Boaters' Update 28 May 2020

From 1 June you will be able to undertake longer journeys (different rules apply in Wales). This update sets out what you need to know as you start to cruise further distances.

A narrowboat cruises along the Caldon canal Boating along the Caldon

Things to know before commencing a longer journey on your boat after 1 June (different rules apply in Wales):

  • All Government guidelines, including those in Wales, should be followed – this includes; regular handwashing, especially before and after using any facility or structure, social distancing and only members of your household being on your boat.
  • Unless your boat is your primary residence (i.e. you permanently live on it) overnight stays on your boat are not currently permitted.
  • Mooring exemptions ended on 23 May. This means that visitor moorings have reverted to locally signed stay times, unsigned stretches are 14-day-stay and our guidance for continuous cruisers comes back into force. This effectively means that if your boat is moored on a 14-day mooring and hasn’t moved since lockdown began then you need to move your boat by 6 June.
  • Please bear in mind that it will take time to get the entire network fully operational. As you will expect, booking for some passages and services will be required. Some sections and structures may be closed for a further period. This page details which waterway structures fall into those categories.
  • Much of the network’s infrastructure has not been used for a good couple of months – we have done all our safety checks but with more active use we expect there will be some niggles and issues as boats begin to cruise further afield. If you come across any, please do let us know.
  • You may prefer, as much as possible, to use the facilities you have on your boat rather than ours, which we continue to maintain, or those of a third party.
  • If you aren’t receiving Boaters’ Update direct to your inbox sign up here.
  • Sign up for stoppage notices to get the latest information about work that might affect your boating. This can be done via your MyTrust account.


Boating in the North West

Due to the recent exceptionally dry weather in the North West, where we’ve had just 30% of average rainfall in April, and just 14% of average rainfall to May 19th, some canals, or parts of them, will remain closed after 1 June:

  • Peak Forest and Macclesfield canals, operating without Toddbrook Reservoir, at Marple and Bosley respectively. We have installed a temporary pumping station on the Peak Forest Canal and we are reviewing the available options to allow severely restricted navigation.
  • Leeds & Liverpool Canal, we are working closely with our water management and operations teams to review options for arranging a small window of opportunity for customers to move their boats. Locks at the following locations will remain closed:
    • Wigan Flight (Locks 65 to 85)
    • Johnsons Hillocks (58 to 64)
    • Blackburn Locks (52 to 55) – please note that Locks 56 and 57 at the bottom of the flight will remain open to allow access and winding for the services.
    • Barrowford Locks (45 to 51)
    • Greenberfield Locks (42 to 44)
    • Bank Newton Locks (36 to 41)
    • Gargrave (Holme Bridge Lock 30)
    • Bingley Five Rise Locks (25 to 29)

We will provide a further update on Friday, 29 May on our water management webpage where you’ll find more information, in our updated FAQs.


Using waterside services (showers, pump outs, bins etc.)

Signage is being placed at essential boaters’ services.

At customer service facilities you are reminded:

  • One person or household at a time – check services are free before entering
  • Maintain social distancing at all times
  • These facilities are cleaned regularly however not after every use – we recommend you wash your hands before and after touching any surfaces
  • Please do not use these facilities if you are displaying any of the symptoms of the Covid-19 virus

At bin stores and Elsan disposal points:

  • Maintain social distancing at all times
  • We recommend you wash your hands before and after touching any surfaces
  • Please do not use these facilities if you are displaying any of the symptoms of the Covid-19 virus


Grass cutting

During lockdown we reduced grass cutting to follow Government guidelines to only provide for essential services. With the change in advice allowing increased access to public open spaces, and data on towpath use indicating that in many areas our waterways are providing a vital greenspace for more people than before, we need to reinstate grass cutting across the whole network to normal levels to provide the best space possible to allow social distancing and “sharing the space”.

With a few exceptions we are just re-establishing the grass cutting regimes to what we would normally do at this time year – leaving verges at the front or back of the towpath uncut if that is what we would normally do at that location.

Consequently this is not a significant change to long established vegetation – indeed most of our towpaths have still been used to some extent during the lockdown – this is about restoring the normal balance we would have in any other year between safe public access and retaining some spaces for wildlife where we can, so that people can use our waterways safely in the current circumstances.


There’s a whole host of frequently asked questions about coronavirus and boating on our website. If there’s a question that’s not covered, please get in touch but note that due to a high volume of correspondence it is taking longer than normal to respond.

Stay safe, stay alert,


Last date edited: 31 May 2020

About this blog

The boaters' update

Think of this blog as your one-stop shop for up-to-date boating news. It's packed full of useful information about boating on canals and rivers, as well as important safety announcements and upcoming events.

Sign up to receive the Boaters' update by email

See more blogs from this author