The Magic of the Water

I consider myself to be very lucky to live two minutes’ walk from a canal.

We get so much pleasure from watching the water-dwelling wildlife, wandering (or doing an embarrassing attempt at jogging in my case) along the towpath as well as watching the boats go by.

In Britain, most of us are never too far from an inland waterway – there are 2,000 miles of canals and navigable rivers that flow through our towns, villages and countryside.



Man-made structures, essential to keep the waterways working, are well to the fore. Many of them are evidence of an innovative industrial past and represent engineering breakthroughs, including aqueducts, locks, bridges and tunnels. The Standedge tunnel, which takes the Huddersfield Canal beneath the Pennines, is the longest in Britain at 16,499ft (5,029m). You can take a boat trip along it, or, if enclosed spaces are not for you, linger in the pub or visitor centre and hear about it from the rest of the day-outers.

Nowadays, our inland waterways are undergoing a renaissance as a means of leisure and recreation, but their original purpose, in the absence of substantial road and rail networks, was as a means of freight transport.

The Bridgewater Canal is usually regarded as the one that started the rush of canal building in the 18th century. It was the brainchild of the Duke of Bridgewater, inspired by a visit to the Canal du Midi in France. His mines in Worsley supplied coal to Manchester and once the canal was finished, in 1776, the price of coal in that city practically halved. Others took note and more canals were built, especially in the north and midlands where heavy industries were king and goods needed to be transported to cities and ports as cheaply as possible. Interestingly, canals were not financed by the government but by industrialists, mine and mill owners, textile manufacturers and banks, and each one required an Act of Parliament to enable it to go ahead.


Dairy Diary 2016For more information on British waterways
see the feature in the 2016 Dairy Diary
and/or visit

You can buy the 2016 Dairy Diary
now for just £7.99.

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: The Magic of the Water | Brittius

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