We’ve added some of our most commonly asked questions for your information - but if there is something you’d like to know we’ve not listed - just get in touch!
We get an incredible number of requests each year from various charities and schools for Canoe Hire Vouchers to be used as raffle prizes and the requests are increasing each year. To keep on top of these and to keep it as fair as possible, our policy is:
We only give to charities that are local to our stretch of the Nene Valley, within a few miles of the River between Rushden and Oundle.
We prefer a request by email or at least an email address given. There must be a Registered Charity Number on the email or attachment. If the request is from a school, there must be a school logo visible.
All requests received each month are placed in a container and at the end of that month we draw out TWO requests, the two chosen will each receive a voucher to cover a 2 hour “paddle out and back” trip from Rushden Lakes for two people and will be sent in the post that day. Therefore, if you have not heard from us by the 5th day of the following month you will know you haven’t been successful.
There often are, especially early in the year as we prepare for the coming Spring/Summer season, so please see our jobs page. You’ll just have to copy & paste this link for the page (sorry not clickable)
No, we’re a nice bunch, but you don’t want to listen to us banging on about how fabulous our river is ALL day.
We do however spend 20 minutes or so talking you through a thorough safety briefing, and the basics of paddling your canoe, as well as some great tips on how best to enjoy your day on the river.
ALMOST certainly not. Our canoes are aimed at 2 or more people, and even if you are likely to be able to handle one on your own, there is always a certain element of safety in numbers.
That said, if have evidence of being an experienced and qualified paddler (perhaps BCU qualified) to a standard that we consider appropriate, we’ll be happy for you to hire on your own.
Yes, so long as you’re on the river within the fishing season, from 16th June onwards*, and you have an appropriate Environment Agency rod license - https://www.gov.uk/fishing-licences
*Fishing isn’t allowed on the river between 15th March and 15th June. As our canoe hire season begins mid-March and runs to mid-October, this pretty much means you have around 4-months to fish from our canoes - from 16th June onwards.
Sorry, no - all the land is private. But our recommended camp locations are very small scale, from a field with absolutely no facilities, through to a lovely little family site that simply has one loo, one shower, and a few chickens to lay your breakfast
Not often, but yes, occasionally, so we give you loads of great advice on how to avoid capsizing, and also how to deal with it if you do end up going for a swim.
Capsizing is not in itself disastrous, and we’ll make sure you are well prepared, and that you are wearing your properly fitted buoyancy aid.
Will this leave you wet & a little uncomfortable? Absolutely, but you’ll probably have had quite a laugh too!
No - so long as you are confident that you won’t panic if you ended up in the water. You’ll be wearing your buoyancy aid (provided), so, so long as you stay calm, you won’t need to swim. How do we know you’ll be wearing it? Because we will INSIST that you wear it - whether you like it or not (yep, we’re pretty tough like that, so don’t mess with us)
Most of our trips include transport one-way, so that you only paddle downstream.
The only exceptions to this are our “Paddle Out & Back” trips from Rushden Lakes, when you, well, err…...... paddle out and back
The River Nene is a very gentle river, controlled by locks, so during most conditions, paddling upstream is quite easy (though, funnily enough, not quite as easy as downstream), so our “Paddle Out & Back” trips work well most days - we will of course advise if this is not the case on any given day. For this reason, the Paddle Out & Back trips are a great option if you’re booking late, so we can check conditions.
Based on the way we worded the question, you already knew that was a “Yes”.
You’ll have a thorough verbal safety briefing, paddle demonstration to run through the basics of paddling your canoe, and some discussion regarding where you’re heading before you set off.
You’ll also be given a printed & laminated copy of the safety briefing to take with you.
For full day trips & longer, you’ll also take with you a laminated map, and description of the best way past each lock along the river.
All-in-all, you’ll be incredibly well prepared by the time you set off, and with such an easy-going, calm river, we have no hesitation in recommending any of our trips to complete novices (subject of course to our age restrictions & various other recommendations)
Varies Enormously, from one to perhaps four metres deep
Sorry, but no.
Yes, but it’s extremely generous - The canoes can take, in principle, up to around 80 stone or so.
If you are particularly tall, with a lot of weight up high, that can influence stability of the canoe, but best to give us a call and discuss.
The simple answer to this one is that our discounts are real.
If we were to artificially inflate prices before discounting them, it would be easy for us offer, say, “20% off everything”. But when discounts are real, we have to look very carefully at what we can truly afford to offer. Depending on our costs, and popularity, and your group, various trips offer varying potential for discounts.
We also work as closely as possible with suppliers, who sometimes assist us with promotions, so again this can mean that some types of trips can be cheaper than others.
You may have been watching us for a while, and maybe you’re signed up to our mailing list? If so, you’ll have noticed that booking well ahead, for the following season is when you get the best deal. The reasoning for this is simple - you can imagine that our cashflow is rather better in the Summer than the Winter, but we still really want to put a turkey on the table at Christmas, and treat our kids to a day out in the February half-term, so we offer the very best deals in the Autumn & Winter, particularly before Christmas, in an effort to get your booking in early.
Each of our many & varied trips start at fixed times, and two different starting locations, so when you book we’ll confirm where & when to meet us.
Subject to availability, paddles of one day or less can often be booked as late as lunchtime of the day before, whilst longer trips, particularly “Short Breaks” that include accommodation, should ideally be booked at least 5 days before your trip.
The key phrase here of course is “Subject to Availability”, and we’d always recommend that you book much farther ahead. Typically, our customers tend to book Short Breaks at least a couple of months ahead, and day trips 3 or 4 weeks.
Our busiest times are exactly when you would imagine - weekends through June to September, and the whole of the school summer holidays.
We have a lot of canoes, but they do all book out for those busy weekends, and remember if you want overnight accommodation, we have a number of bell tents, but only one tipi, and one yurt. And of course, if you are looking for one of our “B&B” trips, some of these also book well ahead.
An adult aged 18 or over must be in each canoe.
No children under 5 years of age
Ratios of adults to children are also important. For example, it would not be considered safe for one adult to set off in a 4-person canoe with 3 six-year-olds. However, two adults with 2 six-year-olds would generally be ok.
Recommendations & Restrictions may also vary depending on the trip. We’ll advise further when you call to book.
If your trip is downstream only, we’ll pick you up and take you back to your start-point.
Ah, that old Chestnut! The great British weather
Well, the good news is that we have loads of fabulous days throughout the whole season, March to October.
All of them? No, if we’re completely honest, perhaps not, so we do like to apply our “Common Sense Weather Policy”, which looks something like this:
• You say “It’s pretty horrible out there - lashing down, and the forecast says it’ll be like it all day, and it’s getting cold”. We say, “Yes, it is pretty horrible isn’t it. It’s actually safe if you want to go, no wind or storms. But we completely understand, let’s get you booked in for another day”
• You say “It’s a little bit rainy today, not quite perfect, can I have my money back please? We say “Don’t be silly, it’s really not a bad day - get out there and enjoy it”. You say “Yeah but we have young children and really want them to get the most out of their first day on the river”. We say “OK, fair point, but we really can’t refund for a little rain - let’s postpone your booking to another day - When can you make it?”
• We say “The weather is dangerously bad – high winds and storms – Sorry, but we can’t let you go out on the river today. Can we find another date for you, so you don’t miss out?”. You say “Fine, of course, we can go on…….” OR you say “You must be kidding, it took me a month to get these 14 people together on one day, and you think I’m going to find another day just like that”. We say “OK, fair enough, really sorry, but as it’s us saying you can’t go, and you can’t find another date, would you like your money back instead?”
Keeping in mind that ALL children must be aged 5 years or older, here’s a general guide:
2-PERSON CANOE is suitable for
• two adults
• one adult with one child aged 8 or over
3-PERSON CANOE is suitable for
• three adults
• two adults with one child
• one adult with two children (who’s ages added together equal 15 or more)
4-PERSON CANOE is suitable for
• two adults with two children aged up to 10 years of age
• one adult with three children (who’s ages added together equal 27 to 36)
The above is a guide only - advice may vary depending on what trip is under consideration
This can vary, and we will always confirm your check-in time & place when you book, but here is a quick guide:
8.15am Check-In at Rushden Lakes:
• Full Day, Half Day, and 2-hour “Paddle out & Back” trips
• “Rushden Lakes to Thrapston” full day paddle
• And some multi-day trips
9.45am Check-In at Thrapston Nine Arches Bridge:
• “Thrapston to Oundle” full day paddle
• And some multi-day trips
11.30am Check-in at Rushden Lakes:
• Half Day, and 2-hour “Paddle out & Back” trips
2.00pm Check-In at Rushden Lakes:
• 2-hour “Paddle out & Back” trips
For around 8 months of the year, from early April to mid-October.
During this time, our daily opening is as follows:
7 days a week during school holidays
4 days a week outside school holidays (long weekend Friday to Monday)
Outside school holidays, we will still open mid-week for any multi-day bookings and larger groups
• For trips starting at Rushden Lakes, the nearest Station is Wellingborough. You would then need to take a short taxi ride of around 10 minutes to our base at The Boathouse.
• For trips starting at Thrapston, the nearest Station is Kettering. You would then need to take a taxi ride of around 20 minutes to our meeting place at Thrapston Nine Arches Bridge.
The locks along the river make great rest points, many being very picturesque. Access to and from the river either side of the locks is generally via portage platforms (low level platforms either side of the locks). Where portages are not available, access varies but is typically via boat moorings or low level floating pontoons. We also supply, included in the price of your package, great little canoe “trolleys”, so you can choose whether to carry, or simply wheel your canoe past the locks.
On a full day paddle you might pass by 4 or 5 locks, though some are bypassed by enjoying nearby backwaters. Do note that a certain level of physical exertion is required moving your canoe by the locks, or onto the backwaters. It’s not excessive, but if in doubt, don’t hesitate to give us call to discuss further.
Yes, your furry friends are welcome in our canoes, just be sure to let us know beforehand. Depending on the size and temperament of the dog, they can potentially make the canoe unstable. However, lots of our customers have taken dogs with them without any problems and had a great time.
See below though for overnight trips…
• If camping with your own tent then Dogs are welcome on most of the campsites, as long as they are kept on a lead at all times.
• If staying in one of our Bell Tents, The Yurt or The Tipi then unfortunately dogs are not allowed - Sorry
• Hotels/B&Bs – there are two accommodation providers’ that will allow dogs. The Bridge Hotel in Thrapston (small supplement charged) and Lower Farm B&B in Barnwell. So, you could enjoy up to 3 days on the river with your canine companion