8 January 2021

Can I visit the waterways?

The latest national lockdown for England announced by Government on 4th January means that once again boating is restricted on our waterways. Similar restrictions are in place in other parts of the UK.

In England, boating on the waterways is now limited to essential travel only. Overnight stays are only permitted where the boat is your permanent residence or it is necessary for work, education or similar reasons. Those who live aboard their boats should limit their travel to accessing essential services and facilities only.

Although maintaining boats is not now considered a valid reason for leaving your home, there is an exemption allowing people to travel to “secure their second home, caravan or boat in order to avoid it posing a risk of harm/injury to themselves or others”. This guidance can be found on the DCMS website.

You can continue to use towpaths and riverside paths for exercise in all areas, but you must follow social distancing rules. Please keep your distance from other people and moored boats. Many lengths of towpaths are less than 2 metres wide, so it can be difficult to keep to the Government’s safe distance guidelines. This is particularly difficult where boats are moored. Please keep moving and take extra care on narrow sections.

Canoeing, rowing and using other unpowered craft are permitted, limited to once a day as part of your daily exercise. You should stay within government guidelines for permitted exercise and stay local.

For specific information about using the waterways in your area please consult the website of the relevant navigation authority.

Covid-19 & Our Charity

Our campaign to support waterway businesses

The image of a narrowboat cruising along the canal is a quintessentially British scene. Sadly, many trip boat companies, hire boat providers and other waterways businesses are under serious threat as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. IWA ran a survey in partnership with Waterways World magazine to better understand the situation being faced. Almost 1500 waterway businesses were contacted.  The responses paint a very bleak picture, with the majority of businesses reporting that they are at significant risk of collapse and some already closing.

Find out more about the actions we have taken to support businesses across the waterways.

Our work campaigning to protect and restore the waterways

We have made a number of changes to the way we work. These changes might affect you, when you contact IWA, or volunteer to help us.

Our staff team is still working from home where possible. We continue to lobby for and raise awareness of the needs of the waterways from our virtual desks. Volunteers all have access to cloud and digital meeting software to ensure the important campaigning and meetings they are holding can continue online.

Events organised by your local branch

Where possible your local branch have been moving their public and social meetings online. We have also introduced a programme of speakers that all members will be able to access – there are some very good speakers and topics you might be interested in.

Book your place for future live stream events or catch up with on demand videos.  More than 30 hours of recordings are now available to watch online. Check out IWA TV.

Our national events

IWA Canalway Cavalcade, the IWA Trailboat Festival on the Wey & Arun Canal and IWA Festival of Water in Perdiswell Park, Worcester, are postponed until 2021.

Our Waterway Recovery Group Canal Camps have been cancelled until the end of the year.

IWA members will continue to receive Waterways magazine and exclusive member discounts. You can also read back issues of Waterways magazine online.

We are working on extra benefits to offer members that find themselves at home a lot more than usual – such as waterways talks and socials. Joining online meetings is really straightforward. All you’ll need is the website link we forward to you and access to a tablet, smartphone, laptop or desktop.

Your support continues to help protect and restore the country’s precious waterway network of canals and rivers.

Guidance for running work parties

We have made the decision to suspend all but pre-arranged essential maintenance work.

Guidance is available for waterway restoration groups and IWA branches. This guidance will be reviewed regularly. Read our guidance on running work parties PDF (last reviewed 07/01/20).

You can also download additional resources including a risk assessment template, template management plan and display notice.