CANOE TOURS

Wales has some terrific opportunities for canoe touring, on formalised canoe trails, canals and tranquil rivers. 

Wherever you choose to paddle, please be aware of your rights and responsibilities as a paddler and our disclaimer relating to the information contained in these pages.

Canoe Trails

Beacons Water Trail - using the River Usk and Monmouth and Brecon Canal.
 

Canals

There are a number of canals in Wales, which are all either privately owned or managed by Glandŵr Cymru (the Canal & Rivers Trust in Wales). You may need permission and/or a licence to use these canals. Canoe Wales and British Canoeing members have an automatic licence to use the Glandŵr Cymru canals; and Canoe Wales affiliated clubs also have a number of automatic licences to cover their members.
Glandŵr Cymru Canals, Llangollen Canal, Montgomery Canal, Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal, Swansea Canal.

Touring Rivers

We will include on this page information relating to touring rivers in Wales that we believe will be useful to help paddlers make an informed decision on whether to paddle, but this information should not be taken as advice to trespass nor does the existence of information on this website confer any rights.
In the short-term we will include any issues and arrangements relating to access that we are aware of. Please inform environment-officer@canoe.wales if you are aware of other specific issues or arrangements that we should publicise.

The Legal Situation

With the exception of a few rivers where there is a Statutory Public Right of Navigation (the Lugg downstream of Presteigne, the Severn downstream of Pool Quay and the Wye downstream of Hay-on-Wye), there is no confirmed Public Right of Navigation on other physically-navigable, non-tidal rivers in Wales. It has long been assumed by some that rights of navigation on these rivers are private (and generally controlled by riparian owners – i.e. the owners of the river banks). However, some published research now challenges this assumption. Canoe Wales therefore acknowledges that there are different opinions on the legal position on rivers where public rights have not been confirmed and cannot therefore advise paddlers whether they have a right to paddle on such rivers.
 
In addition, any public or private rights of navigation on rivers do not in themselves grant paddlers any rights to cross land to access those rivers, so paddlers should seek permission to paddle or cross land wherever or whenever it is clear and unambiguous in law that you do not have the right to do so

River Dee

There is no confirmed Public Right of Navigation on the non-tidal River Dee. Downstream of Overton Bridge to the tidal limit in Chester is a lovely touring section (the section above, from Trevor to Overton has some easy rapids and two weirs that may require portaging).
 
Natural Resources Wales has informed us of a temporary fish trap that they operate between March and June at Worthenbury. Its operation (between dusk and dawn) is notified by warning signs and lights and when not in use it should not pose a hazard to canoeists. For details click here

River Lugg

There is a Public Right of Navigation downstream from Presteigne town bridge.

River Severn

The Environment Agency has published a helpful canoeists’ guide with details of the river, amenities and access arrangements – although this is now rather old, so local advice should be sought regarding the latest information.

There is a Public Right of Navigation downstream from Pool Quay. Downstream from Stourport (England) a licence is required, which is automatically provided as part of Canoe Wales or British Canoeing membership.

River Wye

Downstream of Glasbury, the River Wye is a popular touring river all the way to its tidal reaches. The Environment Agency publishes a helpful canoeists’ guide with details of the river, amenities and access arrangements. This is due to be reviewed when stocks of the (2011) hard-copy booklet run out.
From Glasbury to Hay-on-Wye there is no confirmed Public Right of Navigation, but launching of canoes is permitted by Powys County Council at Glas-y-Bont common between 10am and 4pm and canoeists should plan their journey so that they are off this stretch of the river no later than 5pm. The Council’s permission is given on the condition that those launching canoes abide by the Code of Conduct published on this sign (which also shows the only ‘approved’ landing sites on-route), while commercial providers must sign up to a formal Code of Conduct. For more information about how to do this or to seek permission for other activities, please contact Powys County Council’s Countryside Services team, during office hours, on 01597 827500 or by email at cefngwlad@powys.gov.uk.  
 
Many birds – including Little Ringed Plover – nest on shingle banks along this stretch of the river and can be very sensitive to disturbance during the breeding season. One particularly important site at the oxbow lake is marked on a map on the sign. Birds may be nesting at any time between the middle of March and mid-August, so it is important not to go onto the large shingle areas at these times.
 
From Hay-on-Wye to Bigsweir (mostly in England) there is a statutory Public Right of Navigation, managed by the Environment Agency. Downstream of Bigsweir the river is tidal. The Environment Agency states that “below Bigsweir Bridge the Wye can be very dangerous, especially below Tintern. If you wish to canoe this stretch, leave Tintern no later than one hour after high water and travel down without stopping. Inexperienced canoeists are advised to avoid this stretch and should on no account travel below Chepstow, as currents in the Severn Estuary are extremely dangerous.
 
 
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