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Thread: New Member

  1. #1

    Default New Member

    Hi All,

    I'm new to owning a canoe/kayak, based in North Somerset (or Somerset as I like to call it). I'm not a club member but have British Canoeing membership.

    I'm fascinated by treads about access, assuming that I could paddle anywhere apart from private lakes and ponds. When I re-read the BC pages, I note the coyness about where I can paddle! The point of having an inflatable craft was to have it with me always, and spotting an interesting area, just take to the water and explore. rather disappointed me with the number of disputed waterways. Some people quote "Magna Carta and the 1472 Act for Wears and Fishgarthes" etc. Is there an authoritative (non barrack room lawyer) view on this?

    It seems to me that the reasons given by "water authorities" to keep people off the water are in the main pretty lame!
    • "Duty of care" - An informative sign at entry points, noting obstacles, currents, the suggested use of PBAs and 'own risk' covers this.
    • Trespass - I've never understood this. It seems that people can walk through my house (without causing damage) and I have no redress! They can (and have) parked on my private drive, blocking my access. I towed the car onto the road and then reported it as a fire risk to the Fire Service as recommended by a policeman!
    • Disturbing fish - (as a fisherman) probably no more than a bank walker, and some fish shelter under my craft when I pause! I would think that the increasing trend for wild swimming is far more inclined to cause general river damage with the bed being kicked up. I often access canals (shallow with propeller driven craft) that team with fish! The craze for magnet fishing is probably unhelpful, although I did see a bicycle recovered a few days ago!
    • Wild life, water fowl - I'm a keen naturalist; again walking can be an issue, being in a boat seems to make one less of a threat, and of course, one is often pestered by water birds for food! And ducks are fostered so they can be shot? We photograph many species from the water that we would have issues approaching on land.
    • Spreading non-native/invasive species. - I always keep a bag of Indian Balsam seed in my pocket and a few well rooted knot-weed saplings ready to go! What nonsense! Personally I always clean my boat and then re-inflated it when I get home to dry and clean it further (to prevent mould).
    • Upsetting Fishermen - If I see a rod, I usually slow down, whistle or ahoy to announce my presence unless the line is obviously out of the water. I ask if it's okay to pass, or "where's your float", enquire about catches, tell then where I have seen big tench etc. NOBODY has ever been anything other than polite.
    • Littering - I don't! Never have. I despise anyone that does.
    • Damage to the environment - How stupid/drunk/crazy do you have to be to manage to do this from a boat? I hang onto/tie to reeds on occasion, and use existing clearings for portage.

    I have not been accosted yet, but will have no problem with being polite, and continuing on my way. Is there a paragraph that I can quote to lummoxes or any would be nay-sayer?

    Is there a lobby group that looks to open up water-ways which I can add my weight to? e.g. 38 degrees (my local MP, who I know through another activity always smiles, but I bet he hates me! )

    Hmmm, it seems that hello has turned into a rant! Well, it is Rant Friday after all!

    Best wishes all

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010


    Welcome to SOTP from a little south of you in Somerset.
    There often appears to be no rhyme or reason for why you're not allowed to paddle certain waters. When I first started paddling I asked if I could paddle the Huntspill river and the Kings Sedgemoor drain down here. I was told NO, but when I asked why, the EA person I was asking could give no reason.
    You seem to be going about things the right way, but whichever way you do it, you will eventually get some arxxe who wants to give you grief.
    Common sense must prevail e.g you don't want to traipse across someones back garden, but walking across a farmers field is usually ok. If challenged, then walk away with an apology, it's their land after all.
    Apart from the Chew Valley reservoirs, I will paddle pretty much anywhere down here as long as there's reasonable access and I don't think I'm going to upset anyone.

    Nin Wanakiwidee Tchiman

  3. #3


    Hi Old Man,

    Thanks for the response.

    Seems sensible. I have no intention of crossing peoples land to get to the water (I'm too lazy!), and it would seem that not asking, and so inviting a negative answer, is the way to go.

    As to reservoirs, apart from being close to intake pipes, I can't see why you can't swim/use the water. And yet birds come and go and they let sheep gaze up to the water's edge, along with their foul diseases, liver fluke etc. Rats often frequent the margins. Dubious baits are thrown in, petrol engines are used. (non paying?) People seem to be particularly dangerous to our water supply!

    I've had my eye on the drains, Brue etc. Although this w/e I may well nip up to Bristol and play beside the Great Britain. I found out yesterday that my neighbour works pt with the harbour master!

    I was brought up to question everything. I've asked many, and now only the stupid ones remain, so please be patient with me.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2008


    Hello and Welcome!

    Just carry on, quietly and responsibly, and its very rare you get a problem (there are a few hotspots round the country but most of the time no issues).

    For more, read here:

    Nice to have you aboard.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    SW France


    I’m clearly not going to get into the UK access debate given my home turf but I will say the following ...

    welcome to the forum

    Have fun
    Open Canoe hire/outfitting in the Massif Central
    ”We will make your trip work”

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