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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
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Something for everyone
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Join our team
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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
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We love and care for your canals and rivers, because everyone deserves a place to escape.
More than 10,000 young people from some of England’s most deprived communities will help to transform 150 miles of canal, creating England’s first ever coast to coast canoe trail.
Only 28% of boys and 15% of girls meet the government’s recommended level of physical activity1 and 37% of young people aged 11-18 are overweight or obese. Working to create the canoe trail aims to get the youngsters active and provide them with new life skills which could help them gain employment in the future, in the face of 21% youth unemployment across the country.
Over the next five years 15-24 year olds and their families will be recruited to create social action squads along the length of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal and Aire and Calder Navigation, connecting communities along the route to each other and their local environment and waterways.
Learning outside the classroom is proven to tackle social mobility and be of particular help to young people from disadvantaged background, increasing their self-esteem and raising levels of attainment. It’s also been proven that spending time outdoors can improve a person’s mental health and wellbeing.
The trail will be the longest of its kind in the UK, first launching in Merseyside and over five years stretching to Humberside. Along the way it will connect towns and cities including Liverpool, Wigan, Blackburn, Burnley, Leeds, Skipton and Goole.
The project is being developed thanks to a generous £1.3 million donation from The Desmond Foundation. The Desmond Family Canoe Trail will connect some of the north of England’s most deprived communities including Wigan and Burnley where youth unemployment and child obesity are well above the national average. Along with designing the trail the young people will organise and run a year-round programme of activity for their community including canoe taster sessions. Physical improvements to the route including planting new community gardens and habitats along the trail will also take place.
The project has the support of British Canoeing and Canoe England.
Amy Irwin, 18, has been a volunteer for the Canal & River Trust since 2012 and adopted a stretch of canal near her family home. She said: “I live opposite the Leeds & Liverpool Canal and love the view from my bedroom window but many young people don’t even know there’s a canal really close to them. This project will be great as it will get young people involved in their local community while getting them active both physically, by getting into a canoe and onto the water exercising, but also learning new skills like design, planning, management and promotion of the trail. I’m really excited about it and can’t wait to get going!”
Tony Hales, chairman of the Canal & River Trust adds: “We want communities to use canals to enrich their lives as part of a healthy and fun lifestyle. Canoeing is a great sport, growing in popularity, for the young and the older. We want to make it accessible and enjoyed by many more families and individuals, whatever their physical ability."
Richard Desmond, who founded The Desmond Foundation, said: “I’m delighted to be able to fund such a remarkable and unique project which will clearly change the lives of thousands of young people for years to come.”
Boost for rare aquatic plants on Montgomery Canal
21 February 2018
Lock gates replaced on Berkhamsted Canal
20 February 2018
Pocklington Canal needs you
19 February 2018
North Wales and Borders canals are popular hot spots with boaters
16 February 2018
Plans submitted to transform Finsley Gate into leisure destination and community space
15 February 2018
New season of half term family fun at Standedge Visitor Centre
Pocklington Canal Amenity Society adopts section of Pocklington Canal
14 February 2018
Paddleboarding yoga group helps tackle litter on Nottingham's waterways