Gongoozling as a Hobby: Watching the World Float By

Gongoozling as a hobby involves watching and observing canal boats as they pass by.

It’s a relaxing and peaceful pursuit that allows you to take in the beauty of the water and the boats that traverse it.

Whether you’re watching from a bridge, a towpath, or a canal-side pub, gongoozling can be a rewarding and enjoyable way to spend your time. So why not grab a chair, sit back, and watch the world float by?

See Also: What Are Some Spotting Hobbies?

What is Gongoozling?

If you are looking for a unique hobby that allows you to relax and enjoy the outdoors, Gongoozling might be just what you need.

Gongoozling is the practice of observing canal activity without participating in it. It is a hobby that involves watching boats go through locks, bridges, and other canal structures, and enjoying the peaceful scenery of the waterways.

The term Gongoozling is believed to have originated in the UK in the 1970s. It is said to have been derived from the word “gongoozler,” which was used to describe a person who idled away their time watching canal boats. Gongoozling is a popular pastime in the UK, but it is also enjoyed by people all over the world.

One of the best things about Gongoozling is that it is a low-cost hobby that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. You don’t need any special equipment or training to get started – all you need is a canal, a lock or bridge, and a comfortable place to sit and watch the boats go by. You can bring a picnic, a book, or just sit and enjoy the scenery.

Gongoozling can also be a social activity. Many Gongoozlers enjoy meeting other enthusiasts and sharing their knowledge and experience. There are also many clubs and organizations dedicated to the hobby, where you can learn more about the history of canals and canal boats, and participate in events and activities.

History of Gongoozling

Gongoozling is a hobby that has been around for centuries. It originated in the UK during the Industrial Revolution when canals were the primary mode of transportation for goods. The term “gongoozler” was used to describe someone who would stand idly by the canal and watch the boats pass by.

Over time, the term “gongoozling” has evolved to describe the hobby of observing canals and canal boats. Today, it is a popular pastime enjoyed by many people around the world.

The history of gongoozling is closely tied to the history of canals. Canals were first built in the UK in the late 18th century, and they quickly became an essential part of the country’s transportation infrastructure. The canals were used to transport goods such as coal, iron, and textiles from one part of the country to another.

As canals became more popular, so did the hobby of gongoozling. People would spend hours watching the boats pass by, and they would often keep track of the different types of boats and cargoes that they saw.

Today, gongoozling is still a popular hobby, and it has expanded to include many different aspects of canals and canal boats. Some gongoozlers enjoy collecting canal-related artwork, while others enjoy taking photographs of canal boats and locks.

In recent years, gongoozling has also become more accessible thanks to the internet. There are now many online communities dedicated to the hobby, where gongoozlers can share their experiences and knowledge with others. Additionally, there are many resources available online that can help gongoozlers learn more about canals and canal boats.

Overall, gongoozling is a fascinating hobby with a rich history. Whether you are a seasoned gongoozler or just starting, there is always something new to discover and learn.

Gongoozling as a Hobby

Gongoozling is a unique and fascinating hobby that involves observing and studying canal activity. It is a relaxing and peaceful way to spend your time and can be enjoyed by people of all ages. In this section, we will explore the different aspects of gongoozling as a hobby and how to get started.

Getting Started with Gongoozling

Getting started with gongoozling is easy. All you need is a canal or lock, a comfortable spot to sit or stand, and some patience. You can bring along a good book or a pair of binoculars to enhance your experience. It is also important to dress appropriately for the weather and wear comfortable shoes.

Gongoozling for Birders

Birding is a popular hobby that can be combined with gongoozling. Many canals are home to a variety of bird species, making it an ideal location for birders. You can bring along a birding field guide and a pair of binoculars to identify and observe the different bird species. It is also important to respect the birds and their habitat by observing from a safe distance.

Gongoozling for Trainspotters

Trainspotting is another hobby that can be combined with gongoozling. Many canals have bridges that cross over railway tracks, providing an excellent vantage point for trainspotters. You can bring along a notebook to record the train numbers and other details. It is important to stay safe and not trespass on railway property.

Gongoozling for Scutelliphiles

Scutelliphily is the hobby of collecting canal-related artwork and memorabilia. Many gongoozlers enjoy collecting postcards, photographs, and other items related to canals and locks. You can also create your own artwork inspired by your gongoozling experiences. It is important to respect the canal and its surroundings by not littering or damaging the environment.

In the United States, gongoozling is often referred to as “twitching” or “lock ticking.” This hobby is a great way to appreciate the beauty and history of canals and locks. By observing and studying canal activity, gongoozlers can gain a deeper understanding of bird biology, trains, and the workings of locks.

Overall, gongoozling is a fascinating hobby that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Whether you are a birder, trainspotter, scutelliphile, or simply enjoy observing canal activity, gongoozling is a great way to spend your time.

Equipment for Gongoozling

When it comes to gongoozling, having the right equipment can make all the difference. Here are some key items to consider bringing with you:


Binoculars are a must-have for any gongoozler. They allow you to get a closer look at passing boats, locks, and other canal features. Look for binoculars with a magnification of at least 8x and a lens diameter of at least 30mm. You may also want to consider a pair with image stabilization to reduce hand shake.


A camera can help you capture the beauty of the canals and the passing boats. A point-and-shoot camera or a smartphone with a good camera can work well. If you’re looking for higher quality photos, consider a DSLR or mirrorless camera. Look for one with a wide angle lens to capture the full scene.

Clothing and Footwear

Gongoozling can be a long and leisurely activity, so it’s important to dress comfortably. Wear clothing that is appropriate for the weather and comfortable shoes that you can stand in for long periods of time. Consider a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun.

Here’s a table summarizing some key items to consider bringing:

BinocularsMagnification of at least 8x and lens diameter of at least 30mm
CameraPoint-and-shoot, smartphone, DSLR, or mirrorless with a wide angle lens
ClothingWeather-appropriate and comfortable
FootwearComfortable shoes for standing for long periods of time

Remember, gongoozling is all about enjoying the canals and the passing boats. With the right equipment, you can enhance your experience and capture memories to look back on.

Best Places for Gongoozling

Gongoozling is a hobby that involves watching boats and ships pass by, and there are many great places to do it. Here are some of the best places for gongoozling:

Canals and Locks

Canals and locks are some of the most popular places for gongoozling. They provide a great opportunity to watch boats and ships navigate through narrow waterways and locks. Some of the best canals for gongoozling include:


Watching boats pass under bridges is another great way to enjoy gongoozling. Some of the best bridges for gongoozling include:


If you live near a river or canal, you can enjoy gongoozling from the comfort of your own backyard. Set up a chair or blanket and watch the boats go by. Some of the best backyards for gongoozling include:


Watching boats from the walls of a harbor or marina can provide a unique perspective on gongoozling. Some of the best walls for gongoozling include:

So, grab a chair or a blanket, find a great spot, and enjoy the peaceful and relaxing hobby of gongoozling!

Tips for Gongoozling

If you’re interested in trying out gongoozling as a hobby, there are a few things to keep in mind to make the most of your experience. Here are some tips to help you get started:

Be Respectful

When you’re gongoozling, it’s important to be respectful of the people and environment around you. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Don’t interfere with the operation of canal locks or other canal-related activities.
  • Be mindful of noise levels and avoid disturbing others who may be using the canal or towpath.
  • Respect the privacy of people who live on boats or in houses near the canal.
  • Don’t litter or leave any trash behind. Leave the area cleaner than you found it.

Be Prepared

Gongoozling can be a fun and rewarding hobby, but it’s important to be prepared for different situations. Here are some things to consider:

  • Wear comfortable shoes and clothing appropriate for the weather. Bring sunscreen, a hat, and a water bottle if necessary.
  • Bring binoculars or a camera to get a closer look at canal boats and other interesting sights.
  • Check the weather forecast before you go, and be prepared for changes in temperature or weather conditions.
  • Research the area ahead of time to find out about any local events or interesting spots to visit.

Stay Safe

Gongoozling is generally a safe activity, but it’s always important to take precautions to avoid accidents or injuries. Here are some tips to help you stay safe:

  • Stay alert and aware of your surroundings. Watch out for uneven or slippery surfaces, and avoid walking too close to the edge of the canal.
  • Don’t take unnecessary risks or try to climb onto canal boats or structures.
  • If you’re gongoozling alone, let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to return.
  • Follow any posted safety guidelines or instructions from canal staff or other authorities.

By following these tips, you can enjoy gongoozling as a safe and respectful hobby that allows you to appreciate the beauty and history of canals and waterways.


In conclusion, gongoozling is a fascinating and rewarding hobby that can provide a sense of peace and tranquility.

Whether you are a seasoned gongoozler or a beginner, there is always something new to discover and appreciate.

So grab your binoculars, find a comfortable spot by the canal, and enjoy the sights and sounds of canal life.

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