White water rafting in the UK can be split up into two very distinct experiences, white water rafting on a natural river and rafting on a man made course. If you haven’t ever given it a go, there are plenty of places in the UK to go white water rafting including olympic level rafting parks, natural rivers and dams and the best bit of all – it’s out in the beautiful English countryside.
White Water Rafting Grades
Before you set off on your white water rafting trip, you should probably understand a little about what you are getting yourself into. White water rafting means sitting in an inflatable raft whilst you or more usually your guide, will navigate the rapids or rough water of a river or man made course. The rapids are graded according to their difficulty level ranging from class 1 through to class 6.
Class 1 Rapids: Basic skill level with very small areas of rough water but very little manoeuvring needed.
Class 2 Rapids: Basic paddling skills needed with some rough water, rocks and a small amount of manoeuvring.
Class 3 Rapids: Whitewater with small waves and a small drop but not a great deal of danger.
Class 4 Rapids: Whitewater with medium waves, rocks and a considerable drop.
Class 5 Rapids: Whitewater with large waves, a large volume of water and large rocks and hazards – requires advanced skills and precise manoeuvring skills.
Class 6 Rapids: Too dangerous as they are unnavigable. Substantial whitewater, huge waves, huge rocks and hazards and have been known to end in death or serious injury.
White water rafting guides are trained in safety and techniques to tackle the rapids and there will always be a rapid to suit you. Needless to say they won’t be tackling class 6 rapids!
Man Made White Water Rafting Sites
As usual with the British weather, you can never quite tell what’s going to happen, so a perfect way to overcome that and still get your white water rafting in is to head to a man made white water rafting course. There are plenty around the UK including the Lee Valley White Water Rafting Centre that was built for the 2012 Olympics or the Cardiff International White Water Centre with 250m of rapids to play and practise in.
Natural White Water Rafting Rivers
There are natural white water rafting rivers all over the United Kingdom. You will find them in Scotland on the River Tay culminating in the Grand Tully Rapids for the more experienced white water rafters or Northern Ireland’s River Blackwater for a more tame experience and Wales’ River Wye which is a mixed bag of gentle rapids and heaving class 4 spots.
Not entirely natural but still a river, there are many spots around the UK where the rapids are created by rapids fed into rivers from a reservoir. The Cairngorms National Park is one of the best known for its dam fed rapids and covers just about all classes from 2 through to 5 to cater for all experience levels. Head on over to Snowdonia National Park for some class 4 action.
If you are looking for something water related but aren’t ready to battle the extreme nature of white water rafting – why not give sea fishing a try? There are plenty of great places around the UK coastline where you can spend a rewarding couple of days on a sea fishing trip.