You will be taken through this safety briefing prior to going onto the river, please familiarise yourself in advance.


What to do if you capsize

  • Take care of people first, ensure everyone is in a position of safety (standing).
  • Hang onto the paddle as they can be useful for reaching out to others and bracing yourself in the water.
  • Dry barrels may or may not float depending on how much is in them but can usually be found later.
  • Canoes full of water weigh more than 1 tonne so best to move it to shallow water and roll the water out rather than try to lift it out of the water.
  • Stay up-stream of the canoe in flowing water to avoid being pinned against rocks or trees by the canoe.
  • All losses and unreasonable damage must be paid for (see T’s & C’s). 

How to avoid capsize

  • Stay away from trees and branches. They may conceal broken branches that can cause you injury (there is also the possibility that other obstacles will lie beneath the water that could cause damage to the boat or impede it).
  • Do not grab hold of branches. If avoiding overhanging trees, duck forward and down within the confines of the canoe. If you lean to one side you increase the likelihood of tipping the boat over.
  • Avoid drifting sideways downstream, as the boat could come against something that could tip you out. 


  • Choose a centre opening with the least obstruction and smoothest flow of water.
  • Do not try to pass between a bridge upright and the river bank.
  • Avoid debris and branches that may have accumulated against bridge supports.
  • Choose your line of approach early – avoid last minute turns and positioning movements. 

Islands and choice of route

  • It is not possible to give precise instructions for each part of the river (see route notes for specific hazards) as river levels vary from day to day. Avoid fast flowing water that takes you under overhanging trees/bushes.
  • If you run aground consider getting out of the boat and pulling it over the river bed to a point where it will float with occupants in it (less than 6inches or 150mm). Do not wait until you are up to your knees.
  • Choose your line of travel early. Avoid making last minute route changes. 

Steering and paddling

  • The person at the back of the canoe is in charge of steering.
  • Paddling forward on the right of the boat will make you head left.
  • Paddling forward on the left of the boat will make you head right.
  • Holding the paddle in the water on the right, creating resistance against the water will steer you to the right.
  • Holding the paddle in the water on the left, creating resistance against the water will steer you to the left.
  • Paddling backwards on the right of the boat will turn you right very quickly.
  • Paddling backwards on the left of the boat will turn you left very quickly
  • The person at the rear should instruct others on which side to paddle when necessary.
  • When you have three people in a boat avoid having all three people paddling on the same side all at once. This can lead to the boat capsizing if the boat becomes unbalanced. 

Stopping en route

  • If landing on a beach where the boat has run aground remember let one person out before the rest of you stand up. The person that gets out first should then pull the boat further ashore (remember the boat is likely to float again when one person gets out).
  • Take all paddles, buoyancy aids and barrels with you, do not leave them in the canoe unattended.
  • Pull the boat completely out of the water (to avoid it drifting off). 


  • Avoid getting between swans and their nests or young. Paddle away from aggressive swans.


  • Respect other river users including anglers. When asked if you can see their line, answer the question. Thin filament lines can be invisible to you.


  • Pull your canoe up onto the grassy area (the wash from leisure boats can cause them to be washed back onto the river)



Contact Us

The Paddocks Hotel
Symonds Yat West HR9 6BL
01600 891100