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My 7 year old daughters teacher asked her why does the canal towpath change sides?, could anybody answer this please. i thought maybe it was either land ownwrship issues when being built or maybe it was for the benifet of the horses ie strain on the horses when pulling loaded boats being swapped from one side to the other preventing them going lame!!! if you know better please let me know

Asked by: Ray Fleckney  | 6.30pm, Friday 4 November

WW says:

There are some canals where the towpath stays on the same side. I think the Coventry Canal has the towpath on the north/east throughout, apart from a tiny final length into Coventry Basin.

Richard Fairhurst  | 1.35PM, Wednesday 9 November

WW says:

The towing path position is dictated by a variety of factors; land ownership is certainly one of them. Security of crops and shooting land from pilfering and poaching from the boatmen being the major fear, and the towpath can be positioned accordingly. Different land owners could be difficult when the canals were being built, which is probably why the towpath swaps sides sometimes seemingly without reason.
The lie of the land is probably the major element, as when the canal is cut into the contour the towpath is almost always on top of the built up embankment away from the slope, this involving the least work. Junctions are always interesting, with the major route having the easiest route for the horse.
The towing lines were very long meaning that the pull on the horse was pretty much straight onto the harness, so the side of the tow path does not make any difference.
Interesting question!

Rupert Smedley  | 12.11PM, Sunday 6 November

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