Don't use towpaths when not essential

Published: Tuesday, 31 March 2020

I'M SOMEWHAT surprised that our esteemed editor published the D Hymers piece encouraging people to ignore the government's rules by still walking and moving when not essential, writes Keith Gudgin.

But, then again, I suppose he has to show both sides!

Continuous cruisers may have chosen to live on the canals but have not choosen to be attacked by this disease or mobbed by it's carriers.  Rules have been put in place to try to prevent this . As for there being no greater risk to boaters than people in terraced houses I wonder what those house dwellers would say if they had circa 3,700 strangers walk past their front door every day, which of course they don't as the roads are being policed.  The lockdown and other rules have not been put in place for fun, there are good reasons for them.

No pedestriansIncorrect

Saying it's not possible or practical to close towpaths has been shown to be incorrect ,as recent articles on narrowboatworld clearly show that this has been done in the past.  They were definitely closed during the Foot & Mouth epidemics.  In fact I still have one of the signs that were put up to do just that.

Mooring on the offside, as he should know, is not allowed without permission of the land owner, who in the present times would probably refuse anyway!  Encouraging others to break the rules and invite more hostility to boaters doesn't help either!  Also it is most probable that moving into a marina or linear mooring would also be refused?

High footfall on the towpath

Like others, I have moved away from a crowded area in a town to a quiet spot, only to be joined by five other boats within hours, so it's not so quiet now.  All of us moved because of the high footfall on the towpath where we were. Unfortunately, the towpath here is still being used by many locals.  It is impossible to get totally away from them and the rules say we should not move anyway.  People are even walking dogs in the field on the offside here so mooring there would not solve anything!  Also why should I have to hide away from these irresponsible people who are doing all they can to ignore the advice and rules being implemented?

Okay so there are areas where there are many boats close together as there are houses.  These are communities that will look after each other and are not strangers just walking past so it's not the same, and social distancing can be maintained more effectively . There is no reason to increase the unnecessary infection risk to these people by allowing hundreds of strangers to infiltrate the area.

Told to stay put

It seems to me that's it's people like him that are the reason the lockdown is having problems.  We have been told to stay put and stay indoors by the authorities and don't need pseudo experts like him encouraging people to do otherwise!  Passing people at any distance when not necessary is irresponsible and foolhardy and touching the same surfaces is also vey risky.  The NHS has enough to do without the fallout from people like him encouraging others to ignore advice and take unnecessary risks.

It's due to suich people that we need to implement much stricter rules.  No one should be able to walk anywhere other than for essential medical reasons, essential work or to go shopping.  Exersise should not be a reason for leaving your home.  Walking dogs should only be allowed if you do not have a garden, you do not leave the street you live in and you stay within 100 yards (metres) of your home?

Ignore rules and do as they please

It seems to me that people are using any excuse or loophole to ignore the rules and do as they please.  It's time this was stopped and people forced to act responsibly as it is apparent they can't be relied upon to do so on their own.  I fully support John Coxon's and others' views that the towpaths should be closed with immediate effect to all other than boaters.  There can be no excuse to continue to allow unfettered access to irresponsible people spreading this disease.