Stock photo - Shropshire Union Canal at Nantwich (1)

The Canal and Rivers Trust has urged people to limit their use of canal towpaths around Cheshire during the COVID-19 pandemic, writes Jonathan White.

They say users need to be mindful of people living on boats, and avoid stretches where boats are moored against the towpath.

A CRT spokesperson said people should “strictly observe social distancing at all times” following the latest advice from the Government.

The advice follows complaints from boat owners that some people are still passing within a metre of their properties or boats on narrow towpaths, making social-distancing impossible.

A narrowboat owner in Nantwich, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “We are at risk from so many walkers, cyclists and joggers that cannot, even if they think of it, keep the 2-metre distance from us.”

Several boat owners have displayed the CRT’s “Supporting the national effort to keep people safe” poster in their windows.

Canal & Rivers Trust (CRT) manages 2,000 miles of England and Wales waterways. For further information visit:

Shropshire Union canal near Nantwich

Shropshire Union canal near Nantwich

Meanwhile, this year’s RHS Britain in Bloom UK finals competition has been cancelled due the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak.

Organisers say the health and safety of communities, volunteers and judges remains the number one priority.

Wistaston in Bloom won the Gold Award last year (2019) and in 2018 in the Town Category at the ‘Britain in Bloom’ (North West) awards.

Last year other areas of South Cheshire who won gold awards included Alvaston Hall Hotel, Willaston Village, Audlem Village and Nantwich.

2019 - Beech Drive Wistaston flowerbed – photo by David Clews

2019 Beech Drive Wistaston flowerbed – photo by David Clews

An RHS spokesperson said: “With the Government advising everyone to follow social distancing measures, it is not possible for our finalists to carry out their usual community gardening activities.

“Communities put huge year-round effort into Britain in Bloom for the benefit of both people and the environment, and we know our 70 finalists will be very disappointed.

“The decision has not been taken lightly and we hope that many groups will choose to participate again in 2021.

“We thank communities for all the hard work they’ve put in so far – their work helps to make the UK cleaner and greener, supports British wildlife and brings people of all ages together.”

Britain in Bloom groups with queries can contact the RHS via [email protected]

Queens Park in Crewe remains closed by Cheshire East Council after tighter restrictions were brought in last week by the Government.

Queens Park Crewe - closed due to Coronavirus - 2020 (1) (1)

(Images courtesy of Jonathan White)


  1. Nan t'Witch says:

    The canal towpath is for the shared use and enjoyment of longboat residents, pedestrians, dog walkers, joggers, cyclists and anglers; and it would be awful if the Canal and Rivers Trust were to close or restrict its use.

    Times are weird and we can all get a bit anxious and stressed, and I think we should have:
    respect and tolerance for each other and for keeping our distance;
    respect and tolerance for those who sometimes let their guard down, for those who should know better and for those distracted by their smartphones;
    and also:
    respect and tolerance for the moaning Minnie who frequently leans out of her longboat window barking at any passer-by complaining about social distancing and how the Canal Trust is going to close the towpath.

  2. Gez Harris says:

    Don’t be daft, clearly you have never lived on a boat, the windows and vents remain open which is clearly a safety issue.

    life on a boat is far from relaxing, you are constantly doing maintenance, refilling water, dealing with pump out, lighting fires etc so are bobbing in and off constantly.

    you cannot easily spot a walker or rider when you are dealing with say tying up items on the roof.

    Because there has been lengthy discussion on this by those who live on the canal, it does not entitle you to voice an opinion on a subject that is far from simple and clearly beyond your comprehension

    The next thing to happen will be closure of canal walkways, so button up

  3. The social distancing rule is to stay 2 metres away from other people, not 2 metres from boats. So you only need to keep 2 metres away if someone is standing outside on their boat, not if they are sitting inside.

    • Des Hallam says:

      Don’t you just love the armchair expert here? What part of Avoid areas of canal with boats moored do you not understand John?

      Never mind spouting the two metre rule, because it’s clearly not working.

      You cannot if you are out with a dog and another adult pass a boat together easily without one of you getting too close.

      Boat owners are on and off boats all day like a bouncing ball attending to safety and maintenance issues you would not believe.

      Clearly the boats need to have open windows for safety, and vents to allow free passage of air.

      Now how do you stay safe John, love to see you try.

      With the foot and mouth the towpaths were restricted, with twits like you about, it’s time that happened again, so think on

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