Where to moor on the canal

Before you set off on your narrowboat, you’ll need to have confidence in where to moor on the canal. One of the delicious freedoms of this kind of holiday is mooring up wherever you fancy but there are a few things to remember. (If you want to know how to moor, take a look at this article.)

Every year, we pay a licence fee to the Canal and River Trust for each of our boats. This fee enables you to more along the tow path side of the canal, at no cost to you. You do not need to book.

Many parts of the canal network feature mooring rings and bollards and by threading your ropes through/round these, you can tie securely on your boat. Don’t be tempted to more for any length of time on a white – topped bollards as these are for temporary moorings to be used when waiting at locks, water points or other services.

Many sections of the canal often feature Armco barrier along the towpath edge (pictured below). This gives you something through which to thread your chains or mooring pins (supplied.) You will then simply take your rope from the boat through your fixing and again, tie off on the boat itself.

There are important differences between cruising on a canal and on a river. Canal cruising offers many more opportunities for safe mooring because this kind of waterway is relatively shallow and has little moving current. A river is generally deeper and faster moving. On a river, it is generally safest to moor up in a designated area such as a marina or pontoon. Many rivers you will need to book and pay for your mooring. You may also need an anchor.

Union Wharf Marina is located at the end of the Harborough Arm. This is a few miles of canal which takes you to Foxton, from where you joined the Leicester Line of the Grand Union Canal. The same rules apply on where to moor on the canal, whether you turn to the north or south from Foxton.

All the marinas in our area are privately run and therefore if you choose to moor there, you will need to book and pay for the privilege. Most of our guests choose to moor for free along the tow path as this is part of the charm of a narrowboat holiday. A night stay in a marina is likely to be £10-£20.

Of course, if you would like to moor up back at Union Wharf, this is free of charge for all our hirers. Just let us know and we will reserve your space.

The basin at the bottom of Foxton Locks is reserved for those waiting to use the locks, although you can moor directly outside Foxton Locks Inn for 24 hours. Likewise, the immediate approach to the top of the locks is used by boats queuing to come down.

With those exceptions, there is plenty of visitor mooring at both the top and bottom of the locks. The Canal and River Trust has produced a map here.

There are a few places where you can’t stay overnight:

  • Blocking taps and other services
  • Under fixed bridges
  • Near sharp bends
  • On the outside of bends
  • By blind spots
  • In stretches marked out for an angling match


Finally, we would advise that you avoid shallow parts of the canal – if you can see the silt bottom of the canal at the water’s edge, you will probably be unable to get close enough to the tow path and may get stuck trying.

We are delighted that more and more narrowboat novices are enjoying the canals around Market Harborough. We are putting together a series of Beginner Guides to help you prepare for your holiday and find a few solutions to common problems en route.

It is also a good idea to familiarise yourself with the Canal and River Trust’s Boaters’ Handbook before you arrive.

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.