YOUNGSTERS are being invited to help create the country’s first ever coast-to-coast canoe trail.
The trail will stretch 162 miles along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal connecting Liverpool to Goole in the east.
The £1.3million trail will travel through Wigan, Blackburn, Burnley, Leeds and Skipton taking the average paddler between seven and 10 days to compete.
The five-year project was launched in 2015 with the third phase covering Burnley to Skipton taking place this year.
Volunteers have already been working on the trail in Blackburn.
The project is being funded by The Desmond Foundation and also has the support of British Canoeing and Canoe England.
The Canal and River Trust is looking for youngsters aged 16 to 25 to help design the trail and organise activities for the community.
The ‘action squads’ will also be improving the environment along the trail, planting new community gardens and habitats.
Greg Brookes, Desmond Family Canoe Trust programme manager, said the Burnley to Skipton phase is the main focus this year.
He said: “We launched work on the Blackburn phase last year but are hoping to re-establish our hub. We are hoping to have activities over the Easter holidays.
“People will be able to come and have a chat about the project and find out what they can do to help.
“We are looking for 16 to 25 year olds to take on as leaders and members for social action across the trail.
“People can already obtain a canoe licence for the canal but we are looking to develop the trail. We will be putting on canoe taster trails and improving the infrastructure including access points for canoe portages.”
He said the volunteers will hold community consultations, plan events and activities throughout the year including ground clearance, and improvements to the gates and towpath surface in a bid to engage the local community and bring them down on to the canal.
“The target is to help young people work with the community and the end is the legacy with the established canoe trail which will be used by paddlers, youth groups and organisations from up and down the country.
“Any kind of volunteering shows potential employers that young people are committed to positive action, to being involved and engaged and that they have got some drive.”
To get involved visit www.canalrivertrust.org.uk.