Includes: narrowboats, power cruising, inland waterways, canal, river, water, residential Outdoors, Adventurous, Water

Activity time:
1 meeting


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Travel on canals and waterways

Working canal locks, steering with the tiller, mooring so you can hop off, and curling up to sleep inside the boat - there are loads of things that will make a narrowboat trip extra-special.


Narrowboating is the use of long, narrow boats for travelling along canals and other waterways. All sections can do this during the day, and Brownies, Guides and Rangers can stay overnight on narrowboats.

To take girls narrowboating, you will need to find a reputable local provider with an adequately insured boat in good condition, and an appropriately experienced, competent and qualified skipper.

Planning checklist

Safety notes

If girls are staying overnight on a narrowboat, follow the residential regulations.

Operating locks can be hard work for younger members - you must ensure appropriate adult supervision on the lockside and for the safe operation of the lock gates.

If the narrowboating trip includes an overnight stay, a Residential event notification form and Health information form for each participant is also needed.

Instructors should hold the Girlguiding Narrowboating Scheme Modules 1-3 if travelling on canals. If the group will also be travelling on rivers, the instructor must also hold Module 4.

If the instructor does not hold the Girlguiding Narrowboating Scheme, the skipper must hold a minimum of one of the following qualifications:

If alternative qualifications are held, please seek advice from your Outdoor Activities Adviser or Boating Adviser, or contact [email protected].

Please note that when hiring a boat with a skipper, the responsibility for the group still remains with the Leader in charge.

Find out more about the Girlguiding Narrowboating Scheme.

The Leader must:

  • make sure that safety rules and alarm signals have been explained to the girls, and they understand the need for instructions to be obeyed immediately
  • make sure the required buoyancy aids/life jackets are used
  • follow water safety guidelines and ensure that the responsible adult helpers are familiar with them.

Water should be inspected for signs of visible pollution, for example rubbish, blue green algae or chemicals.

Make sure girls and parents are aware of the dangers and symptoms of Weil's disease and what action to take if infection is suspected. On the day of the activity participants should be advised to cover cuts and grazes with waterproof plasters to help prevent infection.

See our guidance on water activities.

If the narrowboat trip includes an overnight stay, the Leader must make sure her Leadership Team includes:

  • at least one other adult, in addition to the skipper, with recent and relevant boating experience
  • at least one adult with up-to-date knowledge of water safety and rescue techniques, such as the Girlguiding water safety training module.
  • at least one adult with current first response or higher first aid training.
Section Number of girls per adult
Rainbows 5
Brownies 8
Guides 12

How many adults are needed?

Use this calculator to find out the ratio of girls to adults that is required for this activity

2 adults needed

Standard ratios apply. If the narrowboat trip includes an overnight stay, you must maintain residential ratios.


  • An Activity Information and Consent form is required to participate in this activity - PDF | Word
  • A Risk Assessment form is required for this activity - PDF
  • Health Information Form.pdf

    Gather information from members on their health needs, when planning to attend or organising an event

  • Residential event notification form.pdf

    Send your commissioner a completed residential event notification (REN) form when you start planning a residential event

Remember - you can use one consent form for multiple activities