the public during the construction...
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...
Small, well secured marina on the edge of Banbury town centre within easy walking distance of shops, rail and bus stations yet overlooking parkland. Off-line jetty and off-side on-line moorings with electrical...
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 are a small friendly run Narrow Boat Hire Business situated on the Oxford Canal just below Banbury at bridge 177.
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 carry out all aspects of boat repairs and refurbishment.
Tooley’s Boatyard was once a thriving centre for horse drawn wooden boats. It has been in continuous operation since it was built nearly 230 years ago. It is a place locked in the past with old traditions,...
We are Roving Traders travelling the inland waterways on our narrow-boat Islonian trading as Flavoursfloat.
Officially The Busiest Flight of Locks in the Country
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.
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...
Draco Crafts is a narrow-boat-based art and crafts business, selling hand-painted canal-ware - painted by Krystyna - tiller pins, gifts and souvenirs.
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...
Cropredy Lock 25 to a point midway between bridge 136 and 137 Fenny Compton
Bridge 206 Heyford Wharf to Bridge 152 CropredyRiver Cherwell at Lower Heyford
End of Thrupp moorings to Bridge 216 Enslow
Bridge 224 Langford Lane to Bridge 221 Aubreys lift
River Cherwell at Enslow
River Cherwell at Kirtlington
River Cherwell at Northbrook
Bridge No 216 Enslow to Bridge 206 Lower Heyford
Aubreys lift Bridge 221 to end of moorings at Thrupp
Bullers Bridge 227 to Langford Lane Bridge 224
River Cherwell at Thrupp
The Dukes CutWolvercote PoolTerminus at Oxford Hythe Bridge Street to Bridge 227 Bullers
Bridge 136 Fenny Compton to Hawkesbury Junction
The canal takes you from the beautiful university city of Oxford to the three spires of Coventry. The southern part of the canal remains largely unaltered, its winding course untouched by mid-19th century straightening programmes. This section is dotted with simple black-and-white lift bridges.
The Oxford Canal Walk is a long-distance route, following the towpath for 77 miles from Oxford to Hawkesbury. The gentle engineering of the canal, with few lock flights, means that you can walk the route (though you may need to check the condition of the path as grassy areas can get muddy). However, that's soon forgotten as you take in the stunning scenery.
The canal is home to a rich variety of wildlife. In Oxford, you may even be lucky enough to spot an endangered water vole – special measures have been put in place to protect an important colony here.
You can get a real sense of connection to the canal’s history at Tooley’s Boatyard, in Banbury, which has been used by boats since 1778.
Find stoppages, restrictions and other navigational advice for this waterway.
Oxford, Banbury and Thrupp are great destinations for a family day out. Download free fun-packed local maps and activity sheet for these areas and make the most of your trip to the canal.
Find a place to visit along the Oxford Canal
The Oxford Canal is amongst the earliest of cuts in the Canal Age. It was initially designed by James Brindley, succeeded by Samuel Simcock and Robert Whitworth after Brindley's untimely death in 1772 at the age of 56.
It was opened in sections between 1774 and 1790 with the purpose of bringing coal from the Coventry coalfields to Oxford and the River Thames. The canal formed part of Brindley's grand plan for a waterway 'cross' linking the rivers Thames, Mersey, Trent and Severn.
The Oxford Canal provided a direct link with London via the Thames, and for several years was hugely profitable. The arrival of the Grand Junction Canal, linking Braunston to London and later becoming the backbone of the Grand Union Canal, finally broke its stranglehold and effectively bypassed the southern half of the Oxford Canal.
Nonetheless, it brought more traffic to the northern section, which soon required upgrading. The Oxford Canal was originally built to the contour method favoured by Brindley, which not only meant that earthworks were minimised, but that the canal could call at many villages and wharves along the route. The drawback to this approach was lengthy transit times.
In the 1830s, Marc Brunel and William Cubitt made the most of developments in engineering to straighten Brindley's original line. Several of the resulting 'loops', where the new line bisected the old, can still be seen: some have found use as tranquil moorings. Other improvements included the duplication of locks at Hillmorton. In the 1830's the stretch between Napton and Braunston, where the canal shares its route with the modern-day Grand Union, was widened.
But the southern section between Napton and Oxford remains remarkably unspoilt and offers an evocative insight into canal life as it would have been two centuries ago. Trade began to seriously decline on the Oxford after World War II, but commerce continued well into the 1960s.
Tooley's Boatyard, in Banbury, is famous as the spot from where canal pioneer Tom Rolt set out on his 1930s journey around the waterways. His travels in Cressy were immortalised in the book Narrow Boat, which directly led to the formation of the Inland Waterways Association and the campaign to save the waterways. The boatyard has recently been reborn as the centrepiece of the Castle Quays shopping development.
The historic Oxford terminus of the canal is long lost, sold to Nuffield College and redeveloped as a public car park. However, support is growing for proposals to reinstate it as the heart of a new cultural quarter for the city.
South East Waterways
Find out more about the South East Waterways, their most recent news and events.