David: Walking the towpaths

Published: Monday, 30 March 2020

THE self-obsession of continuous moorers like John Coxon never ceases to amaze me.

They complain (and not only on narrowboatworld) that people are invading their space by walking past their boats moored against the towpath and demand that CaRT close the towpaths (a physical impossibility) to protect them.

Nobody asked them to become residential boaters tied up in one place and I don't see why they cannot move if they don't like it.  They could always find themselves a quiet spot on the offside of the canal, where there would be no walkers to bother them.  In some places, notably London and Bath, they are tied up two or even three abreast; surely at as much risk from their neighbours as from towpath users, who at least simply go past.

In any case, I don't see that they are at any greater risk from passers-by than the many thousands of people who live in terraced streets where the front doors open directly onto the pavement; just keep the windows shut!

On the more general point of the towpaths not being wide enough to keep six feet from others, the same is true of most street pavements.  Yes, you can walk into the road to avoid people, an option which is not available on a canal towpath, except to the exceptionally qualified, but this is not very safe when you consider the much increased speed of traffic at the moment.

I have just walked a part of the K&A towpath near Thatcham, which is wider than usual and has no moored boats because of CaRT's long standing refusal to cut the bankside reeds.  The few people I passed gave me a wide berth, except for the four young boys walking abreast, who seemed to consider themselves an exception to the rules.

I really don't see that there is any great risk in passing somebody at a combined speed of 8mph—if you're really bothered you could hold your breath.

David Hymers