28 September 2020

Can I visit the waterways?

As government continues to review measures relating to Covid-19, it is important to 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 to take extra care on narrow sections.

In England, all forms of boating, water sports and fishing are now allowed. Many waterway businesses, including hire boat companies, have been able to start operating again. We would encourage you to support them where you can.

In Scotland and Wales, lockdown measures are being relaxed in different ways, so please follow local guidance.

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 and work parties organised by your local branch

Many of our waterside walks and other outdoor activities such as work parties are now running. Numbers are limited for these events, and require pre-booking in most cases.

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.

Please check our website for details about our waterway webinars.

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 all now 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

Guidance is available for waterway restoration groups and IWA branches restarting work parties. This guidance will be reviewed regularly. Read our guidance on running work parties PDF (last reviewed 14/08/20).

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