England’s first ever coast to coast canoe project, the Desmond Family Canoe Trail, hosted brave canoeists on a ‘Santa Splash’ festive paddle along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in Liverpool (Saturday) and Blackburn (Sunday) this weekend.
The Liverpool Santa Splash started at the Eldonian Village, Vauxhall, and finished about two miles away at the SAFE Regeneration Centre in Bootle. The Blackburn event the following day was based at Eanam Wharf, Blackburn and involved a two mile round trip.
Greg Brookes, our Desmond Family Canoe Trail project manager, said: "We were delighted to see so many people game for a paddle along the canal in December. It was a great way to get into the festive spirit and everyone had a fun time. The sea of red suits raised a smile from everyone who watched us from the bank as well all with all the participants."
The two Santa Splash events form part of a five year project to create The Desmond Family Coast to Coast Canoe Trail across the Pennines. Funded by a £1.3 million grant from the Desmond Foundation, the 160 mile trail starts in Liverpool, follows Britain’s longest canal, the Leeds & Liverpool, links into the Aire & Calder Navigation in Yorkshire and finally reaches the east coast at Goole.
Canoe activity hubs are established in Bootle, Burscough, Wigan and Blackburn involving dozens of young people aged 15 – 25. In 2017 new hubs will be added in Burnley and Skipton.