Outdoors fun on Britain’s canals

For so long the focus of British industry, the canals have been reinvented in the last few decades to provide a haven for outdoors fans and nature lovers. Some 2,000 miles of canals in England and Wales and hundreds more in Scotland offer a fantastic outdoors playground, and often surprisingly close to big towns and cities. 123               The canals might be man-made but over the years they have attracted a wide variety of wildlife, including mallards, moorhens, otters, kingfishers and water voles. Fun and adventures can be had by hiring a canal boat for a holiday or for a day trip, or you could choose to explore the canals by foot on or a bike. The many miles of canals are matched by almost as many miles of accessible towpaths and these have the benefit of being traffic-free. For a great family walk or bike ride, the canals are a great choice.

Easter holiday fun outdoors

With the Easter school holidays now upon us and the glimmer of warmer weather, the canals spring into life. In April there are a host of events to encourage people to discover our canals. Big April Adventure:  Walk from the Wheel Where: The Falkirk Wheel, Lime Road, Tamfourhill, Falkirk. When: 10 April, 1pm - 3pm Join the Scottish Waterways Trust for a guided walk from The Falkirk Wheel and explore Scotland’s canals. The walk is suitable for a wide range of abilities. See Falkirk Wheel Open doors at Daisyfield Mill Where: Daisyfield Mill, Appleby Street, Blackburn. When: 12 - 13 April, 10am to 4pm Two days of fun and free activities, including interactive tours, live street art and walks, take place at Daisyfield Mill on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. See Canal River Trust Waterways Festival and Boat Jumble Where: Gloucester Waterways Museum, Llanthony Warehouse, Gloucester Docks When: 14 April, 10am to 3pm A wide range of canal themed items will be on sale, from anchors to wetsuits, during this annual and popular sale. You will also be treated to demonstrations of traditional waterways crafts, rope-making and live music. Admission to the Festival and Boat Jumble is £4 for adults, while children are free. (The entry price includes free admission to the Waterways Museum.) See Canal River Trust Standedge Family Fun Day Where: Standedge Visitor Centre, Waters Road, Marsden, Huddersfield. When: 14 April, 11am to 4pm Lots to do for all ages including a petting zoo, bouncy castle, kids’ craft activities. You can also take a boat trip into the longest, highest and deepest canal tunnel. This is a free event. See Canal River Trust Big Toad Count Where: North View Drive, Dudley When: 15 April, 7:30pm to 9pm Join the Canal & River Trust ecologists for the annual count of amphibian numbers on the Fens Pools near Dudley. You’ll need waterproof boots, warm clothes, waterproof jackets and a torch. This count helps with the long-term monitoring of the protected species living in Britain’s canals and rivers. Contact paul.wilkinson@canalrivertrust.org.uk Over and Under Adventure Where: Standedge Visitor Centre, Waters Road, Marsden, Huddersfield When: 20 April, 9am to 3pm This is your opportunity for a unique trip through the longest canal tunnel in Britain – and walk over National Trust Marsden Moor Estate. The day includes a two-hour boat ride and a five-mile guided walk. Booking is essential and the cost is adults £14, concessions £12. To book call 01484 844298. John Muir Day at The Falkirk Wheel Where: The Falkirk Wheel, Lime Road, Tamfourhill, Falkirk. When: April 21, all day Join the celebrations for the first ever John Muir Day in Scotland. There will be walks, bike rides, wildlife spotting and boat tips. See Falkirk Wheel Big Newt Count Where: North View Drive, Dudley When: 22 Apr, 7:30pm to 9pm Pull on your wellies and outdoor clothing  for an annual newts count. The species is protected and every year a special count takes place the Fens Pools near Dudley. Contact paul.wilkinson@canalrivertrust.org.uk

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