Boats moored at Camden, Regent's Canal (Garry Knight)

You have the best part of 2,000 miles of potential mooring space across Britain.  In general, you can moor anywhere on the towpath, but are some exceptions:

  • No mooring on bends, near bridges, at lock landings etc.
  • No mooring at water points (and similar places).
  • No mooring where it would make the navigation too narrow to allow two widebeam boats (each 14' wide) to pass easily.
  • No mooring when you've already moored on the same stretch of canal recently (see the article about when to move on).

You also can't moor up if doing so means driving mooring pins into the coping stones on the towpath as this causes damage.

Can I moor alongside another boat?

Yes, if the owner of the other boat doesn't mind.  We all have to share the space and in popular spots this might mean mooring alongside another boat. It's considered good form to let others moor next to you and in busy places almost everyone is ok with this.  It's bad form to buy a 70-foot widebeam and dangle a 'no mooring alongside' sign in your window.

If you moor alongside, say hello or leave a note.  You'll often find that your neighbour is happy to keep an eye on your boat when you're out.

Moor stern-to-stern if you can, but it isn't always possible.

If their boat is moored onto bollards or rings, it's best to tie your mooring lines onto their boat, as then both boats will move as one when other boats pass by.  But if their boat is on mooring pins, moor directly onto the bank, otherwise they might leave with their mooring pins and you'll quite justifiably float over a weir.

Don't attach lines to potentially-fragile parts of their boat, such as a handrail or vent, because they're not designed to hold the weight of another boat.

If you're mooring up next to another boat, it's your job to make sure there are fenders to stop the boats clunking together like clumsy lovers in the middle of the night.

Can I moor three or four abreast?

There's no rule saying you can't, but if it narrows the available navigation to less than 10m then you'll probably be asked to move on.  (This bit specially for geeky folk: the 10m rule doesn't include water too shallow for a boat to pass, so in practice 10m of navigation might mean 12m or 14m of water.)

Even when the waterway is wide enough, mooring three or four abreast is not a good look as it starts to turn the canal into a shanty town.

How long can I stay?

Usually two weeks.  Don't get too comfortable.  See the article about when to move on.  Moving on is half the fun.