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Thread: Canal wild camping

  1. #1
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    Default Canal wild camping

    Is wild camping, if done discreetly, allowed on the towpath areas of canals. I know that some of you will say just find somewhere out of the way and no one will bother you, but I just wondered exactly what the rules are. Does the canal and river trust own the towpath areas or are they owned privately? If they do are they likely to turn a blind eye to responsible campers?

  2. #2
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    In my experience, it will be fine.

    Bootstrap contacted British Waterways (just before it all became C&RT if I remember correctly) regarding a 4 day trip we did on the Oxford Canal, and they were fine with camping along the towpath. Rural locks often have space for a little tent or two. I think of it like mooring.

    However, I'd avoid locks with lockeepers cottages (rarely inhabited by the lockeeper these days!), in fact I'd avoid being within sight of any buildings if possible.

    A few navigations, such as my local Wey, are owned by other authorities. The Wey is the National Trust, and I doubt very much they'd give permission for camping. So I don't ask
    Covering as many malmiles as possible before being distracted by the pub!

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  3. #3
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    the canal authority will generally own the towpath, but often not the land on the non-towpath side except around locks, etc.

    so long as you're discrete & don't block the towpath I doubt you'd have any problems

    I'm not sure I'd ever ask a canal authority - forgiveness is generally easier to obtain than permission

  4. #4

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    I have a copy of "Wild Camping" by Stephen Neale. He writes that you have implied permission if you're doing a licenced activity on the canal (he suggests a fishing licence as an example). He note that CRT have said that fishermen can bivvy on the bank so long as they don't block the towpath. So if you have "BCU" ( CE/CW) membership, or a CRT licence, you can travel on the canal 24hrs per day, and stopping to sleep is an integral part of that; in a narrowboat, you sleep on the boat, in a canoe, you sleep on the bank. (I suppose sleeping in the canoe would be allowed too)

  5. #5
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    many thanks for your comments. I mainly wanted to know if the crt were absolutely anti but it seems from your comments that as long as you are sensible keep levels of noise down etc., and carry your BCU license with you, all will go well.

  6. #6

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    The C&RT are very thin on the ground... you would be very unlucky to be noticed by them, let alone hassled. The camp sites at locks are magic. If you are ever at Lock 84 on the Grand Union, you can camp at our place. Canals are our heritage secured by activists after the second world war. It is wonderful what activism can achieve.
    Doug Dew
    "The best is yet to come" My Father


  7. #7
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    Default

    Assume you mean towpaths in England? In Scotland of course, there'd be no bother.

    Responsible wild camping is legal here.

    Now I wish to God I'd joined those men when they were set ashore, but I chose a wild and a reckless life serving under Captain Moore.

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  8. #8
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    If you keep to rural areas there should be little problem.
    CRT bods are pretty few and tend to be 9 to 5

    simon

  9. #9

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    I phoned the C&RT about camping on the Chesterfield canal and they said it was OK but to let them know when so that they could advise local employees not to bother us.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mal Grey View Post
    Bootstrap contacted British Waterways (just before it all became C&RT if I remember correctly) regarding a 4 day trip we did on the Oxford Canal, and they were fine with camping along the towpath.
    That's correct. In addition they also said not to spend more than one night at a single location, not to block the passage of walkers etc. and to leave no rubbish.
    Bootstrap
    There's no such thing as inclement weather - you're just incorrectly dressed

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