Canal River Trust
Leeds, West Yorkshire
The Leeds-Liverpool canal is a 200-year-old antique that’s just been spruced up by a number of youth groups along its length to offer the country’s first coast-to-coast kayaking trail.
Stretching from Liverpool’s old docks to the hip city of Leeds, the route takes in gritty urban areas, gorgeous rolling hills and some fabulous country pubs, inns and B&Bs along the way.
Highlights of a trip, depending on where you start, include doing the magnificent Bingley Five Rise Locks with a dizzying 1:5 gradient and the mile-long Foulridge Tunnel that you need special dispensation to kayak through.
Tours are self-guided on the trail set up by the Canal & River Trust and sponsored by controversial media tycoon Richard Desmond.
The plan is to eventually offer 10 youth hubs along the length of the canal – each one will provide a place for young people to hang out, learn new skills, care for the canal and build a sense of community.
The hubs may eventually offer kayak hire to people wishing to do a day or two on the canal itself.
In the meantime, Pendle Paddlers (pendlepaddlers.com) offer taster kayak sessions on the canal from £6. Two canoes, a trailer, buoyancy aids and dry bags can be hired from £50 per day from River Mountain Experience.
A seven-day licence to kayak the canal costs £14.16.
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