Adoptions FAQs

Got a question about our canal and river adoptions? Check out our FAQs.

Why do we offer canal adoptions?

Adopting a section of canal is a great way for groups to get out and active, making a real difference to the waterways near you. We want to see our waterways being enjoyed by local communities, adoption groups do just that.

What is a canal adoption?

It’s an informal partnership with us, where a group of people help look after and celebrate a specific stretch of our waterways. It’s not about doing everything like the mowing and repairing locks though, it’s about planning activity with us. That might start small with some litter picking and painting and grow to include running fishing taster days and creating seating areas. Normally groups adopt about a mile, but that can depend on the location.

What do I need to do to adopt a canal?

You need to have a look at our online map and work out where the best canal is to adopt for your group. It might be a good idea to talk to your group about the idea, you could take a walk and chat about the things you would like to do. The next step is to get in touch with us by filling in the expression of interest form.

Do I need any special equipment to adopt a canal?

Not to start with, although some basic things like litter pickers and brooms are handy. We will plan activities together dependant on your groups abilities and resources.

How many people do I need to get involved?

You need to be part of a group, because willing helpers are essential. Six to ten people are a good start. You don’t need to be constituted or a formal group but you do need a name and a lead contact.

Will my group be insured?

If the activity you are doing is planned and carried out as planned, then you are insured by Canal & River Trust. However, many groups do have their own insurance and if you undertake activities on land not owned by us you will need separate insurance.

How long can I adopt a canal for?

Adoptions are for 12 months, then we review and renew your adoption.

How much time is required of me?

We ask that adoptions undertake activity once a month, this could be a practical activity on site but it could also be giving a presentation to a school group or running a guided walk. There will be some time planning these things as well.

Does it cost money to adopt a stretch of canal?

No, unless you are a commercial business. Please find more information in our adoptions handbook and you can also email

What if my local stretch of canal has been adopted this year already?

It’s probably worth having a chat with us, you might be able to get involved with the existing group or look at a slightly different stretch.

Where can I view canals up for adoption?

Have a look at all the existing adoptions and some case studies alongside suggested areas to adopt on our website.         

Last date edited: 27 April 2017