Nine free things to do by the canal this summer

Yes, it’s that time again... Six long weeks of bored children hanging round the house. So, we’ve had a quick whip round our waterways to find you the best free ideas for fun days out around our canals for the whole family this summer.

1. See something awesome

drone wide shot of Pontcysyllte Aqueduct Flying over Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

We’ve five World Heritage Sites around our network. On the Leeds & Liverpool Canal is Saltaire Sir Titus Salt’s groundbreaking (and fascinating) Victorian mill and village. Talking of Liverpool – our Liverpool Canal Link runs the whole length of the maritime Liverpool World Heritage site, including the Albert Docks (where for a smallish cost you can jump on a boat trip!). But for sheer awesomeness you really have to take the kids to walk over the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct before popping in to our free Trevor Basin Visitor Centre.

2. Learn to fish!

You’ll find over 40 free local Let’s Fish! Learn to fish events for kids this year. Along with canoeing sessions and other fun activities, our licenced level two angling coaches will help your kids up close and personal with their first ever gudgeon, perch or bream. There’s bound to be one near you so download our free fishing guide now!

3. Festivals of fun

Green and blue bunting in foreground with canal in background Bunting in Little Venice

You’ll find more summer festivals than you can shake a ribbon covered stick at listed on our events pages. Check out our quick round up of some of the more unusual ones in, on and beside our waterways now. There’s so many that again, there’s bound to be one near you.

4. Feed a duck...

…or swan or goose. Our canals and rivers are teaming with water birds. But, but, but… please don’t feed them bread. It gives them a bad tummy. You’ll find loads of fab facts about how to help us keep our ducks healthy online. Download our free duck guide for some more fun on the go now.

5. Go nature spotting

Kingfisher perched on branch Kingfisher

With over 2,500 miles of canals and rivers to explore, most of which is within the countryside, there’s a nature trail waiting to happen on every towpath. Luckily, you’ll find our free nature spotters guide a bit handy when it comes to identifying birds, plants and even the fish you’ll find along the way.

6. Have a picnic

Grab a blanket, cold drinks and your favourite sandwiches and head off to one of over 120 places to visit along our canal and rivers. Most have a walking, cycling or nature trails. Some have boat trips or canoe hire. And all have a handy free map and activity sheet for you download now.

7. Explore and more

Explorers is our fantastic programme of learning fun for schools. With loads of fact sheets, activity guides, stories, games and more for you kids to enjoy before, during and after your visit to our waterways.

8. Art attack

Oxford Canal murals Oxford Canal murals

From craft sessions at the Trevor Basin Visitor Centre to our series of arts on the waterways, or even the string of murals and paintings on the towpaths, you’ll find something for your more creative kids at a waterway near you.

9. Visitor attractions

Anderton Boat Lift Anderton Boat Lift

You’ll find boatloads of free visitor attractions up and down our canals; from the unique Anderton Boat Lift or the highest, longest, deepest tunnel in the UK, Standedge and its free visitor centre. To the steepest, longest, biggest lock flights – including Foxton, Caen Hill, Hatton and Bingley Five Rise.

For a small entrance fee - our marvellous museums

Copyright PA Copyright PA National Waterways Museum Ellesmere Port

For a small one-off cost, you’ll get a yearly pass to our museums. They’re places where inquisitive young minds and excited hands can touch, play and explore amazing stories from across our wonderful waterways. You’ve three to choose from: our flagship is the National Waterways Museum in Ellesmere Port with its sister museum in Gloucester Docks. Plus, there’s The Canal Museum at Stoke Bruerne – all of the them offer fantastic days out.

Last date edited: 17 July 2017