We manage the water levels on our canals all year round. After a lot of rain, the canals sometimes can’t contain the amount of water even with our management. The message is - if the towpath has flooded, please find another route.
Rain and puddles often come hand in hand with life in Britain. When we have funding to make towpath improvements along certain stretches, we make sure the new surfaces are weather proof so you can enjoy the towpaths all year.
It’s rare for our canals and towpaths to flood because we manage the water levels across our network all year. If a canal and towpath does flood, it’s usually where the canal is near a river and the river has flooded over into the canal. However, sometimes we can’t predict Mother Nature and water levels can rise even with our management of them.
Here's what to remember if there is a flood:
During a flood, the towpath edge can disappear under the rising water so it’s not clear where the towpath ends and water begins. If you have to walk along a towpath that is flooded, stick to the edge of the path furthest from the canal.
Flood waters can break up the surface of the towpath, loosening stones and even the utility cables running underneath so please tread very carefully.
The flood water is likely to be very cold and could be faster flowing than you imagine, even in a canal. Please do not get in the water for any reason.
Boaters, you are likely to be acutely aware of changes in water levels, particularly if you live on a boat! Just a reminder:
If you tie your boat too tight to a mooring that is being affected by rising flood levels the first thing that’s going to happen is the boat will tilt and the tilt will get worse (probably large quantities of broken glass and crockery in the kitchen too). If it’s tilting to the side of the boat with water outlets (sink, basin, shower etc) you run the risk of the boat filling up with water as the flood waters rush in), same also applies to engine air vents. The outcome is inevitably sinking. Alternatively, if your ropes are in poor condition or the mooring they are affixed to is in a poor condition they can break and your boat disappear with the flow of the flood waters downstream and all the potential hazards that brings.
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution are experts in flood rescue and have been a core part of the emergency response to flood affected areas in the UK since 2000, including the Cockermouth floods in 2009 and Somerset floods in 2014.
The RNLI Flood Rescue Team have a few top tips for staying safe near flood waters:
Last date edited: 29 November 2017