The Canal & River Trust (CRT) has released news that a new ‘Wainwright of the Waterways’ has been appointed to take charge of England’s first coast to coast canoe trail.

Following in the footsteps of famous author and walker, Alfred Wainwright, Greg Brookes will lead a small team in a five-year plan to create a challenging new canoe trail across the Pennines. The route will start in Liverpool on the west coast, follow 127 miles of Britain’s longest canal, the Leeds & Liverpool, link into the Aire and Calder Navigation in Yorkshire and finally reach the east coast at Goole near the Humber estuary.

coast-to-coast canoe trail

From coast to coast by canoe: Greg Brookes and Andrew Blackburn are keen to make the new trail a big pull for young canoeists.


The 150-mile route will connect some major urban centres, like Liverpool, Wigan, Leeds, Blackburn, Burnley and Skipton to some of the most spectacular scenery in the country. However, it will also be an indisputably tough and strenuous trail. Boaters who attempt the full route will have to carry their canoes around 91 locks, including the famous 21-lock Wigan flight, Bingley’s famous Five Rise and the mile-long tunnel at Foulridge.

Greg Brookes, a former youth worker and outdoor education professional, is an experienced canoeist himself and is really keen that the project should make a difference to the young: “Canals are not just for narrowboats. Canoeing is becoming an increasingly popular activity on our waterways. Our plan is to engage with up to 10,000 young people and their families through a series of Canoe Action Squads. We are in danger of creating a lost generation of young people trapped in a time bomb of poor health and low self-esteem. Even in urban areas, canoeing offers the chance to enjoy the great outdoors and have fun at the same time as getting fit and healthy.”

Richard Atkinson, Head of Waterways and Environment for British Canoeing, added: “For both serious canoeists and those wanting to have fun, the coast to coast canoe trail is sure to etch its way into the national consciousness in the same way as Wainwright’s great Coast to Coast Walk and Pennine Way. Thousands of young people are going to have the chance to try out this great sport, become healthier, and who knows, we could even inspire the next generation of Olympic champions.”

Email Greg at for more.

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Written by: Alex Smith
Alex Smith is a journalist, copywriter and magazine editor with a long history in boating and a happy addiction to the water. He’s worked on boats, lived on boats, bought boats, sold boats and – when he’s not actually on board a boat – he can generally be found in his Folkestone office, tapping away at the computer and gazing out to sea.