Canals across the region search for volunteer lock keepers

A recent study says working by water improves your physical & mental health.

Lock keepers have been a fixture on Britain’s canals for hundreds of years and are one of the oldest traditions of the waterways.

On a sunny day in Bath it's clear to see why the role is so appealing, it's a picture of tranquility on the Kennet and Avon Canal. But it also has quite a steep gradient so that means it needs locks, to get the boats up and down the changing levels. The Canal and River Trust is looking for volunteer lock keepers right across its network.

  • Watch: "Lock Keepers Wanted"

Husband and wife Stuart and Kay Hobday started volunteering and are now fully trained lock keepers.

"We're here to help the boaters if they need any help, just to be the friendly face of the canals. To make sure people are kept safe as well. We keep an eye on them, help them to have a good time."

Kay Hobday, Lock Keeper

"It's just such a lovely way to be outdoors. You're representing a very worthwhile organisation and you meet so many different people from so many countries and they're here to enjoy the waterways, they're here to enjoy the boating, and the fresh air and peace that you actually get on the canal."

Stauart Hobday, Lock Keeper

Heaving these massive gates open may look difficult, but once you've mastered the technique it's apparently not as hard as it looks and many boaters, in fact, do it themselves.

The Canal and River Trust looks after 2,000 miles of waterways throughout the country and says it would like more people to volunteer as lock keepers to help out those boaters who aren't able, or confident enough, to tackle lock gates themselves.

The Canal & River Trust looks after 2,000 miles of waterways

"If you're a volunteer lock keeper, we can give you training and we ask that you come out at least one day per week. If you want to join our tow path task force you can come out as much as you like, it could be just two hours per month."

Max Ward, Canal & River Trust

And there's a bonus: a recent study has concluded that working by water improves your physical and mental health.

The Canal and River Trust say "as ‘the face of the waterway’, modern-day volunteer lock keepers play an integral part in the visitor experience. Their role is to provide a polite and friendly welcome to waterway visitors, assisting boaters through the locks and helping to maintain the area."

If you'd like to get involved you can find out here.