Whether you are considering leaving dry ground to live on a narrowboat, or are planning a relaxing holiday on the water, there are a few things to consider. They are not necessarily rules that you must abide by, but etiquette that will benefit yourself and others on the canals.

Once you know the basics, you will have a better experience of Britain’s beautiful canal system and enjoy your day, week or however long you choose to live on the water!



The canal is a calm environment, best enjoyed at a gentle pace. The speed limit is 4mph, so you should not be travelling faster than anyone walking alongside the canal! If you have chosen to be on a narrowboat, you are obviously looking for a relaxing time, so there is no need to try to travel any faster. Just enjoy the scenery as you move along. And it is courteous to reduce your speed as you pass other boats. You don’t want any bumps!



Most locks can fit two boats side by side, unless you are on a narrow canal. Because of the time and amount of water is takes to pass through a lock, it is good etiquette to check if there is another boat that can share the lock at the same time. It is surely also common sense that if another boat approaches the lock as you are leaving it, don’t shut the gate in its face!



When it comes to mooring, again it’s just down to common sense. It sounds obvious, but don’t tie your ropes to fences on the other side of the towpath or you’ll trip people up! Always use the mooring pins that are provided with the boat, even if you are just stopping for a short while. The best places to moor the boat are marinas, as they are set up for that very purpose and are well equipped for all your needs. Just check the marinas rules, as they all differ slightly, and you and everyone will remain happy on the canals!