Guide to Canoeing & Kayaking the Rivers & Broads in Norfolk & Suffolk
Before and after leaving the water
- All river users must enjoy access to the river in a responsible and safe manner.
- Be friendly and polite to local residents and other water users.
- Park sensibly without causing any obstruction. Use designated car parks where available (this may involve unloading equipment and parking at a distance from the river).
- Be as quiet as possible.
- Unload kit tidily, take all litter home and leave no trace of your visit.
- Get changed out of public view.
- Avoid disturbing farm animals and wildlife and causing environmental damage.
- Follow the Countryside Code.
On the Water
- Respect other people.
- Safety is paramount and you should always wear a buoyancy aid and appropriate protective gear. It is good to practice to paddle in a group of at least three boats (it is not always best practice to stay with the boat, and three boats is recommended, one to stay with the casualty and the other to seek assistance).
- Wash your hands before eating/drinking and cover cuts on the skin.
- When lifting/moving your canoe follow approved H&S guidelines. On lifting i.e. straight back.
- When paddling on large expanses of open water, such as broads, hug to windward shoreline.
- Ensure you have suitable emergency equipment i.e. map, spare clothes, mobile phone, compass, First aid kit.
- Take advice on river levels before paddling.
- Never paddle on stretches for which you are not suitable qualified/experienced i.e. tidal stretches.
- Respect wildlife and the environmental at all times noting sensitive places, specie and breeding seasons. This is particularly important in the breeding season and the fishing closed season, when canoeing should be kept to a minimum. At all other times, keep away from the banks (except at official access and portage points), and minimise disturbance to the river bed.
- Remain quite whilst approaching and passing anyone on the river.
- Normally pass on the far side of the river from someone fishing from the bank, or as directed by that person.
- If and when it is necessary to stop or to land in an emergency or at one of the approved landing places, keep reasonably still and quiet and in a small area.
- Refuse must not be deposited in the river or on the bank of the river.
- Visiting groups should not normally exceed 15 craft (larger groups should consult the BCU Local River Advisor). Individual members within a group must keep as close together as possible, especially when passing someone fishing, so as to cause minimum impact on other people and the environment.
- If in any doubt about where to pass or on any other point, group leaders should make their presence known to those fishing and ask for guidance.
- All river users should do their best to avoid argument.
In the event of a capsize with a canoe
- Do NOT panic.
- Ensure all other members of your party are ok.
- Do not climb on top of the upturned canoe.
- Drag the boat to the bank/or shallow area and empty it of water.
- Try to secure any lose items i.e. paddles, kit.
Paddling on the Sea
Sea Canoeing even in calmer conditions is a serious undertaking requiring a strong canoeing ability, appropriate craft and equipment and good local knowledge. More information can be obtained from www.TheCanoeMan.com or direct from the British Canoe Union.
The most important thing to remember is safety. The waters around the Norfolk coast are to be respected at all times, as the tides and rip currents can be very strong. Most beaches can be sailed from but you are advised to check with the local coastguard and find out what the tide and wind strength and directions are before you venture out. Remember the three golden rules, never canoe alone, never canoe in offshore winds and always tell someone where you are going.
- In emergency ask operator for Lifeboat (dial 999)
Motor Lifeboats at:
Inshore Boats at:
Coastguard: Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre
Tel: 01493 851338
Weathercall Recorded Weather Service for Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.
Land & Sea: 09068 500 408
Marine Rescue Centre - detailed sea conditions Tel: 01493 851338
Other enquiries and national forecasts:
Norwich Weather Centre Tel: 01603 660779
Main Hospitals - with accident and emergency
Norwich - 01603 628377
King's Lynn - 01553 766266
Great Yarmouth - 01493 600611