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The charity making life better by water

Volunteers plant wildflowers along the canal towpath

Our cause

A network of over 2,000 miles of stunning canals and rivers runs through our landscapes. From our countryside to our bustling cities, canals are a place for everyone to connect with nature and our past.

However you use them, we all deserve open spaces where we can feel happier and healthier, and where wildlife can thrive. But the future of canals and the habitat they support is threatened by changing temperatures, unpredictable rainfall and the tests of time.

Together, we can make sure they continue to be here for tomorrow and beyond. Join us and let’s #KeepCanalsAlive.

Culture and environment

Our supporters

With the help of our growing community of supporters and volunteers, we’ve come a long way since we became a charity in 2012.



play a huge role in making our canal network what it is today



have given hundreds of thousands of hours to our cause, worth millions of pounds a year


Friends and donors

donate regularly to support our work

The role we play

As the UK’s largest canal charity, our role in protecting and revitalising our nation’s canals never stops. And we couldn’t do this without people like you. It takes many hands and hearts to keep our 250-year-old bridges, locks, reservoirs and towpaths in working condition, and many more to help nature, wildlife and people thrive.

For nature

  • We have 68 Sites of Special Scientific Interest and approximately 3,000 County Wildlife Sites in our care, providing habitats for wildlife under threat
  • Over 700 miles of our canals have been awarded Green Flag status - and we’re aiming for much more

For our heritage

  • We look after 2,000 miles of historic canals and rivers including 2,970 bridges, 1,581 locks and 281 aqueducts
  • We’re the third largest owner of listed buildings and other structures in the UK, with 2,705 in our care
  • Our waterways encompass seven historic parks and gardens, six battlefields, 46 scheduled ancient monuments and four World Heritage Sites

For people

  • We provide access to nature and the outdoors for millions of people – for the 9 million people who have waterways within a 10-minute walk and for the many millions more who visit – ensuring everyone can use and enjoy the canals to relax, travel, exercise or fish
  • We help thousands of children develop their confidence and learn new skills, delivering learning to 230,000 children every year

Why it matters

Without ongoing maintenance and rejuvenation our ageing canal network simply wouldn’t be here - and we’d all be the poorer. We’d lose a link to our past, valuable wildlife habitat and a working network used for travel, business and enjoyment. And we know from our research that spending time on or by water really can make life better. Whether it be your lunchbreak, daily commute or a weekend trip, time along our waterways does make us feel happier and healthier.

Learn more about our work

Explore more

Find out more about why we do what we do and how you can help

photo of a location on the canals
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