NBTA update on coronavirus lockdown: boat movement suspension continues to 18th April

The Government today (13th April 2020) announced that the lockdown would not be lifted when it is reviewed later this week. This will have implications for boat movements.

Support groups

The Boaters Covid Support National Network Facebook page has a file that you can download with details of local boaters’ support groups, see https://www.facebook.com/groups/900547300395282/

If there is no boaters’ support group where you are moored, most local authorities’ web sites are now advertising a phone number for residents to contact for volunteer help if you are self-isolating and need support with shopping, collecting prescriptions etc.

Canal & River Trust (CRT) waterways

Due to the Government’s announcement that the coronavirus lockdown will continue until at least 18th April 2020, CRT has extended its suspension of the 14-day rule until 18th April and has advised that only essential boat movements are permitted until at least this date.

CRT’s winter visitor mooring time limits of 14 days unless signed otherwise are extended until the end of April 2020. No boat sightings will be taken during the period that boat movements are suspended. The temporary extension to boat safety certificates for boats that need an examination is now extended to 30th April 2020. CRT has also recently published a list of private boater facilities that are still open here https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/enjoy-the-waterways/safety-on-our-waterways/coronavirus/coronavirus-and-boating-faqs/privately-provided-boating-facilities

CRT has now issued amended guidance on the use of towpaths telling the public to limit their use of towpaths, including a new poster.

See CRT’s boaters’ updates of 3rd and 9th April and Coronavirus FAQs for boaters here:




Tell CRT where towpaths are too crowded!

Many liveaboard boaters have continued to complain to CRT (and to the Police) of overcrowded towpaths where people are not observing social distancing, potentially putting those in lockdown on their boats at risk.

We received the message below on 10th April from NBTA activist Dave Mendes da Costa, who is one of the private boater representatives on the CRT Council.

“There have been a lot of concerns – and a variety of views – about towpath use and social distancing recently, and this is something which I and other Council members have been raising with CRT. From these discussions it is clear that CRT recognise that there are some hotspots and they say they have been targeting adverts in those areas and working with local police forces to reduce numbers.

CRT are basing their analysis of where the hotspots are and whether their measures are working on feedback from their customer support teams and social media. Therefore, if you are worried about the level of towpath use in your area, it important that you and those around you let CRT know. Here are some ways to contact: https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/contact-us/ways-to-contact-us  Twitter users can use @CRTcontactus) Using https://what3words.com/ is a great way to describe your location.

The situation will be different across the network, and with less CRT employees out and about, sending messages to let CRT know if there are problems near you is an important step. I appreciate many of you will have already done this but it’s worth doing again to say whether things are still the same or even worse, as a drop in comments seems to be interpreted as an improvement in the situation.”

Oxford City Council assistance for liveaboard boaters on the River Thames and Oxford Canal

Oxford City Council has delivered a letter to boats moored within the city detailing advice and assistance. The Council has also urged the public to limit their use of the canal towpath and the Thames path. Contact Tim Wiseman, Oxford Waterways Coordinator, twiseman@oxford.gov.uk or 07483 011038.





Bridgewater Canal

Peel Holdings, the private company that owns the Bridgewater Canal, has issued guidance for boaters and is keeping facilities open, but has not stated that all but essential boat movements should be suspended.

See https://www.bargee-traveller.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/2020-03-27_Bridgewater_Canal_Notice_15_Covid-19.pdf

Basingstoke Canal

The Basingstoke Canal Authority has stated that its towpaths are open for limited use but its car park and public visitor facilities are closed, however it has not published any guidance for liveaboard or leisure boaters. You can contact the Authority on 01252 370073 or info@basingstoke-canal.co.uk

River Wey Navigations

The National Trust (NT) has advised that only essential boat movements are permitted; Dapdune Wharf is closed and all NT houses, gardens, parks, toilets, cafes and shops are closed. The NT has issued guidance for boaters here:


River Cam

The Conservators of the River Cam state that the towpath remains open and boats can move freely along the river as long as people observe the guidelines around social distancing. They have published coronavirus information for boaters here:

Cambridge City Council has not provided specific guidance for liveaboard boaters but the Council’s web site provides general information about how residents can get help. See https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/coronavirus-community-group-contact-details

Bristol Harbour

In a move that was draconian in its insensitivity to both Government advice and to liveaboard boaters, Bristol City Council, the authority that runs Bristol Harbour, refused to allow boaters to remain on winter moorings after 31st March unless they paid £14 per metre per fortnight, which is 30% more than the winter mooring fee. This was despite the River Avon only recently coming off flood conditions and CRT’s advice to stop all inessential boat movements, and despite intervention from the Bath-based Julian House Travelling Communities Support Service. Most of the winter moorers travelled upstream either to the CRT half of the River Avon, or to the Kennet and Avon Canal.

Other major navigation authorities

The Port of London Authority, the Environment Agency, the Middle Level Commissioners, the Broads Authority and the Avon Navigation Trust have not updated their guidance, but non-essential boat movements and assisted passage (except in emergency) remain suspended until at least 18th April.

See also