How Waterways Can Help
The inland waterways open up incredible opportunities for outdoor activities such as walking, running, cycling, fishing, sailing, canoeing, paddleboarding and volunteering. Waterside routes are free and accessible to all – on foot, by bicycle, with the family, with a dog, on the way to work – and due to their topography offer flat or shallow gradients on good-quality paths, making them ideal for people with all kinds of mobility problems.
Hundreds of miles of existing canal towpaths are already incorporated in the National Cycle Network, but there are many more paths which are not suitable, or which do not exist, such as along rivers and navigable drains, or the towpaths of waterway restoration projects.
New paths will provide improved health and wellbeing for the millions of people who live near these waterways. Disability-friendly towpaths mean inclusive access by wheelchairs, mobility scooters and with pushchairs.
Waterways also offer affordable ways to get afloat, such as canoeing and other paddle sports, trip boats or hiring a boat for a day.
The Covid-19 pandemic brought significant numbers of people to the waterways for the first time, and in some locations this has put huge strains on existing infrastructure. Further investment in facilities such as parking, access points and long distance trails is needed to improve accessibility for even more people.