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Cycling by the waterways

Towpaths on canals, rivers and other waterside paths provide a network of scenic routes for cyclists without the hassle of motor traffic which makes them a great place for a family bike ride.

You can cycle long distances or a short ride as part of a longer route to enjoy the relaxed and friendly environment which could be closer to you than you think; over half the population live within about 10 minutes of a waterway.

Cycling ‘need-to-know’s

Cycling routes

  1. You can buy maps and decide your own routes – Ordnance Survey maps show towpaths and other waterside routes
  2. You can use the National Cycle Network
  3. You can contact your local branch of Cycling UK or contact local authorities, tourist offices and the navigation authorities

Waterways cycling code

The waterways are there for all to enjoy so be considerate to others. 

  • Give way to others on the towpath and warn them of your approach – it’s a good idea to have a bell
  • Pedestrians have priority
  • Watch out for hazards such as anglers’ tackle and give them time to move it before you try to pass
  • It is advisable to dismount under low, narrow or blind bridges 
  • Waterside paths are not for racing or speed trials
  • Be aware that very occasionally a towpath crosses a road