The dangerous towpaths

Published: Friday, 03 November 2017

THOUGH of course many towpaths attacks go unreported, the one yesterday, on the Rochdale Canal brings the 'official' list up to date.

It was in the early hours of Thursday morning that a woman was molested on the towpath at Clog Mill at Hebden Bridge, on the Rochdale Canal, and though being bruised by her male attacker managed to escape as she tells he was drunk and unable to chase her.

Two attacks

During the year a man pushed in the face and robbed on 15th January at Acocks Green on the towpath of the Grand Union Canal in Birmingham, followed by another being robbed on the the 7th February on the same stretch of towpath.

Then on the 1st April a woman was slung into the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in Leeds by a male teenager and robbed. On the 6th May another woman was accosted in Leeds and slapped until she passed over her smartphone to the attacker. Also on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal towpath there were two attacks on women during October at Rodley, with a man subsequently arrested. Then the 31st May saw a sex attack on a woman by a man at Knottingly on the Aire & Calder towpath.


There were a number of attacks on the Thames towpath in Reading, with a man attacked by a group of thugs on the 7th August and  a woman raped on the 13th August and a further attack on the 18th August by three men that put another in hospital.

August this year was a bad month for towpath safety, with a boater beaten unconscious on the Grand Union Canal towpath in Leamington on the 2nd August and having to be taken to hospital. Then there were the five attacks on towpath walkers by knife-point on the Lee Navigation by Lee Valley Marina, during August that virtually cleared the towpath of visitors.

Two men were attacked on the Leicester Section in the city on the 31st March by a gang, with one pushed into the waterway and both badly beaten, Also on the Leicester Section, there were two separate robberies at Abbey Park during September, with bank cards and smartphones stolen by two teenagers.

Cyclists too

It is not only walkers that get attacked, but cyclists too are easy prey on the towpaths with robbers intent upon stealing bikes. A man was attacked and his bike stolen by masked robbers on the towpath of the Lee Navigation on the 23rd January near Hackney Marshes.

A woman was seriously injured when a gang of youths attacked her, pushed her off her bike then stole it as she was cycling along the Grand Union Canal towpath at Ackers Green. Then on the 18th June another women was left with a broken leg when she was attacked by a gang of youths, once again on the Lee Navigation towpath, this time near Tottenham.

Teenagers charged

Bringing it all up to date, there were four robberies on the towpath of the Grand Union Canal by Star City in Birmingham during October with both walkers and anglers robbed, but with two teenagers caught and now charged with various offences.

These are just the towpath attacks that have been officially reported, but from information received from boaters there are many more with correspondents telling of attacks that luckily have been fended-off, but it is sensible to take care.