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.
If this were a vote for the most influential angler of all time, Richard Walker would probably win hands down. Does that extend to him also being the greatest angling writer? That’s for you to decide.
Let’s just take a few of his achievements: breaking the carp record in 1952 by more than 13lb (these days, it creeps up in ounces); inventing the Arlesey bomb; pioneering the use of electronic bite alarms; playing a leading role in the development of carbon-fibre.
Chris Yates dedicated his first book, ‘Casting at the Sun’, to Dick, calling him "an angler more complete than Walton"
But perhaps Dick's biggest achievement was revolutionising angling by bringing in a scientific approach to the sport. This didn’t meet everyone’s approval.
Bernard Venables in particular felt it took away the magic of fishing, writing acerbically: "He was combatively logical rather than passionate, technically brilliant rather than inspired. He was not intelligent, but was almost boundless innovative." Ouch.
But Bernard gave him a column in the fledging ‘Angling Times’, which ran for 30 years, and used him when he started ‘Creel’ too. We shall never know why Bernard took such a dislike to him, and certainly Dick never felt animosity to Bernard. Was it jealousy?
His influence is such that even those who never read his ‘Angling Times’ columns know of him by reputation. And many people today still use his iconic rod, the split-cane Mark IV.
(Incidentally, find one with the name Stuart (his middle name) Walker written lengthwise in ink on the butt section, and you've got a rod worth over £1000, maybe much more.)
Though he never went sea-fishing (because he suffered from sea sickness), Dick was a master of all other aspects. In ‘No Need to Lie’, a book published in 1964, he records some of the specimens he caught and the stories behind them.
More than 50 years on, how many can boast chub to 6lb 14oz, masses of 2lb roach including one of 3lb 4oz, rudd 3lb 3oz, 12lb 12oz barbel, rainbow trout 18lb (which would have been a British record at the time if Dick had bothered to claim), brown trout 12lb, seven dace over 1lb, the best 1lb 5oz, perch (to 4lb 13oz – and even a 4oz gudgeon, caught from Redmire Pool?
And then, of course, there's his record carp. He is recognised as the father of modern carp fishing, not just for that 44lb common carp but for a succession of (then) outsize specimens, not just from Redmire, but other waters too.
For many years the record fish, christened Clarissa (though Dick originally called it Ravioli) swam in a vast tank at London Zoo. It attracted thousands of anglers, who gazed at it in awe.
Wow! We never knew carp grew that big! Now, of course, we know better. But Dick was the pioneer, the catalyst of all that happens today.
He was also the inspiration and leading light of the Carp Catchers’ Club, whose august membership included BB, (Denys Watkins-Pitchford), Bernard Venables and Fred J Taylor.
Dick, who died in 1985, is the only angler ever to appear on Desert Island Discs, and his birthplace, 32 Fishponds Road, Hitchin now bears a blue plaque, put up by English Heritage to commemorate the link between a famous person and that location. Again, no other fisherman has been accorded this honour.
His first published fishing article appeared in his school magazine in 1932, though his first commercially published article, entitled 'A Novel Way of Fishing for Carp', appeared in ‘Angler's News’ in 1938.
This encouraged him to write more and he became a prolific author, contributing to all the main magazines of his day, often under his pseudonym Water Rail and more rarely, as L O Mycock (no comment!)
He wrote more than 20 books (some being reprints published after his death) though his first was not about fishing but rabbits, which he used to breed. ‘The Book of the Flemish Giant’ was published under the name Stuart Walker.
Dick's writing was hugely influential. His ‘Still Water Angling’ played a key role in the foundation of specimen hunting, and his weekly column in ‘Angling Time’s, which ran for 30 years, was required reading, superbly written but challenging, questioning and inspiring.
He was also generous with his time and his ideas. Though he received at least 10 letters a day, he replied to every single one, often writing three or four pages. And such is the magic of his name that an individual letter can sell for over £100. The highly respected writer and broadcaster Colin Willock said that Dick was "the happy possessor of a prose pen that is almost Churchillian in its lucidity and directness". What a tribute.
Last date edited: 17 October 2017