The charity making life better by water

Unlock your potential

We're gearing up for our annual recruitment drive for volunteer lock keepers. And if you’re looking for an opportunity to get outdoors, get fit and stay active, you could be the ideal candidate.

Male and female volunteers working on lock gates

In the future, as hopefully more restrictions are lifted and life slowly returns to normal, our canals and towpaths could be busier than ever. In preparation, we're looking for willing volunteers now, to help us keep our canals open and accessible to everyone this spring and summer.

Become a Volunteer Lock Keeper

This year we're looking for around 1,200 new volunteer lock keepers across 120 sites.

You'll meet plenty of interesting people as the friendly face of the Canal & River Trust. You'll assist boaters, welcome visitors and ensure the locks are properly maintained. It's a great opportunity to learn new skills, work as part of a close-knit team and spend your days in the fresh air at some of the most interesting spots in the country.

Join Judith alongside your local canal

Judith Turner was one of a number of volunteers to answer the call in 2018. Judith volunteers at Etruria Locks on the Trent & Mersey Canal, near her home in Stoke-on-Trent. It was once a bustling junction for canal boats taking goods to and from the local pottery factories. As Judith explains: “It's quite an industrial area, as the canal goes right through the centre of the city. You're in the city, but you wouldn't know. It's just a completely different feeling, so quiet and calm.”

Boating is in Judith's blood. As a child, her father was a prominent member of the Caldon Canal Society, which helped restore this branch of the Trent & Mersey Canal, and her family would spend their holidays exploring England's waterways. When she retired, she gravitated back to the canals that had been such a feature of her childhood.

A female volunteer operating a lock gate

“I took early retirement, and I wanted something to do,” she tells us. “I live on my own, so I like to get out and meet people. Volunteering as a lock keeper seemed like an ideal fit.” Judith says the role even helped with her mental wellbeing. “I think it's good for your head, being out in the fresh air, meeting people. It always makes me feel better.” As for the physical aspects of the job: “We're opening lock gates, turning paddles, and we walk up and down the flight of locks,” she says. “So yes, it definitely helps you keep fit.”

And what of the people she encounters on the canalside each day? “Everybody's really friendly and always glad of the help,” she tells us. “They'll often stop to chat and ask what there is to see and do in the area. It feels good to connect with people.” To those thinking of volunteering, Judith says simply: “Give it a go. It's a lovely team and everybody's really helpful and supportive.”

Volunteers working on the canal at Bootle, Merseyside

Be the face of the Canal & River Trust

You don't have to be a boat enthusiast to apply, and no previous experience is necessary. All you need is a positive attitude, and a desire to pitch in and help. Comprehensive training is provided by our canal experts and everything is carried out in strict accordance with the government's latest coronavirus guidelines. If you'd like to get involved, search for volunteer opportunities in your area and get out and get active on your local canal.

Volunteer with us

Join our wonderful volunteers who help with all aspects of our work to keep canals alive

Find a role

Last Edited: 01 February 2021

photo of a location on the canals
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