Come canal boating

The canal boat trips are for young people who are full-time wheelchair users, need more 1-2-1 support, or are anxious about their mobility.

This trip is for 8-17 and 18-24 year-olds.

Am I eligible for a trip? Register for a trip

Confidence on the canals

The five-day canal trips provide all the same benefits of being on a boat with others of a similar age, that have been through similar things, but in a smaller group with more one-to-one support.

These trips take place on specially-adapted canal boats in Essex in partnership with CanalAbility, an award-winning charity dedicated to making boating on the river more accessible.

"I feel like I can take the tumour and live with it and rule it." - Mary

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The magic of Trust trips

It’s hard to explain how only four days on a boat can be so transformational. You have to live it to understand it. The result is very special.

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Ankit's Story

"We’ve come to ease our minds, to relax, to take away all the tension that we’ve got in life."

Canal trips have a slower pace than those on a yacht — perfect for Ankit to take control of his recovery at a speed which worked for him.

Find out more about Ankit's Story

Find out more about the trips Support the Trust

The difference canal trips make

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The other big canal trip questions...

Is there medical support?

There will be a qualified medic to help cover all necessary medical needs of the young people on the trip. Your medical information comes from the medical and consent form you fill in prior to the trip, so make sure you include all relevant, up to date medical and non-medical information you feel we should know about.

Do I need to have had my COVID vaccination?

Vaccination forms part of our risk assessment to minimise the COVID risks as much as possible, both to the young people and their families and the Trust team (skippers, volunteers, full-time staff) who will be involved in the trips.

The Trust was able to run a successful summer of trips in 2021 due to the COVID-safety measures we put in place, and we were delighted there weren't any COVID cases linked to a trip among young people, volunteers, skippers, or our staff.

But whereas we ran at reduced capacity in 2021, with 315 young people coming on a trip, in 2022 we hope to return to pre-pandemic numbers of 600+ young people safely joining the Trust. This is the right thing to do to support more young people after cancer treatment, but it increases the risk of possible COVID transmission among a wider group of people.

We will continue to review our vaccination position in line with Government advice and with our medical advisers. We need to find the appropriate balance between young people being able to get the support they need while keeping everyone as safe as possible.

For our latest position on vaccinations for young people of your age (at the time of your trip), please click here – Vaccinations Update

How many other young people will be on the trip?

There will be four young people on each canal trip.

I still get really tired or lack energy. Will this stop me coming?

No way! All our staff and volunteers understand the after-effects of cancer, including fatigue, can last a long time. They can make sure you get as many rest breaks as you need. You will be encouraged to join in all the activities, but won’t be forced to do anything you won’t be able to manage. We always also try to put young people into groups with similar abilities, so no one feels left out. You will surprise yourself.

I can’t swim. Does it matter?

Nope! During the trips you don’t actually go in the river, so you don’t need to be able to swim. Lifejackets will be provided for when you are on deck or the towpath.

What do I need to bring?

Not as much as you think! Closer to the time of your trip we will send you a Trip Handbook containing all the information you need, including a full kit list. You won’t need any specialist clothing, waterproofs or a lifejacket – we provide all that - just normal clothes, including some warm layers, shoes you don’t mind getting wet and a pillow. You will basically live in joggers/leggings, a hoodie and your Trust trip t-shirt!

What’s the food like?

The canal boats have a fully equipped kitchen so you will eat a good mix of hearty, home-cooked meals and lots of baking! We try to cater for everyone’s needs and diets and aim to promote a healthy diet. If you do have any special dietary requirements these go on your Medical Form.

Where do I sleep?

Everybody sleeps on the canal boat. The boat you will be on has four main sleeping compartments, with one bunk specially adapted for those with mobility difficulties or who use a wheelchair.

Should I bring my phone and spending money?

Any phones or valuable electronic equipment are bought along entirely at your own risk and we cannot be responsible for any loss or damage. We recommend these are left at home, but do understand you may want to bring them along for the journey. Network coverage and charging facilities can vary greatly during the trip. Our staff and volunteers will have phones you can use to phone home if necessary and Trust contact will be provided to family and friends should they need to get in touch while you’re away. Because everything is provided, you only need enough money for any extra snacks or souvenirs you want to buy. We suggest no more than £20.

Staying involved 

Many young people need continued support over time. Our return trips mean they can build a relationship with the Trust that goes beyond a one-off experience.

Once a young person has been on a first time trip, they are invited back the following year. Canal boat trips also have people who are returning as well as first-timers.

Wherever a young person lives and whatever stage of recovery they are at, they can always turn to the Trust. Our return trips are where we make a lasting difference.

See our other return trips Return to all trips

Canal boats not right for you? Maybe come sailing!

Four-day sailing trips for 8-17 and 18-24 year-olds take place from Cowes on the Isle of Wight and Largs in Scotland. But sailing is only part of it…

Find out more