News & Blog

Mooring a Canal Boat – What you should know

Mooring a Canal Boat – What you should know

Whether you own a canal boat or you have use of one for just a short time – a canal boat holiday, for example, sooner or later you will have to think about where and how you intend to moor your vessel.

The same advice and rules apply to you whether you own your canal boat or you are on a canal boat holiday:

  • Mooring your canal boat (or any other type of pleasure craft) on the towpath is free for short periods of time (up to 14 days unless signed otherwise) and you can moor anywhere along the towpath, as long as you moor your canal boat safely and with due consideration for other canal or river users. You will find mooring points (which have rings or posts that you can use to tie the canal boat up) at various points along the waterway. If there are no designated mooring points with mooring pins you will need to use your own stakes to securely moor your canal boat to the tow path. Always leave enough room for other boats to pass by you and to also moor near you.
  • For your own safety and the safety of others, and so not to get in the way of other boats don’t moor near to a canal lock or swing bridge unless there are designated points already in place. If there are designated mooring points you will be able to stay for up to 48 hours (unless signed otherwise). 
  • Don’t moor in or at turning points as this may make manoeuvring difficult for other boat users. Similarly, moor on the straight parts of the towpath and not on a bend.
  • As far as possible, do not moor your canal boat at designated fishing areas.
  • Other rules may apply for towpath mooring depending upon where you have decided to moor. For further details visit the Inland Waterways website.

While mooring your canal boat on the towpath can be convenient and cheap, mooring in a marina can provide more benefits and, in the long-run be a much better option. 

Mooring your canal boat in a marina (such as Willowtree Marina) offers a number of benefits, including:

  • Convenient and practical facilities for you and your canal boat.
  • A safe and secure setting in which to moor your boat.
  • Services for refuelling, rewatering and removal of waste from your canal boat.
  • Additional services are usually available within or near to the marina such as boat repair, shops (for food, drink, other essential supplies and canal boat items) and bars & restaurants.
  • The ability to leave your canal boat in one spot for a long period of time without any hassle at a fixed and agreed cost.

Willowtree Marina (2022)

Willowtree Marina and Lock & Quay Restaurant (2022)

Most marinas and moorings for canal boats are provided by private companies, so facilities and the quality of service may vary widely. You may also consider joining a boat club, this has the added advantage of not only providing a mooring for your vessel but also giving you a sense of community and plenty of advice and support (especially if you are new to the world of canal boats).

As well as finding a range of services and quality at marinas, you will also find a wide range of costs, usually directly related to the quality and range of facilities, but also the location of the marina – a marina close to a number of waterways – rivers and canals – will be more expensive because of the convenience it offers. When thinking about location, also think about which part of the country you would most like to be when on your canal boat? How easy is it to get to the marina and do they have good transport links or parking facilities?

The key to finding the right marina for you and your craft is to think about your priorities. Ask yourself the following questions. Is it more important to have good facilities, or be close to different waterways for you to explore, or do you want to keep the cost of mooring your canal boat as low as possible? Is the security of your canal boat a primary concern or easy access to maintenance services? How often will you want to use your canal boat? By getting your priorities in the right order, you will find a mooring or marina that is perfect for you.

If you want further information about mooring your canal boat generally, or mooring your canal boat at Willowtree Marina particularly, then do not hesitate to contact our friendly team on 020 8841 6585 or email

To find out more about canal or river mooring go to the Inland Waterways website here.