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Getting started: Where is my nearest freshwater?

You are at the beginning of your data-collection journey, about to discover the state of the UK’s waterways. We are so pleased to have you on board!

Without identifying your nearest freshwater sites, you won’t be able to get started. So please take a few minutes to familiarise yourself with Google Maps with this handy guide.

Google Maps

You can use Google Maps on your computer or on your smartphone. Both are effective for finding nearby waterways.

Desktop or laptop

  1. Type ‘Google Maps’ into Google and open the link.
  2. Type in your city, town or village to the search bar of Google Maps (if you have your location settings turned on, your computer might automatically zoom in on your hometown). This gives you a broad overview of your local area, allowing you to spot nearby rivers, lakes, Loches and ponds.
  1. Once you have found a waterway of interest, use the zoom button in the button right hand corner of your screen to move closer.
  1. Use the search bar to identify a nearby carpark. Alternatively, if you see one marked on the map, you can simply click on it. The red maker shows that you have clicked on a location. On the left-hand tab, you can see the word ‘Directions’ highlighted in blue. Click on that button.
  1. After clicking on ‘Directions’, you can type your home address into the top search bar. Click on your preferred mode of transport from the options above and Google will calculate your journey time and plan your route to get to your waterway of choice.
  1. If you prefer a different style of map, you can click on the ‘Layers’ button on the left-hand corner of the screen. This gives you the option of viewing an area in satellite mode, terrain mode or specifically for cycling.


If you don’t have it already, you can download Google Maps from your relevant app store. It has all the same features as on desktop. The only difference is that it will almost certainly recognise your location if you have these settings enabled on your phone.

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