Bridges – giving way

It isn’t always straightforward who should give way under a canal bridge. They are certainly only wide enough for one narrowboat to come through at a time.

There is no absolutely right way to approach them (you might want to take a look at our Beginner Guide on the subject.) But it is considered polite to hang back and allow an oncoming boat through in the following circumstances:

  • When an oncoming boat is closer to the bridge than you
  • When the boat is an historic boat (a deeper draft means slower stopping times)
  • When the boat is pulling a butty (an unpowered boat)
  • When the oncoming boat appears to be having difficulty slowing or manouvering, for any reason

If you are waved through, and it makes sense to do so, then of course, the field is yours. If you choose to wave the oncomer through, then try to stick to the right hand side to allow them to pass.


If you are new to narrowboating, you might also be interested to read some of our Boat Operation Beginner Guides before you arrive at Union Wharf for your holiday.


It is also a good idea to familiarise yourself with the Canal and River Trust’s Boaters’ Handbook , a general guide to inland boating.

We offer all kinds of narrowboats, fromĀ Day Boats to Boutique Narrowboats and boats suitable for families. All our hires involve full training and we welcome complete beginners. As part of that training we will always explain how to use any waterways features that you’ll encounter by navigating from Market Harborough.