Coolcanals: Waterways Directory & Information Guide. Waterside Walks & Cycling, Boating & Holidays in the Waterways Outdoors


About Coolcanals

We're Phillippa Greenwood and Martine O'Callaghan, and we published our first Coolcanals book in 2009. We like to think Coolcanals is at the cutting edge of canal book publishing.
The 'cool' in canals cherishes the amazing living heritage of Britain's canals for today's leisure time, on the water and along the towpath. We know canals aren't only about great narrowboat holidays. There's walking, cycling, canoeing, days out, sightseeing, wildlife, heritage... a haven on our doorstep away from it all.
Phillippa A well-earned beer Bhaile, our boat Martine
We're incurable towpath tourists, ambling and rambling the canals from Cornwall to Scotland, and our passion for canals unashamedly fills our books with personal recommendations and inspiration we'd like to share.
The coolcanals boat
We travelled the waterways in our narrowboat home with eco-office on board - probably the smallest publishing house in the world!
But we didn't do it the easy way - we built the boat ourselves while writing the special edition of 'Cool canals Waterways Walks' as the fundraising incentive for the new Canal & River Trust, and our 2012 title 'Britain's canals, a national treasure in 100 must-see objects'. Scribbling and typing among the sawdust and wood shavings, we were creating our home and office all in one!
Coolcanals books
After the amazing success of our first book, 'Cool canals The Guide', we published two more titles, 'Cool canals Weekend Walks' and 'Cool canals Pub Days Out', in 2010. 'Britain's Great Waterways Outdoors', with contributions from British Waterways (now the Canal & River Trust), RSPB, Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust and Sustrans, followed on as our 'ultimate' guide to the canals in March 2011.
2012 was a really exciting year for us! We were given the honour of playing an important role in the new Canal & River Trust's national fundraising campaign - with a special edition of one of our earlier titles ('Cool canals Weekend Walks') being a prime incentive for the recruitment of supporters for the new charity. And 'Britain's canals, a national treasure in 100 must-see objects' was published in July 2012.
Our latest project is probably our favourite ever - producing fab new books for both adults and children! We're working on a series of new books and booklets for new 'Friends' of the Canal & River Trust (including new editions of 'Coolcanals Walks' and 'Coolcanals Kids', and a brand new illustrated storybook for under 6's) in time for the summer season of 2015.
A long stroll across Britain
Our mission is to keep walking all the canals of Britain, backpacking from the Highlands of Scotland to the sands of Cornwall, in every season and all weathers! Over 2,000 miles of canals meandering almost every contour of the land. We've trundled Britain's canals end to end, from the beach in Bude to the mountains of Wales, over the Pennines, across the Peak District, through the nation's cities, along the Great Glen Way and onto the secret canals hidden in the quietest creases of the land.
"This is real 'slow' walking and could take us some hurry would be to miss the point."
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What Coolcanals say about the waterways environment
We want to inspire visitors to discover and keep using their waterways to help Britain's canals stay alive. Without careful management, and constant costly maintenance our canals could be lost forever. At the same time, because we respect the special community and traditions that make canals unique, we appreciate the dangerously fine line between unhealthy neglect and irresponsible commercial development. So we share some of the best secrets we discover but never knowingly support any business or activity not in keeping with the traditional values and special culture of the canals.
What about their green ethics?
Because we care about the whole earth as well as the waterways, we 'think' green throughout every part of the process of making our books. From choosing eco award-winning printers, to using vegetable-based inks and recycled paper.
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FAQs - our long stroll
Why are we doing it?
Some people love France, others Nepal or Spain... we love the inland waterways.
How far have we walked so far?
We don't carry pedometers, or care about counting miles, but we could call ourselves canal baggers (more our cup of tea than Munro bagging!) and count ticks. We've already walked by canal from Cornwall to Scotland and plan to continue exploring the intricacies of the networks until travelling the waterways stops being fun.
How long will it take to bag them all?
Deadlines? No, everything in the canal world submits to slow culture!
What have been the highs and lows so far?
Lows are few and soon forgotten, and the highs make great entries in our guidebooks. There have been the grand highs such as Pontcysyllte, Ty Newydd, Neptune's Staircase, and then the humbling highs (that mean every bit as much to us) like that cuppa at Fradley, the family of swans we met in Stone, the gurning boater with elaborate stories at Stourport.
OK rural towpaths are idyllic, but is it safe to walk inner city towpaths?
If there's going to be a murder in a TV soap opera script, it's sure to happen with artificial Ripperesque smog down by the canal. In reality, despite the habitual drowning of supermarket trolleys, most city towpaths are havens of peace where young and old become uncharacteristically pleasant and neighbourly.
If you choose to travel any notorious hooligan zones, set off early - our experience says urban crime is too lazy to get up before 3.00pm and won't walk too far from the row of houses called home (we carry an innocent umbrella which could, if pelted with accuracy, probably crouch an attacker!)
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