Whether you’re a boat owner or are using someone else’s boat, there are some important things you need to understand about mooring.

Wirams Turn Marina, Grand Union Canal
Wirams Turn Marina, Grand Union Canal

It's important, before venturing out on to canals and rivers, to understand the different types of mooring allowed. So, first, let's be clear on definitions.

Home mooring, permanent mooring, long term mooring

These terms all mean the same thing and refer to the place where the boat lives when it’s not being used for cruising. A boat must have a home mooring unless it’s used to navigate continuously. 

There will be an agreement in place between the boat owner and the landowner or moorings operator for which a fee is normally payable. ‘Land’ in this context means both the ‘wet’ (i.e. beneath the boat) and the ‘dry’ (alongside the boat) parts of the mooring. So, if you want to moor along the waterway itself, you’ll need our agreement as well as that of the adjacent landowner. Most agreements are for at least 12 months.

Within this category, you will see reference to particular types of long term mooring. 

Leisure mooring

A long-term mooring where the boat is used for leisure / recreational purposes. 

Residential mooring

A long-term mooring which has the local authority’s permission for it to be used as the occupant’s sole or primary residence. The residential mooring may or may not have facilities and services.

Trade mooring

Moorings assigned to specially licensed operators of commercial boats. They may be for short periods or long term, depending on the nature of the agreement. Their purpose is to provide a service to waterway visitors, adding life and value to the local waterway environment.

Short term mooring

This is any mooring which is not designated as a long term site. The default maximum period that you can stay in the same place along the towpath is 14 days. Look out for signs that give more information, such as shorter permitted stay times, particularly at popular places. 

Check out our Q&As about rules for mooring along the towpath

Types of short term mooring that you will come across are:

Short term mooring permits

Marina and moorings operators may offer short term agreements, usually by the month for people wanting the security of a mooring for just a few weeks at a time.  Winter mooring permits are popular with continuous cruisers who may prefer not to move so much during colder weather, or may be prevented from moving because of waterway repair works. 

Visitor mooring

A length of bank that has been designated for periods of less than 14 days. They tend to be at popular locations and time limits are designed to enable as many different boaters as possible to enjoy the use of the mooring during a cruise.  Please respect the time limits and any other rules displayed or communicated to you when boating. 

Service mooring

Locations adjacent to water, sewage and refuse disposal points. These are for use only while you are using the facilities and time limits are signed.  

You may also see temporary or permanent signs restricting use of a location for a specific purpose, such as a trip boat stop.  

Casual mooring

This means mooring up along the towpath during the course of a journey. It may be at a visitor mooring (subject to time limits displayed at the site) or anywhere else along the towpath where, if unsigned, the maximum stay time is 14 days. 

It’s usually best to moor against the towpath or on signed visitor moorings. Many riverbanks and the non-towpath side of canals are private property. If you want to find out who owns land adjacent to a canal or river you can search on the Land Registry’s website.

Get involved with our valuable work

As a charity we need your help to keep our cherished canals and rivers flowing for another 200 years. Find out how you can get involved, donate to us or volunteer.

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