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Canoeing & kayaking

Experience blue space

With all watersports, it’s best to learn under the guidance of an experienced and qualified coach.

Coaches can make sure your introduction to the sport is fun and safe and - added bonus - signpost you to the best clubs and paddling routes in your area.

Whether you are canoeing, kayaking or stand up paddleboarding on the tidal Thames (also known as the tideway), all river users must follow the Tideway Code to keep themselves and others safe. Whilst some stretches of the tideway might not look busy at certain times, it is key to remember that it is a navigable port with a huge variety of activity, from stand-up paddleboarders to high speed boats and commercial ships. It is the busiest inland waterway in the UK.

What’s the Tideway like for paddling?

West of Putney Bridge, the tidal Thames is at its calmest. East of Putney Bridge the river becomes increasingly sea-like, so paddling is only permitted for more experienced paddlers who have undertaken recognised training courses, and only at the times when the river will be less busy. 

Active360 run a Thames Skills and Knowledge Course to equip people with the skills and knowledge to paddle safely on the tideway. It is needed for anyone wishing to paddle below Putney Bridge. Visit the Active360 website for more information.

Where can I find out more?

Paddle UK have a huge amount of information freely available to paddlers, and their membership offer gives you even more access to the paddling community, resource and advice. There are over 50 paddling clubs in London. Canoe London has an excellent list, and plenty of free information too.

Safety warning

Stand up paddleboards are often sold with a device, known as a leash, that keeps your board attached to you. Different leashes suit different waters. Quick-release waist leashes are the only leash suitable for the tideway. See Paddle UK’s guidance on the Go Paddling website

Activity Finder

Go Paddling

Go Paddling is the home for recreational paddlers, whether they’re brand new to the sport and want to get on the water for the first time or a confident paddler looking to take on new adventures.  Explore UK rivers, find paddle trails and create your own paddling routes. 

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The Tideway Code

Every watersports participant should know The Tideway Code

Going afloat: What you should know

The Active Thames website is run and administered by the Port of London Authority (PLA) and has been designed to provide support to members of the public who are interested in watersports and physical activity. Whilst we make reasonable efforts to ensure that information provided on our website is accurate and up to date, we make no representations or guarantees, whether express or implied, as to the accuracy of the content. Therefore, users should ensure that they make their own enquiries of the information provided including coaches, their qualifications (and whether the same are up to date) and contact details as listed on the Active Thames website. The information and links provided by Active Thames are for convenience only. Listing of coaches and links provided on our website may lead to external sites and any information or statements on these sites are not sponsored or endorsed by the PLA. The PLA cannot be held liable for the availability (or lack thereof) of individuals listed on or content located within any external websites.
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