Waterways etiquette

closing a lock on the canal

Waterways etiquette is a bit of a mystery when you are new to narrowboating. Knowing when to give way, how to leave the lock set up and where to moor can bring narrowboat novices out in a cold sweat – and it’s easy to understand why. A canal boat is not difficult to operate but if it is unfamiliar, you may be nervous about doing the wrong thing.

This set of Beginner Guides is being written to help our hirers drive their boat from Market Harborough marina with confidence that they understand the waterways etiquette of the canals.


If you are new to narrowboating, you might also be interested to read some of our Local Navigation 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, from 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.