Corinavirus impact on UK Canals, boaters & towpaths

Essential boat travel only, moor 14 days plus, some closed C. R. T. locks, bridges, tunnels, towpath restrictions, no fishing.

Most of this information is taken from Canal and River Trust sources including website pages, Facebook pages and News Releases from 24/3/20 to 27/3/20. CRT are keeping the situation under active review and updated in line with changing circumstances and guidance. We recommend you visit the CRT website to check current details.

  1. Quick Summary
  2. Canals, towpaths, reservoirs, docks and river navigations remain open
  3. Hire firms and attractions closed, marina access may be limited
  4. Boaters – essential boat travel only
  5. Liveaboards – 2 week mooring limit suspended
  6. Locks, bridges, tunnels – where CRT manned closed from March 31st
  7. Towpaths – limited use by local walkers respecting liveaboard boaters
  8. Anglers- no fishing

Leisure Boaters
Following the announcement from the Prime Minister (8.30 pm, 23 March 2020) regarding the UK’s response to the coronavirus crisis, all leisure boaters are asked to stop all non-essential travel and not to visit their boats if they do not live aboard permanently.

Live-aboard Boaters
To help those who live-aboard (along with those who would need to travel to their boat in order to move it) the requirement to move every 14 days has been suspended. The suspension will be kept under review in line with revised Government guidance, applying initially until 14 April 2020. During this period, you do not need to contact CRT to tell them you will be staying in one location for more than 14 days.

If people do approach your boat, there should be no risk to you provided you stay on your boat while they pass; please do not put yourself or others at risk by being confrontational. CRT have put up posters across the network asking people to avoid moored boats, and have made the poster available online, so boaters can print it off and display it in their windows.

Anyone who lives permanently on their boat and falls into one of the extremely vulnerable categories is asked to get in touch with CRT (see bottom of page) and let them know so they can work with others to ensure their support. Please also get in touch if you need help and you’re a key worker in one of the categories listed who lives permanently on your boat.

  1. What is essential boat travel?
    If you are a live-aboard boater or currently occupying your boat essential movement could be:
  2. to access water or waste facilities
  3. to access essential food and supplies
  4. to access urgent medical treatment
  5. for emergency mechanical service for your boat
  6. for emergency vet treatment for your pet

Everyone is asked to be considerate and make sure at least a minimal amount of essential movement is maintained to keep vital boater facilities and services accessible to those that need them. CRT will continue to maintain boater facilities. Pump out cards are available from their online shop.

CRT Employee operated facilities
All CRT employee-operated locks, bridges and tunnels will be closed from Monday 30 March, unless there is an emergency or boaters require passage for essential services such as water, pump out or waste.

CRT employees whose roles are critical to the safe management of the waterways, for example those managing water levels, those carrying out statutory inspections of canal structures, ensuring essential facilities for boaters are available etc will continue their day to day work.

Boat Hire, Canal Trips and other Visitor Attractions
All attractions including hire boats, day boats, canal trips, museums etc are currently not operating. However hire firms and trip boats etc may be willing to reserve future bookings. Hotelboats have put back start dates and may have to alter schedules.

Boat Safety Scheme examinations
The joint owners of the Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) are allowing a temporary extension to safety certificates for those craft requiring an examination before 14 April 2020.

Towpath Usage
Whilst the towpaths remain open, use of them should now be limited. If canals and rivers are local to you, and you use the towpath for your daily exercise or journey to undertake essential work, please now avoid any stretches with boats moored against the towpath, and strictly observe social distancing at all times, following the latest advice from Government.

CRT consider is neither practical nor desirable to close stretches of towpath which have to stay open for those living along the waterways, and for CRT teams to access for their regular inspections and in case of emergency. If people continue to observe government guidance and follow advice to limit their use and strictly observe social distancing we can combat this pandemic with everyone treating each other with respect.

“Our 2,000-mile network of canals, towpaths, reservoirs, docks and river navigations remain open, but we strongly encourage people to stay local and strictly observe social distancing measures. As our waterways run through towns and cities across the country, they bring the countryside into urban areas, providing many of us with the opportunity to get outdoors and connect with nature without travelling far from home. So until advice changes, you may continue to use your local towpath to exercise and get some fresh air, but please observe the latest Government guidance on social distancing do not congregate, keep moving, allow space for others to pass, and be very mindful of moored boats where people will often be self-isolating.”

The Canal & River Trust with the full support of the Angling Trust are asking that all anglers to follow the current guidance and temporarily stop fishing on our canals, reservoirs and other stillwaters.

More Information
You can contact CRT for any other help or advice:
via their online webform or by calling 03030 40 40 40:
CRT Website :
CRT Facebook pages

All materials and images © Canal Junction Ltd. Dalton House, 35 Chester St, Wrexham LL13 8AH. No unauthorised reproduction.

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