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The charity making life better by water

Preserving the peace on our towpaths

As the numbers of people using the nation’s towpaths reaches record levels, we're calling for the reintroduction of old-fashioned manners to preserve the peace on our towpaths.

Staff and volunteers from the Trust will be holding events to meet visitors on towpaths across England and Wales during a week of activity (5th-9th October) to talk about the Share the Space, Drop your Pace campaign.

Groups supporting the campaign at locations across the country include Sustrans, local bike services, Police and even a group of Beavers and Cubs who will be encouraging visitors to be considerate while enjoying their journey on the towpath.

360 million visits

Built at the time of the Industrial Revolution for horses to tow boats laden with goods, towpaths are now busier than ever, with walkers, cyclists, boaters, anglers and runners – not to mention the ducks and other creatures - all sharing the often narrow waterside paths.

Last year more than 360 million visits were made to the Canal & River Trust's towpaths prompting the charity to call on visitors to help protect the special atmosphere which has made these spaces so popular.

Richard Parry, chief executive of the Canal & River Trust, explains: “For many people our towpaths are among their most precious green spaces, antidotes to the pace and stress of the modern world and places to relax and unwind. They are ‘super slow ways', providing a slice of peace and calm through the centres of our busiest cities.

“Today they are more popular than ever, with more investment in improvements and better signage, but with that success there can also be problems. We are calling on visitors to be considerate of one another, share the space on the towpath and help make our waterways available for everyone to enjoy.”

Better towpaths for everyone

Our towpath code ‘Better Towpaths for Everyone' was produced after consultation with more than 2,000 towpath visitors and interest groups. The top three issues raised were the need for improvements to the towpaths, better signage and better behaviour between visitors.

Last year we secured more than £8m of funding to improve its towpaths, and it is planning a further £10m investment in the next 12 months.

Last Edited: 06 October 2015

photo of a location on the canals
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