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Backwaters
Canoe and Kayak Hire

Guidance on the skill and experience needed to hire canoes and kayaks on

Afon Hafren - River Severn.

Afon Hafren - River Severn changes considerably in character along its course, and if you undertake an extended journey you will need to be prepared for a wide range of river conditions.

Pool Quay is the highest point on the navigation. The river is narrow and twisting, generally fast-flowing, and often has vegetation, including trees, obstructing the channel.

The river widens below the confluence of the Vyrnwy at Melverley, but there are numerous riffles and rapids, and the banks continue to be lined with vegetation. In Shrewsbury, there is river traffic, and a weir, which must be portaged. Below Shrewsbury, the river is swift, with riffles, fast water at bends and islands, small rapids and one major (grade 3+) rapid at Jackfield, just below Ironbridge.

The river changes character below Stourport, with large motorised craft, locks and weirs on the following section.

Depending on the level of the river, it may be possible for novices to take a short trip upstream from some launch points, paddling back to the start point. For all other locations, and downriver trips, the recommended skill and experience to hire canoes and kayaks, are given below.

Pool Quay to Stourport

 For unaccompanied hire on the River Severn above Stourport, paddlers should be able to:

  • Lift, carry, launch and land the canoe/kayak safely. This may involve getting up and/or down steep muddy banks;
  • Paddle a straight course, keeping forward momentum;
  • Change course safely while the boat is moving;
  • Move the canoe or kayak sideways;
  • Stop the canoe or kayak with a short distance without losing direction.
  • Recognise rapids or weirs from a safe distance;
  • Recognise submerged rocks, strainers and other hazards;
  • Assess rapids and hazards, to make in informed choice whether to paddle or portage;
  • Recogise a safe eddy;
  • Break out of the current;
  • Hold position in the flow and ferry-glide into an eddy;
  • Break into the current;
  • Get into/out of the canoe/kayak safely in deep and shallow fast-flowing water;
  • Move canoes past hazards by safely using lines;
  • Understand the dangers of an unintentional 'swim', and trying to wade, in fast water;
  • Swim safely to the shore;
  • Empty a swamped canoe or kayak using safe handling techniques;
  • Climb back into the canoe from deep water in the event of a capsize, and help others to do so.

Stourport to Gloucester

For unaccompanied hire on the River Severn between Stourport and Gloucester, paddlers should be able to:

  • Lift, carry, launch and land the canoe/kayak safely, This may involve climbing in and/or out at high walls, or getting up and/or down steps and/or steep muddy banks;
  • Paddle a straight course, keeping forward momentum; 
  • Change course while the boat is moving;
  • Move the canoe or kayak sideways;
  • Stop the canoe or kayak with a short distance without losing direction.
  • Learn the rules of navigation and observe them when in river traffic;
  • Recognise locks, weirs, outfalls,sluices and other hazards from a safe distance and identify a safe landing for portage or inspection;
  • Identify the safe route past a weir, or into a lock;
  • Recognise strainers and tree hazards;
  • Assess hazards, to make in informed choice whether to paddle or portage;
  • Recogise a safe landing or eddy;
  • Hold position in the flow and ferry-glide into an eddy;
  • Break into and out of the current;
  • Get into/out of the canoe/kayak safely in deep and shallow fast-flowing water;
  • Move canoes past hazards by safely using lines;
  • Understand the dangers of an unintentional 'swim', and trying to wade, in fast water;
  • Swim safely to the shore;
  • Empty a swamped canoe or kayak using safe handling techniques;
  • Climb back into the canoe from deep water in the event of a capsize, and help others to do so.

There are no formal requirements or assessment, but the BCU 3-Star Touring Award is a useful indicator of the appropriate standard.

 

Not sure of your ability?

Why not book on a Skills Training Course or River Awareness Day with our associate company 'Mountain and Water'.

 

Ready to plan your trip?

For launching/landing points, campsites, facilities and distances, see our River Severn Route Planner.  

 

 

If you are not sure about your ability for unaccompanied canoe hire see our Guidance for Canoe Hire page. We offer Guided Tours and a 'River Awareness' Day. We can also arrange skills training courses at various levels from beginner to open and white-water.

 

Backwaters

is associated with

Mountain & Water: Wales-wide Adventure Ltd.

For guided tours, activity holidays and courses.

Contact and Booking
Home Page
About Us
Types of Craft for Hire
Trip Planning Advice
Availability
Prices
Frequently Asked Questions

Last updated 13 October 2012