The Wey & Arun Canal was promoted by the 3rd Earl of Egremont (owner of Petworth House) and completed in 1816.  It linked the Thames to the English Channel by joining the River Wey Navigation at Shalford to the River Arun Navigation at Newbridge near Pulborough.  With the development of the railways the canal became uneconomic and was formally abandoned in 1871.  The land was sold to private individuals.

In 1973, the Wey & Arun Trust was formed with the aim of restoring the canal which runs through 23 miles of the most beautiful Surrey and Sussex countryside.  Since then, we have purchased and leased 8 miles of the canal.  Some 10 miles of towpath are accessible and the general route of the whole canal can be followed by walkers using the Wey South path.

There are a number of sections of the canal useable by small craft such as kayaks and paddle boards.  We have restored 3 miles of the canal at Loxwood where it has an Information Centre and operates 3 Trip Boats.  These carry about 10,000 passengers each year on cream tea cruises, private hirings and themed events.  

Over the past 50 years, we have restored 11 locks, 24 bridges and 2 aqueducts. During the next 5 years, we are  planning to purchase or lease additional canal land, open further stretches of towpath and extend the lengths of canal which can be used by small craft. 

Clearly the restoration of the canal is a long-term project.  However, it is opening a green corridor through stunning Surrey and Sussex countryside to wildlife, walkers, small craft and eventually even Narrow Boats.  This is reflected in our aims which go beyond simply restoring the canal.

  • Restoring the inland waterway from the River Wey at Shalford to the River Arun at Pallingham, following the original route wherever possible and working with landowners and other stakeholders to that end 

  • Conserving and enhancing the natural environment along the route to create a “green corridor” for wildlife and for the peaceful enjoyment of the countryside

  • Enhancing public access to this corridor, including restoring the towpath and creating new footpath and bridleway links, and promoting the route for leisure, health and well-being

  • Encouraging use of the waterway for recreation and leisure for all (regardless of age or ability), including for canoeing, kayaking and paddle-boarding

  • Working with community groups, educational organisations and individuals to use this corridor as an educational resource and as an opportunity for volunteering activities

  • Researching and conserving heritage features along the route and publicising information on the history and ecology of the waterway  

We are run by volunteers and funded by our membership of almost 3000.  Much of the work is carried out by a band of some 300 volunteers who give ~ 21,000 hours of their time to the project each year.  We engage the services of specialist contractors when required and have a full time staff who supervise an apprentice scheme.   

If you would like to support the Trust by becoming a member or be an active participant in the restoration work, please join on line or discover which volunteer group is best for you.

Membership Application Form | The Wey & Arun Canal Trust (

VOLUNTEER | The Wey & Arun Canal Trust (