London’s network of canals are some of the city’s most delightful places for a stroll. However, little did the eighteenth-century engineers who built these narrow watery thoroughfares know that in the future we’d be social distancing in our allotted hour of exercise. So, while the waterways make a lovely spot for an afternoon jog, trying to keep two metres apart on a tight sliver of towpath is extremely difficult. Impossible, often.
In light of this and to help keep the people who live on and near our canals safe, Londoners have been asked to limit their use of towpaths for the foreseeable future.
The Canal & River Trust, which oversees 2,000 miles of waterways across the country, issued a statement this week asking people to keep their use of waterways to a minimum.
‘We are reminding people that whilst our towpaths remain open, use of them should be limited in line with Government advice, and strictly local only,’ the trust said.
It added: ‘For our canal towpaths, this means that we are asking people to limit their use, avoid stretches where multiple boats are moored where possible – as people aboard may be self-isolating – and always apply social-distancing measures.’
The trust has created printable posters that people who live near towpaths can display. They urge people to avoid stretches of the canals with moored boats, not to fish and to observe social distancing at all times.
The announcement comes after Brockwell Park closed its gates on Sunday because some users were seen ‘sunbathing and congregating in large groups’ and the indefinite closure of Victoria Park at the end of March.