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Waterways of Britain

Rivers, Canals & Streams

Peaceful, beautiful and full of life - Britains waterways are a wonderful place to visit or live. Amongst some of Britains most beautiful and tranquil hidden countryside flow rivers and canals that are guaranteed to take you away from it all.

Grand Union Canal - Aylesbury Arm
Grand Union Canal - Aylesbury Arm

Rivers and streams or burns and brooks, whatever you call them our waterways are packed with wildlife. Waterways and their basins are vital places to UK wildlife. From the more common mallard ducks, coots and moorhens and majestic swans to the stunning kingfisher and the rarely seen otters. Butterflies, damsel-flies and dragonflies dot the towpaths and river banks. The water itself provides the perfect environment for fish, animals and plants, such as our native Crayfish.

The UK's canals remind us of our rich industrial heritage. And now are a place where we can experience or live a more leisurely pace of life. If you're not on board a colourful narrowboat there is plenty of scope for activity on the canals as well as wildlife spotting. The generally flat and well kept towpaths are perfect for a walk or invigorating cycle ride.

Fleetwith Pike Stream, Cumbria
Fleetwith Pike Stream, Cumbria



Rivers of the United Kingdom
Index of the longest rivers in the UK with linked pages containing extensive details of each at Wikipedia.

Canal & River Trust
Charity who looks after and bring to life 2,000 miles of waterways. A goldmine of information helping you enjoy the waterways.

Inland Waterways Association
A membership charity that works to protect and restore the country's 6,500 miles of canals and rivers.

River Access for All
Group of ordinary canoeists who work to gain recognition that there is, and always has been, a public right of navigation on our rivers.

UK Rivers Network
Helping communities to love and care for their rivers. With news updates, an events diary, river walks and cycle rides, and educational pages.

The River Restoration Centre
Offers technical advice and information on specific projects as well as general river restoration related advice.

The Rivers Trust
Works to protect, promote and enhance our river environment, for both people and wildlife. Find your local group.

Freshwater Habitats Trust
UK based charity working to conserve freshwater wildlife for everyone to enjoy.

Freshwater Biological Association
Advancing understanding and sustainable management of fresh waters. Promoting freshwater biology and the sound and sustainable management of freshwater systems.

Open Canal Map
Open Canal Map comes in three flavors: Google Maps overlay, Android app and iPhone/iPad app.

OS Open Rivers
If you need a high-level view of watercourses in Great Britain, OS Open Rivers is for you, and it's completely free.

Freshwater - The Wildlife Trust
The rain-soaked lands of Britain and Northern Ireland are rich in rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, canals and ditches...

Scottish Canals
Scottish Canals are in charge of the five canals in Scotland.

Waterfalls of the United Kingdom
This is a links page to the named waterfalls found in the UK, and includes a list of the highest waterfalls.

Canal & River Trust Open Data
Detailing such features as all aqueducts, bridges, canals, weirs, reservoirs and much more...

Sponsored Listings

Stream into Buttermere, Cumbria
Stream into Buttermere, Cumbria

Latest Waterways News

  • North East and Yorkshire Freshwater group – INNS meeting 18th January 2017
    On 15th December the North East and Yorkshire Freshwater group organised its second annual meeting which focused on the topic of invasive non-native species. The event featured talks from a variety of organisations across the region as well as an opportunity for open discussion and knowledge exchange with regards to the work carried out onRead […]
  • The beauty of (snowflakes) microscopic algae 23rd December 2016
    Ah, the snowflake: symbol of short winter days, crisp frosty mornings, Carol singing under the stars and the Christmas season… However, this is not a snowflake: Hilda Canter-Lund, Bicosoeca, 1995, Freshwater Biological Association,   It is a photograph of the mass development of the flagellate protozoan Bicosoeca on Asterionella. Astrionella is a genus ofRead […]
  • A Classification of Coleoptera in 3D 28th September 2016
    The Freshwater Biological Association has a long history of publishing identification keys. Its first Scientific Publication, A Key to the British Species of Corixidae (Hemiptera-Heteroptera) with Notes on their Distribution, was published in 1939 by FBA entomologist Thomas T. Macan (1910-1985). Macan worked at the FBA throughout his distinguished career from 1935 to 1976, focusingRead […]
RSS News items – Freshwater Habitats Trust
  • Policy guidance on benefits of clean water ponds 15th June 2020
    In April 2020 we published the results of new research on the unprecedented benefits for freshwater biodiversity of creating clean water ponds. The work is part of the Water Friendly Farming project which is a decade long collaborative project undertaken jointly with the Allerton Project of the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, the Environment Agency […]
  • Dig ponds to save UK’s rare wetland plants 3rd June 2020
    Digging clean water ponds in the countryside can deliver “unprecedented” gains for freshwater biodiversity, with new study showing they significantly boost wetland plant diversity and numbers of rare species. New research shows that creating clean-water ponds in the farmed countryside can dramatically increase levels of freshwater biodiversity, protecting our fragile ecosystems, and almost trebling the […]
  • Boris Johnson ‘should prioritise a green recovery’ 11th May 2020
    Along with dozens of environmental and business organisations, Freshwater Habitats Trust is calling on the Prime Minister to prioritise a green recovery as ‘the new normal’. We are urging the government to put nature and climate at the heart of decisions for the recovery effort, for healthy communities and a resilient economy, in an open […]
RSS The Inland Waterways Association
  • Meet IWA's New Chief Executive 15th July 2020
    Sarah O'Grady joins IWA this week to take on the role of chief executive when Neil Edwards, in the role for over twenty years, steps down.Sarah O’Grady is an experienced leader, providing ...
  • IWA Responds to High Speed North Consultation 28th June 2020
    IWA has responded to a Call for Evidence by the National Infrastructure Commission for a Rail Needs Assessment for the Midlands and the North. This consultation is part of a review of HS2 ordered ...
  • Waterways debated in Parliament 4th June 2020
    Waterways were given a good airing in the House of Commons when Craig Williams, the MP for Montgomeryshire, secured an adjournment debate on the subject of waterway restoration which took place on ...
RSS Canal & Waterway News and Features
  • Canal coronavirus lockdown relaxing 20th May 2020
    From May 13th private boaters can take 'short' canal trips on their boats but may not stay overnight on their boat. The post Canal coronavirus lockdown relaxing appeared first on Canal & Waterway News and Features.
  • Corinavirus impact on UK Canals, boaters & towpaths 28th March 2020
    Essential boat travel only, moor 14 days plus, some closed C. R. T. locks, bridges, tunnels, towpath restrictions, no fishing. .. More The post Corinavirus impact on UK Canals, boaters & towpaths appeared first on Canal & Waterway News and Features.
  • Capsized narrowboat raised from River Soar 26th March 2020
    River Canal Rescue have raised a capsized narrowboat at Barrow, on the River Soar, on the 25th March. Torrential rain .. More The post Capsized narrowboat raised from River Soar appeared first on Canal & Waterway News and Features.
RSS UK Rivers Network
  • Water worries scupper fracking folly? 13th September 2013
    There's growing anxiety in the UK about fracking (hydraulic fracturing of the ground to recover shale or natural gas) and the effect it could have on groundwater. Is there an issue? We can look to the States, where the debate is already far advanced. A study published in PNAS in July 2011 found a correlation […]
  • Forthcoming events for March 2013 3rd March 2013
    Here's our usual monthly roundup. Don't miss the International Day of Action for Rivers (14th March), World Water Day (22nd March), and a huge national beach-cleaning marathon organized by Surfers Against Sewage for the weekend 22-24th March. Those are just three of over 30 river-, pond-, and water-related events listed this month on our website.
  • Historic Hayle sluice gates go on show 28th February 2013
    Luckily recovered sluice gates dating from 1834 are to go on show in Cornwall.
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