The English canals are a major part of the inland waterways within the United Kingdom. They became important during the Industrial Revolution when improving technology allowed them to be improved. The early canals contoured around hills and valleys whilst later ones went much straighter. Flights of locks took canals over hills, and across valleys on taller and longer aqueducts and through hills in longer and deeper tunnels. Despite a period of abandonment, the English Canals have in recent years seen increasing use, with abandoned and derelict canals being reopened, and some new routes constructed. Most of the canals are maintained by the Canal & River Trust but several of them are still privately owned. The canals can accommodate boats with a length of up to 75 feet and were originally built to carry goods until the railways offered speedier travel. A number of canals are far larger than this and allow use for boats up to 230 feet. One purpose-built ship canal in the United Kingdom is the 36 mile long Manchester Ship Canal, which is larger than any other canal. On opening in 1894 it was the largest ship canal in the world and permitted ships up to 600 feet to navigate its route. There are now about 2,200 miles of navigable canals and rivers throughout the United Kingdom. This network is navigable in its entirety by narrowboats 7-foot wide and 57 foot long. Any boats longer than this will not fit in some of the locks.
Brian Fletcher and Isabel Fletcher have travelled extensively on the English Canals and Rivers in their own narrowboats, and the many journeys and places visited are described on this website. The narrowboat used for most of those journeys was Snow Mountain shown below.