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Best places to see a kingfisher along our canals and rivers

Our waterways are home to an abundance of wildlife, including the elusive kingfisher. Discover the best places to catch a glimpse of their striking orange and blue.

A kingfisher on a perch

Wales & South West: Kennet & Avon Canal – Caen Hill Lock flight, Devizes

According to our trusted ecologists, the infamous Caen Hill lock flight is a great place to search for kingfishers. With plenty of picnic benches dotted around, you can happily set up camp for the day.

And if the kingfishers are extra shy when you're there, you can gongoozle (watch canal boats) to your heart's content - with 29 locks, it's one of the longest continuous flights in the country.

Other hotspots in the South West are: Kennet & Avon Canal – Bath Lock Flight, Bath; Kennet & Avon Canal – Muirhill Wood, near Limpley Stoke; Bridgewater & Tauton Canal – Kings to Standard Locks; Monmouthsire & Brecon Canal – Brynich Aqueduct; Gloucester & Sharpness Canal – between Patch Bridge and Purton; River Severn – Diglis Lock Island.

Early morning at Caen Hill Locks

London & South East: Paddington Arm (Grand Union Canal) – between Willow Tree Footbridge and Spikes Bridge

The Paddington Arm is one of London's best kept secrets. It's the perfect place to take a break from the hustle and bustle of England's capital, and a favoured area for inner city wildlife.

Whilst you're there, you can also observe evidence of its industrial past in the form of old factories and warehouses – or simply stay in the here and now by enjoying a stop at one of the trendy cafes and bars.

Other reported kingfisher locations in this region are: Grand Union Canal – Brentford Lock; Regents Canal – near Victory Bridge; Lee Navigation – Ponders End Lock.

Paddington Arm, Grand Union Canal

North West: The Rochdale Canal – Manchester City Centre

You may be surprised to learn that kingfishers have been sighted close to Canal Street and the Gay Village in Manchester City Centre. Here, the Rochdale Canal has no towpath, but you can take a walk along the pavements at street level for a higher viewpoint.

Other kingfisher sightings have been recorded at: Liverpool Canal Link – Central Docks Channel New Bridge; Trent & Mersey Canal – near Wheelock.

Canal Street, Manchester

West Midlands: Montgomery Canal – at the Queen's Head near Oswestry

Walking, cycling, paddling – the ways in which you can explore the beautiful ‘Monty' are endless. With much of it registered as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), wildlife thrives along this canal.

You'll also find several nature reserves positioned close by, so even if you don't spot a kingfisher, you'll likely be treated to an abundance of other wildlife species.

You can also try: Trent & Mersey – Harecastle Tunnel (south of the south portal), Stoke-on-Trent; Rudyard Lake – Rudyard Feeder, Staffordshire; Caldon Canal – at Birches Head near Stoke and Stockton Brook, Staffordshire; Grand Union Canal - between Hatton Locks and Warwick.

Montgomery Canal

Yorkshire & North East - Pocklington Canal

The beautiful Pocklington Canal is one of our top waterways for wildlife spotting in the country, owing to its idyllic and rural setting.

It is now home to three SSSI's, but that wasn't always the case. Once threatened, the canal was saved thanks to the efforts of energetic local volunteers and campaigners.

You might also find kingfishers along the Sheffield & Tinsley Canal.

Pocklington Canal

East Midlands: Nottingham & Beeston Canal – between Thane Road Bridge and Castle Marina

This five-mile stretch boasts a vibrant waterfront district, allowing you to combine nature and urban life in one visit. Enjoy time at the shops and cafes in the city centre, or take a relaxing walk to Beeston Lock – just remember to keep those eyes peeled.

We've also recently installed floating reedbeds along the Nottingham & Beeston Canal to encourge more wildlife to the area, so you may be treated to a variety of sights.

We also suggest visiting: Trent & Mersey Canal – between Willington and Aston lock; River Trent – between Holme L and Stoke Lock; Loughborough city centre.

Floating reed bed along the Nottingham & Beeston Canal

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Last Edited: 14 July 2023

photo of a location on the canals
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