Thames paddling

Kayakers should have a good mix of skills, experience and fitness. Paddling regularly on the Thames is a good way to acquire this. We paddle all year round. We are currently running sessions with groups of a leader & 5 or more paddlers on Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday morning, and Tuesday evening. Beginners need to contact us to arrange to come out with us.

You must be a member to paddle with us on the Thames. Please refer to the home page for information on how to join us, or contact us for further information.

Book your slot

Thames trips are organised via the Club’s booking system which is just available to members.  We must know in advance that you are attending in order to organise sufficient leaders. You will be turned away if you arrive unannounced.

For provisional members, please pay the £5 Thames cash paddling fee to the organiser.

Coming for the first time?

If you are coming for the first time:

  • See the contact page for a map of where to go to
  • Please arrive 30 minutes before the scheduled start time
  • See the What to wear  and Extremities in the FAQ
  • Bring a change of clothes and a towel in case you get wet. Even in the driest of boats and good weather, the water often seeps in.
  • Bring some water to drink and a snack to eat
  • Please read the rest of this page!

Your responsibilities!

Even if you are out with experienced paddlers and trip leader, everyone in the group on the river is responsible for their own safety and has a duty of care to all other rivers users.
Read the PLA Thames Tideway Paddling Code, the river’s ‘Highway Code’ on how to behave and what to look out for on the Thames.

Cold Water Safety

Always wear a Buoyancy Aid and appropriate clothing. Avoid cotton T-shirt and shorts which will chill you. Dress for the water temperature with polyester fleeces etc. Look at our information on what to wear.

Safety on the water

Take as much care to avoid collisions or causing a collision. Learn to control your kayak. Look around and be aware of other users. If you see other river users approaching, warn other paddlers.

We do not use safety boats. It is staying as a group that ensures our safety. We are only a group if everyone is within close range and ready to help. This means being within sight and hearing distance. On a windy day this is less than 20m. Look around frequently to check on others, especially if you are at the front.

Please read our PBCC Thames safety guide

Choice of boats

We have a range of different kayaks, we will help you choose a suitable one.

Notes on using Race boats
Notes on using the surfskis

Night time lighting

If you intend to keep paddling with us in the winter, and in the dark you must have 2 white lights which are clearly visible front and back, to comply with the Port of London Authority (PLA) regulations.

The lights are to be seen by other river users, not to see with. One option is to use a head torch with another light at the back:


Another is to attach lights high up on your buoyancy aid front and back. This is a DIY solution, made with a diving torch shining into a translucent plastic top or milk bottle:

Thames paddling information

Tides 4 Fishermen –   The following coefficients are a guide:

  • 120 – max Springs
  • 95 – Springs
  • 70 – Average value
  • 45 – Neaps
  • 20 – Lowest Neap tide – local tide info that can be more accurate than other sites, and has the following locaations: Putney Bridge, Chiswick Mall, Richmond

Is the Thames Barrier closed? This page has that information under the summary. Or see twitter.

Kingston flow/speed gauge
River flow rates in benign conditions are between 20 to 100 cumecs. However in spate the river can reach 400 cumecs, i.e. 400 tons per second and only suitable for advanced paddlers. The live ‘widget’ at the bottom of this page shows the level at Kingston, but not the flow.

Hammersmith – BBC tides

Storm overflow map – indicates when ‘effluent’ was last discharged in the river.

Putney weather – check for the wind

Lower Thames warnings – red, yellow, green or black flags. The warning level is shown below on this page. The PLA recommend that man powered craft do not go out when it is a red flag
Upper Thames warnings – red boards. The nearest point to us is “Molesey Lock to Teddington Lock” at the bottom of the list.

Port of London Authority (PLA) and Thames Rules

Please take time to read the River Thames regulations. It is the busiest river in the UK, and like driving on the roads, not knowing the rules is no excuse for breaking them.

Thames Tideway Code 2019 details the many important rules which need to be understood.

Boating on the Thames is the PLA website for leisure users

Notice to Mariners (NTM) lists current Rules in operation

Thames events calendar needs to be check other events if you are organising your own.