We love and care for your canals and rivers, because everyone deserves a place to escape.

Mooring policies

Eighteenth and nineteenth century canal building was about creating transport routes for goods. Routes were used intensively for this and boats with any other purpose was a rarity. Today, the wonderful network of navigations that we've inherited serves many different purposes, and when it comes to cruising, that too is dramatically different in character.

Relatively few boats are used full time for the transport of goods, although happily the tradition is kept alive by some. Overwhelmingly, boats are kept for recreational or residential uses, and in much greater numbers than existed in previous centuries. The obvious result is large numbers of boats needing places to tie up.

After the waterways were nationalised in 1948, there was a series of parliamentary Acts aimed at ensuring that the British Waterways Board managed the waterways in the public interest.

Increasingly, these Acts recognised the changing conditions with more and more boats needing places to tie up for short or long periods. In maintaining policies to maximise public benefit, British Waterways, and now the Trust must comply with the legislation and interpret it to create easily understood ‘rules of the road’.

In doing this, our aim is to achieve a fair balance between sometimes competing interests. Here are the principles on which our moorings policies are based:

  • Navigation, or cruising, is what differentiates our canals and rivers from other water courses. We must have enough moorings with ample ‘breathing spaces’ between groups of moored boats to protect the intrinsic value of waterways as tranquil places for enjoyment
  • Boating contributes to the public's enjoyment and local business success. We want to grow a spirit of shared responsibility among local communities as well as boaters
  • Continued growth in boat numbers must not be at the expense of the waterway environment and public enjoyment. Sustainable boating means conserving water when using locks, reducing waste, minimising disturbance and environmental impact and being considerate to other waterway users
  • There should be a varied mix of moorings and facilities to meet demand from different segments of the boating market, and where there is competition between these groups for bank side space, we must have policies to encourage a fair and appropriate mix
  • Healthy competition between providers of moorings and facilities encourages appropriate levels of provision and good choice for customers

Useful downloads

Canal & River Trust Mooring Policies
Guidance for development of residential mooring sites
Non-compliant Continuous Cruising Briefing

Last date edited: 14 July 2015