The life aquatic: four books about life on Britain’s rivers and canals

·1 min read
<span>Photograph: Jack Cox/Alamy</span>
Photograph: Jack Cox/Alamy

Maidens’ Trip: A Wartime Adventure on the Grand Union Canal

When three 18-year-old “maidens”, including author Emma Smith, sign up for canal boating as part of the war effort in 1943, they transport steel to Birmingham, coal from Coventry, lose their bicycles and find a cat – and themselves. (Bloomsbury, £10.99)

Tales from the Tillerman: A Lifelong Love Affair with Britain’s Waterways

Seasoned water rat Steve Haywood combines a history of Britain’s canals with 50 years of anecdotes and lively rants about his own water escapades and the changes in the cruising landscape he has encountered on the way. (Adlard Coles, £12.99)

Waterways Past & Present: A thousand miles along Britain’s canals

Slow adventurer Jasper Winn spent a tranquil year exploring Britain’s waterways on foot and by bike and boats. Weaving in history, feats of engineering and wildlife, he finds a unique sense of community in our “wet roads and water streets”. (Bloomsbury, £11.99)

Water Gypsies: A History of Life on Britain’s Rivers and Canals

Born and raised on a boho houseboat in Chelsea, Julian Dutton has written a social history of houseboat. Ranging from ancient to modern-day Britain, it examines how economic necessity gave way to tourists on pleasure cruisers and families such as his own seeking an alternative lifestyle. (History Press, £14.99)

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