Posted 29th Dec 2016
The Canal & River Trust has opened 17 new walking routes on the nation's tranquil waterways this winter, ideal if you are looking to banish those winter blues
Working with the Royal Geographical Society and iFootpath, the Trust has created a host of easily accessible walks that show the hidden history, architecture, wildlife and colourful narrow boats of our canals and rivers amidst the relaxing views of the water.
Whether it's a short stomp with toddlers or a vigorous all-day hike with friends, there are over 2,000 miles of traffic-free tow paths to explore in England and Wales. We've picked out a selection of our favourites:
Known as the 'Crystal Canal' after the Town Arm of the Stourbridge Canal to uncover why this area was ideal for glassmaking during the Industrial Revolution. The most complete working 'glass cone' and see Stourbridge's Canal to uncover why the area was ideal for glassmaking during the Industrial Revolution.
Distance: one and a half miles
Walking from the Bullring Shopping Centre to the bustling city centre - this walk explores Birmingham as the 'workshop of the world' - the city has been subject to constant change and discovered how Birmingham's heritage is celebrated in cleverly-converted buildings along with spectacular new ones.
Distance: under two miles
Windmill End walk:
Enjoy the scenic pathways of Windmill End, also known as the Bumble Hole, which are peaceful and relaxing nowadays but were once alive with the sounds of industry. The short walk follows the Dudley No. 2 Canal and Boshboil Arm to where it joins the Netherton Tunnel and finishes at Cobb's Engine House.
Distance: one mile
Starting and finishing from the Coch and Greyhound public house, this walking route travels through farmland and a golf course before returning alongside the Shropshire Union Canal. It has interesting canal features and wildlife to be spotted, including otters and water voles.
Distance: five miles
What to spot whilst you're by the water:
Watery wildlife - ducks, swans, moor hens, geese and the glamorous blue flash of a kingfisher
Mileposts - up and down the waterways boaters previously used mileposts to check the distance on their route. Mileposts vary from waterway to waterway and can often be hidden along your route.
Roses & Castles - many families decorated their boats with paintings of roses and castles. The tradition endured and you can spot the examples of this traditional art along the waterways.
Soaring aqueducts and humpback bridges - dozens of aqueducts and hundreds of bridges have been built by intrepid engineers that look as impressive now as they did 200 years ago.
Lock flights - lookout for the iconic black and white lock gates that permit boats to travel up and down steep hills. Lock gates and lock chambers vary from canal to canal, giving each waterway a distinctive personality.
Boat watching - boats come in a variety of shapes and sizes - try counting the different types as you walk along
Bridge rope marks - in the early days of canals, horses pulled boats with ropes. If you keep a careful eye out, you can still see where the rope marks are on many of our bridges.