Canal & River Trust
The Canal & River Trust is a charitable organization that owns and manages 2,000 miles of waterways in England and Wales (where it’s called Glandwr Cymru). The trust is the successor to British Waterways, the quasi-governmental organization that previously owned and managed the waterways (you’ll still see a lot of BW signs along the canals). The trust received the assets of British Waterways (and presumably debts), with the intent that as a charitable organization, it could better manage government grants, donations and help from volunteers. Most but not all of the still navigable canals in England and Wales are administered by the CRT.
The CRT website is an invaluable aid to boaters, from The Boater’s Handbook to the stoppages page to the guides for individual canals. The latter is very useful because it will be compiled as an up-to-date lock-by-lock, bridge-by-bridge guide. Remember to generate a guide immediately before your trip. You can also view the CRT YouTube channel and their facebook page.
Inland Waterways Association
The Inland Waterways Association is a UK-wide charity that works with (and sometimes argues against) the Canal & River Trust.
At the start of World War II, Lionel Thomas Caswall (LTC or Tom) Rolt and his wife Angela had decided to live on board a narrowboat they had turned into a home. His account of their life aboard the Cressy, Narrow Boat, became an unlikely best seller. Their four-month voyage on the Oxford, Grand Union and Trent & Mersey canals inspired another author, Robert Aickman, to contact Rolt and together the men became the nucleus of the Inland Waterways Association, which in 1946 became a charitable trust that would promote, conserve and restore the canals.
One of the great benefits of joining the IWA is to receive the Waterways magazine.
Inland Waterways Association of Ireland
The Inland Waterways Association of Ireland is a volunteer organization that will also prove invaluable, with online charts of the waterways, navigation notices and numerous books, guides and maps to buy. By joining the organization, you’ll also receive their quarterly publication Inland Waterways News.
Waterways Ireland is the “implementation body” responsible for the canals in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, as created in the 1999 Belfast Agreement. You can download the Guide to Ireland’s Inland Waterways Navigation and recreation information.
The five canals in Scotland (only four of which are still navigable) were also part of British Waterways, but when the Canal & River Trust was created, the Scottish government decided to retain ownership of those canals and created Scottish Canals. You can also download skipper’s guides and find about stoppages or other notices at the website. You can also visit the Scottish Canals’ YouTube channel.