Winter canal walks

Did you know?

Every hour enough plastic to fill two bin bags is washed into our oceans from canals and rivers.

Our canals and rivers are glorious places to walk in the winter and we have 2,000 miles of pedestrian-friendly towpaths for you to explore.

Winter Walking Winter Walking

There’s no question that a walk by the water leaves you feeling refreshed, revitalized and ready for anything. Whether it's the dark evenings or even the central heating in your office that is leaving you cold, getting out and about in the fresh air will make everything seem better. And the winter months can be some of the most beautiful on the network.

Winter's great for birdwatching

Whether you’re a seasoned birder or just out for a winter walk, our canals and rivers can be a great place to spot birds.

  • Winter brings with it a different set of birds and a chance to see unique northern and European species, which migrate here every year
  • Commonly in winter, birds congregate in large, mixed flocks which makes for remarkable viewing
  • In winter, birds are feeding not breeding so their appearance and behaviour often changes.

Boating in London, courtesy of Mark Reeves

Winter wildlife

Winter is a perfect time to see deer, as their hiding places in dense woodland become sparse. Badgers and foxes are also easier to spot in the winter, particularly as the bright red fur of the fox stands out against the dull, wintery background.

Canalside pubs and cosy cafes

You can’t walk too far along a towpath without stumbling across the welcoming lights of a friendly pub, café or teashop, perfect to warm you up en-route. Of course our canals and rivers also offer historic lock flights, charming hump-backed bridges and glimpses of the past such as rope marks and mile posts, which all add interest to a winter walk.

Where to go?

The wonderful thing about walking along our canals and rivers is that the ground is (nearly) always flat and it’s (virtually) impossible to get lost. So you can go wherever takes your fancy. Lace up your walking boots, head for your favourite canal and simply follow your nose. Find your nearest canal on our local to you page.

Alternatively you could check out our recommended places to visit and take a canalside stroll while you’re there. Remember, not all of the featured attractions will be open over the winter, so it might be worth checking before you set off. However, our beautiful canals are open for everyone to enjoy, all year round.

Family on the canal in winter

Wrap up warm

When you’re out walking this winter please remember to wear appropriate footwear and wrap up warm. It’s always a good idea to take a snack along with you and a thermos flask full of something hot and tasty is priceless when you’re out and about on a crisp winter’s day.

Last date edited: 4 December 2019