England to get first coast-to-coast route for canoes

People walking over canal at Liverpool Albert Docks Image copyright Canal & River Trust
Image caption The canoe trail will link Liverpool (above) in the west to Goole in the east

England's first coast-to-coast route for canoes is to be created between Merseyside and East Yorkshire, the Canal & River Trust charity has said.

The trail will follow the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, and the Aire and Calder Navigation.

It will stretch over 150 miles (241km), the charity said.

Due for completion in 2020, it has been named the Desmond Family Canoe Trail after newspaper proprietor Richard Desmond, who donated £1.3m.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Media tycoon Richard Desmond is reported to be worth £1.5bn by business magazine Forbes

Scotland already has a coast-to-coast canoe trail - between Fort William and Inverness - but the English route will be the longest in the UK.

The charity, which looks after 2,000 miles (3,219km) of waterways in England and Wales, hopes to recruit more than 10,000 young volunteers from some of England's most deprived communities to help create the trail.

Work is due to start later this year in Merseyside, with 17 teams of volunteers to be set up at 10 key locations, including:

  • Liverpool
  • Burscough, Blackburn and Burnley in Lancashire
  • Wigan in Greater Manchester
  • Skipton, Leeds, Castleford, Knottingley and Goole in Yorkshire

A CRT spokesman said the scheme aimed to get "youngsters active and provide them with new life skills" in areas with relatively high rates of child obesity and unemployment.

The spokesman said gardens and habitats would be planted along the trail, with support from Canoe England and community organisations.

"We want to make it accessible and enjoyed by many more families and individuals, whatever their physical ability," CRT chairman Tony Hales said.

Image copyright Canal & River Trust
Image caption The trail will go through the world heritage site at Saltaire Village in West Yorkshire

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