As readers of this website know only too well, Arthritis in all of its forms doesn’t discriminate against its sufferers. Whether they be children, adults, the elderly, male or female, anyone can become a victim at any age, but it’s important not to let Arthritis make you a prisoner in your own home.
Here Wade and I have put together a list of 10 Great reasons for Arthritis sufferers to visit Britains waterways
1, Canals are some of the most accessible waterways in the UK
We all love to get out of the house on a beautiful sunny day and explore new places but for some people with Arthritis and limited mobility, this can be a real problem. Lots of places are either inaccessible or just too difficult to get to but Britain’s Canal networks are some of the most accessible waterways in the UK.
Britain’s Canal network is easily accessible for people who have limited mobility because it happens to be left over from the industrial revolution.
These waterways were primarily used to transport goods from one place to another so they have excellent access to the country’s road network, as such, you can drive right up to most Canals and they have lot’s of places to park. There’s also plenty of pubs along the route if you want to stop for refreshments.
2, UK Waterways have great facilities.
Not only are British waterways accessible they also have great facilities. Whether you visit the local Canal, or one of the many beautiful Reservoirs dotted around the country you are likely to find ample parking, plentiful refreshments and even disabled facilities on site.
There’s a host of water sports and other activities to try your hand at if you are feeling adventurous but if water sports aren’t your thing there’s also great walking, cycling and birdwatching to be had.
3, Flat ground and well maintained paths
As any sufferer of Arthritis will know, there’s nothing worse than going for a nice walk only to find that the paths you intend to tread are a broken, undulating mess.
This generally isn’t the case on the more popular British waterways.
Large reservoirs and the canal networks are beautifully maintained and have some of the flattest and easiest to navigate walking paths anywhere in the land. Wade and I have even seen Canal towpaths that have beautifully laid Tarmac walkways that are ideal for those with arthritic knees, hips and ankles.
Sometimes when a long walk is on the cards, it’s easy to think you might get lost or it might be too far for you to manage, this isn’t usually a problem with Canal and Reservoir walks as there is usually only 1 route to take or the route is usually circular. You aren’t going to get lost in these places, and there’s usually lot’s of opportunity to rest and plenty of information to let you know exactly where you are on the trail.
4, Walking in nature is fantastic for mental health
Ever get that ‘cabin fever’ feeling? If you have arthritis I bet you have. The mind and body instinctively know that they need to get up out of the chair and explore, not only for exercise but for the mental stimulation it provides.
What better way could there be than spending time beside the water, smelling the wild flowers and watching the beautiful wildlife. Walking the waterways is a fantastic tonic for physical and mental health.
5, Waterways can help you re-find your purpose
Being at home all day, unable to work is a familiar theme for most Arthritis sufferers. In times like this it’s important to keep the mind and body active, a great way of achieving this is to take up a new hobby.
Fortunately, for us, British waterways are teeming with wildlife from water-dwelling mammals like Otters, Wildfowl (more about them later) Bats, Majestic birds of prey and every other furry friend you could wish to meet along the way.
Not only are these creatures fabulous to see in their own right but they also provide arthritis sufferers great opportunities to interact through pastimes like Photography, Bird watching, Fishing and Boating.
Aside from the many fun hobbies to be enjoyed on the waterways there are also many opportunities for Volunteers to help in Nature conservation projects, these are a good way of easing the body back into a work routine if you don’t want to dive straight back into the world of full-time employment.
6, Recycle your old fruits and Vegetables
Remember those Wildfowl I spoke of earlier? They would be very happy to eat the leftover fruit and veg pieces from your smoothies and juices. Yes, that’s right! Ducks don’t only eat bread, in fact it’s very bad for them and can contribute to all manner of health problems from Wing Deformity to Botulism.
Why not take a large plastic tub full of left over pieces of Fruit and Veg for your new found furry and feather friends to enjoy, all you need to do is cut the produce into small enough pieces to fit into the beak of a duck and you can have one of the most rewarding experiences known to man, feeding the Swans, Ducks and Geese.
Here you can see a fantastic list of all the Fruits and Vegetables that you can feed to Ducks, note that Citrus Fruits and Onion aren’t very good for Ducks so probably best to leave those out.
7, Meet new people.
Britain’s canals are some of the most interesting and friendly places you could imagine.
All kinds of people and activity groups visit the Canals for many different reasons, from walkers and cyclists to dog walkers and boat people. One thing I always notice about using the Canal is that you are always met with a cheery hello or have something in common to chat about with the many other canal users.
8, A Cycling Paradise
One of the best forms of exercise for sufferers of Arthritis is cycling and although it can be difficult to begin with, one place that you should have very little trouble cycling along is the Canal towpath.
Canal Towpaths were designed for horses to pull barges along so they are mostly flat, you will occasionally encounter a very small hill at lock gates where the level of the canal changes but these are very easy to negotiate.
As we said previously the paths are immaculately kept and the hedges well trimmed so you always have wide sweeping views of the path ahead, just don’t fall in the water or the Ducks might give you a good peck.
9, Hire a Canal Boat
Another popular and gentle pastime that could be enjoyed by active Arthritis sufferers is Canal boat hire. Canal boats can be hired at all times of the year and for any duration, you can even buy a boat and live on it full time if you’re really bitten by the Canal boat bug.
We found this great site with a large range of options for people wanting to try out a Canal boating holiday.
10, Great places for Children to explore and learn
Having to provide entertainment for children when you’re not feeling up to your arthritic best can be particularly challenging, but a visit to the local canal might be a great way of occupying the children while at the same time teaching them a little about the countries industrial heritage.
The Canal is a safe and welcoming place for children of all ages and while you may be afraid of letting the children play near open water, the truth is, Canals are rarely more than about 3 feet deep outside of the Lock gates.
The canal and river trust have lots of activities going on throughout the year and provide educational visits to local schools, they even have a clever mobile app to let you know what’s going on near you!
Why not enjoy a great family day out, exercise your Arthritic bones and help the local Wildlife all at the same time.
I can’t think of any better or more rewarding way to spend a few hours.