Narrowboats: Can I Stop Anywhere I Like?

mooring a fox narrowboat

So, picture this: You’ve arrived at our marina for your first narrowboat holiday, and brought your luggage and groceries on board the narrowboat. You’ve had your boat handling training from one of our friendly instructors, and you feel more than ready to set off on an adventure. But where are you going to stop? Can you really just moor anywhere?

Although travelling the canals and rivers may look like a bohemian lifestyle that’s free from any rules and regulations, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind, before you pick your mooring spot.

First of all, be aware of whose land (or water) you are mooring on. Much of the UK canal network is maintained and managed by The Canal and River Trust. However, The Environment Agency manages the River Nene and River Great Ouse, The Conservators of the River Cam the River Cam and the Middle Level Commissioners the Middle Level navigations. These are the waterways you will be exploring on your Fox Narrowboat holiday. To be able to navigate these waterways or to take up one of the EA’s moorings in your own narrowboat, you will need to be registered with the EA, MLC or hold a Canal and River Trust (CRT) Gold Licence with Anglia Pass. However, all Fox boats come with the necessary licences, at no extra cost to you. As well as membership to GOBA and Friends of the river Nene who have visitor moorings dotted around the system.

Secondly, make sure you’re not mooring on a private mooring. The Environment Agency offers residential moorings and leisure moorings that are paid for by private boat owners. Even if the boater is away from their mooring it’s not OK to moor there – it would be like parking on somebody elses driveway! The EA offers permanent moorings. A good place to check for moorings is in the Imray guides which can be purchased and reserched before your holiday or from us on arrival.

The EA also offer a number of visitor moorings that are free to use for a maximum of 48 hours continuous use. These usually have mooring bollards to tie your ropes around, and there may be a sign confirming the amount of time you are allowed to stay. In some locations elongated mooring bollards accommodate changng river levels.

Some grass bank moorings in rural settings will have no bollards, and in these cases you will need mooring pegs. You can moor in most places along the towpath side of a canal but not a river most river banks will generally be private land. Some moorings are within walking distance of pubs, shops and cafes; others will be quiet, scenic and remote.

Using mooring pins may make for easier use of mooring areas, but just make sure not to moor your holiday boat near bridges, junctions, locks, or anywhere it could obstruct other boaters navigating the waterways. Also, do not moor in another company’s boat yard or marina without their permission. There is likely to be a charge, and there is no need with so many free moorings available while you’re cruising.

If there isn’t a refuse facility at the mooring please be a good citizen and retain your rubbish until you find one making the network a plesant place to explore.

If you’re used to travelling the main canal network you will find the Anglian waterways slightly different, with changing water levels, and some parts being tidal. Some visitor moorings have a landing stage, or a floating pontoon. Different locations will have different rules about how long you can stay, so check the signs.

But mooring isn’t all about rules and regulations – it’s also about being a decent human (or boater). Just be respectful of other users of the waterways, and don’t leave any rubbish behind when you leave the mooring. There’s nothing like peacefully travelling our local rivers, and then choosing the perfect location to stay the night.

See our moorings map for fens waterways

You may also like to read:

The Best Moorings for Your First Night on a Narrowboat

Six Stunning Moorings on the Middle Level

The 3 Best Moorings When Narrowboating on the Nene

Narrowboat moorings in Cambridgeshire.

If you’re looking for a less-crowded narrowboat holiday where you can enjoy stunning countryside and attractive villages, we’d love to welcome you on board one of our Fox Narrowboats this year.

Already got your own boat? We have moorings for 200 boats on a daily or a long term basis and can accommodate boats up to 70ft. Our secure flood proof lagoon provides excellent moorings, some with 240v electrical hook-up and several water tap supplies.

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