Can I moor my canal boat anywhere?

3rd September 2020

When you’re travelling by canal, or on a canal boat holiday, you might be wondering where you can moor your canal boat.

Most visitor moorings on canals and rivers governed by the Canal & River Trust are often free of charge. You are permitted to moor almost anywhere alongside canal towpaths for no fee, as long as you are not causing an obstruction to the waterway. However, there may be certain privately owned sites that require a fee for overnight mooring. An example of this is the River Thames, as well as parts of the Kennet and Avon canal and Bristol Dock.

It’s important to note that these mooring places are usually short term – meaning your boat will only be able to stay there for a few days, and two weeks at most. This is because other canal users need to be considered, so always ensure you leave enough room for other boats to pass you and to moor near to you.

Canal boat mooring FAQs answered

How to moor a canal boat

1.      Decide where you want to moor your boat and stop short from this area with your boat straight. Move forward slowly and point the front of the boat towards the bank, using the reverse to stop the boat before it hits the bank.

2.      The crew should then hop ashore, carrying the canal boat mooring ropes with them to begin the tying up process.

3.      Tie up your boat to the bank with a rope from both the front and the back. Often, mooring sites will have bollards or rings to tie up to. Run your ropes at about 45 degrees from your boat, and then loop them back onto the boat to tie securely.

Where shouldn’t I moor my canal boat?


Where can I moor my boat if I want to live aboard it?

Residential canal boat moorings are offered all over the country by either private operators or navigation authorities. However, it’s worth noting that residential mooring is in very short supply – and vacancies attract a lot of interest, often sell for a large amount of money and go off the market very quickly. You’ll need to conduct thorough research into where you want to live on your boat and be vigilant to check for vacancies when they become available.

How long can I stay on a short stay mooring?

This is dependent on each particular mooring place – but you will be able to tell how long you are allowed to stay for by checking the signs. Most short stay moorings allow stays between 48 hours and 7 days.

Are there canal boat mooring fees?

Usually, no - you are permitted to moor almost anywhere alongisde the canal for no fee. The only time you will be charged a fee is when you moor your canal boat at a privately owned site, such as the River Thames.

Can I book short stay mooring in advance?

It’s not typically possible to book short stay mooring places in most parts of the UK, as they are free of charge and are on a first-come-first-served basis. However, you can pre-book a mooring for a small charge when you’re visiting central London.

What are service moorings?

Service moorings are moorings next to water, sewage and refuse disposal points. It is recommended to only use these service moorings while you are using the facilities. When visiting London, you may find that the bollards used for service moorings are painted blue, whereas the bollards used for lock landings may be painted yellow. You might also see temporary/permanent signs which restrict the use of a location for a specific purpose, for example, a trip boat stop.

Now you know how to moor a canal boat, and the places you are able to moor your narrowboat, book your next canal boat holiday with ABC Boat Hire. Check out our canal routes and variety of canal boats now.

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