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The aquatic life: four books about river and canal life in the United Kingdom

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Immerse yourself in real-life canal excursions in Britain.

Maidens’ Trip: A Grand Union Canal Adventure During WWII

In 1943, three 18-year-old “maidens,” including novelist Emma Smith, sign up for canal boating as part of the war effort, transporting steel to Birmingham and coal from Coventry, losing their bicycles and finding a cat – and themselves. Bloomsbury (£9.99)

Tales from the Tillerman: A Lifetime Addiction to Britain’s Waterways

Steve Haywood, a seasoned water rat, blends a history of Britain’s canals with 50 years of tales and colourful rants about his own water adventures and the changes in the sailing scene he has met along the way. (£12.99 from Adlard Coles)

Waterways Past and Present: A thousand miles of canals in the United Kingdom

Jasper Winn, a slow explorer, spent a peaceful year exploring Britain’s rivers on foot, bike, and boat. Weaving in history, technical achievements, and wildlife, he discovers a distinct feeling of community in our “wet highways and water streets.” £11.99. Bloomsbury

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

Julian Dutton, who was born and reared on a bohemian houseboat in Chelsea, has created a social history of the houseboat. It analyses how economic need gave way to tourists on pleasure cruisers and families like his own seeking an alternative lifestyle from ancient to modern-day Britain. (£14.99 from History Press)

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