GO – visit a canal

Visit a canal

Canals and waterways used to be the main communication and transport arteries taking heavy loads of goods and wares to and from important ports, towns and cities. However, as civilisations developed, the vast majority of the man-made canals, towpaths and locks serve only to satisfy leisure and tourism-based water dwellers. Visit an historic waterway and unlock the magic of a bygone era.

Before you go

  • Where did (does) the local waterway go to and from?
  • What are the characteristics of a canal?
  • How does a lock system work?
  • Why did canals fall out of favour and what replaced them?

While you are there

  • Get the kids onto the water if you can. Daily boat hire is usually an option.
  • Stop and talk to people off and on the water.
  • Try to visit a lock or an aqueduct as they will raise the excitement levels of your youngsters.
Canal - aqueduct

Bold Challenge

Challenge your youngsters to be ‘unofficial lock keepers’ and to help operate the lock gates. Boat crews will probably be very grateful!

When you get back

  • Carry out RESEARCH into locks, viaducts and aqueducts: all fascinating in their own right.
  • MAKE a boat (any kind) and test how much weight it can carry before it sinks. Try other boat designs.
  • DRAW an illustration of a lock explaining how it works.
  • DESIGN a leaflet to promote waterways and canals to families.

To help give other families ideas for places to go and learn about, we wrote a book called LEARNING OUTDOORS with the MEEK FAMILY.