Why spending time by water could be good for your health this Winter

River Ouse.
River Ouse.

Five top tips and ideas to help you enjoy Yorkshire rivers and canals.

Waterways and wellbeing charity Canal & River Trust is encouraging the people of Yorkshire to avoid hibernation and get out and about by their local canal this winter to help them stay well and reap a whole host of benefits.

The charity, which cares for waterways such as the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Pocklington Canal, Sheffield & Tinsley Canal, and Huddersfield Broad and Narrow Canals, says spending time by water makes people feel happier and healthier, and is particularly beneficial over the cold, dark days of winter.

It wants people to wrap up warm and get out on the towpath as often as they can over the festive season and into 2019, pointing out that there are all sorts of sights and sounds they can enjoy as well as physical and mental improvements to be gained.

Tom Wright, development and engagement manager at Canal & River Trust, said: “The winter weather and hustle and bustle of the festive season can really take it out of us mentally and physically, but fortunately there’s a simple solution right on the doorsteps of thousands of people across Yorkshire – their local canal.

“Simply getting out and spending time by the water is a great first step in improving your wellbeing, and if you add on all the associated benefits – such as getting a break from TV and mobile screens, connecting with nature, spending time with loved ones – a stroll along the towpath is the perfect Christmas present.”

Canal & River Trust’s top tips and ideas for winter wellbeing by the water:

1.Go for a walk every day. You don’t have to trek the whole of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal (127 miles, the longest canal built as a single waterway) as even a short 10-minute power walk can give you a boost. Search “local canal” to find your nearest waterway – it could be closer than you think.

2. Keep your eyes open. The charity has over 1,000 wildlife conservation sites and 63 Sites of Special Scientific Interest, including most of the 9-mile Pocklington Canal in North Yorkshire so you never know what you might spot whilst you’re on the towpath. Look out for Water voles, Otters, Kingfishers, and of course the festive Robin. Download your nature spotters guide from www.canalrivertrust.org.uk (search “waterway wildlife”).

3. Spread some festive joy. Say hello to people you pass and everyone will feel that little bit better. If making new friends is one of your new year resolutions then why not volunteer to help care for your local canal – visit www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/volunteer to find out more about volunteering opportunities across Yorkshire.

4. Get snap happy! Whatever you spot on your travels, get a pic and enter it into our winter photography competition: www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/photography-competition. There are many prizes up for grabs and all types of photos are eligible – from classic wintry scenes to candid wildlife shots.

5. Learn as you go. Our canals are an important piece of the country’s industrial heritage and hold many reminders of days gone by. You can learn about some of our historic structures – such as Bingley Five Rise or Standedge Tunnel – online before setting off and then share the stories and facts as you go along.