The joys of a canal walk
Looking for a great canal walk? Learn how it can help you get fit and benefit your heart health too.
Canals and the towpaths that run alongside them are a great place for a speedy stroll. This can contribute to the 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity recommended every week to help keep your heart healthy. Towpaths are flat, so are ideally suited to the novice walker. They also stretch for miles and can provide a great challenge for more seasoned stompers.
Canals tend to meander through towns and countryside so you’ll see a varied landscape as you walk. And, although they are man-made, canals play host to a diverse range of wildlife; they teem with fish such as perch, roach, carp and pike. Brightly coloured dragonflies can be spotted, too, while sharper-eyed spectators might pick out weasels and otters along the canal side.
“Canals cut through almost every major town and city in the UK,” says Leela O’Dea, an ecologist for the Canal & River Trust. “The towpaths that run alongside them are flat and tranquil, so they’re an ideal resource for walkers. Canals are also full of wildlife – everything from kingfishers to water voles can be spotted – and they’re completely free to use.”
The Canal & River Trust is an essential resource for canal walkers in England and Wales, while walkni.com and scottishcanals.co.uk offer advice for those in Northern Ireland and Scotland respectively. The Canal & River Trust also has local offices that you can contact to find out more about Britain’s waterways.
So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get walking.
See our guide to the best canal walks around the country
Canals in numbers
90 different canals in England and Wales covering 2,000 miles
100 miles of canals in London
5 canals in Scotland
9 in Northern Ireland
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