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Working holidays

We run volunteer working holidays to help waterway 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 waterway 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.

Check out the 2022 Camps. Read about our COVID Staying Safe measures for Canal Camps.

£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

Herefordshire and Gloucestershire (1)
Herefordshire and Gloucestershire (2)
Herefordshire and Gloucestershire 3
Chelmer and Blackwater stonhams weir
Lichfield Site
Volunteers working on the Wey &Arun canal restoration

If you feel unable to follow our Staying Safe rules, please do not book on a Canal Camp this summer.

Staying safe working holiday FAQs

What can I expect in terms of extra safety measures on my canal camp/working holiday?

Canal camps are going to look a little bit different this year (but hopefully they will still be as muddy and fun as always!). This year we are working to 4 key principles:

  • Increased personal space
  • Good hygiene facilities
  • Good ventilation of shared indoor spaces
  • Improved welfare facilities on site

These principles will be backed up with risk assessments including a project plan, risk assessment and method statements, along with camp specific COVID risk assessments. In some shared spaces – such as walking around the accommodation and in the minibuses – you will also be required to wear a mask. Our leadership teams will also undergo additional training to ensure we can deliver an enjoyable experience and that all volunteers observe safeguarding measures.

Please note our COVID Staying Safe measures could be subject to change due to new variants and/or restrictions.

Will you be providing any additional safety equipment?

On top of the usual personal protective equipment we provide (hard hats, face masks, gloves ear defenders and safety glasses), volunteers will be given a pre-packed additional kit. This will include spare disposable surgical face masks, 2 x personal hand gel, a personal pack of anti-bacterial wipes and a COVID symptoms card.

Do I need to be vaccinated to come?

We will not be asking volunteers to declare if they have been vaccinated, we are instead we are asking volunteers to take the following steps:

  • Take a lateral flow test: On sign up, volunteers will be asked to agree to take a lateral flow test on the morning of departure to the Canal Camp. If the test is positive, you must not travel to the camp and instead inform the leader. Volunteers will also be required to undertake one further test during the camp (mid-week and prior to departure home).
  • Review your own personal situation: Every year we ask volunteers to take responsibility for their own safety, and the safety of others around them on site. This year we are also asking all volunteers to consider their own personal safety before signing up to attend the camp by undertaking a personal risk review. Understanding your own personal risk in relation to COVID-19 is important and helps you make decisions about returning to WRG activities and interacting with other volunteers in shared spaces.
  • Sign up to our Covid Code of Conduct: As a volunteer, you are an integral and valued part of WRG, and we will do our best to ensure your experience is safe, enjoyable and rewarding. In return we ask that all volunteers agree to appropriate standards of personal conduct in regards to Covid-19, as we do with site based health & safety. Everyone will be asked to sign up to our Covid Code of Conduct.
What changes have you made to the accommodation?

If you have been on a Canal Camp before you will know we use village halls or similar with volunteers sleeping in one large communal space. This has meant we have had to undertake a thorough review of each accommodation before agreeing to use it.

We have made the following changes:

  • We have reduced numbers on camp from 18 to a maximum of 12 volunteers.
  • Each volunteer will have a clearly marked out personal zone around their sleeping area with a 2 metre gap from the next volunteer.
  • We will operate separate eating and sleeping zones. Please note some halls will have meals in a marquee.
  • We will install hand cleaning stations at key areas (front doors/ toilets/showers).
  • All of our accommodation will have good ventilation – windows will be kept open to allow for the free flow of air. This means you may need to pack a few extra covers or a warm sleeping bag!
  • Some Canal Camps will be able to offer camping areas next to the main accommodation for volunteers who do not want to sleep in a shared space.

See an example layout (pdf, 453KB) of sleeping arrangements in a hall.

Are you still using the minibuses, and how will these be made safe?

Yes – we will be using our 9 seater minibuses but we will be limiting use to 6 volunteers – the driver plus 5 passengers to allow for social distancing.

Minibuses will be regularly cleaned and disinfected as part of our new hygiene regime – with hand gel stations at the doors.

Will I still get meals on camp?

Yes you will still be provided with 3 meals and cake by our wonderful Canal Camp Cooks. WRG has reviewed its Food Safety Management System and has made the following adjustments:

  • The cooking team will serve food. There will be no self-service.
  • You will also be asked to wash your hands on arrival using the new sanitising stations.
Have you made any changes to working on site?

The risk of transmission in outdoor spaces is relatively low. Despite this, we must be confident the site is COVID secure to our standards, following our site specific risk assessment. Where possible work will also be planned to ensure volunteers do not work too closely together. Training and supervision will continue to be provided as usual, but may require additional risk assessments.

We will also be providing additional welfare areas for break times and extra hand cleaning stations

What social activities will be on offer during the camp?

Rules around social activities will be dependent on COVID restrictions at the time but we hope to run a programme of social events in the evenings.

What happens if some develops Covid on camp?

Any volunteer who develops Covid symptoms on camp must inform the camp leader and take a lateral flow test immediately. If the test is positive all volunteers on the camp will be asked to travel home and self-isolate. The accommodation will be deep cleaned before volunteers leave. The volunteer who tested positive should book a PCR test and inform the camp leader if that result is positive. All volunteers must self-isolate until they are contacted by WRG Head Office and advised on the next steps.

Can I book on multiple camps?

Yes but please remember spaces are limited this year so consider others when booking multiple camps.

What happens if I get Covid or restrictions prevent me from travelling?

If you are unable to proceed with your booking due to UK government restrictions related to Covid-19 which prevent you from travelling to one of our Canal Camps such as localised travel bans or the requirement to self-isolate you will be able to choose from one of the foolwing options:

  1. Transfer your booking to a later date: Subject to availability we will move your booking to a later date, with no admin fees.
  2. Carry across your booking to 2022.
  3. Request a full refund: We will refund you the full amount you have paid for your booking.
Do I need to wear a mask?

Wearing a mask will be a personal choice. It is important to remember that at the start of the camp you are essentially forming a family, a new household of volunteers, for the week.  We are therefore asking you to take on an element of individual responsibility to ensure the collective safety of everyone on a camp this summer.

Working Holidays