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About Know Your River

Rivers are not only an important resource for agriculture and other economic activities, but they are also important for a range of recreational activities. These include walking, cycling, fishing (or angling), boating and wild swimming. We would like to find out from you if and how you use rivers and streams in your leisure time though our survey. We would also like to find out how clean you think the rivers that you use are- are they being contaminated by waste water and agricultural run-off? We would also like for you to send samples of river water to us so we can analyse it for pharmaceuticals such as antibiotics and for the presence of bacteria indicative of faecal contamination, such as coliforms including Escherichia coli, and for antibiotic resistant bacteria.

How England's rivers and streams are used for recreation

On foot

Walking, or running, along rivers is an activity enjoyed up and down the country, whether that be alongside a babbling mountain brook or next to a wide and meandering river as it nears the sea, whether in the countryside or an urban environment. An extensive network of public footpaths enables access to many of England's rivers, providing opportunities for not only exercise but also enjoyment of the natural environment.

Looking at ducks in the river from a public footpath
Looking at ducks in the river from a public footpath
canoeing on a river


Rivers are also used for boating, whether that be for holidaying on a narrow boat, paddling a canoe, kayak or row boat, competing in a rowing event, sailing or paddle boarding.

A rowing race
walking along the Thames in London
Rowing at sunrise on a river in Oxfordshire

Other activities

There are numerous other leisure activities that England's rivers and streams are used for such as angling and wild swimming. Cyclists enjoy the cycle paths and horse riders the bridlepaths near England's waterways.

A motor boat on a river next to an arched bridge reflected in the river below
Two blue sailing dinghies on a river on a cloudy day