River Trips Guide
To give you some guidance on what to be looking for in deciding whether to attend a trip, we categorise them as per the breakdown below. These categories give an indication of the likely difficulty, enabling you to make a decision as to whether they are appropriate for you.
Club Trips or Peer Paddles
A Club Trip is a trip organised by the club. It will be open to all members and we will have a range of trips to suit all levels of experience. As a participant on a club trip, our Third Party Liability cover extends to you all participants and the club will have endorsed the trip to go ahead. These trips will be promoted on our website and if you want to attend a trip you should register on the club forum.
A Peer Paddle is a trip that is not organised by the club. Members tend to organise these trips between themselves (and are often very welcoming for other people to join them) but they should not be confused with a club trip. These trips are NOT run, insured or managed by the club and all participants should understand that the club takes no responsibility for them. These trips will not be advertised on the club website, although members using the forum may promote them, they will be clearly marked as a “Peer Paddle”.
River Grading System
White water is classified by an internationally recognised grading system, giving stretches of river or individual rapids a number between 1 (easy) and 6 (extreme). Details of this grading system can be found here: https://gopaddling.info/river-gradings-simple-guide/. There’s some videos available here to bring the descriptions to life: https://kayakguru.com/guide-classification-of-rapids/
Most of our club trips take place on grade 1 to 3 rivers, but even within these grades there is still a wide range of levels of difficulty that will affect whether it is suitable for you.
When we organise trips they will be classified as one of the following:
Introduction to Moving Water
These trips are aimed at those members who have very little no experience of paddling on moving water before. They are best suited to someone who has completed the beginner course and who have taken part in a number of pool or lake sessions and found they can move the boat around on the flat without risk of accidently capsizing.
These trips are normally based at a single location on a river or may involve a short journey involving being on the water for less than 2 hours. The water will normally be mostly grade 1 with some grade 2 elements
These trips are aimed at those members who have paddled once or twice on moving water before and who understand the basics of controlling their boat on moving water. They are best suited to members who understand how to break in and out and ferry glide to move in and out and across the flow of water, even if you're finding it difficult to put into practice.
These trips will normally involve a short journey of around 5 miles and may involve being on the water for up to 3 hours. The river will normally have a number of grade 2 elements
These trips are aimed at those members who have paddled several times on moving water and who can break in and out of the flow and ferry glide reliably on grade 1 and some grade 2 sections. They are best suited to members who can confidently put their boat where they want to and who are beginning to use some support strokes to keep themselves upright.
These trips will normally involve a short journey of 5 miles or so and may involve being on the water for up to 3 hours (with breaks of course!). The river will normally have extended sections of grade 2, possibly with short easier grade 3 sections and/or may take place on rivers running at a medium rather than low level
These trips are aimed at those members who have paddled more regularly on moving water, who are comfortable beginning to play on surf waves and can confidently control themselves on a variety of grade 2 environments. They are best suited to members who can confidently and consistently put their boat where they want to, use support strokes effectively and have a reasonable chance of being able to roll on moving water.
These trips could include longer or more remote journeys and may sometimes involve being on the water for extended periods. The river will normally have regular and lengthier sections and grade 2 with multiple elements and grade 3, or involve paddling on a river in higher level conditions
These trips are aimed at those members who have paddled more regularly on moving water and who are proficient controlling their boat at grade 3 or above. They are best suited to those who have a reasonably confident roll and can make their own informed judgements and recover well from coming off their planned line
These trips could include longer or more remote journeys and may sometimes involve being on the water for extended periods. The river may have more committing grade 3 and above features where a swim could be uncomfortable
Often members of the club head out paddling when the conditions are right. It is important to understand that these trips are not club paddles. Members of the club are often very willing to let other people join them on these paddles, but these are NOT club trips and as a result will be marked clearly as PEER PADDLE. Members wishing to attend should make their own judgement call about whether the trip is suitable for them in conversation with those organising it (who may use some of the descriptions above as a guide) The trip will be run as a group of friends paddling together and the club will take no liability for the trip. It would normally be expected that members joining peer paddles would be able to provide all of their own equipment rather than relying on club equipment.
If you are still unsure as to whether a trip is suitable for you, please talk to the committee or one of the trip leaders and found out more information
The Club runs a range of river trips suitable for all members. In the UK, river trips tend to need some rainfall to bring the rivers into condition, therefore our schedule of trips tends to focus on the Autumn, Winter and Spring periods of the year, when rainfall is more likely. During drier periods of the year, our choice of rivers is more limited, however, the Cardiff International White Water centre is a fantastic location during these times and when the summer rains do come, there’s normally a chance to get out on rivers too!
Please always be mindful though that the weather and river level can significantly affect a river and its difficulty and at late notice trips may sometimes change. Although we will always try to ensure that a trip goes ahead and is still suitable for the same attendees, we may at times need to change the location of trip and unfortunately sometimes cancel trips if they are not safe to continue.