First coast-to-coast canal trail completed

Canoe trail young leaders (l-r) Erin Lashley, Jordan Burns and Andrew Whittaker Photo: Canal & River Trust Canoe trail young leaders (l-r) Erin Lashley, Jordan Burns and Andrew Whittaker Photo: Canal & River Trust
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A five-year youth project by the Canal & River Trust to create England’s first coast-to-coast canoe trail has completed with public celebration events and the end of a canoe relay across the entire 162-mile route.

The Desmond Family Canoe Trail follows the 127-mile Leeds & Liverpool Canal and 35 miles along the Aire & Calder Navigation through Yorkshire. Its completion was marked by youth-led festivals in Burnley, Leeds Dock, Blackburn, Goole and Liverpool.

Amazing legacy

Danny Matley, canoe trail project manager with the Canal & River Trust, said the celebrations had attracted hundreds of people. “The amazing legacy from this brilliant project is a Coast to Coast Canoe Trail, every bit as challenging and engaging as Alfred Wainwright’s famous Coast to Coast Walking Trail.

"We are certain this new cross-country waterway trail is set to capture the imagination of every canoeist, kayaker and paddle boarder with a taste for adventure,” he said.

Relays set off from Goole on Wednesday 14 August and Liverpool’s Eldonian Village the following day, meeting up near the Canoe Trail’s mid-point in Burnley on Friday 23 August. To help paddlers, a number of access improvements have been made at Lverpool's Eldonian Village and Wigan, with further work planned for Castleford and Goole. New canoe signage will also help people find their way along the route.

Devised by the Canal & River Trust and funded by a £1.3 million grant from the Desmond Foundation, the trail has provided new training and volunteering opportunities for young people aged 16-25, on both sides of the Pennines.

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