Adopt a mile – London

Planting wildflower meadows and finding an unexploded WWII grenade on the canal bed: we chat to Molly Gadenz of the Lower Regent’s Coalition about the unexpected stories along their adopted stretch

Canal & River Trust


Tell us a little bit about your group…
We’ve been running for three years now. Myself and Dave, who started the group, had been working on the Regent’s Canal with other organisations and we naturally progressed to adopting the stretch from Limehouse Basin to Mile End.

What inspired you to adopt a canal?
We both live nearby, so it made sense to want to look after somewhere in our community.

We started with litter picks and progressed from there. Moo Canoes, who are based in the Basin, support us so we can pick up rubbish on the water. Hopefully it’s a bit of fun for everyone taking part. We get up to 20 people attending each event – it’s a great mix of established faces and new people. We’re always on the lookout for more help.

What else have you been up to?
We’ve been successful in a number of funding pitches, up to £10k in one case, which has allowed us to build floating reed beds that provide habitat for birds, fish and invertebrates. We’ve also just created 300 square metres of wild meadows. All of the plants are native to Britain and are edible or medicinal, such as coltsfoot, marjoram and lady’s bedstraw.

When the Trust drained this stretch for repairs, we saw the chance to clean up rubbish from the canal bed. We collected about 8 to 10 tonnes in total and found an unexploded Second World War grenade!

Last year, the Canal & River Trust asked us if we want to test their new graffiti-removal equipment on some of the buildings that border our meadow site. Of course, we answered in the affirmative! We received training on how to use the equipment and held two volunteer days to tackle the tags. What a difference it makes when the walls are cleaned and the nice old brick is exposed. Our plan is to get permission to build a series of trellises on those walls and plant climbing vines along the back of our wildflower meadow. We think it will look smashing!

What do you love about London’s waterways?
Everyone knows the Thames in London, but discovering the canals is a great thing to do. The Regent’s Canal is a gem of a place to have in our neighbourhood, hidden off the main streets. It has so much potential, and that’s what drives us on.

How can others find out more?
Follow our Facebook page:

The Canal & River Trust is helping local groups around the country to adopt a stretch of waterway to benefit their community. To find out more and get involved visit