Charity challenge to help save UK’s canals


Charity challenges public to help save the UK’s wildlife-rich canals

 People are being challenged to take to the towpaths over the course of June to raise money to protect the nation’s historic canal network, home to some of the UK’s much-loved and endangered wildlife.

The Canal & River Trust, the charity which looks after 2,000 miles of waterways across England & Wales, is asking people to take part in a ‘Canalathon’ raising funds as they walk or run the distance of a marathon (26.2 miles) along their local canal towpath across the month.

Almost nine million people live less than a mile from one of the Canal & River Trust’s waterways, making them popular and accessible places to exercise. But the nation’s ageing canals are under threat, with costly repairs required to keep them open for the communities who enjoy them and for the wildlife that depends on them.

There are lots of ways to get involved in the Canalathon. Participants can walk or run the 26.2 miles all in one go or in bite-sized chunks, working at a pace that suits them, over the course of a month. The challenge can be completed solo or in a team of family, friends, or colleagues. Participants will receive limited-edition Canalathon shoelaces when they get their first donation and a free branded running vest when they reach £100 on their fundraising page.

Maggie Gardner, fundraising director at Canal & River Trust, said: “Our canals and rivers are on the doorsteps of nine million people, offering somewhere for us to live, relax, get active, spend time together and get close to nature. But these special places, many dating back 250 years, need our support if they are going to survive. Taking part in the Canalathon is a fantastic way to raise important funds to keep our canals free and accessible for us all to use and enjoy and help nature flourish in the hearts of our towns and cities.”

Paul Steele, ambassador for Canal & River Trust and Canalathon participant, said: “The Canal & River Trust’s vital work repairing centuries-old locks, bridges, tunnels and aqueducts means that millions of people can live healthier lives, with research showing that spending time by water really can make people feel happier and healthier. The Canalathon gives us all the chance to discover the waterways, clear our heads and find our inner calm, as well as raising money so future generations can continue to enjoy these benefits. I’m going to be taking part in the Canalathon and it would be great to see as many people as possible joining me in the challenge.”

People can sign up to the challenge on the Canal & River Trust website then create a Just Giving page and track their miles through Strava.

More details about how the Canal & River Trust works to make life better by water can be found at


High res images available on request.