Canoes, kayaks, hire, guiding and coaching.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does it work?


When you book, we will send out a Public Transport Journey Planner and Google Map Link for the start point of your trip (please let us know if you are not able to use online resources, and we will supply traditional directions!) We meet you at the start point with the canoes/kayaks and any additional equipment you have booked. You need to tell us where you intend to finish, and at what time, and we will meet you to pick up the boats and equipment.


Where do I leave my car?

Why not leave it at home? Parking is limited at many of the start points, and if you travel by public transport you avoid the stress of driving at either end of your holiday, and trying to park, while helping reduce congestion in the countryside.

This Journey Planner will help you. Please feel free to contact us if you need help planning your journey.:

If public transport is not possible, it can work well to leave your car at the end point or overnight camp site (check with site operator) and travel to the start by taxi or car-share. Feel free to contact us to discuss your transport arrangements.


Is it safe?

As with every aspect of life, there is always some risk, but beyond this, canoeing can be as safe as you want to make it. If you are a beginner, you can build up your experience and confidence on placid sheltered water before moving on to more challenging waterways. For information on the skills and experience needed for the various waterways, see our Skill and Experience Guidlines for Canoe and Kayak Hire page. You can also book an Instructed Course and/or a 'River Awareness Day' before setting off on your own.


Will I be insured?

Backwaters carries public liability insurance. Personal insurance for clients is NOT included in the hire fee and participants take part at their own risk. We recommend that clients take out their own insurance for travel, cancellation and personal accident. This independent online guide to travel insurance may be of help.


What about my children?

Canoe touring is a wonderful way for a family to enjoy the countryside together. However, keeping children safe in unfamiliar and potentially hazardous situations can be unexpectedly challenging, particularly if anything goes wrong. We recommend that parents taking children on the water for the first time choose a placid/sheltered location where you can easily leave the water at any time, such as the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal, or learn the basics on a guided trip, 'River Awareness' Day or Instructed Course. This is particlarly important when the parents are also beginners.


Can we bring the dog?

We don't have a problem with this. However, bear in mind that not all dogs can swim! If a dog will not sit still in the canoe, it can make it difficult to paddle, and may capsize the canoe. The waterways flow through farmland, and livestock are often present on the banks, and sometimes wading in the river. You will need to check whether dogs are allowed at the camp sites you intend to use. If you bring your dog, remember you will need to come prepared to clean up after it, and take waste away with you for disposal. You may NOT under any circumstances, carry waste in our barrells or bags.


Can I bring my fishing rod?

Fishing in Wales and England is heavily regulated and the system can be extremely complicated. Breaches of the regulations can lead to prosecution. We do not have details of the numerous parties from whom permission needs to be sought, and we do not allow our canoes or kayaks to be used for fishing.


Do I need any qualifications?

There is no official requirement for competence to hire canoes, and it is your decision whether you can cope with your planned trip. However, we do not hire canoes or kayaks to beginners for river trips that involve fast-flowing sections. Our web site gives the grade for each of the rivers we hire on, and describes common hazards of each grade. If in any doubt about your ability, choose a placid/sheltered location where you can easily leave the water at any time, such as the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal, or a slow-moving section of river where you can paddle upstream then return to the start point. For information on the skills and experience needed for the various waterways, see our Skill and Experience Guidlines for Canoe and Kayak Hire page. If you are not sure of your ability, you can learn the basics or brush up your skills and knowledge on an Instructed Course or 'River Awareness' Day.


Do we need to camp at official sites?

The river banks are privately owned, and many landowners object strongly to trespass. We do not recommend trying to camp anywhere other than recognised sites, unless you have obtained the permission of the owner. Contact details for camp sites beside the river are given on the Route Planner pages for each of the waterways.


Do we need to book at camp sites?

We strongly recommend that you book your camping in advance. Some of the sites are seasonal, and at busy times, popular sites may be full.


I want to get away from it all, can you suggest a quiet route?

It is often more a matter of when you choose. Summer weekends and school holiday periods are very busy (particularly bank holidays) and you can expect to meet a lot of other river users. Camp sites are likely to be crowded at these times. Out of season, you may see hardly anyone at all! However, you need to make sure your planned camp sites will be open, as some only open for the peak season.


Are there places to eat along the way?

These are few and far between, and opening times can be erratic. We strongly advise that you check before travelling whether food will be available at your chosen stopping points. It is advisable to be self-sufficient for food, drink and shelter, even if you are planning a pub-lunch stop or evening meal. On the river, you can be several miles from the next stopping point, or from roads or buildings, often without mobile 'phone coverage.


What do I need to bring?

Our 'Advice on Trip Planning' and 'Clothing and Equipment' pages will help you prepare for your canoeing adventure.


Can I give canoe or kayak hire as a gift? 

Yes! Canoe and Kayak hire Gift Vouchers are available for a set date or open-dated (usually to the end of the season, and for one season following), to be exchanged subject to our usual Terms and Conditions of Booking.