With over 2,000 miles of canal waterways in Great Britain, towpaths are the perfect place to walk. Generally speaking, apart from locks, the routes are flat, traffic free and you'll never get lost! You'll find wildlife, architecture, the great British countryside and the meandering of narrowboats that trundle alongside you. Perfect for wellbeing, health and putting some pep in your step!
So, let's take a look at a number of walks you could go on, while staying at one of the Best of British holiday parks!
1. Oxford Canal
The Oxford Canal traverses Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire and east Warwickshire. It winds its way gently through the countryside, through broad, shallow valleys and lightly rolling hills. It is free from large scale development and most residential areas along it are picturesque villages like Anyho and Somerton. The 5 'Oxford Walk' is a 5 mile route from Oxford Castle to Sandford Lock. Not only will you see Oxford, you'll also walk through the Oxford stretch of the Thames, site of the historic annual boat race.
2. Whitchurch, Shropshire
You could attempt a circular walk, veering off the tow path at times. Starting at The Cock and Greyhound in Whitchurch, you'll find a five mile circular walk. The pub is one of the oldest inns in Shropshire and is well reviewed, so perfect for lunch either before or after your walk! You'll pass through farmland and a golf course, before returning along the Shropshire Union Canal. En route you'll also experience parts of the South Cheshire Way and the Sandstone Trail. A perfect route for walkers of most abilities, no steep climbing, but there are stretches involving uphill/downhill sections and stiles to negotiate.
3. Union Canal, Edinburgh
If you're staying near Edinburgh and plan to visit the city, do try to make time to walk along the canal. Edinburgh Quay is a bustling canal hub, where you can dine outside next to the canal, take in the colourful boats and the world of waterways. The newly upgraded towpath makes walking easy, so once you've taken in the sights of the city, consider moving toward the canal for a more peaceful stroll out of the city. The canal itself is over 30 miles long and stretches to Falkirk, but stick to the city sections and you'll see Edinburgh from a completely different angle!
4. Monmouth and Brecon Canal
This canal is one of the most picturesque in Great Britain. Running through the Brecon Beacons National Park, it sits aside the wooded Usk Valley. Brecon Canal Basin is one of the most visited spots on this canal, with cafes, boat hire and facilities all available. There's also a theatre 'Theatr Brycheiniog' at the basin which is a modern theatre, arts and community venue, attracting a variety of performers. So, consider spending the day and the evening on the canal as there is much to see and do!
5. Vale Royal Locks, Cheshire
The Canal and River Trust detail a fantastic walk taking in Vale Royal Locks. This beautiful waterside walk will provide walkers with the view of a number of bird species, so a great one for bird watchers! If you want to explore further, the Cheshire Ring provides a range of canalside scenery from the gentle rolling plains of the Cheshire countryside to the peaks of the Peak District National Park. There are a variety of canal features en-route including locks, aqueducts and tunnels plus the historic town centres of Northwich, Middlewich, Macclesfield and Congleton are within easy reach to explore.
Nearest Best of British parks: Lamb Cottage, (Northwich).
6. Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, North East Wales
We mentioned that canals provide incredible architecture and possibly the best example of this is the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. Designed and built by Thomas Telford and William Jessop, Pontcysyllte means 'the bridge that connects' and is 'the jewel in the crown' of this World Heritage Site. You can walk across Pontcysyllte, or take a boat ride across if you prefer. This particular walk is ALL about the location. Stunning scenery demands you have your camera handy!
Nearest Best of British park: Plassey Leisure Park, Wrexham.
We hope this has given you some ideas of where to walk along the towpaths of the canal network in Great Britain! Many thanks to the Canal and River Trust for allowing us to use some of their images to aid us in supporting the waterways.