We share the Lea with many groups and in most cases we all co-exist peacefully, with minimum danger to life and limb. The idea behind these pages is to provide additional information for canal boat users, which should keep all of us safer when on the water.  We will be sharing this link with the interested groups.

Critical safety points are:


  • The stretch of the Lea Navigation between Old Ford Lock and Tottenham Lock is the only stretch of canal in London still used regularly by rowers (see map), with rowing clubs in operation here continuously since the 1880’s.
  • Adhering to the rules of navigation and staying on the right of the river is even more important here than in other areas on the canal network, and at night, moving boats should have lights on bow & stern – we have them on our boats when we are training in the dark (typically when the clocks go back during winter) – see point ‘Peak Use’ below;
  • Peak Use: There will be lots of rowing & sculling boats on the water on Saturday and Sunday mornings between 8am and 12.30, and on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6pm til 9pm .  During darkness, the boats will have white lights on both stern & bow.  At other times there are often one or two boats on the river, but at peak times there can be up to thirty rowing boats on this stretch of river.  These are typically racing crews who are training and could be moving very fast especially on the 600m and 2000m straight.
  • There are novices (children and adults) on the water between The Springhill Marina and Tottenham Lock and on the 600m straight, also new beginners (including school age rowers ) are often taught around the boathouse.  These groups may find it difficult to move quickly out of the way of other boats, and we would welcome your awareness and patience;size of boats
  • Please keep a vigilant look out for us – we are not always readily visible as we are low down compared with the navigation banks and canal boats, and very wide with our oars ;
  • Approaching bends particularly at peak times, sounding your canal boats horn would be much appreciated by approaching rowers;
  • We are particularly vulnerable particularly when navigating past double (or sometimes triple) moored boats or on bends; or when doubled up boats cruise in the middle of the river (or at pinch points), giving us no space and put us in danger of collisions (our boats are very fragile!);

Other safety points:

  • Considerate mooring would be appreciated, and we would ask that double mooring, or mooring to both sides of the canal only be considered by boaters between Tottenham & Old Ford on the widest, straightest sections of the navigation, and away from narrow bridges and their approaches (for example by the Crate pub);
  • Widebeam boats too can cause difficulties for us if they are moored close to the narrow road bridges between Hackney Marshes & Old Ford, specifically  the 2000m straight from Lea Bridge Road Weir/ Middlesex Filter Beds through to Eton Mission boathouse;
  • We would also appreciate that small boats/canoes which are tethered to canal boats are secured at two points, and cannot swing out into the navigation.

There have been boating and racing on this stretch of the river since the 1880’s, and we are now a proud amalgamation of around 39 clubs. Racing is in our blood. The Lea RC has produced 5 Olympic oarsmen/women; a win at Henley 2013 by the women; and recently Maddy Badcott who rowed in the winning women’s Oxford crew in this year’s boat race.

Our request for consideration in these matters is both for issues of rower safety, and also our need for effective training opportunities to be maintained particularly on the two straights.  Your consideration and cooperation in this matter  will help us to maintain our safety and underpin our sporting achievements and long history here.

To view the complete presentation and history of the club (pdf format) click here: Lea Rowing Club