Visits to waterways in the UK in particular have seen a staggering 30% rise in visits since 2010, with Canal & River Trust estimating that there were 360 million visits to canals and rivers in 2014 alone.
The millions of people who regularly visit canals and rivers are more satisfied with their lives and less anxious, government statistics have found.
The government body, Natural England, recorded 2.93 billion visits to natural environments including parks, canals and countryside last year – the most in the last five years. When asked about their life satisfaction and anxiety levels, those people who spent more time visiting outdoor spaces showed markedly more positive ratings. Participants were asked to mark their life satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 10. Those who visited the outdoors several times a week were on average 7% more satisfied, 6% happier and 7% less anxious than those who visited less often.
Emma Aitken, National Campaigns Manager at Canal & River Trust commented:
“People in urban areas often don’t find enough time to get outdoors, so it’s great to see more people are taking advantage of our canals, which are only a stone’s throw from many of our major cities. In fact, half of the country’s population lives within five miles of one of our waterways. We want to make sure there’s always a place on your doorstep where you can escape the pressures of everyday life, stretch your legs and simply feel closer to nature.”
In reaction to this boost in visitors, Canal & River Trust began documenting the experiences of those who visit, work and live by canals and rivers to find out what they enjoy about the historic waterways of England and Wales.
The Trust’s Humans of the Waterways blog features photographs and personal stories from people from all over the country. One contributor, Sarah (image below), visiting her nearest canal explained why the waterways are so special to her:
“Most days I’m sat behind a desk crunching numbers as an accountant, so I love being outdoors. Along the canals I can see wildlife and beautiful scenery, all the things I can’t see from my office window.”
Ingrid Riches, Digital Marketing Manager at Canal & River Trust commented on the importance of the Humans of the Waterways project:
“The canals and rivers of England and Wales are not only of great historical importance, but also provide a fantastic haven for people to relax and enjoy nature. We’ve met jugglers, buskers, filmmakers, army veterans as well as boaters and anglers to name but a few, and we hope that the Humans of the Waterways blog will become a great archive for everyone to access, showcasing these fantastic stories.”
There is now a FREE summer activity guide for families ‘What shall we do today?’ which is packed full of ideas and stickers. Finding fun, affordable ideas for quality family time can be tricky, especially when you have to compete with computer games, TV and the internet. This guide is full of activities that families can enjoy together along with the amazing waterways and in-and-around the home, at any age, whatever the weather. It is a fantastic resource!
The guide is available from 11th July – 24th August – to request a free delivered copy, you just need to complete the online form here.