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Water Ways

by Jasper Winn

Water Ways Synopsis

For a hundred and fifty years, between the plod of packhorse trains and the arrival of the railways, canals were the high-tech water machine driving the industrial revolution. Amazing feats of engineering, they carried the rural into the city and the urban into the countryside, and changed the lives of everyone. And then, just when their purpose was extinguished by modern transport, they were saved from extinction and repurposed as a 'slow highways' network, a peaceful and countrywide haven from our too-busy age. Today, there are more boats on the canals than in their Victorian heyday. Writer and slow adventurer Jasper Winn spent a year exploring Britain's waterways on foot and by bike, in a kayak and on narrowboats. Along a thousand miles of 'wet roads and water streets' he discovered a world of wildlife corridors, underground adventures, the hardware of heritage and history, new boating communities, endurance kayak races and remote towpaths. He shared journeys with some of the last working boat people and met the anglers, walkers, boaters, activists, volunteers and eccentrics who have made the waterways their home. In Britain most of us live within five miles of a canal, and reading this book we will see them in an entirely new light.

Water Ways Press Reviews

Jasper Winn is the perfect guide to what these 'wet roads and water streets' signified in the past, and to their importance today. And not just to wildlife but the humans he meets, too: looking for an escape, a refuge or, indeed, a place to feel at home. -- Ben East * Observer * Engaging and informative * The Countryman * Winn cycles, walks, boats and paddleboats his way around the 2,000-mile network of canals ... More than a charming travel book, this is a roving miscellanea of engrossing canal facts and lore. -- Olivia Edward * Geographical magazine * Water Ways doesn't just recount Winn's adventures with good humour but gives a meticulously researched overview of the history, engineering, characters, customs and wildlife of our water ways, as well as the challenges they are facing in the 21st century ... it adroits webs nearly everything, and how it does that is entirely wonderful. -- Sarah Henshaw * Waterways World *

Book Information

ISBN: 9781781257968
Publication date: 2nd April 2020
Author: Jasper Winn
Publisher: Profile Books Ltd
Format: Paperback / softback
Pagination: 384 pages
Categories: Narrowboats & canals,

About Jasper Winn

Jasper Winn grew up in West Cork, where he left school age ten and educated himself by reading, riding horses and playing music, an upbringing that shaped a lifetime of travel. He is the author of Paddle: A Long Way Around Ireland (Sort Of Books), the story of a solo trip by kayak, and is currently Writer in Residence for the Canal and River Trust. Find Jasper on Twitter @JasperWinn or at

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