Our response to coronavirus

collage of signs of Limit your use of canal towpaths Limit your use of canal towpaths

In these unprecedented times, our priority is to support the national effort to keep people safe, following the Government’s advice and taking the appropriate action to protect our colleagues and partners, and everyone who visits, or lives on and around, our canals and river navigations.

Update: Thursday 9th April

Ahead of the Easter weekend we are calling on people to follow Government guidance to stay at home.  If you do venture out, please remember that use of local canal towpaths should be strictly limited, keeping your distance from others and moored boats.

We appreciate the important role our canals play in urban areas - providing vital green space -  however towpaths should be strictly for local use only during the coronavirus pandemic.  People must follow social distancing measures at all times, taking extra care on narrow towpaths. 

While the weather may make it seem tempting to go for a towpath walk, we want to remind people that public health officials have stressed the importance of staying at home, saying that the single most important action we can all take in fighting coronavirus is to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives.

Our plea to everyone thinking of using the towpath is to be mindful of others and act always with consideration and with respect.  If we all continue to observe government guidance - to strictly apply social distancing, and follow advice to stay local and limit towpath use - then together we can combat this pandemic, and be able to enjoy getting back out on or by our waterways when we’ve beaten it.

There are particular issues with using towpaths as they are often narrow and, in some places, have people living in boats moored alongside.  Where a local journey is essential, we are asking people to try and avoid stretches with multiple moored boats, use the full width of the towpath when passing, keep moving, and stand aside to allow others to pass, in single file.

We are continuing to put up banners, signs and posters at busy locations to remind people to limit their use of towpaths and we have built an online hub of canal-related films, images, interactive content and stories for everyone to enjoy safely at home to get their enjoyment of the waterways virtually.

Last date edited: 9 April 2020