Here are all the canal-side walks you need to make the most of this summer
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With summer just around the corner and warmer weather on its way, we’ve put together a guide of the best 8 canal-side walks. Britain’s towpaths are the perfect place to appreciate all the scenery, history and wildlife that our waterways have to offer.
London has more than 100 miles of canal, but there aren’t many that can compete with the 8.5 mile stretch from Little Venice to Limehouse. Walking the Regent’s Canal will take you past an abundance of waterside restaurants and cafes.
The towpath is an explosion of colour and culture, with a magical mixture of natural beauty and urban city life. The canal is also home to a diverse wildlife which includes bats, kingfishers, grey-herons and mallard ducks.
The Kennet and Avon Canal
The route of the Kennet and Avon takes those travelling it through some of the nation’s most popular landscapes with the natural beauty of West Berkshire, and the spectacular scenery of the rolling Cotswolds. The walk is easy going and going and there is an abundance of wildlife for walkers to spot.
If you want to see otters, kestrels, water-voles and red kites then the Kennet and Avon is the place for you.
- 1 Winifred: a 1980s hire boat refit with reclaimed wood
- 2 Boat test: “Oyster Catcher” the permanent house boat
- 3 Weekend visits: a trip down Basingstoke canal
- 4 4 Interior Design Ideas for Your Narrowboat
- 5 Boat test: 'Whitsuntide No2' hybrid 52ft canal boat by Trinity Boats
- 6 Stormin' Norman: singlehandedly navigating the waterways, aged 86
- 7 Linking Lichfield: the Lichfield Canal restoration
- 8 Stretching your narrow boat: process and advice
- 9 Cruise Guide | Grand Union Canal, Part 2 | Braunston to Marsworth
- 10 The waterways heritage spotter: narrow gauge railway tracks
Leeds and Liverpool Canal
The Leeds and Liverpool Canal route offers short, medium and longer walks. There is a great variety of scenery to appreciate from modern inner cities to the breathtaking Pennine countryside and the picturesque villages of the Yorkshire Dales.
Walkers can visit the Bingley Five Rise Locks and the historic mill town of Saltaire – founded by Titus Salt – he was one of the great Victorian Quaker employers who believed in treating their workers better, and moved out of the unhealthy inner cities to greenfield sites.
The Grand Union Canal
The Grand union is officially the UK’s longest canal at 147 miles, so walkers have a huge selection of area to choose from. The canal route is bursting with locks, wildlife and history, starting in the suburbs of Birmingham, moving through to the rural scenes of Northamptonshire and Warwickshire, past the rolling Chiltern Hills and into the vibrant heart of London.
Obviously, we’re not suggesting you walk this entire route, it’s probably best to pick just small part of it and go from there.
Arguably the most beautiful the UK has to offer with a breathtaking mix of vibrant colour. The Llangollen is an excellent area for bird-watching but this route is all about the scenery and the engineering. The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is 126 feet high and offers spectacular views of the surrounding area.
This can be a challenging walk at times but it is more than worth the effort.
Forth and Clyde Canal
This tranquil canal passes through Scotland’s industrial heartland and vibrant green corridors. Whether you’re looking for a short stroll, a long distance challenge or something a little more energetic – the Forth and Clyde is perfect for all three.
With scenic beauty and an abundance of wildlife, walkers can also experience some amazing history in Auchinstarry and even see the Antonine Wall or take a trip-boat ride on the world’s only rotating boat lift, the Falkirk Wheel.
The area around the Caledonian Canal is superb walking country, the combination of the breathtaking scenery and diverse wildlife means that there something for everyone to enjoy. This canal is actually a series of short canal sections linking together Loch Lochy, Loch Oich and Loch Ness – and it’s perfect for all walkers.
You can enjoy a relaxing stroll along the towpath of one of the canal sections, or take on something more challenging by walking the entire Great Glen Way - a 73-mile trek across Scotland that follows the canal and all the lochs from one coast to the other.
The Oxford Canal meanders slowly through the English Countryside following the contours of the countryside. The walking is always easy and scenery is always spectacular, the area itself is free from most major development meaning the surroundings are mostly pretty villages like Thrupp and Aynho.
The walk is long distance but there is an abundance of amazing wildlife - such as the endangered water-vole – for you to spot along the way.