Waterways and well-being charity Canal & River Trust is encouraging people to avoid hibernation and get out and about by their local canal this winter to help them stay well and reap a whole host of benefits.
The charity, which cares for 2000 miles of canals and rivers in England and Wales, says spending time by water makes people feel happier and healthier, and is particularly beneficial over the cold, dark days of winter.
It wants people to wrap up warm and get outdoors as often as they can in 2019, pointing out that there are all sorts of sights and sounds they can enjoy as well as physical and mental improvements to be gained.
Canal & River Trust’s top tips and ideas for winter well-being by the water:
1 Go for a walk every day. You don’t have to trek the longest canal in the UK (the Grand Union Canal – 137 miles between London and Birmingham) as even a short 10-minute power walk can give you a boost. Search “local canal” to find your nearest waterway – half the population of England and Wales live within five miles of one.
2 Keep your eyes open. The charity has more than 1000 wildlife conservation sites and 63 Sites of Special Scientific Interest, so you never know what you might spot while you’re on the towpath. Look out for water voles, otters, kingfishers, and of course the cheery and inquisitive robin. Download your nature spotter’s guide from www.canalrivertrust.org.uk (search “waterway wildlife”).
3 Spread some seasonal joy. Say hello to people you pass and everyone will feel that little bit better. If making new friends is one of your new year resolutions then why not volunteer to help care for your local canal – visit www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/volunteer to find out more.
4 Get snap happy! Whatever you spot on your travels, get a picture and enter it into our winter photography competition: www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/photography-competition
There are many prizes up for grabs and all types of photos are eligible – from classic wintry scenes to candid wildlife shots.
5 Learn as you go. Our canals are an important piece of the country’s industrial heritage and hold many reminders of days gone by. You can learn about some of our historic structures – including 1580 locks, 2988 bridges and 335 aqueducts – online before setting off and then share the stories and facts as you go along.
Jon Horsfall, head of customer service support at Canal & River Trust, said: “The winter weather and hustle and bustle of the festive season can really take it out of us mentally and physically, but fortunately there’s a simple solution right on the doorsteps of millions of people – their local canal.
“Simply getting out and spending time by the water is a great first step in improving your well-being, and if you add on all the associated benefits – such as getting a break from TV and mobile screens, connecting with nature, spending time with loved ones – a stroll along the towpath is the perfect winter treat.”
To find your local canal and for more information on how the Canal & River Trust cares for the waterways, visit: www.canalrivertrust.org.uk.