Some of the most frequently asked questions are listed below.
1. Who is responsible for the canal near me?
Firstly, it is not Pennine Waterways! Pennine Waterways is just an independent website and has no responsibility for looking after canals or towpaths.
Most canals and navigable rivers in the region are run by the Canal and River Trust. Click one of these links to email the Canal and River Trust:
Manchester and Pennine office 01782 785703 (Huddersfield, Rochdale, Ashton, Peak Forest, Macclesfield and Trent & Mersey (North) Canals)
North West office 01942 405700 (Leeds & Liverpool and Lancaster Canals, Liverpool Canal Link, Ribble Link, Sankey Canal)
North East and Yorkshire office 0113 281 6800 (Aire & Calder, Calder & Hebble, Sheffield & South Yorkshire Navigations and Huddersfield Broad Canal)
The Bridgewater Canal belongs to Peel Holdings and is run by the Bridgewater Canal Company (0151 327 1461)
2. The canal near me is full of rubbish and the towpath is too muddy to walk along. What are you going to do about it?
Unfortunately, Pennine Waterways is not able to help with these matters. As mentioned in the previous answer, Pennine Waterways is an independent website and has no responsibility for looking after canals or towpaths.
Please follow one of the links in the previous answer to let the relevant office know about the problem.
3. Can I go on a boat trip?
There are a number of trip boats operating in the area. Those with websites are listed on this page. You will need to visit the company's website or phone the individual company to find out about times and prices. Pennine Waterways does not have this information.
There may be some other boat trip operators that do not have web sites. You could ask the Tourist Information Centre in your area.
4. Can I book a boat for a special occasion?
Some of the trip boats listed here are available for special occasions. Some of them offer cruises which include a meal. Some of them can be booked for private functions. Contact individual boat operators for details.
5. Can I hire a boat?
There are a number of companies that rent out boats for you to steer yourself.
• There are smaller day hire boats, usually with a simple kitchen and toilet but no sleeping facilities, that a group of up to 10 or 12 can hire for one day.
• There are boats of various lengths that can be hired for short breaks of 3 or 4 days, or for longer breaks of 1 or more weeks. These have well-equipped kitchens, toilets, showers and sleeping accommodation for between 2 and 10 people.
Day boat hire can cost around £80 to £120, depending on the day of the week. Hire boats with sleeping accommodation can cost around £600 to £1500 depending on the time of the year and the number of beds. Contact individual boat operators for details.
6. Can I walk along a towpath?
Most canals and navigable waterways have towpaths and you can walk along these.
There is no towpath on the Manchester Ship Canal. Some navigable waterways, such as the Calder and Hebble Navigation and the Aire and Calder Navigation have river sections that do not have a towpath.
Sometimes canals pass through tunnels. Some of these have towpaths and you can walk through them. (A torch is useful in case of uneven surfaces or puddles.) Some tunnels do not have towpaths but there is usually an easy-to-follow route across the top.
Walkers should be aware of other canal users, especially cyclists who may appear unexpectedly. Special care should be taken passing fishermen, where there may be equipment across the towpath, and when passing moored boats, where there could be mooring pins in the ground.
More information can be found on the Canal and River Trust website.
Most canal towpaths are not public rights of way. Although you are permitted to walk along a towpath, the Canal and River Trust may sometimes close it, for example, when repairs are being carried out. When a towpath is closed, you should observe the closure and follow the diversion.
7. Can I cycle along a towpath?
You can cycle along the towpaths of most canals. More information can be found on the Canal and River Trust website.
Riders should show courtesy to other canal users, who may not be expecting a cycle to appear. Special care should be taken going through bridges, where there may be blind corners, when passing fishermen, where there may be equipment across the towpath, and when passing moored boats, where there could be mooring pins in the ground.
The Canal and River Trust recommends that cyclists obtain third party liability insurance and have a bell or horn fitted.
Please do not assume that walkers will hear you coming, even if you use a bell - some of them really are deaf!
Racing or speed challenges are not permitted on canal towpaths.
Thorny hedge-trimmings may cause punctures.
8. I want to boat around the Cheshire Ring but I have heard bad things. Have you any advice about going through Manchester?
Stories about terrible problems in the Manchester area are exaggerated and out of date. The canals that make up the Cheshire Ring route through Manchester have much improved since 2000 and problems for boaters are rare.
Having said that, there is always a slight risk of unsocial behaviour on any urban canal. There are some precautions that boaters can take to reduce possible problems.
• if possible travel on urban canals on weekdays during school term time and aim to be past the area before school finishing time.
• if you need to travel in school holidays or at weekends, try to travel through urban areas in the morning.
• lock the front door to the boat to prevent someone jumping aboard and going inside.
• don't leave valuables visible on the roof or decks.
• be friendly and polite to youngsters. A quick "hi" can be enough. Don't be over-friendly or they may try to take advantage.
• don't give lifts to youngsters - you don't know how trustworthy they are and you will be liable if one has an accident. Tell them your insurance won't let you give rides.
• expect repetitive questions such as "is that your boat?" "how much did it cost?" "do you live on that?" etc. Answer in a friendly way, but probably better not to say how much it costs as they may then think that you are rich!
Any groups of bored youngsters are more likely to hang around in the evenings. You don't usually see them in the daytime. Boating past groups of youths can be intimidating (especially when working through locks) but they very seldom cause any real bother to boaters. They sometimes take an interest in what you are doing but may often just ignore you. In hot weather they may want you leave a lock full so that they can swim in it! (Probably a good idea to do so, as it makes them more favourably disposed to the next boaters to come through!)
Serious problems like stone-throwing are very rare and should be reported so that measures can be taken to reduce repetition in an area.
The most likely problem that boaters might expect is getting rubbish around the propeller. The risk of this happening can be reduced by avoiding high revs, especially near the bank, and by keeping to the middle of the channel as much as possible.
9. Where should I moor in or around Manchester?
The best place to moor in Manchester is Castlefield, either in the main Castlefield Basin, or in the Staffordshire Arm, leading under the railway viaducts towards the Museum. There is a water point on the Staffordshire Arm, next to the railway arch. Boaters regard Castlefield as a safe place to leave boats unattended and it is a good starting point for exploring what Manchester has to offer. The trams crossing the viaduct are noisy but they don't run all night! The Museum of Science and Industry is across the road from the Staffordshire Arm.
There are also reasonable moorings at Ducie Street at the top of the Rochdale Nine lock flight, opposite and beyond the junction with the Ashton Canal. There are small supermarkets not far away inside Piccadilly rail station and an Aldi supermarket alongside the Rochdale Canal above Lock 83.
If you are continuing up the Ashton Canal, you can moor overnight in the Ducie Street area. However, a quieter alternative is the Thomas Telford Basin in Piccadilly Village, a quarter of a mile along the Ashton Canal, turning right after crossing Store Street Aqueduct. Pedestrian access is via a secure gate, through which you can exit but not return unless you wait for a resident to let you in. (At one time, residents were happy to share the gate code with boaters but the lock now requires an electronic fob.) There are also secure offside moorings between Store Street Aqueduct and the entrance to Thomas Telford Basin (pedestrian access as above). There are some old mooring pontoons in a small basin on the right just at the start of the Ashton Canal, although there is no pedestrian access to the street from here. Towpath mooring is also available at Paradise Wharf, between Ducie Street and Store Street Aqueduct.
Thomas Telford Basin, off Ashton Canal. View Larger Map
If you are continuing up the Rochdale Canal towards Sowerby Bridge, you can moor overnight in the Ducie Street area between Locks 84 and 83 (sometimes called "Piccadilly Basin") or go up two further locks and overnight on the visitor moorings in New Islington Marina (above Lock 82). It will not take long the next morning for you to reach Lock 81 in time for the Canal and River Trust staff to arrive to unlock it.
Travelling outwards from Manchester, you will want to continue until you reach at least the following locations before mooring overnight:
• Ashton Canal - opposite Portland Basin Museum, just before the junction with Peak Forest Canal, or turn right onto the Peak Forest Canal and moor between the railway bridge and Stanley Lift Bridge. There are also quiet moorings just south of the lift bridge.
(Alternatively, Portland Basin Marina, on the left at the start of the Peak Forest Canal, offers moorings for a small charge.)
It is generally not recommended to moor overnight between Manchester and Ashton. However, boats sometimes moor overnight without problems near the Asda Walmart store between Locks 7 and 8. Overnight mooring may also be available at Droylsden Marina, just off the main line above Lock 18, for a small charge.
• Rochdale Canal - at the Irk Aqueduct, just after the Rose of Lancaster pub (1 mile above Lock 64 and just below Lock 63). The moorings on the north side of the aqueduct are away from the houses and have country views. (The Boat and Horses pub at Whitegate Bridge suffers from shallow moorings and excessive traffic noise.)
• Bridgewater Canal westwards - Sale Bridge, near the Kings Ransome pub, or for something more secure you could ask to moor on Sale Cruising Club's moorings (possible charge).
Most boaters prefer to wait until they are beyond the built-up area, possibly to Little Bollington, near the Swan with Two Nicks pub, or continue to Lymm.
• Bridgewater Canal towards Leigh - at Barton Square (adjacent to the Trafford Centre, about half a mile south of Barton Aqueduct), at the scenic Worsley village or 1.5 miles further, adjacent to Boothstown Marina and the Millers pub.
Travelling in towards Manchester: The places mentioned above could also be considered to be the last safe moorings for boats travelling towards Manchester. Boaters on the Rochdale Canal mooring at Irk Aqueduct or Rose of Lancaster should plan to set off at around 6.30 am to reach Lock 65 when the Canal and River Trust staff arrive to unlock it.
10. I want to use a canoe on a canal. Do I need a licence?
All boats on the canals need to have licences. You therefore need a licence to paddle a canoe or kayak on a canal. You can obtain this licence from Canal and River Trust offices. However, because of a special arrangement, membership of British Canoeing (formerly the British Canoe Union / Canoe England) would give you the right to paddle on most canals, without any further payment, so joining that could make good sense, depending on how frequently you plan to use your canoe.
More information can be found on the Canal and River Trust website.
11. I want to buy a boat. What do I need to know about?
One of the first things to consider is whether you want to buy a second-hand or a new boat.
You can find many advertisements for second-hand boats in magazines such as Waterways World and Canal Boat. Or you can look through web sites such as www.apolloduck.com and try clicking "Narrowboats" on the left.
The price will reflect the age of the boat. For example, one was advertised recently at £22,000 for a 27 year old 35 feet long boat. A newer boat of 60 feet long could cost around £100,000.
There are some good bargains to be had, but it is essential that you have a proper survey carried out, which includes having the boat taken out of the water for the bottom to be inspected, or you could end up wasting a lot of money on a boat that could cost you a huge amount in repairs.
You will also need to obtain a boat safety certificate (if the boat does not already have one) in order to obtain a licence and insurance.
If you are buying a boat privately you should seek some evidence that the boat actually belongs to the seller. There have been a few cases of people finding that they have bought a stolen boat and losing their money. Evidence could include paperwork from the original sale of the boat, receipts for work carried out, documentation from BW or EA, the boat safety certificate, etc.
Buying a brand new boat can also be risky. A new boat usually needs to be ordered up-front and paid for in stages. There are quite frequent reports of boatbuilders going bust, leaving customers who had paid part of their money up front with nothing. A good second-hand boat might be a safer bet, but you should take note of the points made above, and always get a thorough survey carried out before committing yourself to a boat, as you will not be able to tell if it has structural problems just by looking.
The Inland Waterways Association website has a useful section with advice on buying a boat: www.waterways.org.uk/activities/boating/buying_a_boat
Don't forget to include costs such as a boat licence, mooring charges, insurance and regular maintenance of the boat in your sums!
Perhaps one of the hardest things for someone acquiring a boat is finding a mooring that is safe and secure, if the boat is only to be used at weekends or for holidays. (Don't forget that mooring fees will be another thing to budget for.) Off-line marinas are generally safer and more secure than on-line moorings. Long-term moorings on the towpath side are the least secure but will be the cheapest.
12. Where can I keep my boat?
For many people, when they buy a boat the most difficult task is to find a suitable home mooring for when the boat is not in use. Long term moorings can be on-line (along the side of a canal) or off-line (in a marina). Towpath side moorings are not secure against intruders.
The cost of a mooring depends on many factors, including the demand in that area, the amount of security offered, and the facilities offered, such as water, electricity, vehicle access, etc.
Some moorings are administered by the Canal and River Trust, while some are run by private operators, such as boatyards, farmers, etc. Some (but not all) details of available moorings may be found on the Canal and River Trust website. Pennine Waterways does not have this information.
Some people who live aboard choose not to have a home mooring but cruise continuously. There are rules about how long you can stay in one place.
13. Should I buy a boat to live on as a way to get a foot on the property ladder?
This is not generally a good idea, especially if you have no experience of boats. It is often thought to be a nice lifestyle being afloat on a summer's evening but try to imagine what it will be like in the depth of winter. It has sometimes been suggested that it is a good idea to hire or borrow a boat during the middle of winter and see how you find it.
Apart from keeping the boat warm in winter and cool in summer, don't forget that you will have to carry all your water to the boat unless you find a mooring with its own water supply, and carry all of your toilet contents off the boat, or move the boat from time to time to a place where the toilet tank can be sucked out, depending on what type of toilet the boat has. Cheaper moorings may not have water or electricity. If there is no electricity line, you would need to charge the boat's batteries each day with a generator.
One of the first problems faced by many people wanting to live on a boat is getting a permanent mooring. Pennine Waterways does not have information about moorings - you will need to look at the Canal and River Trust website
If you can afford to buy new to your own specifications, then you could probably afford a reasonably-priced house. A new boat can easily cost well over £100,000. A house will increase in value whereas a boat will not. There is not much difference in price between a new house and a 20-year old house. There is a huge difference in price between a new boat and a 20-year old boat.
If you buy a cheap boat then you will not get much back when you come to sell it, so it will not help you to move up the property chain.
If you are still serious about the idea of living on a boat, you should visit the Residential Boat Owners Club website www.rboa.org.uk. Read the page "So you want to live on a boat?" You can also send off to them for a book called "Living Afloat".
14. One of my ancestors used to work on the canals. Where can I found out more about them?
Pennine Waterways does not have any records or information about people who used to work on boats or canals.
There are a number of web sites dedicated to finding out about ancestors. Some of these sites have discussion forums where knowledgeable people are usually willing to help you or point you in the right direction.
There may be some limited records concerning waterway workers in the Waterways Archives at the National Waterways Museum in Ellesmere Port.
15. I want to walk / run / cycle / canoe the length of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal for fun / charity. What do I need to know?
The Leeds and Liverpool, being 127.25 miles long, is the UK's longest individual canal and a journey along it is a popular long-distance leisure challenge or fund-raising activity.
There is a towpath the whole of the way from Leeds to Eldonian Village in Liverpool. There are two tunnels - Foulridge near Colne and Gannow near Burnley. There is no towpath through these tunnels but there are fairly direct footpath and road routes across the tops of the tunnels. Canoes are not allowed to use the tunnels.
The 127.25 mile challenge ends at Eldonian Village and does not include the Stanley Dock branch or the Liverpool Canal Link. (There is no towpath along the Liverpool Canal Link through Liverpool Docks to the Pier Head and Albert Dock.)
If there are going to be a fair number of participants, it would be a good idea to notify the Canal and River Trust of your intention. If you want to stage a sizeable event, then you would need to get the permission of the Canal and River Trust. Contact details:
North West Waterways at:
Waterside House, Waterside Drive, Wigan, WN3 5AZ. Telephone 01942 405700
email - firstname.lastname@example.org
If you intend to travel by canoe, please read the anwer regarding licences, here.
The following Tourist Information Offices may be able to help you to locate accommodation, if you require this. The details were correct a year or so ago but some may have changed:
• For Liverpool - 0844 870 0123 email email@example.com
• For Wigan - 01942 825677 email firstname.lastname@example.org
• For Chorley / Johnsons Hillock / Adlington 01257 515300 email email@example.com website www.chorley.gov.uk/ www.visitlancashire.com/
• For Blackburn - 01254 53277 email firstname.lastname@example.org website www.blackburn.gov.uk
• For Burnley - 01282 664421 email email@example.com www.visitburnley.com/
• For Foulridge / Barrowford / Nelson - 01282 661701 www.pendletourism.com
• For Barnoldswick - 01282 666704 www.pendletourism.com
• For Skipton / Gargrave area - 01756 792809
• For Shipley / Saltaire / Keighley / Bingley / Silsden - Tel 01274 433678
• For Leeds - Tel 0113 242 5242
email firstname.lastname@example.org www.leeds.gov.uk