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Working holidays

We run volunteer working holidays to help canal restoration, with the chance to learn traditional skills – such as bricklaying and stonework – and more modern techniques – such as piling, concreting or even how to operate machinery like excavators or dumpers.

Our Waterway Recovery Group has been supporting canal restoration across Britain for over 50 years, so you’re in safe hands.

Book a holiday with a difference

Our ‘canal camp’ working holidays attract a wide range of people: from young volunteers taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme; to waterway enthusiasts who want to help restore and preserve the system; to people who just want to get outdoors and dirty, have fun and learn new skills. Volunteers on our working holidays must be aged over 18 but, apart from that, age or previous experience don’t matter.

£70 for a week’s holiday includes

All meals

Cooked breakfast, lunch on site and a substantial home-cooked evening meal… along with plenty of tea breaks.


Accommodation is basic – volunteers sleep in a large communal space, usually in a village hall or scout hut.


We can pick you up from the nearest station. We also provide travel between the accommodation and site.

Good times

and lots of laughter, mud and fun!

Working Holidays in England and Wales

Working holiday FAQs

What will it cost? 

We only ask volunteers to cover the cost of food. For a weekend dig this can be between £8 – £20; for a week-long ‘canal camp’ it is £70 per week; and for a family camp it is just £15 per person.

What do I need to bring?

Essential kit:

  • tough outdoor clothes
  • steel toe capped boots or steel toe capped wellingtons
  • waterproofs (you never know with a British summer!)
  • sleeping bag & pillow
  • sleeping mat, airbed or camping bed
  • washing kit, towel & swimwear (some showers may be provided at local sport centres)
  • casual clothes for the evening

Optional kit:

  • driving licenses
  • camera
  • insect repellent
  • sun cream
  • torch
  • water bottle
  • rucksack
Do I need to bring tools or equipment? 

You will be sent a full list of what to bring and we will supply any other safety equipment required, including hard hats. All tools will be provided.

Do I need any experience? 

No previous experience is necessary; just a willingness to have fun and get involved. Our experienced leaders will explain to you everything you need to know once you’re there.

Will I fit in? 

Working Holidays attract people from all walks of life. But it’s easy to find common ground after a couple of days on site.

What if I have a medical condition? 

Please let us know if you have any medical conditions that may affect your time with us. We can then make sure that we organise suitable activities on site and during relaxation time.

Am I too old? 

No! Our working holidays are open to anyone aged 18 or over.

How much of the day is spent working?

The working day usually runs from 9am-5pm (depending on the weather) with plenty of tea-breaks and lunch on site. In the evening, a substantial, home-cooked meal will be provided by your canal camp cook. Evenings are free and some social activities (e.g. swimming, visits to local attractions, cinema) will be organised by the leaders for people who want to join in.

Can I do this for my Duke of Edinburgh’s Award?

We welcome participants completing the residential aspect of their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. All volunteers participating in the Award are asked to attend the camp for the full seven days. Please note we do not accept bookings from groups of more than two DofE volunteers who know each other.

Do you have insurance?

We have insurance policies to cover our legal liability to volunteers and also to protect us against legal liability claims made by members of the public arising out of our activities. Your personal possessions (including clothing, glasses, contact lenses, medical equipment, kit, equipment, tools and anything else) are not insured by us against accidental loss or damage. We recommend you don’t bring items of high or sentimental value.

How do I get there?

Travel instructions will be sent to you about ten days before your working holiday starts. They will include any last minute details, a map showing the location of the accommodation and directions of how to get there.

What is the food like?

All meals will be provided with volunteers helping with catering and domestic chores on a rota basis although some working holidays have full time cooks. If you have specified a vegetarian or special diet on your booking form, please confirm your exact requirements with the leader before you arrive to make sure that suitable provision has been made. If you anticipate any difficulties, please bring special ingredients with you.

How do I stay safe?

You will get a Health & Safety Guide which you will need to read before you arrive  and you must be ready to follow the directions of the leader at all times when on site. Working holidays, as with any professional site, have to comply with current safety regulations. Every volunteer must attend an induction an watch WRG’s Health & Safety video before going on site.

With the exception of safety boots, we will provide any safety equipment required to complete the job in a safe manner. 


Can I cancel or transfer my booking?

Please let us know at least 21 days before the start of your booking if you wish to transfer to a different working holiday (subject to space being available); there is no additional charge for this. 

If you have to cancel your booking, your payment less a £10 administration charge will be refunded if your written cancellation reaches the booking office at least 21 days before the start of the working holiday. Refunds cannot be made after this deadline, as provisions will have already been made for you. 

What happens if we change your booking?

We always aim to provide your working holiday as booked but occasionally we may have to cancel the camp due to unforeseen circumstances such as low bookings, problems with the accommodation or work. In this unlikely event, we will make every effort to find you a suitable alternative working holiday  to attend or give you a full refund. 

Is there a behaviour policy? 

Most canal campers are keen to get involved, have fun and complete the week’s tasks. We reserve the right to refuse bookings or terminate any participant’s holiday without compensation if their behaviour is likely to impair the enjoyment or health and safety of other volunteers.

Canal Camp bookings are not currently open; we will have an update in May.