A List Of Do’s and Don’ts When Mooring On The Towpath
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Mon Mar 7, 2016 at 10:18am

How to get the most out of your stay on the towpath

If you are a boat owner or someone who is either hiring or borrowing a narrow boat, you will at some point need to moor along the towpath if you go out cruising. This stay may be for a short period of time or for a longer period of time, but it’s worth knowing the things you should and shouldn’t do when tied up along the canal side.

A lot of what we have included in our list is common sense, but keeping these recommendations fresh in your mind for the next time your stop on the towpath will ensure that you and other users behave in a responsible manner and everyone gets to enjoy our beautiful canals.


Because boats don’t have brakes, you need to give yourself plenty of time to stop. So don’t rush at the bank when you come to moor up. Here you can find more advice on “how to moor and tie up your narrowboat”.

Noise - Don't spoil the tranquility of the countryside by booming out your music or by continuously shouting. Respect that others may not want to listen to you and your crew.

Don’t be a litter bug.There are plenty of bins at marinas, moorings and along the waterway so please ensure that you deposit your rubbish responsibly. Under no circumstances is it appropriate to throw rubbish into the canal.

Rope tying: Put something light coloured, a carrier bag is ideal, on top of the pins so that walkers and cyclists can see them clearly. You need to tie the boat to the bank with a rope from both the front and the back.

Instruct your crew to step ashore – not jump!

Don’t mistreat your ropes; make sure you know how to use them properly and keep them coiled, free of knots – and don’t drop them into the water.

Don’t swim in waterways, it can be dangerous and not worth the risk.

Don’t moor near;

  • The approach of a lock or in lock flights
  • Near swing or lift bridges
  • Weirs
  • Sharp bends
  • Blind spots
  • At turning points
  • Close to Marina entrances or at junctions
  • If any signage prohibits you
  • Don't Moor in a way that it makes it awkward or difficult for other canal users to manoeuvre or pass you
  • On private property
  • At water points – unless filling up your water tanks

Use the designated mooring rings or bollards then you can just use your ropes to secure the boat.

Be considerate to other users on the towpath, you may be making this space your home for a short period of time (up to 14 days no longer), but remember walkers, fishermen and cyclists will also want to use the towpath as well. With this in mind make sure you don’t take up the path with your belongings restricting access to others.

Please keep the space free for other boaters needing to use the facilities on the towpath. Mooring up at water points, refuse and sewage disposal points is strictly limited to the time it takes to use the facility.

Do make friends and get to know people in the area.

Do support the local canal side businesses and local shops.

Do clear up after your dog.

When staying on the towpath remember to shut gates behind you, keep to footpaths, don’t light fires and respect the wildlife.

Do display your licence. Please respect the time limits! - A short period means up to 14 days, or less if there's a sign along the bank indicating something different.

Adhere to any mooring notices.

Try to stay 50 feet away from angling spots.

Leave room for other boats to tie up.

Keep an eye out for trouble-makers. In some urban areas boaters can be a target for vandals, trouble makers and thieves, so be aware. If the area doesn’t seem safe or feel right then move on there are plenty of places to moor.

Remember that you can use your anchor for added security or extra help in a strong stream or tide – but you should still use mooring ropes as well.

And finally - Do enjoy your stay and recommend beauty spots to other boaters.

Top Tip

Newbies should invest in some canal guides before setting off to familiarise themselves with the area they intend to cruise. This will give them the heads up to the new territory they are going to explore, and it will give the crew an insight into the trip and make the journey more pleasant for all aboard.

Feel free to pass on our helpful list to your friends and family…

Our blog is for information purposes only and Whilton Marina cannot accept any liability.