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Canal route planning

Cruising rings & times

To decide which waterway route you want to take, you will need to consider how much time you have, how far you would like to travel and what attractions you might want to see on the way. 

It’s also worth bearing in mind how active your crew will be and how many locks there are on the waterway.

You also might want to consider whether there will be any stoppages or restrictions along your planned route.

Waterway cruising rings offer boaters a way of exploring part of the waterways system without necessarily having to see the same bit of a canal or river twice. 

Cruising time and distance

Once you know how many days you want your trip to last, you’ll need to work out how many cruising hours you have available. The first and last days of your holiday will probably not be full days. You will need to decide how many hours you want to cruise each day. If you cruise early or late in the year you will have fewer daylight hours.

A useful way to calculate a waterway journey time is to allow 3 miles an hour and ten minutes for each lock (6 locks an hour). The actual time taken to go through each lock will be less if there is little traffic, you have a good number of crew and the locks are close together in a flight and aren’t any other boats waiting to use the locks. Narrow locks also tend to take less time than broad locks.

You can calculate cruising routes and times using CanalPlan AC or Clegg’s Canal Time Map. Clegg’s Canal Time Map is an A4 laminated sheet showing the connected UK waterway network divided into 2 hour sections with over 450 places shown. To calculate the time to cruise between any given places, just count the dots and multiply by 2 hours.

Stoppages and restrictions

Navigation authorities occasionally have to close sections of the network for emergency repairs and maintenance work. Check current or planned stoppages at Canal & River Trust or at Environment Agency.

Find out the relevant navigation authority for the waterway you are planning to visit on our waterways map.

Waterways heritage

Our waterways heritage is what makes Britain’s canals and rivers special and it must be actively protected – through the local planning system and sufficient funding – for the future.

Waterways affected by HS2

We’re campaigning to protect canals and rivers from the damaging effects of HS2, especially where the tranquillity of the waterways is under threat.

Waterway underfunding

Hundreds of miles of waterways – along with their unique heritage and habitats – are currently starved of funding and rely on constant lobbying by us to safeguard their future.

Waterway restoration

Restoring the UK’s blue infrastructure – our inherited network of navigable canals and rivers – is good for people and places.

Waterway businesses

The government needs to intervene at the earliest possible opportunity to save this vital sector of the British economy and what could be a core element of the British stay-at-home leisure and holiday sectors in the coming years.

Sustainable boating

We want boating on canals and rivers to be more sustainable and – even though the current overall contribution to UK carbon emissions is very small – we want to help reduce emissions on the waterways.