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.]] [[File:|thumb|Changeline bridge on the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal. The towpath changes to the other side of the canal but the horse does not have to be unhitched]]

A towpath is a road or trail on the bank of a river, canal, or other inland waterway. The purpose of a towpath is to allow a land vehicle, beasts of burden, or a team of human pullers to tow a boat, often a barge. This mode of transport was common where sailing was impractical due to rapid current,[citation needed] tunnels and bridges, or unfavourable winds.

After the Industrial Revolution, towing became obsolete when engines were fitted on boats and when railway transportation superseded the slow towing method. Since then, many of these towpaths have been converted to multi-use trails. They are still named towpaths although they are not used to tow boats anymore.

Towpaths are popular with cyclists and equestrians (riders and drivers- drivers as a person controlling a horse drawn cart) because they are mostly flat and long. In snowy winters they are popular with cross-country skiers and snowmobile users.

Although historically not designed or used as towpaths, acequia ditch banks also are popular recreational trails.

List of towpaths

See also

File:Semington-bridge.jpg UK Waterways portal

External links



Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


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towpath (plural towpaths)

  1. a path alongside a canal or river, originally for horses towing barges, now more often used as a footpath


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